Trial of Integrity

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Every person who works hard to serve their community will, at some point, face a situation that calls into stark illumination the nature and character of their integrity. They will be tested by the misdeeds of others, by the failure to adhere to moral rules, and by the willingness of lesser men and women to bypass acceptable business practices for the sake of a short-term gain.

Relish these opportunities.

When your integrity is tested by the fire of another’s lack of character, you’re given a golden opportunity to shine as a light to your sphere of influence. Nobody operates on an island, and while you may feel isolated in the midst of an attack, remember that you’re being watched, that others around you are waiting to see how you will respond. Be strong, be right, and be heard. Be willing to find your voice and call misdeeds for what they are. Actively pursue the high road and willingly sacrifice the momentary desire for retaliation on the altar of your character, knowing that the long-term benefits of an intact reputation will gain you far more. This is your opportunity to lead. Lead yourself, and be true to the strength of character that is your foundation.

This is your moment.

Ripples of Influence

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An old leadership analogy says that the effect we have on people is like tossing a pebble in a pond. The initial splash of pebble creates waves in the water that grow and extend far beyond the size of the pebble that created them.

It’s a timeless and salient lesson; one we should remember often. Thinking on this object lesson, it occurred to me that it doesn’t translate perfectly for one, unchangeable reason: human ripples aren’t identical. When a small stone breaks the surface of the water, one of the fascinating results is that the ripples created by the small splash radiate from the point of impact in perfectly concentric, identical circles. It isn’t until these tiny waves encounter an obstacle, such as a plant or a piece of debris, that they are altered and begin their own course.

When we translate this analogy into the sphere of human interaction, the underlying principle is that a single action can have far-reaching and on-going effects on the world around us, even if those consequences are unintentional. The foundation is sound, but I want to look at the human aspect of this. Every person is different because of personality, culture, upbringing, ideology, and countless other variables. The ripple effect in our social, professional, and personal circles takes on a very different hue when we realize that because of our differences, the ripples we create are each completely unique of each other based on the person we create them in.

If I toss a pebble into a pond, through scientific and mathematical processes, I can determine exactly where and how the ripples on the surface of the water will be created. I can know their expanding width, speed, and future termination. I can know all of this ahead of time, because the scientific laws that govern the physics of this simple experiment are fixed and constant.

When I toss a figurative pebble into the pond of my sphere of influence, everything is relative. The impact of my words, the effectiveness of my leadership, the influence of my vision – all of these ripples are dependent on and reflective of the unique personalities and character of the people I’m dealing with. One might say that as a good leader, I could know my people well enough to make an educated decision about how certain tactics will impact them, and that is very true. But as the ripples continue to distance themselves from the point of impact, the ability to maintain any control over their evolution is lost. People are just all too different.

Those difference are what makes our teams strong and viable, they bring creativity and innovation, and they create dialog and conversation that is impactful and productive. As leaders, understanding the ripple effect makes it incumbent on us to feed our teams with material that creates a positive impact as the ripples spread and grow. We must be encouraging and positive, we must build and foster independence, and we must take responsibility for the waves that we create in the lives and minds of our people. As we influence those closest to us, we need to do so in a manner that will allow them to have an equally positive impact when their pebbles hit the water.

Revitalize Your Year

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We’re six months in. Can you believe it? 2014 has flown by in a blur of activity and busyness, like most years do. Have you stopped to ask yourself – What have I gotten done?

When I was in high school, I played soccer for our school’s team. At the start of one of our games, our coach told us, “The game plan is simple – we need to score twice as many points as the other guys.” 45 minutes in, we came into the locker room for halftime. We were losing 2-0. Our coach was quiet for a minute, then he said, “Well, I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is, we only have half the time we did when we started. The good news is, our game plan hasn’t changed.”

Most people get into the summer months, and let off the gas. The beginning of the year is busy, busy, busy. Planning and new initiatives and quarterly focus gets us into our zone and it’s easy in that thrall of productivity to put blinders on and lose sight of the bigger picture. The goals and objectives we set for ourselves and for our organizations become lost in the process, or forgotten or abandoned because of new obstacles or priorities.

Advantages are hard to come by, and often the best ones come when we create them for ourselves. There is an opportunity halfway through the year to take a step back and hit your own personal reset button, to look at your plan, at your priorities, and at your goals, in an effort to make sure you’re being as productive and effective as you can be.

1.) Look at your resources.

Working the budget is one the most tedious projects of our daily grind. Constant checking and rechecking to make sure we’re in compliance and hitting our numbers. The spreadsheet defines us after a while – it’s our cross to carry and there is no escaping it. Our world is limited to the four little gray lines of those spreadsheet cells.

What would you do for your business if you had 1 million dollars to spend however you wanted? Would you invest in training for your people? In recruitment for a future generation? In wellness and health programs for your team? In expansion and growth into new markets?

The important question whether or not those things are only important if the money is free. Are those things not worth investing in if you don’t have an extra million bucks lying around? Take a hard look at your resources – have you gotten so wrapped up in the demands of the budget that you’re missing opportunities to utilize what you have in better ways?

 2.) Invest in yourself

Do you take enough time to work on making yourself a better version of the person you want to be? It’s very easy, in the daily grind of our routines, to spend effort and energy on the people around us. We invest in them, we work with them, we coach and train and lead them. But often, when all of that energy has been spent, there is nothing left over for ourselves.

The limitations to what we can accomplish are only as low as the limitations we put on ourselves. The investments you make into becoming a better person, leader, coach, co-worker, husband, mom, or whatever you are doing with your life will give you the greatest and most tangible return. It’s a positive investment that produces dividends across all circles of life – professional, personal, and community.

Read books, go to workshops, find a mentor – find ways that you can invest time and energy into becoming the version of yourself that you want to be. Make positive change happen in your life.

3.) Be a part of the solution.

What would you do if, tomorrow, you found out that you are the new CEO of your company? What changes would you make? What things would you add immediately to your organization? What things do you think need to go?

The best change in any organization starts from within – from the minds and hearts of the people who keep the wheels turning every day. Nobody is better positioned than you are to start meaningful growth and innovation in your organization than you are – so go do it. Find like-minded people. Be creative and courageous in your thinking and be vocal about supporting your ideas. The world needs people who will challenge the status quo for the benefit of the great good.

2014 is not over yet. There are six months full of potential ahead of us. While the rest of the world is lost in the mundane, just trying to make it to the holidays, seize the opportunity to reactivate your thinking, to energize your perspective, and to make change happen.

Fear vs. Confidence

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I was having a conversation this morning and the topic of pressure came up. It’s no secret that in the sales industry, regardless of your product, there is a lot of pressure to meet goals and fulfill quotas. It’s the never-ending story of sales – “What have you done for me lately?” is the question that overrides all past accomplishments. In competitive industries like healthcare or finance, the pressure grows with the mounting expectation of large revenue production and exaggerated profit margins. So, how do people cope? What’s the secret for dealing with these crushing expectations?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m of the opinion that too many people complicate the sales process. They make it a big scary thing and focus on the consequences of missing the mark rather than giving their effort and attention to the steps necessary to achieve the goal. It’s a matter of perspective – operating out of fear of failure rather than in confidence in the process causes worry, confusion, and discouragement.

How do you find success in the face of the pressure to achieve? Are you constantly chasing a rabbit out of fear, focusing your attention on what happens if you don’t succeed? Or are you doing what all successful salespeople do out of habit – spending your energy on the steps that consistently yield results, confident in the knowledge that your process will work?

Sense of Urgency

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Having a sense of urgency does not mean running around with your hair on fire. It doesn’t mean multi-tasking. It doesn’t mean being short or rude or angry. A sense of urgency is not something that appears because you have run out of time. It doesn’t manifest itself when all other options have been exhausted.

A sense of urgency is a carefully cultivated perspective on priorities. It is built on a carefully assembled understanding of clearly defined goals supported by purposeful and concrete expectations.

A sense of urgency starts long before the due date, and those who have it are able to consistently and steadfastly adhere to what it requires. Focus, energy, determination, and achievement.

Sense of Urgency