Welcome to The Leadership Corner

May 11, 2016

The purpose of The Leadership Corner is to provide valuable tips, research and connection to business leaders and managers who want to build their knowledge, skills and abilities together.  We also list free webinars and teleclasses on our Free Training Page.  Read more in About Us

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Categories: Accountability, Alignment, Attitude, Change management, Collaboration, Communication, Conflict, Culture, Customer satisfaction, Employee engagement, Employee satisfaction, High performance team, Leadership, Leadership development, Morale, Peformance management, Personal development, Strategic planning, Teamwork.

Good News About Hard Times

March 29, 2015

By Philip Humbert

This week, Mary and I watched “The Wilderness Years” video about Winston Churchill’s years as a “back bencher.” For ten years he suffered defeat after defeat. He was humiliated at the end of World War I, and spent the years that should have been the height of his career as a lonely outcast. He was defeated on “the India question.” He was on the wrong side when Edward abdicated the thrown. He was ridiculed for his views on Germany and the threat of war. He was broke and, at one point, nearly lost his home.

The strain tore at his family, and he struggled with the “black dog” of depression. The men in his family had a history of dying young and he feared that he, too, would die a failure and an outcast. He was 65 years old when he became Prime Minister.

I am convinced that much of the vigor, genius, stubbornness and resilience that made him such a magnificent leader came from those lonely years in the “wilderness.”

Too often, we forget the value of the “wilderness.”

We forget that Abraham Lincoln suffered defeat after defeat. He struggled with depression, poverty and ridicule. Ultimately, these experiences gave him the strength, and the vision, to become America’s greatest President.

Oprah Winfrey grew up in poverty. She was abused as a child. Personally, I am convinced that much of her appeal, and her power, comes from her ability to relate to ordinary people, particularly people who have suffered as she did.

Now obviously, suffering and rejection are not good things. We all want to avoid pain and no one wants to be an outsider.

What is interesting, however, is how we respond when hard times come our way.

Some people crumble. They become bitter and see the world as unfair. They view life as hard. They begin to think that they are “wrong” or flawed or unfit. At some level, they give up, or give in.

Others, however, hang tough. Like Churchill, they find reserves they never knew they had. They examine their beliefs and their strategies, adjusting where they can and must, and holding firm to the unchanging principles that guide their lives.

I would never wish adversity on anyone, and yet, without it, some of us will never know who we truly are. I love the quote from Nancy Reagan that “a woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” I trust that applies to men as well.

Many TIPS readers have known, or are currently enduring, tough times and I hesitate to offer any easy advice. Tough times are tough! They are not fun and they are not easy, and cheap or flippant advice is merely insulting. But tough times also bring out the best in us.

Tough times force us to examine ourselves. They burn out our weaknesses and flaws, and if viewed correctly, tough times prepare us for the future. Tough times may make us stronger. Tough times can force us to grow or change in ways that good times allow us to ignore or cover up. Tough times force us to discover what we are made of.

When adversity comes, and it comes in some measure to each of us, do not “accept” it! Rail and fight against it! Resist with all that is in you! But do not resent it. Learn from it and use it to your advantage.

Categories: Attitude, Personal development.

Getting Smarter, Stronger and Richer

August 23, 2013

By Phil Humbert

I’m often amazed at how few people intentionally plan their own Personal Development. Even folks who have precise, written goals for their business and finances, or who work hard on physical fitness rarely assess their personal strengths and weaknesses and devise a plan to live their lives with power, style, and grace.

To me, that’s a shame.

Living a great life is no accident! None of us was born knowing how to set priorities, how to develop our best skills or knowing how to get along with difficult people. Life does not come with an “owners manual.” That is up to each of us.

For better or worse, most of us sort of “absorb” some basic social skills and community standards, and often that’s enough for most people. But that level of “automatic” learning will never get you to the top. It will never let you achieve or be your best. It will make you “average,” and who wants to be average and ordinary?

Last week I was talking with a client about her list of “dailies.” This is a term I use in my own life and with most of my clients to describe a set of “daily disciplines” that remind me to grow, to learn, to focus on my values and become my best. In her case, we talked about starting with a Daily Three based on the affirmation that, “Every day I am getting Smarter, Stronger, and Richer.”

Getting Smarter

For this client “Getting Smarter” refers to learning something new, every single day. She’s committed to reading or listening to audio programs, or watching DVD’s that will teach her about business and sales, about history and culture, or about being a better parent to her young son.

Her commitment requires a few minutes a day, but every single day she wants to develop new and better skills in areas that are important to her. Even ten or twenty minutes, repeated daily, will make a huge difference. And so, she affirms, “Every day I am getting Smarter.”

Getting Stronger

My client is also committed to health and wellness. She’s young and vibrant and recently gave birth and she wants to be strong, fit and energized. So every day, she rides her bike or does some stretching or exercising. It may be only fifteen minutes, but over time that small investment will pay dramatic dividends. But only if she persists. So, she affirms, “Every day I’m getting Stronger.”

Getting Richer

She and her husband own a small business, but business skills don’t come naturally for her. No one taught her as a child or in college, so she’s intentionally learning to make more sales, to manage the “back office” and run the business. She figures the tuition of learning by trial-and- error will take too long and cost far too much, so she studies. She reads. She has a coach, and she’s taking classes. She’s getting good at this! And she affirms, “Every day, I’m getting Richer.”

Her list of Daily Disciplines has only three items, but she’s determined to invest a few minutes every day to become the entrepreneur, the Mom and the Person she wants to be. To help her get there, she repeats the affirmation, “Every day I’m getting Smarter, Stronger and Richer.”

Are you the person you want to be? Personal Development is an art, a skill, and a delight. Over time and with persistence, it lets you live an amazing, on-purpose life of your own choice, a life that is consistent with your most important values and priorities. Develop you own plan and your own affirmation. Then, take action! What are your “Dailies?” Write them down, develop a plan and follow- through.

Categories: Accountability, Alignment, Attitude, Change management.

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Sign Posts

May 22, 2013

by Michael George Price

At one time, I was traveling down the roads of my life so fast that I missed many important “sign posts”. It was as though I was driving down the highway at 90 to 100 mph, when I passed a sign that looked as though I should have read it but didn’t have time. Just as I settled back into my journey, I would whiz past another sign. I would ask myself “what did that sign say”, but I didn’t stop or slow down.

As an example, when I was a new recruit in the military, the drill sergeant and his staff selected me as the leader of a large group of fellow recruits. I had no military experience. I did not know marching commands or even how to salute properly. Yet, I was selected. When I moved on to technical training, I progressed to the highest student leadership level possible. Still, I did not recognize this sign that I had talents and gifts for leadership and communication.

There have been several such signs in my life that tried to tell me that I had gifts and talents for communication, teaching and leadership.

Finally, I slowed down enough to read the signs. When I did, I become aware that it was very familiar and similar to what the other signs had looked like.

When I took the time to look at, and read the signs, I started to notice and focus on the gifts, talents and passions that I have been given to use and bring to the world.

I believe the majority of us have experienced this. Most of us have missed many sign posts in our lives. We may be aware of the sign posts as they occur, but do not pay attention, recognizing their true value, what they were trying to tell us.

Learn to recognize and “read” the sign posts.

Categories: Alignment, Attitude.

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“Thinking Makes it So”

April 22, 2013

by Phil Humbert

 

There is great wisdom in the idea that “we become what we think about most of the time.” The human brain is a goal-seeking, problem-solving machine, and the things we think about, focus on, and worry about inevitably shape our destiny. We all know this, and yet most of us completely fail to see (or seize) the opportunity.

Most of us know the term, “GIGO”, which usually stands for “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. If you give a computer false data or confusing instructions, it dutifully processes the “garbage” you put in and gives you “garbage” back out.

In human terms, however, the phrase can also stand for “Good In, Good Out.”  I like that interpretation much better!

This week I’ve been contemplating the things most of us “put in” to our lives.

I caught myself getting addicted or obsessed with the news from Boston. I think many other people did, too. For myself, the only good thing about it was that it was so obvious! By focusing on evil and violence, destruction and carnage, I made myself anxious! My blood pressure was probably up; I know my productivity was down. And for what?

Nothing bad happened around here. No one threatened my life, my family or my local community. But I got “caught up” in the drama and filled my life with some of the most gruesome images and fears imaginable. I can’t see the benefit in that–awareness of current events, yes. Compassion for the people of Boston? Certainly! But fascination with violence and watching the “news” all day long? Not so good.

As I get older, I may be getting cranky, but there seems to be an amazing amount of garbage in our society. From local traffic fatalities to wars and famine and pestilence around the world, the news is full of stomach-turning images. There’s even a cynical phrase for it: “If it bleeds, it leads!” How sick is that?

And more personally, why do we permit it to enter our brains?

This week, I also had several emails and conversations with people who inspired me for GOOD! One woman, age 67, wrote that she was considering canceling her subscription to TIPS because she was no longer going to have any goals except to “do what I want, have fun and leave this world a little bit better.”  I wrote back that I thought that was “one of the most courageous goals I’ve heard in a long time.” I hope she’s still a subscriber!

I thought of a man who is leaving a lucrative law practice to teach high school math. He’ll earn less, but as he said, “(our) kids are on their own, our expenses are down, and I think I can contribute more that way, than in the boardrooms where I’ve spent most of my life.” He’s pursuing a grand dream, and my guess is he’ll have the best (and perhaps some of the worst) days of his life! At least, he’ll know he’s alive! Whoopee!

Several years ago, Michael Clark, gave me a wonderful phrase. He said, “When you do what you love, you’ll never work another day the rest of your life.”  I love that, and have (usually) found it to be true.

Sure, some clients frustrate me, and sometimes I frustrate myself, and life throws a curve once in a while, but doing what we love, what we’re good at, and what fulfills us, changes everything!

In my opinion, if you truly desire to live well, to achieve much and (perhaps) to make some real money, consider these two propositions:

  1. Refuse to fill your time, your life or your brain with garbage. Read the best stuff. Talk with the healthiest, wisest, smartest, most ambitious people you can. Attend the seminars, learn from the experts! Listen to amazing music. Sit quietly and listen to your heart. Laugh a lot, and take naps. Worship often, and be grateful.
  2. Do what you love. You will make your biggest contribution when you passionately pursue your talents and use your strengths. Martin Luther King, Jr. did many great things, but perhaps his greatest moment came when he proclaimed, “I have a dream!” We all remember that, and millions have been inspired by it. What’s your dream?

Some of us can change jobs or move around the world whenever we wish.  For others, there are responsibilities and obligations and things take more time, but in the end, life is to be lived and it requires our very best. Life, and success, will never settle for anything less. “Good In, Good Out!”

Categories: Attitude.

Expect Excellence in All Things

February 11, 2013

by Phil Humbert

There are two famous recommendations that I don’t agree with. They are supposed to lead to the “good life” but I don’t think they work. The first is “all things in moderation,” and the second is the quest for “perfection.”

Regarding moderation, I much prefer the wonderful quote from May West that “too much of a good thing is just right.” What a great attitude!

I deserve LOTS of great things in my life! I deserve all the health, joy, love, great memories, passion and fulfillment I can get!

Now, I admit, I have noticed that moderation in some things is a good thing. Moderation in drinking, for instance, seems to reduce hangovers, accidents, addiction, and all sorts of embarrassing moments. Likewise, moderating my consumption of chips, dip and hot dogs seems to be good.

Moderating my spending to match my income also seems wise.

But when it comes to the things that make life worth-while, I HATE moderation! Why would I settle for a “little” happiness when the world is designed to fill my life with joy?! Why would I work like a slave, when wealth and play and freedom and love are all around me? Sure, I work to earn money (and to make my unique contribution), but I’d much rather practice “moderation” in work and “let her rip” when it comes to joy and personal development!

I don’t believe in “moderation in all things.” Be very, very careful about the things you “practice in moderation!”

Similarly, trying to make life “perfect” is a trap. Very few things in life are “perfect” because life is always changing. If it was perfect a moment ago, it may already be deteriorating or evolving into something new. Or my tastes may have changed–perhaps I’ve outgrown it–and am no longer satisfied. Very few things in life are “perfect” and even fewer things remain so for long.

More importantly, since we aren’t perfect, very few of the things we do are perfect, either. There’s a wonderful quote about the great Howard Hughes that, for all his genius and wealth and power, “he sought a perfection that assured failure.”

Don’t do that to yourself! It doesn’t work out well.

Instead, strive for excellence. Strive for a GREAT life, not a perfect one. Trouble happens. Mistakes happen. Bad luck and misfortune, and yes, evil and tragedy happen. But good things happen, too. Excellence and wisdom, love and joy never go out of style. We never outgrow our desire for celebration, achievement, personal growth and new things.

I am totally convinced it is possible to live a World Class Life! In fact, I believe it is the MINIMUM we should expect of ourselves. Who would choose a life of safe mediocrity? Who would develop only part of their potential, or use only some of their talent or a bit of their creativity? No one would do that!

Every day, get up and go for excellence. Expect the very best in your relationships–a hug and a smile are a great way to start your day! Expect superb service and great results. Expect beauty and humor, inspiration and lots of fun. Expect to focus on your work, and to work long and hard to accomplish magnificent outcomes. And expect extraordinary peace, joy and satisfaction in life, every day. Settle for nothing less.

Categories: Attitude, Personal development.

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Abundance, Gratitude and Ambition

November 19, 2012

This week we celebrate our American Thanksgiving.  Canada celebrated theirs a few weeks ago, and other countries have their own schedules, but this week America pauses to reflect and give thanks.

I know (and love!) that Thanksgiving has become a favorite time for family reunions, enormous feasts, and football.   This is good!

But it is also appropriate to pause and reflect. As much or more than other nations, we have a unique story.

Modern America began with a group of refugees washed up on the shores of theNew World.  They braved the Atlantic in tiny, leaking ships, leaving family and everything familiar behind, knowing that for most of them it was a one-way trip.  They were a desperate bunch, seeking liberty, freedom of religion, and (at least in part) adventure.

The first year, they nearly starved.  They tried forming a communal society, but it quickly broke down and so they divided up the land into personal plots, encouraged individual effort, and by the second year they had cause to celebrate.  They gave thanks.

As we have our day of Thanksgiving, I encourage you to ponder the relationship between abundance, gratitude, and ambition. 

We have much to be grateful for.  Almost everyone who reads this is rich.  We sometimes forget that, and mostly take it for granted.  We have warm homes, clothes on our backs, food on the table, microwave ovens and cell phones. We have cars, which are frequently parked on the street because our garages are full of our “stuff.”

And still we worry about lack and shortage. We worry about the lack of money, or an energy shortage. We worry whether we’ll have enough to retire or put our kids through college.

So it is a vital question: Do we live in a world of abundance, or a world of lack? It’s a very personal decision, based on your own perspective. I can’t give you the answer, but I’m convinced how you answer that question does make a difference. It changes you attitude, your self-image, and your view of the world around you. Personally, I see a world of abundance, but that’s just me.

I see a world of abundant opportunity and energy, a world over-flowing with light and freedom, with creativity, and chances to make a difference.  How about you?

Second, many have noted that the “attitude of gratitude” opens doors and empowers us.  If we live with fear or jealousy, an attitude of lack or anxiety, everything we do is inhibited and hesitant.  Gratitude gives courage. It fosters optimism, and reduces the sense of risk.   In a world in which we strive and fight for every scrap, we dare not take risks or act boldly, for fear of losing what little we have.

But in a world of abundance and with an attitude of gratitude, we are free.  We can strive boldly, we can take wild, crazy risks, and enjoy the ride.  Which, I suspect, is the source and definition of ambition. 

Many have achieved great things with an unhealthy attitude of “getting all you can” or “doing unto others before they do unto you,” but their success seldom lasts.  That attitude of fear and greed and competing for scarce and fleeting success, carries within itself the seeds of its own downfall.

True ambition is the desire to build, to create, to respond eagerly to the riches around us and make things better for as many people, in as many ways, as we can.

This Thanksgiving, notice the abundance around us.  Be grateful!  And out of abundance and gratitude, renew your commitment to create something special, something lasting, something that will benefit all of humankind.

by Phil Humbert

Categories: Attitude, Leadership, Personal development.

Where Are You Going in Life?

November 11, 2012

by Phil Humbert 

This week, along with doing some good work and enjoying good times with family, I’ve been surrounding myself with history. There’s some amazing history in the old mines and ranches around us in Colorado, and I’ve been sampling moments of the History Channel’s series on the industrialists who built the railroads, steel mills, and inventions of the 19th century. It’s wonderful material and when I get a chance, I’m eager to watch the entire series on DVD.

 I’ve also been reading Conrad Black’s extraordinary biography of Franklin Roosevelt. The thing is massive (over 1300 pages!) but so well written it goes fast and gives a rich picture of this incredible man.

Obviously, there are many things to learn from FDR, but what stands out for me is that he knew where he was going in life.

So many of us never figure that out. Even when he didn’t have a clue how to solve the challenges of the Great Depression, he never doubted his long-term direction in life. When polio robbed him of his health and threatened his life, he never doubted. He simply renewed his determination to hold high office and live the life he wanted. Are you as clear about your goals?

What is the “big idea” in your life? What’s the ultimate destination for you? Whether you call it your purpose or mission, or refer to it as your goal or use some other label, I’m convinced that knowing what we truly want in life is essential. Without a vision, a “north star” or major dream, I think we waste too much time wandering around. We feel “lost” or confused. We try things but eventually our enthusiasm wanes and we end up “starting over.”

That was not a problem for President Roosevelt. Obviously he had flaws and it wouldn’t surprise me if as many of our readers condemn him as admire him. We can disagree over his politics, his values, his behavior and so forth.

But we can still learn from his sense of purpose.

His life took many detours, most notably because of his polio. He was reluctant to run for Governor of New York in 1928, and his personal finances and his family life were often a mess, but through it all he kept his eyes on the prize. He aimed to become President because he saw it as his destiny. He worked for it and he never flinched.

What is the theme and major challenge of your life? What is your destiny?

Many of us say we “don’t know” but I think, deep inside, most of us do know. What we lack is not the “knowing” but the commitment and a strategy for getting there. Without a sense of “how to do it” we are easily discouraged. We get lost or distracted by the stresses of daily life.

Don’t let that happen!

You have a purpose. Dig deep to discover (or recover) your dream and find ways to move in the direction of your most important priorities. The path is unlikely to be straight or easy, but it’s critical that you keep going.

In life, we get pretty much what we think about all day long. In the long run, we get what we expect; we end up where we are headed. In our daily lives, it’s critical that we are clear about our direction and that we keep going.

Surround yourself with people and books and activities and events that move you toward your ultimate goals. You probably won’t get there in a day, or even in a year, but it’s essential that you keep going. But, “Where are you going in life?” really is a vital question. Whatever your ultimate destination, think about it all day, every day, until one day you may wake up to find that you’ve arrived.

Categories: Attitude, Leadership, Personal development.

What Are You Looking Forward To?

April 4, 2012

A couple weeks ago, Mary asked me one of those simple little questions that sometimes unlock profound insights.

She asked me, “What are you looking forward to?”

At the time, she was thinking of a trip we have planned to see her family this spring. It’s not a big deal. We were just chatting about schedules and details, when she said, “I’m really excited about this trip; what are you looking forward to?”

Her simple question set loose a series of “ponderings” that are still rattling around in my head. I thought about the old saying that, “in life we usually get what we expect.” I remembered President Obama’s campaign slogan about “hope and change” and his suggestion that we should look forward to better days. And I thought about how our expectations for the future impact our daily actions–and end up creating our future for us.

I also thought about how often we are encouraged to both “live in the present” and to “set goals for the future.”

There is a real paradox that while happiness is a present- moment, here-and-now experience, we are simultaneously encouraged to plan and build a better future, as if the present is badly flawed or unacceptable. So, which is it?

Do we live in the moment, savoring each glorious day? Or do we work harder, hoping that “someday” things will get better? Or, if it’s a mix of the two, what’s the proper ratio of pleasure today verses hard work for “tomorrow?”

In terms of peace of mind and ultimate success, what’s the magic formula? No one ever talks about that. So I’ve been pondering Mary’s question, “What are you looking forward to?”

I’ve come up with three answers that may help.

1.  We need happiness today! I seem to need something to enjoy, to laugh at or play with, just about every day.

Maybe that’s because I never learned about “delayed gratification,” but I have to look forward to dinner, or a movie, or walking my dog in the rain, or time to cuddle with Mary pretty much every day. Oh, sure, I’m a grown-up, so I can maybe wait a day or two, or even until the weekend, but joy is not something to postpone.

To stay motivated and focused, I need my “instant gratification” every day! I think most of us need (and deserve) some happiness and laughter, some fun and joy, every single day. Else, what’s all the work supposed to accomplish?

2.  We need periodic victory celebrations! I suspect there is tremendous wisdom in the “coincidence” that we celebrate various holidays every few weeks throughout the year. Most cultures celebrate the seasons of the year. We celebrate the first snow fall, the birds of spring, our birthdays and anniversaries and religious holidays. We all need something “just down the road” to keep us going.

Make sure you have lots of “30-day celebrations” on your calendar. Schedule weekends with a loved one. Use the various national holidays, or make up your own, but always have an event or a “finish line” just a few weeks ahead of you. And make sure it’s full of fun, a festival worth getting excited about! I think it helps.

3.  We need long-term goals and major celebrations. The research says that a sense of purpose, of doing important work and achieving big goals is essential for real happiness. And that sounds right to me. We need to know that we are doing things that matter, that we are making life better and contributing to human well-being. Even if the final victory is far down the road, we need to be going in a useful direction and doing important things.

I think too many of us get so serious about our long-term goals that we forget to celebrate the joys of life! Or, conversely, we get so caught-up in having fun–spending money, doing “stuff”–that we fail to accomplish the big, important and lasting things. As always, the key is balance.

My conclusions? Enjoy each day! Have some fun. Play. Make love. Fly a kite or romp with a dog. I like to celebrate each sunrise, but maybe that’s just me. Find your joy and celebrate it every day. But also look forward to a holiday, or a birthday, or any of the celebrations that will keep you focused through a season of hard work. And, above all, stay true to the major goals and purposes of your life. In the end, you want the sublime satisfaction of a life lived well. Never lose sight of that!

by Phil Humbert

Categories: Attitude, Personal development.

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A Gift in Disguise

March 20, 2012

All of us have had, and continue to have people/situations/occurrences/events in our lives that we interpret as good or bad, happy or sad. We know how to handle the good and happy events in our lives. We enjoy!

In each event we interpret as bad or sad, there is a gift disguised as a problem. Each of us have had, and will periodically continue to have bad, sad or negative events/encounters in our lives. In each of those situations, there is a lesson for us to learn, an opportunity to grow.

We normally feel the emotion of the event, which is natural. However, many times we fail to learn the embedded lesson. Often, we continue to feel the emotion long past what is healthy for us. We re-live the situation over and over (Self-Talk).

It is said that we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. If this is true, then we should view our mistakes or events in our lives as an opportunity to learn.

Certainly we need to feel the emotion. And the more severe the event, the longer we will naturally feel the emotion. However, at some point it is time to “Learn the Lesson” and move-on.

We are feeling beings. We are also problem solving beings with the gift of “Original Thought”. So, when the time is appropriate, we need to “Leave the Event” behind, and carry the lesson into our future. We can then put the lessons learned into our tool-box of experience to deal with future events.

By Michael Price

Categories: Attitude, Change management, Personal development.

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The Four Keys

March 6, 2012

The Ken Blanchard Companies have found that in organizations where leading at a higher level is the rule rather than the exception, leaders do four things well.

  1. They set their sights on the right target and vision.
    Great organizations focus on three bottom lines instead of just one. In addition to financial success, leaders at great organizations know that measuring their success with people–both customers and employees–is just as important as measuring the success of their financial bottom line. In these organizations, developing loyal customers and engaged employees are considered equal to good financial performance. Leaders at these companies know that in order to succeed they must create a motivating environment for employees, which results in better customer service, which leads to higher profits.
  2. They treat their customers right.
    To keep your customers today, you can’t be content just to satisfy them. Instead, you have to create raving fans–customers who are so excited about the way you treat them that they want to tell everyone about you. Companies that create raving fans routinely do the unexpected on behalf of their customers, and then enjoy the growth generated by customers bragging about them to prospective clients.
  3. They treat their people right.
    Without committed and empowered employees, you can never provide good service. You can’t treat your people poorly and expect them to treat your customers well. Treating your people right begins with good performance planning that gets things going in the right direction by letting direct reports know what they will be held accountable for–goals–and what good behavior looks like–performance standards. It continues with managers who provide the right amount of direction and support that each individual employee needs in order to achieve those goals and performance standards.
  4. They have the right kind of leadership.
    The most effective leaders realize that leadership is not about them and that they are only as good as the people they lead. These leaders seek to be serving leaders instead of self-serving leaders. In this model, once a vision has been set, leaders move themselves to the bottom of the hierarchy, acting as a cheerleader, supporter, and encourager to the people who report to them.

Categories: Accountability, Attitude, Customer satisfaction, Employee engagement, Employee satisfaction, Leadership.

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Curious Insight into Employee Motivation and the Pygmalion Effect

February 6, 2012

Great Performance Starts with Great Expectations No, by “great expectations,” I’m not referring to the Dickens book. Presumably when you hire or promote someone, you expect great things from them. You don’t think, “Yes, this warm body will be adequate enough, I suppose.” If so, then you’re probably not reading this article. Studies based on the … Read More

Categories: Accountability, Attitude, Change management, Culture, Employee engagement, Employee satisfaction, Leadership.

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Direction, Momentum & Goal Achievement

January 29, 2012

This week’s TIPS has two objectives — to give you a model for achievement in 2012, and to give you a loving but swift kick in the butt to get going! (Or a big hug and high five if you are already on your way!)

It’s the end of January! If you aren’t on your way to making 2012 your best year ever, it’s past time to get started! True, the year is only 8% completed, but that means you should be at least 8% of the way to your goal! As the poet said, it’s time to “be up and doing!”

So, let me ask some questions to help you focus. What, exactly, has changed since January 1st? What are you doing more of? Or less of? What has changed for the better? If I walked into your office, what would tell me (instantly and without any doubt) that you’re serious about your goals? If I were your spouse, how would our family routine have changed since January 1st?

Remember, “nothing changes until something changes.” And the primary thing that has to change is YOU. You either change your focus and your behavior, you develop new patterns or new skills and new priorities, or to be blunt, nothing is going to change for you. It’s the end of January. Let’s get this show on the road!

Which begs the question, How?

By now, many subscribers are probably noticing that the goals you set a few weeks ago have not, so far, resulted in the progress you would like. Perhaps, not much has changed…and that feels all too familiar! (If things have changed, WAY TO GO! Keep it up!)

I believe the great weakness of most goal-setting programs is their lack of daily detail, the lack of a recipe for incremental progress.

One of the quotes that inspires me was Jim Rohn’s definition of success. He said “success is making reasonable progress in reasonable time toward a worthwhile goal.” I like that!

It’s very rare that success happens over-night. Most of the time, success is an on-going process of becoming the person, and doing the things, and getting the things we want.

And that means daily action in the direction you want to go.

Let me be clear. I love BIG goals! I have BIG goals and I hope you do, too. But the bigger the goal, the more steps and the more time will likely be required to get there. So the real questions for big-time goal achievement are about “Daily Direction” and “Maintaining Momentum.”

Daily Direction is having absolute clarity about what you will do and, perhaps even more importantly, what you will no longer do. It’s about knowing that every single day you are either moving toward your goal, or you’re slightly off-course, moving away from our goal. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” But the key is that a long journey also requires thousands of consecutive steps that all follow the same path!

Review and re-commit to your goals every day. Be absolutely clear about what it will take to get there, and then be sure you take some step, no matter how large or small, in pursuit of your goals every single day.

It’s rare (and wonderful!) when we can take giant leaps. But most days, we take smaller steps. We read something, or make one more phone call. We problem-solve, or practice a new skill one more time. Every day, make some progress!

And that’s what Maintaining Momentum is all about. Most people fail at this. They work really hard or do something dramatic for a day, but then they get distracted and take no action toward their goals for the next two weeks! That’s a set-up for failure. Don’t do it!

Start every day by reviewing your major goals and write down some action, big or small, that you will take TODAY. Move slightly closer every single day.

“Inch by inch, anything’s a cinch. Yard by yard, everything is hard!” To reach your goals in 2012, remember it’s not a sprint but a marathon. Every day, review and re-commit to your goals, check your direction, and take some action to Maintain Momentum. I think you’ll like the results.

by Phil Humbert

Categories: Accountability, Attitude, Change management, Leadership development, Personal development.

We Are Not Billiard Balls!

January 15, 2012

You and I are not ruled by Newton’s Laws of Physics. It’s true that Newton’s Laws do explain a lot about the world around us–gravity and stuff like that. But you and I are not billiard balls bounced around by nature! We are not planets wandering aimlessly through space.

We seem to have something called “Free Will.” We make decisions and occasionally we surprise ourselves! 

Philosophers can debate the details, but as far as I can tell, I DECIDE what to wear each morning. I think you really can DECIDE whether or not to read this article. You can decide what’s for dinner. You can decide what you’ll read or watch or do with your time. And sometimes, just for fun, we make decisions that shock and amaze even our best friends– “You’re doing WHAT????”

This issue of free will has a rich history with philosophers and theologians. It played a huge role in the Reformation, the founding of the early American colonies, and it still troubles behavioral Psychologists today.

And it is the power behind all success (and failure) in life.

In the most practical sense, the biggest force I see opposed to Free Will is a little thing called, “Habit.” Sometimes it goes by other names and you may recognize it as your Comfort Zone or Tradition or Other People’s Expectations.

Try to imagine two grand forces, a very personal little war between Good and Evil, except there’s nothing spiritual or super-natural about it. It exists in your own life, in your thoughts and imagination.

On the one side is Free Will.  For now, this is the good guy!  (Free Will can get us into a world of hurt, too, but for now let’s look at the Good Side.)  Free Will asks you to explore new ideas, to pursue your dreams, and try things. It’s full of possibilities and daring new options. It argues that you could double your income, learn a language, learn to dance or move to Paris, just for the fun of it. Free Will says, “I can if I want to!”

On the other hand is Habit. Habit says things like, “Don’t rock the boat.” Don’t take chances, and “this is how we’ve always done it.” Habit keeps things safe and familiar to the point of boredom. Habit keeps you in a rut.

Personally, I prefer to focus my time and energy on Free Will. It’s seems to be more fun!

If I have Free Will, I can change things. If I have Free Will, I can learn stuff. With Free Will, my life can be different and better than it is! What a concept!

With the power of Free Will, I can look at my life and dream big dreams. Powered by this wild idea that I’m not a billiard ball bouncing through life, I can DECIDE my trajectory! I can break old Habits and learn new skills.

This is what Self-Directed Evolution is all about. If Free Will exists, we should use it! If we have freedom of choice, it seems likely that over time and with some effort and persistence, we can actually create the life we want. Again, what a concept!

Can you change everything about your life over-night? Or in 30 days? It seems unlikely. But by exercising your Free Will and persistently doing the right things, in the right way, at the right time, you can evolve to become the person and enjoy the life you truly want. I believe this!

There are some key questions you must ask and answer, however.

  1. What do you want?
  2. What will I have to change?
  3. Will I make the appropriate choices day by day, until I get there? 

If you don’t agree that Free Will exists, then of course I’m mistaken and this is just wishful thinking. Without Free Will, we really are just billiard balls bouncing through space. But if we do have Free Will, then a world of choice and responsibility opens up for us. It’s your call.

For myself, I choose Free Will and the responsibilities of Self-Directed Evolution. I really do believe I can choose, and with time and effort, create the life I truly want. I hope you agree with me!

by Phil Humbert

Categories: Accountability, Attitude, Leadership, Leadership development.

Self-Directed Evolution in 2012

January 1, 2012

In the next twelve months you will learn things. You’ll leave old habits behind and acquire new ones. In fifty-two weeks, you will learn new skills, eliminate old beliefs and delete old software. There will be new things to entertain us, and new problems to challenge us. A year is a long time.  Stuff happens.

In a year, you’ll grow into a brand new person!

The question is not whether you will have new skills and new habits a year from now. The really important question is whether you will direct and control your own evolution.

Self-directed evolution is vital for your future!

 Many people set goals to create specific changes in their lives. That’s good! Whenever possible, I favor committed, focused effort to transform your life! Set goals.  Develop plans. Work your program and make the changes you want for your life!   

Goals are good! Go for it!

But even more powerful than goals, we are influenced by every-day evolution. We are gradually influenced, every single day, by a thousand small shifts that come into our lives.

I remember an episode of the old “Seinfeld” TV show that introduced the phrase, “Yada, yada, yada!” Suddenly, everyone, everywhere was using the phrase to complete stories and finish sentences. It was amazing! And unplanned.

With the possible exception of a few writers and performers on the show, that addition to our vocabulary was not planned or anticipated by anyone. And yet over-night, the English language changed! Suddenly, we had a whole new way of communicating ideas and telling stories.

We evolve like that all the time.

I am convinced that we are influenced far more than we know by our environment.  When we watch stories filled with war and catastrophe, it frightens us. Many studies have shown that people who watch the most television are more fearful, more anxious and more stressed. The things we think about do shape our lives.

Fortunately, however, we can easily surround ourselves with art and literature, with interesting people and dynamic conversation. We can listen to the best music, and focus on opportunities, on our goals, and the people we love. We can surround ourselves with humor and encouragement, and once again, the things we think about will shape our lives.

You will evolve in 2012. You will learn new words, new ideas, new skills and new abilities. You will meet new people, read new books, watch new things. And they will all, slowly but surely, shape your life.

One of the keys to both external success and internal happiness is choosing (carefully!) the ways in which we evolve.

Only humans can intentionally direct their own evolution.  It’s one of the most powerful tools we have! And yet only a tiny handful take advantage of it.

Most people carefully choose their goals each year. That’s good!

But, I hope you will be just as thoughtful about the “little things” that influence you more quietly, the things that fill your environment with hidden or subtle messages.  Choose the radio station in your car. Choose the books on your coffee table. Choose the shows and movies you watch. Think about the people you associate with and listen to their words with a “third ear” that scrutinizes everything and asks, “Is this good for me?”

Your life will be shaped in powerful ways by the “stuff” that surrounds you every day, all year long. Choose well!  

Control your environment so that your world “automatically” encourages and rewards you for becoming the person you want to be. Remember, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It applies not just to people we associate with, but to books, television, activities and most of all, to the thoughts we think.

In 2012, evolve wisely!

by Phil Humbert

Categories: Attitude, Leadership, Personal development.

The Comfort Zone

December 21, 2011

As I set my personal and business goals for 2012, I’ve been thinking about what motivates me and what holds me back.   I ran across this poem about ‘My Comfort Zone and it made me think.  I’m sending it to you as food for thought as you reflect on last year and set your goals for next year.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  • Once you set your goals, write them down, post them and share them, you will still need to look at them daily or weekly to keep you focused.
  • While you are filling your calendar, consider how each of those activities will help you achieve your goals – or not.   Schedule your time wisely and recognize your priorities – don’t settle for what you already have.
  • Don’t move into your comfort zone.  Why not you ask?  As much as the comfort zone keeps us safe and doesn’t push us to do more, there’s a cost for not pushing us to do more.  See, the comfort zone limits us, ‘to protect us’.
  • If we are in our comfort zone, we can’t grow.  Just like a pot-bound plant, we can die or quit if we don’t have room to stretch, change and try new things.


My Comfort Zone – Author Unknown

I used to have a comfort zone where I knew I wouldn’t fail.
The same four walls and busywork were really more like jail.
I longed so much to do the things I’d never done before,
But stayed inside my comfort zone and paced the same old floor.
I said it didn’t matter that I wasn’t doing much.
I said I didn’t care for things like commission checks and such.
I claimed to be so busy with the things inside the zone,
But deep inside I longed for something special of my own.
I couldn’t let my life go by just watching others win.
I held my breath; I stepped outside and let the change begin.
I took a step and with new strength I’d never felt before,
I kissed my comfort zone goodbye and closed and locked the door.
If you’re in a comfort zone, afraid to venture out,
Remember that all winners were at one time filled with doubt.
A step or two and words of praise can make your dreams come true.
Reach for your future with a smile; success is there for you!

What are your goals for 2012?  Who do you want to become and what do you want to be known for?  What will you do to step out of your comfort zone this year?

Categories: Accountability, Attitude, Change management, Personal development.

Tags: , ,

The Gift of Gratitude

November 25, 2011

For some, Thanksgiving is the beginning of a holiday season filled with joy and happiness at the prospect of spending time with family.  For others, it’s a sadder time blemished by bad memories or dread.  Some people see their lives filled with abundant blessings and find thankfulness easy and natural; others are so pre-occupied with tending to past wounds or current crises that they simply don’t feel grateful.

Regardless of where you fit on this spectrum, I hope you will approach this Thanksgiving with a commitment to give yourself and others who deserve it the gift of gratitude.

Sincerely thanking others for something they did or for the role they play in your life is not merely good manners and good ethics.  I think William James was right when he said, “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”  Fortunately, it’s a need easily met.  It costs so little and means so much.  Just putting appreciation into words can make someone’s day, or even change their life.

But there is another side of gratitude and it should play a much larger part in your life.  Expressing gratitude is what you do for others, but experiencing gratitude is what you must do for yourself.  Willie Nelson, after struggling with depression and addiction, said, “When I started counting my blessings my whole life turned around.” 

Feeling gratitude is a potent tonic that can immeasurably improve your happiness and sense of well-being.   Author Melodie Beatie tells us why.  “Gratitude” she says, “unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.” 

The platitudes are true.  The key to happiness is deciding to be happy.  It’s not getting more than you have; it’s appreciating what you have. 

So, whether things are going well or poorly, this Thanksgiving, open up a new emotional bank account and start filling it with all the things that deserve your gratitude.  If you do, you will have even more to be grateful for.

by Michael Josephson

Categories: Attitude, Culture, Leadership development, Personal development.

Where are you going?

October 25, 2011

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village.  A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

Not very long, they answered in unison. 

Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more? 

The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.

But what do you do with the rest of your time?

We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take siestas with our wives.  In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. We have a full life.

The tourist interrupted, I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!  You should start by fishing longer every day.  You can then sell the extra fish you catch and with the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. 

And after that?

With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.  Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant.  You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise. 

How long would that take?

Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years. replied the tourist.

And after that? Afterwards?

Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting, answered the tourist, laughing.  When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!

Millions?  Really?  And after that? asked the fishermen.

After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends. With all due respect sir, but that’s exactly what we are doing now.

So what’s the point wasting twenty-five years?

The moral of the story…       

Know where you’re going in life….you may already be there! 

Author unknown

Categories: Alignment, Attitude, Leadership, Personal development.

Trapped in the jar?

October 3, 2011

Have you ever seen an animal reach into a container and grasp an object with its hand or mouth and not be able to remove it from the container?

As thinking people, we know the animal can let go of the object, remove its hand or head, tip the container upside down, and let the object fall out.

Metaphorically, how often do we find ourselves in similar situations – situations where we have grabbed onto something and will not let it go, causing us to be stuck or even trapped.  We continue to hold onto the person, thought, idea, image, situation, belief or ???

The idea is that we are crippling ourselves by hanging on, not letting go.  While crippled in this manner, we are not able to get or accept other gifts coming our way.  Our tight fisted grasp keeps us “trapped in the jar”. 

We must let go of the past – of the thoughts holding us back – of the need to be right, before we can accept the gifts of now.

Use your skills to learn the lessons in your life.  Then let go of the person, thought, idea, image, situation, belief or ???, and “take your hand out of the jar”.

by Michael Price

Categories: Accountability, Attitude, Personal development.

Mirror, Mirror . . .

September 26, 2011

My life reflects my beliefs and my consistent thoughts.  My powerful mind produces for me what I believe and gives me what I focus on.

When I look in a mirror I see me. I see me reflected back at me.  When I look at my life I see my consistent thoughts and beliefs reflected back at me.  

We reap what we sow.

If we don’t like what we see in our life, we must sow different seeds.  We must focus our consistent thoughts and pictures on what we want in our life, not what we don’t want. Our focus must be on the affirmative, not the negative.

If our life reflects sadness, anxiety and/or lack, guest what? We are sowing those seeds.

If we want our life to reflect joy, happiness and abundance, guess what? We need to start sowing consistent thoughts and visions of joy, happiness and abundance.

Use your skills to change what is reflected in your life.

 by Michael Price

Categories: Attitude, Leadership, Personal development.

The Joy of Creative Labor

September 5, 2011

In the U.S., this is our “Labor Day” weekend, a time when we generally do our best to avoid anything that looks like work.  Many will go camping, spend the day at the beach, or perhaps at a family picnic.

Unfortunately, very few will pause to be thankful for the work they do.  Only a handful will take time to honor and acknowledge the joy of work, and I find that very sad.

Too many of us believe “work” is something to be avoided, and these people wish for a path to instant wealth, because then they would “never work again.” I suspect that’s one reason the universe makes sure most of them never acquire that kind of instant wealth! I see work as a great honor and source of fulfillment, although I admit there is both “good” work and “bad” work.

“Bad” work is something for which we are not suited, or which we do for the wrong motives. For me, “bad” work would be trying to earn a living as a musician.  My brother plays cello for the Jacksonville symphony, and for him, music is the work of the angels.  He was blessed with great talent and he loves it.  I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, and when I was a kid, piano lessons were a lot of “work” for me, my parents, and Mrs. Bystrom, my long-suffering piano teacher.

Doing work for which we are ill-suited, it seems to me, is so stressful that it borders on the immoral.  Life is meant to be lived, to be joyful, and to be productive.  Doing “work” we hate gives honorable work a bad name.

As I see it, work is our chance to partner with God in the creation of a better, richer, more exciting world.  Work is our opportunity to build, to create, to leave our footprints in the sands of time.  Work is our chance to say, “I was here, I made a difference and I left things better than I found them.”  That is work worth doing! 

Over the years, through my various jobs and hobbies, I’ve met wonderful people who reflected their life’s meaning and purpose in their work.  Some were artists in how they drove a delivery truck, others found joy in Police work, writing, doing therapy, or in construction.  One of my golfing partners loves teaching high school biology, and it shows in his attitude and in his student’s grades.

Vicki is a server at my favorite coffee shop. She has 3 kids, her husband is a chef, and for whatever reason, helping a couple hundred people start their day with hot coffee, a good breakfast and a smile is her calling in life.  She’s a treasure, and is loved by hundreds of loyal customers.

One of the wisest things anyone ever said to me is, “Find something you truly love to do, and you’ll never work another day the rest of your life.”  While I quibble with that disparaging definition of “work,” the point is essential.  In our technological age, we have the greatest freedom in history to find work that is perfect for us!

Work is a very personal thing.  It’s about combining your time and effort with your talents, skills and the situation around you to make things better.  It’s about making a difference.  It’s about making your contribution, and being productive. 

This Labor Day, give thanks for the work you do and the difference it makes.  Celebrate your contribution to your community and our world. And, if you are not doing the “perfect” job for you, pledge that by next year, you WILL be doing the right work.  Life is too short to spend it doing work for which you are not suited or passionate! You owe that to yourself and to the world.  We need your best stuff, your best effort, your passion and your unique genius.  We need Vicki’s smile at breakfast.

by Phil Humbert

Categories: Accountability, Attitude, Employee satisfaction, Leadership development, Personal development.

The Four Easy Steps to Happiness

August 14, 2011

There is no doubt that we want to “be happy” and that happiness enriches our lives.  Happy people live up to eight years longer!  Happy people are more confident.  They have better relationships and more energy.  Happy people make more money and they achieve their goals more often and with greater feelings of satisfaction and joy.  Happiness feels good (who wants to be miserable?) and it’s good for us!

We’re learning a lot about happiness.  We’re learning that money, fame, even power, long-life and health do not “make” us happy.  Everyone knows, or is familiar with people who have “made it to the top” but remain unhappy people.  What a shame!

At the same time, we also know that millions of people who achieve little in terms of “success” can be supremely happy!

What an irony!  Viktor Frankl, in his account of surviving the horrors of Nazi concentration camps talks about inmates who even managed to find some measure of happiness in those terrible conditions.  How can that be?

First, I think it’s crucial to separate happiness from pleasure.  No one would want to be in a concentration camp and no one would find “pleasure” in cancer, being poor or uneducated or suffering any of life’s other tragedies.  Some of life is painful!

But happiness is different.  My own definition of happiness refers to “Consistent feelings of satisfaction or joy when remembering the past, living in the present and considering the future.” Happiness is about living with integrity, purpose and meaning.  Happiness is about living your own life, in your own way, and knowing that your life has meaning.  Happy people have moments of pleasure (that’s important!) but more importantly, they know they are living the life they were meant to live.  At the end of the day, that’s my definition of happiness.

Anyone with a credit card can buy pleasure.  We live in a world of multi-media entertainment, travel, bright lights and fancy toys.  We can eat at the world’s best restaurants or travel to exotic places.  Anyone can do that and we deserve it!  These are nice things and they are part of what we work for.  Good for us!

According to the research, however, these things do not necessarily make us happy over the long-run.

Happiness is a bigger game, played for higher stakes.

Happiness is about a life worth living.  It’s about doing work that makes sense and that uses your talents to make the world a better place.  Happiness is about loving relationships.  It’s about honesty, integrity, and it has a component of meaning, purpose and contentment.  Happiness is more elusive and more important than pleasure.

I’m writing a book about happiness, tentatively called “The Highway to Happiness,” but for now here are four suggestions:

1.  Take happiness seriously. Happiness doesn’t seem to “just happen.”  It’s not a matter of luck or chance or youth or lucky genes.  Happiness is something to go after, something to study and consider.  Happiness is a goal, a skill and a result of living a life consistent with your values.  Take it seriously.

2.  Notice what makes you happy and do more of it.  If mowing the lawn or growing roses makes you happy, great!  If taking the kids fishing makes you happy, do that!  If working on your business makes you happy, go for it!  Build your life around the things that bring joy and make you happy.

3.  Be happy today.  Don’t wait to be happy and don’t let happiness depend on “what happens!” Happiness is largely a “do it yourself” project.  It’s connected to gratitude, optimism, love and laughter.  As Bobby McFarrin recommended, “Don’t worry, be happy” and start today.  Happiness is not a “someday” dream. It’s a skill we practice every single day.  Be happy.

4.  Invest in happiness!  Take time and give thought to a life of fulfillment and happiness.  Pray or meditate about it.  Ponder it, and take action!  Do the things that bring joy and satisfaction.  Create space and a budget for both pleasure and (more importantly) for happiness!  Laugh every day.  Be kind.  Do something nice for someone else, whether you get credit for it or not.  Learn something new.  Start something.  Stop being “normal!”  Dream big and dream often!

by Phil Humbert

What are you doing to increase happiness?

 

Categories: Attitude, Employee satisfaction, Morale, Personal development, Uncategorized.

Be All You Can Be!

June 29, 2011

Years ago, the Army had a recruiting campaign that used the slogan, “Be All You Can Be!” and I love that phrase! 

Who wants to settle for mediocre or average, or for anything less than what’s possible? That’s just silly! 

And yet, one of the Laws of the Universe is that inertia and comfort and habits and ordinary patterns of life conspire to keep us where we are. Even if we are frustrated at work or wish we had more money, a bigger home or more education, the great tendency is to “settle.” We’re busy people and we run out of time, we run out of energy, and our ambition evaporates. 

That’s normal. And it’s tragic! 

It’s long been known that humans use only a tiny portion of our intelligence. We develop only a tiny fraction of our talent and ability. We work hard, but we don’t generally push ourselves to develop our potential to become something

— and someone — special. 

Inside each of us is a genius eager to break free. Inside every single person is an inventor, an artist, a writer, an engineer or a researcher who could change the world.

Except we’re too busy and we lack faith. 

I love Malcolm Gladwell’s little book, “Outliers: The Story of Success.” He writes that genius actually has very little to do with intelligence. Rather, he shows that what most people call genius is actually the result of unusual dedication and effort. He talks about the mathematicians, musicians, scientists and business leaders who transformed our world not because they were unusual people (they weren’t “born that way”) but because they put dedication and focus into pursuing their passion. 

And that opportunity is available to each of us. While they worked or went to school, or raised a family, these “geniuses” also pursued a dream, and they kept at it “until.” 

I love that Albert Einstein was not particularly brilliant at math! He didn’t do well in school and couldn’t get a teaching position when he graduated. I love that he published his Special Theory of Relativity while working as a clerk in the Post Office! And that throughout his career he depended on talented mathematicians to develop his theories because he always felt his “genius” was in his exquisite imagination, more than his math skill. To me, that’s inspiring! 

We all know of former couch potatoes who go on to run a marathon. We know of people who were bankrupt and later built major fortunes. Or how about those who struggled with drugs or alcohol or some other problem who go on to become extraordinary parents or community leaders? It’s called Personal Development, and it’s available to each of us. 

People have been writing to ask me how to get started. I write back suggesting they “start where you are and do what you love.” 

Would your career be richer if you were slightly better at your job? Would your world expand if you learned a new language, or if you added a new word to your vocabulary each day this summer? Would you feel better if you were healthier, stronger or slimmer? It’s called Personal Development! 

Would your family benefit if you developed your skills as a parent, spouse, lover or partner? Would you enjoy reading a bit more, or listening to audio programs on your daily commute? Would your retirement be a bit richer if you joined an investment club? It’s called Personal Development. 

The temptation is to settle. We are busy, no doubt about that! We have obligations, commitments and responsibilities.

But we also have the ability to grow, to learn, to become more than we are. And, of course, the fact is that we do change over time, whether we guide and direct that change or not. 

One of the greatest secrets of long-term, magnificent success is Personal Development. Over time, day by day and moment by moment, we change and become someone new. The question is whether (or not) we intentionally grow to become the people we want to be. In the moments and hours of your day, take charge of your life! “Inch by inch, anything’s a cinch!”

By Phil Humbert

What is the last thing you did for your Personal Development?

Categories: Accountability, Alignment, Attitude, Leadership, Personal development.

Five Leadership Rules

June 22, 2011

1.  Have confidence in yourself.   Always believe in your abilities to be a great manager and leader.  Tackle all situations and dilemmas that come your way with enthusiasm and gusto.  The fact that you are reading this shows you have the desire and talent that exists within you.  Show you have the confidence and believe in yourself, and others will believe in you as well.  In time you will develop a sort of “instinct” when something needs attention, and a “presence” that people will find ensuring.  You will come across like a leader without even having to say a word.

 2.  Act the way you want others to act, walk the walk you talk, lead  by example, practice what you preach, etc.  These are old clichés but some of the most important tips to build respect within your organization.  If your team sees you working hard, they will work hard.  If they think your slacking, they will start slacking off.  If you tell them what to do, but you do it differently, they will not see you as an honest leader.  If you want an optimistic and positive team, then you need to always be optimistic and positive.  When your employees see that you act in the same manner you expect from them, a true sense of respect will begin to build.  These are just a few of some obvious, but extremely important, leadership skills.

 3.  Honesty and integrity is key.  People do not necessarily expect managers to always have a quick fix to solve the issues, but do expect fundamental leadership principles of honesty and goodness.  In due time you will earn credibility, which is a major leadership trait.  With the high level of integrity they will see in you as a leader, comes the trust that you are not the cause of the issues.  They will automatically know that you, as a manager, will truly do all you can to solve the issues.

4.  Emulate a person who you truly respect as a leader.  There must be someone you know whose leadership skills you thought were admirable.  It could be, or could have been, a boss, a teacher, a friend, or a relative who you admired as a person with respectable leadership characteristics.  Someone who inspired you to want to work hard, to not only try to impress, but to show you cared about the mission at hand.  Study how they made the right and effective decisions using certain facts, opinions, and ideas.  Look for the leadership qualities you would like to incorporate into your leadership style.  By remembering what it was about them that inspired you, you can emulate that style when your leadership skills are called upon.

5.  Listen more than talk.  You will earn a great deal of respect and credibility by actively listening, rather than just blowing your own hot air.  Let them share their passion, and when the time is right, you can interject with passion of your own about the subject at hand.

Question:  What is one of your leadership rules?

Categories: Accountability, Alignment, Attitude, Communication, Culture, Employee engagement, Leadership, Leadership development, Morale, Peformance management, Personal development, Strategic planning, Teamwork.

Who Are Your ‘Eyes On the Ground’?

June 15, 2011

No matter how long we’ve been doing it, many of us who own and ride horses continue to take lessons from time to time.  The major reason is to see what we can’t see.  When you are in the saddle, you can feel your horse, move your horse and communicate with your horse.  And, your horse can feel, move and communicate with you.                           

Taking a lesson gives you ‘eyes on the ground’ . . . someone who can see what you are doing from a different perspective and view.  This person sees your hands, your legs, your posture, your movement, your reactions, your communication.  They also see what your horse is feeling, how he/she is moving and responding, what he/she is ‘saying’.  This different perspective helps you be your best so that your horse can be his/her best!  It increases the rider’s performance and confidence and increases the horse’s performance and satisfaction.  

Just like riders need eyes on the ground to continue to improve and grow, people who manage people can benefit from the same.  How do you know how well you are doing to bring out the best in your people?  How do you know what could be improved to increase your employee’s performance and satisfaction?  

Here are a few ways to gain perspective and to regularly assess and increase your effectiveness. 

  1. Ask your employees how you are doing.  Do they have the information, resources and support they need from you?  Do they understand your expectations and how well they are performing?  Are you available?  Are you communicating clearly?  What else do they need from you to be their best?
  2. Ask your peers.  What’s working, what could be improved?  If they could give you one piece of advice, what would it be? 
  3. Ask your manager.  Are you meeting expectations?  What are your strengths?  What is one thing that you could do better? 
  4. Complete a formal 360 process.  Work with your HR department or a management coach to source and conduct an anonymous feedback process on you where input is provided by your manager, your employees, your peers and you.
  5. Work with a management coach.    A coach can see you and be candid about what they see.  They can be your ‘eyes on the ground’.  During your regular conversations, they see your style, your reactions, your strengths, your confidence and how you manage stress.  They can also collect input from your employees, peers and/or manager, facilitate open dialog with you and others and teach you new skills to be a more effective leader and bring out the best in your people.   

Having ‘eyes on the ground’ will increase your awareness of your strengths and opportunities and increase your employees’ and your own performance and satisfaction.

Question:  How do you regularly assess your performance?

Categories: Accountability, Alignment, Attitude, Communication, Culture, Leadership, Morale, Teamwork.

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