Even keeled…

Today, a client of mine told me he’s not interested in achieving a certain position in his company. He’s seen others reach this pinnacle and it’s chewed them up and spit ’em out. His belief is the position has grown too big for any one person. Here’s the truth I told him, friend.

The position is not the problem, the person is. Whatever struggle you face, it’s not due to the fact that you’re in a position that cannot be conquered. The problem is you lack poise. The problem is you are not prepared for the moment, position, or power. The problem is not the position is too big, it’s that the person is not strong. The higher you rise in any system, friend, the more time you must invest, when no one sees, putting weight in your keel. You see, the proper ballast in the keel of a boat is what gives it poise on the open waters, hence the nautical term “even keel.” The bigger the boat, the more weight required to keep it even keeled. This is true for you too. Your keel, friend, is your CORE…

Do not be afraid of rising in your system. Prepare. Invest time alone knowing who you are, where you’re going, and how you’re gonna get there. Preload your response before the storm comes. Prepare for the position before you’re awarded the promotion. Prepare. Build within. Build your CORE. Good.

You can achieve what you are prepared to earn. Do not let fear force you into playing small. And, do not let outside pressure push you to assume a position before you’re prepared. The higher you rise, the more time you need to slow down and go quietly in your room, alone. Think. Reflect. Prepare. Build resolve, wisdom, and put more weight in your keel – your CORE.

The moments not too big when you’re prepared, when you’re even keeled. Good…

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Limited by our beliefs…

Tervel, freakin’ magic Olympic stud Tervel, told me something funny the other day. Tervel told me he questioned his value to the team if his back doesn’t get better. You see, Tervel is one of the few studs capable of making Kyle Snyder better. Translation. Tervel makes Kyle earn his points. Kyle is not the kinda performer to be satisfied with one Gold Medal or one NCAA title. Kyle wants to keep getting better. And, Tervel is one of the few men who can make Kyle work on the mat when he’s opposing him. Here’s the funny part. Tervel is the assistant coach now and is full time dedicated to making all the Buckeye’s better. His back will someday get better. However, he can’t possibly wrestle Olympic studs like Kyle forever.

He can, however, make Kyle do what he can. He can continue to work him mentally, spiritually, and physically. You see, Tervel, is not just an Olympic stud, he’s learning to be an OSU coaching stud too. He loves the sport and he loves the men. He’s learning to teach what the athlete needs to know. He’s learning to study these students and figure out the small nuance to tick up performance. He’s gonna be a FM coach. And, his value to this program is kinda off the charts already. You don’t have to be a genius to see that these men love this big, teddy bear Tervel.

So, friend, whatever team you’re leading, realize that you’re gonna frequently question whether you’re delivering value. All of us have doubts, even Olympic studs do. All of us fear our influence is tied to something that Father Time’s gonna take from us. So, embrace your self limiting beliefs. Get them out in the open. Face them. Give ’em a good hug and realize how soft and powerless they really are. Then, let ’em go and get back to work building skill in you and your teammates. Look up and thank God for giving you the gifts He so generously gave. Look around and find a target that’s ready to give a full measure of effort.

Love your work and love your team. You are not limited by your back. You and I are limited by our beliefs. Let go of the self limiting ones and bolt on some better ones, friend. Good…

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Wish less version 2.0…

Happy couples and couples on the verge of divorce have at least one thing in common. Acccording to research done by John Gottman, they both have the same amount of “perpetual” conflict – 69 percent of all marital conflict is “gridlocked.” Translation. It’s not going away. Great couples just like great companies are able to laugh not languish in this reality. The truth is we all have conflict and in fact we all have conflict that is not going away. The key is how we recognize this fact and what we do about it.

Today, in team practice 29, we were discussing this very fact. Here’s what I told them and would tell you regarding whatever conflict you are facing. This is “common sense” but far from common practice. Here it is. Develop the habit of telling your spouse and your team members exactly what you want from them. Stop wishing for them to just magically show up and start giving it to you. Ask for it. Ask for what you want with uncommon clarity. And ask them what they want from you. Stop burying your requests in the middle of some lengthy email. This furthers a passive aggressive culture. Replace this habit with a performance aggressive talk. Talk. Truth in love. Good.

Wish less. Want more.

Tell them what you want and ask them what they want. Be clear with your bids and clarify your teammates bid to you. Get busy dealing with the conflict that results when you discover that some of what each other wants is problematic. Conflict is not the problem. Perpetual conflict is a reality. Find productive ways to solve what is solveable and forget the rest. Even better – learn to laugh, not loathe.

Stop wishing things were different.

Tell them what you want and ask them what they want.

Wish less. Want more. Good…

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Carlton Bragg or Frank Mason…

Talent is overrated. You know this. According to Angela Duckworth’s research, covered nicely in her first book titled Grit, talent is a starting point – nothing more. Her performance formula is as follows:

Talent X effort = skill.

Skill X effort = accomplishment.

This is another partial truth that’s good to sell books but not so good in the real world of work. What’s true is that effort counts twice. Effort multiplies your talent and effort multiplies your skill. As you approach mastery in whatever skill you’re building, the effort required for incremental gain goes up and the frequency for gains is elongated. Translation. Masters marry the mundane and keep working on domain specific expertise for hour after hour after hour. Most of us quit when we reach some comfortable performance plateau. Skills slowly diminish. Fact.

Here’s the nuance for building sustained accomplishment, regardless the work. Remember you can’t do it by yourself, you’ve got to increase collaborative effort. Translation. Masters do not work alone. Masters understand the new science – nobody is as smart as everybody. So, today’s masters expend effort working collaboratively with teammates, competitors, coaches, and any others that can multiply their performance. Together we improve, remember, is the BTL tag line because it’s true. Together we improve. This does not mean you don’t have to work hard on your own. You do. It’s just not enough. You also have to work well with others and have the humility to hear other ideas, criticisms, and critiques. And, the humility to give help too…

Talent is overrated. Collaboration and effort are underrated. The best individuals learn from teammates and teach ’em too. Last night, a couple teams of Buckeyes were given the opportunity to get better. Some chose to take advantage by giving a full measure of effort in building their mind. Some chose to take a break. Some clearly enjoyed their playtime prior to practice more than they did the actual opportunity to build mastery on the mat. We ended both practices with the story of Carlton Bragg and Frank Mason. Carlton has been blessed with basketball talent oozing from his pores. Frank just grew up poor and poured himself into his love of playing ball. One came into KU a 5 Star, can’t miss kinda recruit. One came in as afterthought. One might end up being player of the year. One has ended up on the bench.

So, friend, the recipe for you improving your performance is around taking whatever talent you have and putting it to work. This requires effort. And, you gotta keep building skill once you accomplish some level of competence. Skill growth still requires effort. And, unlike Carlton, you’ve got to avoid distractions. Just because you’ve been blessed with talent doesn’t mean you can’t miss. So, friend, if you’re aimed at mastery, you’ve got to expend effort. Lots of effort. Marry the mundane kinda effort. Working on the physical skills kinda effort as well as the mind. You cannot do it alone. You must expend effort collaborating with colleagues. And, you must sharpen yourself with iron. Stop running from the tough competitors. Your tough competitors are not to be feared. Your tough competitors are just people striving to get better together. Embrace that kinda mindsets friend.

Do you love this work of yours? Do you love this team of yours? Are your habits creating another Carlton Bragg or Frank Mason kinda performer? Whatever your habits, friend, they are who you are. You don’t break them. You build better ones. Start making it a habit of your heart to make your mind up to always control your effort. Give a full measure. Do not cheat yourself or your mates. You may not become a player of the year candidate, but you’ll be a player at peace with your performance and a darn good teammate we can trust. Slow down and reflect, friend. Slow down and reflect…

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Grammy winning duo, Twenty One Pilots, has a song titled Stressed Out on their album titled Blurryface. 

Here’s a taste of the lyrics:

“I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink.”

“But now I’m insecure and I care what people think.”

“My names Blurryface and I care what you think.”

Translation. Fears do not naturally dissipate with age or experience. Fears don’t go away. Fears lessen as you and I act into them. Fact. Want whatever you fear to shrink? Find a bigger love and focus your mind on that. Visualize your love to in your arms, on your beam,  doing your routine, on your course, in your LVQ, with your satisfied client, having a beer while savoring a win with your mates, or climbing whatever represents your ladder to the sun. See beyond your ever present fear.

As you focus beyond the fear and toward the love, your aim becomes clearer as does your face. Blurryfocus produces a blurryfearfilledface. OPUSfocus produces something cool, caring, and you see it in her eyes. She cares what you think if you’re her coach, SEAL buddy, teammate, teacher, or anyone she can learn from. She doesn’t care what you think if you’re some blurryfacebookfriend, blurryfacesnapchatter, blurrytwitterite, blurryinstantgrammar, blurrybullyfilledwithfear, or some other kinda blurrycriticwhodoesntreallycare. Equipped with her strong sense of self, her strong CORE, she sees right past the blurries.

How ’bout you friend – Where’s your focus?


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Keep caring…

I’m riding the orange line train to Midway as this rant comes out. Today was practice 2 with Tommyc and his Chitown teammates. Midway through the practice I asked them to fire either curious or challenging questions my way. I cared enough to ask, cared enough to listen, and cared enough to respond honestly. The team responded with a flurry. This team is trusting more than most. We’re only on team practice 2 and yet there is a depth of trust with each other, their leader, and even toward a strange outsider – me. The depth of questions is a great indicator of the level of trust with your team, leader.

So, next time you go asking for the breakfast of champions (feedback) and you’re greeted with crickets, don’t despair. Wait patiently. Embrace the silence and remind the team why you want them to hit you with truth. Keep asking. Keep waiting. Keep working at trusting first. Keep caring on so many levels. Keep caring. When you seek feedback, leader, the more you receive the better. Allow the team to speak. Practice listening and letting it in. You’ll see, the depth isn’t depressing. The deeper the question/concern/feedback, the deeper the opportunity to turn toward.

Trust is always built when you turn toward, friend. Turn toward hearing truth. You may hear lots of noise – normal. Tune in like an animal being stalked and you just might hear some game changing stuff too. Today, during practice 2, a number of Chitown teammates practiced being curious and challenging out of belief. Yeah,  I know, it’s only practice 2.

This team is more trusting, so, we’re moving deeper sooner. Fact. You cannot rush the trust building process, friend. But don’t be afraid to go for it when you sense it’s there. Who knows, kinda like we saw today as we tuned into Gettysburg, you just might turn a team of mutineers into a team with fixed bayonets following you down your little round top. Move toward. Care enough to give more than you demand. Turns out, leader, in the eyes of your teammates, you can’t care too much. Keep caring. Good…

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In the 1400’s the world was dark. Knowledge was scarce and scribes, mostly monks, were ensuring what knowledge we had was transferred to the next generation. Painstakingly, they transcribed book after book. Can you imagine their joy when in the later end of the century a guy named Gutenberg invented the “movable type.” Almost over night, the role of the scribe was replaceable. Here’s what happened next. This reaction is so commonplace it must be some kinda human nature.

The scribes began to organize to preserve their “profession.” They fought the inevitable. They held onto the old way of doing things even in the face of daunting evidence to the contrary. One of the smartest monks decided he was not going to take it without a fight. He wrote a book about the value of the scribe. Here was his mistake. Since he was in a hurry to get it “published,” he had it printed. Funny, huh…

What change in your “profession” are you fighting?

What disruptive technologies are you embracing?

Where is your value proposition migrating? Who is driving the migration?

Remember, all systems change and evolve. The healthy ones disrupt themselves from within before the market/world does. You can either disrupt or, eventually, go dark. Disrupt, my friends. Disrupt…

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