Leadership Quotes Of The Day

“Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

Colin Powell

Are you running from the problems of others or are you cherishing their faith in you today?

 

The Power Of Rest – Taking Time For You

Knowing when to quit is often just as important as knowing when to begin. In a day and age where the news is always running, information is always streaming, and people are always working, knowing when to quit is more important now than ever. Knowing when to throw in the towel is a new virtue.

A line in the movie Eat, Pray, Love has stuck with me the last few years. This line talks about Americans and how we wear ourselves out. It makes me question myself and the corporate world in which we exist time and time again. If Derek Jeter injures his calf and is only 70%, is he still more valuable to his team as a healthy 100% Ramiro Pena?

Are you hurting your team by working too hard? Is such a thing possible? Lets think about muscles for a moment. The world’s biggest men lift heavy weights for 8 – 12 reps, then rest for several minutes before attempting it again. Why is this? Why not just lift until you can’t lift anymore? One word, burnout! This is what happens to a muscle when it is used too much. The result, overwork.

We all know that, in order to grow, a muscle must be stimulated. But did you know it can actually be over stimulated to the point where the damage being done to the muscle is actually counter productive? This phenomenon is called burnout.

So what is happening to your brain when you work too hard? The truth, burnout. As authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz explain in The Power Of Full Engagement, we have a definitive reserve of self control. Read this interesting post on Tim Ferriss’ blog. Just as we can only turn down a donut so many times without hitting the reset, we can only tax our brains so much before we’re operating at a less than optimal level. So is a 70% you better for your organization than a 100% someone else?

We all have a certain threshold our brains can withstand. Some are higher than other so you must figure out your optimal level through trial and error. This is how Jay Cutler is able to lift 21 sets per muscle group and still grow. For someone like me (who is evidently built for distance, not speed) that threshold is much lower. For my muscles to grow, I must perform no more than 12 sets per muscle group. Anything over that and I have found that I actually lose muscle.

So what can we do to avoid burnout and make sure we’re operating at as high a level for as long as we can? Rest and recover. This will vary for different individuals. Below is what I have found works best for me.

Every Hour or 50/10 – We’ve all heard of Pareto’s Law. This is similar. I have found that my brain can give out full effort for about a maximum of 50 minutes. It then needs a break. For every hour of focused work I perform, I allow 10 minutes of mindless nothingness. Often, this is some form of meditation.

Every Day – Take time every day for you. If you continuously give of your time to others without replenishing yourself, you’ll soon be a 70% Jeter. Taking 30 minutes a day seems to work well for me. This is often after my son goes to bed. Usually I’ll prop my feet up and watch some baseball. For 30 minutes I do nothing but enjoy the game. Afterwards, I am able to again fully engage and enjoy time talking with my wife and doing household chores. Another great daily ritual is a nap. Here are some resources.

Every Week – “Ya, Peter, I’m going to need you to go ahead and come on in on Sunday too.” – Lumberg. The Office Space example is a little extreme but you catch my drift. All work and no play…. Finding time once a week to escape your mind and do something just for the fun of it is key. Spend at least 2 hours a week doing something you enjoy. A good example would be a weekly golf game or catching a movie.

Every Month – As the time between these breaks gets bigger, so should the break. Jay Cutler may only rest 3 minutes between sets, but after his 1 hour in the gym, he takes one week off between sessions that include the same muscle groups. Taking a day a month is a good rule of thumb for rest and rejuvenation. I usually just make this a Saturday or Sunday where we do no work at all. We simply hang around the house and do things we enjoy.

Every Quarter – Taking one week off per quarter is what I have found to be perfect reconnection opportunity. Plan these out long ahead of time. Try not to do too much activity during your week off. Just relax and do things you enjoy.

Following this process you’ll be amazed at your growth and overall ability to maintain a high level of energy.  Making the decision to avoid rest and continue to push forward only results in lower output and lower productivity.

How do you know that you have reached your threshold and need a rest?

Law of Magnetism: Who Are You Attracting?

John Maxwell’s Law of Magnetism states that you will attract those who are most like yourself. This is a simple rule to understand. We just like being around like people. No matter how much we all say we like diversity, we will always gravitate toward others who have similar interests, tastes, and views as our own.

This law is never more evident than in the workplace. As a leader you will attract people who are most like you. These people will gravitate to you and your organization and will desire to work with you. Heck, if Boone Pickens or Michael Hyatt ever offered me an opportunity to work with them, I’d probably jump at the chance. I admire these two men and (read everything they produce.)  This is a simple example of the Law of Magnetism.

 

Unfortunately for many executives, they find that they don’t necessarily click with those around them. Even worse, some leaders find that they don’t like the people who work under them, even if they were the person who hired them to begin with. Maybe they didn’t read my post on how to hire people who make you rich. Or maybe, they don’t like themselves.

 

You see, the Law of Magnetism is just that, a law. It’s not a general rule or a sometimes truth, it is an infallible law that works ever single time. You are attracting people who are just like yourself. If you don’t like those around you, stop and take a good look at yourself. Here is what you can do to improve those around you.

 

Get out of the Barn Yard – My grandfather used to always tell me, “If you hang around the crap, you’re going to stink. But if you hang around the stars, you’ll shine!” Upgrading yourself can often times be as simple as upgrading your surroundings.

 

Improve their surroundings – If you don’t like those around you, at least like yourself. Anne writes a great post about this. If the law of magnetism exists, then as long as you are a person which you’d like to be around, then you’ll attract people who are just like you.

 

The Golden Rule – Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Treat others the way you want to be treated by them. If you’re treating others well, you’ll attract good people who treat other, including you, well.

 

Jesus and Hitler – Jesus knew this Law. He attracted people like himself. Those whom he attracted helped to increadible good will. They helped him change the world for the better. The same is true for Adolf Hitler. His evilness attracted other evil men. Together they did great evil and changed the world for the worse. It’s a good thing that men like Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt were around to attract some of the greatest generations of men and women to fight and defeat this great evil.

 

Remember, the Law of Magnetism is just that, a law. It is infalible. If you ever aren’t pleased with those people and things around you, begin first by examining yourself.

 

Why are you attracting these things?

 

Who I Am Reading and Why

Leaders are readers and readers are leaders. So if we should always be reading, who is worth our time? Personally, I don’t read as often as maybe I should but I do have a few people I always stop to read.

Weather it is a book, a blog post, a tweet, or a guest post, I always stop to read a few people. I think it’s about time I give them credit. It’s also about time I explain myself and why, out of all the writers in the world, I choose to read these particular people.

 

So here is my list:

 

Andy Andrews – He’s a noticer and so am I. I read, and will always read, anything that Andy Andrews publishes. We see eye to eye on many key aspects of life. His Traveler, well that might as well have been me. If you’ve had a chance to see Andy speak, you’ll understand his story was very similar as well. If you haven’t seen Andy speak, you should.

 

Tim Ferriss The 4 Hour Work Week revolutionized the way a generation worked. The 4 Hour Body revolutionized the way a generation maintained fitness. He is an eclectic and often controversial character who challenges everything. If there were one piece of advice I could share with everyone it is this…”challenge everything.” This is exactly what Tim Ferriss does. Furthermore, Tim breaks down the traditional approaches and finds a way to do it better.

 

John Maxwell – The foremost authority on Leadership. Why wouldn’t I love reading his material, I’m a leadership nut. More importantly, John Maxwell values growth as a leader. As such, he spends all his time trying to create content that will stretch you into the leader you desire to be. John’s background and research make him a competent resource on a subject matter in which people for centuries have been trying to master. I read at least one John Maxwell book per quarter and try to attend a seminar in which he is teaching, once per year.

 

T. Boone Pickens – Don’t fault me, I love the energy sector. There is no other character as whimsical and lovable, while still being admirable and successful as Boone Pickens. I’ve read all his books about his wild life in Oil and Natural Gas. Now-a-days I read his Op-Eds in journals and news outlets across the country. I also read all his tweets, like this one “A leader must learn to adjust, take risks, build confidence, be decisive, set the right example, and stay fit.” With a lifetime of successful leadership under his belt, I can’t help but admire him. Additionally, he’s a good person. I’ve had coffee with the guy on a few occasions and have heard him speak numerous times.

 

Michael Hyatt – Okay, I’ll admit, I never read his survival guide, but I’ve probably read every single public word he has written since. Intentional Leadership, and the background and career success to back it up. His genius lies in his ability to reach across the table and connect with anyone. Everyone looking to improve themselves as a leader or as an individual can sit down with Michael, now 3 days a week, and garner his input on many things us common folks are just now trying to learn or figure out. I think of him as my online mentor.

 

There are many more books, many more articles, many more blog posts, and many more authors who I do read occassionaly or at least have read. However, the list above are people whom I respect and charish so highly that I will read any written word they produce. They are, in written word, what James Taylor is in music, and what Jerry Seinfeld is in comedy. They are my go to guys.

 

Question: Who else do you think I should be reading?

5 Statements a Leader Should Never Make

As leaders, we are often called to be the communicator of our group. We are the one person who should always stand up and say something. The words of a great leader can inspire great change, great action, or even great success.

The same opportunity exists to do great evil, great detriment, or inspire great failure. Being a person of leadership means that your followers respect and admire you. Of course this is why they’re choosing to submit to you and follow your vision. As such, your words can either lift up or destroy those around you.

 

What you say and do in front of your followers will dictate their reaction. I recently wrote a post about praising those who follow you.  It is a great way to motivate and inspire others. On the other hand, great detriment can be done when you fail to say the right things. Here is a list of 5 things you should never say to your followers:

 

Because I said so – Now before you call your mother and explain to her that she was a bad leader, understand that this statement is basicallly saying “follow my title, not me.” You should follow your mother, but a bad boss who is being followed solely because of his title will soon fail. Any leader worth his salt can inspire greater action by having his followers react because of who he is, not what his title is. As a person in a leadership position, remember, your real leadership power is completely voluntary and you must earn the respect of your followers every day. It is not what you are, but who you are, that inspires action.

 

It’s not personal, it’s business – This statement shouldn’t leave your mouth because all personal communication is just that, personal. By making this statement you are acknowledging that you care not about the person but about the business. In all ventures, care first about the person, if you do, results will follow.

 

The squeaky wheel gets the grease – This statement acknowledges that you pay more attention to those who are outspoken and pay no mind to those who let their actions speak for them. Don’t let the quiet people who let their work speak for them slip past you for often they are the most driven. Show that you value results, not talk, by never speaking this age old phrase.

 

That’s just the way I am – This statement acknowleges that you know you have a problem but refuse to make a change. A leader should be growing and improving all the time. John Maxwell’s #3 Law of Leadership is the Law of Process. The process implies that, to be a good leader, you must first be investing in yourself, then using that knowledge to invest in others. Becoming a great leader requires a daily effort to growth. If you’re not working on your faults, you’re not applying the law of process.

 

No you can’t check in with your family – Welcome to my generation. We grew up with both parents working long hours. We remember that “family vacation” where all our parents talked about was their work. We’re sick of it. A new paradigm is in the shifting process as leaders are discovering that family is more important than work and that an employee who is happy at home, is more productive in the office.

 

How you speak and communicate with your team will dictate their level of trust and respect they have for you. These will ultimately dictate your level of success as a leader.

 

Question: Are your words helping or hurting?

 

The Importance of Vision

Imagine the shock and awe of the turret guns ripping loose. The sounds of screams, bombs, and gun fire fill the air. The smell of the salt water and gun powder burns your nose. The spray of the ocean has soaked your uniform as your boat rushes full speed toward the unseen shore line. The boat runs ashore and the door opens! What are you going to do next?

This is the importance of Vision. That fateful day on the beaches of Normandy was filled with vision. You may not be facing down the gun fire of a German soldier, but not knowing how to react in any situation can be just as deadly.

Vision is a fundamental value held down deep inside of your conscious. When faced with adversity your body will react according to deepest held values. Without a vision for where you want to be, you won’t know how to react.

You may be familiar with the concept of life planning. Michael Hyatt has a great post on it here. The importance of having a vision for your life and mapping out the course is often unparalleled. Look at some of the most influential leaders in the world and their vision for life. John Maxwell took Paul Meyer’s Course, Lou Holtz read The Magic of Thinking Big, and Michael Hyatt was so moved by Daniel Harkavy, that he decided to create his own Life Plan. Even Jesus of Nazareth had a vision for his life. He knew exactly what would happen to him and what purpose he’d serve long before he served it.

Having a vision for your life offers the following:

Unity – When others around you know and understand your vision for life, they can help you work toward it. Just as it took all 156,000 soldiers committing to one vision in order to take the beaches of Normandy, so to will it take numerous people in your life committing in some ways to unity in order to help you achieve your vision for life.

Purpose – Having a vision for life gives you purpose every day. Knowing where you are going and where you want to be fills your life with direction and gives each task meaning.

Drive – When a boxer trains for a big match he is focused on the vision he has for the fight. How will he perform? How will it end? Having a vision for life makes your dreams real. Once you come to the reality that you can achieve your dreams, you now must fight for them. You must persevere, otherwise they will vanish.

Passion – Creating a vision for your life is like creating a road map to your dreams. It is a practice of identifying and solidifying the things in life that are most important to you. Knowing what is important to you is key to filling your life with passion. As long as you are focusing on things that are pleasing to you in your life, you will be filled with passion every day.

If you fail to plan, you have planned to fail. Not having a vision for your life is like trying to find your way through the woods, turning right, then left, then right again in your life ultimately leading yourself nowhere. You’ll wake up one day in old age and find yourself completely lost.

For those of you who have a Life Plan in place, how has it served you thus far?

 

How To Live Your Life Full Out

Have you ever just sat back and watched a child at play? Their energy levels are out of this world! I’ve often joked that an energy drink called “Baby Energy” would stomp Monster Energy because there is no level of energy higher than that of a 1 year old. I would know, since I have one.

I recently wrote a post about Climbing The Ladder. This post was a lesson from my one year old himself. Well you guessed it, I’ve learned another lesson from him. How to live life full out.

Toddler Boy Feet

As I sat back and watched my son run all over the house I thought to myself, “How can I harness that energy and what would happen if I could approach life as full of energy as Ryan does?” So I’ve been studying and trying to learn what he does in a day to have so much energy. This is what I’ve found:

Live Fearless – In the Book of Matthew, Chapter 14, Peter walks on water toward Jesus. But when the wind rises he becomes afraid and begins to sink. He calls out for Jesus to help him. Jesus grabs him and asks “Why did you doubt?” How much does your fear hold you back? Just have faith and it will set you free to truly experience life.

Confidence – Sure Ryan is the best looking kid in the world, or at least his daddy thinks so, but I’ve noticed he doesn’t care AT ALL what people think about him. Neither should you. God made you who you are for a reason. Don’t be embarassed about it. This is a great post by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt about this exact topic, check it out.

Harness Your Energy Sources – What really amazes me about children is how they are healthier than their parents simply because they don’t have a choice. I’ll order my son a side of fruit but myself a side of French Fries! What is wrong with me! Harnessing your energy so you can live full out is all about making the right choices all the time.

Eating – Eat healthy every morning and lunch. Why do I leave dinner out? You need to have a little fun. I recommend MyFitnessPal for everyone I know. It is the best way to ensure that you’re eating the corrrect things in the correct volume. When it comes to energy, the right foods make all the difference. .

Exercise – Work out every day. It doesn’t have to be a gym session. My son never hits the weights when he’s at the gym with his mom; he hits the blocks and puzzles pretty hard though. The real reason you should exercise is because it releases endorphins which make you feel good and energized. Without this release you’re more likely to sit around feeling sorry for yourself rather than getting out and having fun. It also doesn’t hurt your positive body image either.

Rest – It wasn’t until I read “The Power of Full Engagement” that rest became a cornerstone of my life. Until then it was an expendable resource that never needed replenishment. Boy was I wrong. Watching my son, he sleeps 12 hours a night and 2 hours per day! I agree, that’s a little excessive, I think it’s God’s way of giving his parents a break. But I will say, getting a full night’s sleep is critical for us a humans. I recommend 8 to 9 hours and a nap. If you’re skeptical of naps, check out this post by Michael Hyatt.

Rest helps you stay organized because this is the time when your mind catalogs your day. Doing this during the day lets your mind file the first half of the day’s inventory rather than having to file it all during the night. Additionally, more rest will help you think with more clarity.

If you could approach life full of energy each day, what would you dare to accomplish?

There’s a Baseball Team in My Office

I am a huge fan of analogies. My wife frequently enjoys the opportunity to poke fun at some of my “not so correct” analogies. Of which, I must admit, I have spit out quite a few. So please forgive me if this one reminds you of a bad Rodney Dangerfield joke.

Ball Players

While I love to use analogies to explain myself, I love more so baseball and leadership. So why not marry the two in an analogy? Yum, sounds like a perfect analogy sandwich to me.

I sat back in my office chair the other day and listened to the Yankees, my favorite baseball team, drive in 12 runs against the Orioles and succeed in securing a big win. I began to day dream of being Brian Cashman. Cash, as the boys in blue call him, is the General Manager for the world’s most recognized sports franchise, the New York Yankees.

Shortly after my dream I snapped back to the present and stared down my to-do list as if I were Andy Pettite in the middle of Game 7 of the World Series staring down an opposing hitter. That’s when it hit me, my business, is just like a baseball team.

Pitchers – These are the executives of the company. Without a good starting rotation, a baseball team has very low chances of reaching the post season. The leadership skills of the team’s executives dictates how successful everyone else can be. It’s Maxwell’s Law of The Lid.

Position Players – These are the middle managers. These are folks who can hit and field. They increase the score and minimize the risk for the baseball team. Middle managers must be able to bring in big runs when it counts, such as a large account or a huge sale. They also must be able to defend against problems. Just as A-Rod must be able to hit the long ball, he must be equally able to secure hot grounder steaming right at him and be able to make the throw across the diamond to gun out the runner, or in business terms, the risk.

Pay-day – A big baseball team will carry a healthy salary. None more so than the Yankees. But with big bucks comes big wins. Businesses must be willing to reward their players for high level play. If you don’t, you’ll lose your Albert Pujols to an opposing team. You must be willing to either pay the price to your successful employees or risk them leaving and joining your competition.

Stats – The world of baseball is full of them. They record everything! The reason is, you don’t know where you are going until you know where you’ve been. If your company is not recording stats how will you know who is your best salesman or who is responsible for the most growth in the company? Worse, how will you be able to recognize the player who is hitting .025 and needs to be “taken out of the line up?”

The smell of fresh cut grass may be replaced with fresh ink from the printer and the sounds of the hotdog vendors may just be your secretary yelling at you through the conference phone, but you’re still in the game and you are still on a baseball team. You’re up in the box with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th. Three men on, full count, and you’re down by 3. Welcome to the Big Leagues!

Question: What position are you within your organization? Is your batting average holding back the team?