I’ve been in a very difficult period of transition lately. Over the past three weeks, it’s gotten even more difficult and is really becoming overwhelming. Especially during this time, I found the following poem to be both challenging and encouraging. The Calf Path, by Sam Foss, was mentioned by a commenter on Leadership Freak. By his reference, the poem is found here.
One of my favorite things to do is watch failure happen. That doesn’t sound very leader-like, does it? I’m not saying I like to trip toddlers or give team members impossible assignments. But how we handle failure is an immediate barometer of our leadership.
As I prepare for an opportunity this week, I came across Peter Shallard’s ebook Seek & Destroy: How to Identify Entrepreneurial Obstacles and Overcome Them. Bam! An action book for all of us crazy enough to think we can do it on our own.
Peter Shallard is a psychologist who’s passionate about helping entrepreneurs reach the next level. His tagline is great– The Shrink for Entrepreneurs. But his book (and blog) is a great read for anyone who needs help pushing past a fear or perceived obstacle.
In the opening sections of his book, Shallard shares his unique path to the present. He reveals a deep desire to help entrepreneurs that endures through this free ebook and an offer for a free personal assessment. Of the ten roadblocks, at least three really spoke to me. In the book, Pete shows you how to get over:
- Fear of Success
- The Plateau
- Fear of Starting
- The Roller Coaster
- That Knot in Your Gut
- The Blame Game
I love Pete’s writing style. I’ve paraphrased his ten roadblocks, but the book is written in plain English that’s easy to “get” on the first read and is extremely relatable. Through each section, we get the benefit of a psychologist’s experience– both with science and with clients! Bonus: Pete’s own business experience makes him uniquely qualified to speak from a place at once clinical and real-world.
Pete doesn’t pull any punches in this book; his practical advice isn’t softened up by an “it’s-not-that-bad” attitude. Once again, this book is available fo’ free. It’s a short, easy read. Curl up on your own couch and let the Shrink for Entrepreneurs help you unpack what’s got you stuck.
Get the book on Pete’s website.
Looks like we’re in a bumper crop of morons. It’s not a very nice thought, but it’s one that rages in my mind far too often. Especially when I’m in the middle of a store noticing a massive retail leadership failure.
I just returned from Wal-Mart with two bottles of bleach and a box of lightbulbs. As I approached the front of the store to break my shortest-actual-shopping-trip record, my heart filled with dread. Lines and lines of piled-high baskets. Drawn like so many moths to the blue lights over three checkout stations. Continue reading The Retail Leadership Vaccuum
Is being young an obstacle or an opportunity?
I asked a room full of ninth-grade students this question and was surprised that any of them at all viewed youth as an opportunity. Even into my twenties, my relative youth often seems like the biggest obstacle to success.
When I was a manager in fast-food and active in business leadership roles, my youth often disqualified or discredited me in the eyes of my coworkers and the team members I led. Spectacular ideas that might require significant change were suddenly naive pipe dreams. Buy-in was hard to come by.
When you’re having to really grind it out against such tremendous resistance, it can be tempting to throw in the towel. But with persistence, effort and enthusiasm are recognized and rewarded.
From ninth-grade into your twenties (and perhaps beyond), some people will try to make your youth (or even youthful qualities like “enthusiasm”, “energy”, “excitement”, and “not being a jaded *bleep*-hole”) an obstacle.
Don’t let it happen.
The fact is that successful leaders will empower you to utilize the gift of youth to your (and your team’s) advantage. Older leaders will appreciate your drive and seek to develop you.
Your youth is an opportunity. People want to see you succeed.
Get excited. Don’t be afraid to take the reins when you can. Infect others with your enthusiasm.
You may be too young to drive or vote or run for a particular office or join a certain social club. But you’re never too young to make a difference. You’re never too young to lead.
For the aforementioned jaded *bleep*-holes, I acknowledge the importance of experience. But the most experienced leader in the world without the courage to take action will fail to lead every time. Put aside your sour disposition long enough to develop the young people in your organization.
Here’s a sobering thought: older people generally die before younger people. One day you’re going to need the young people you’re growing up. Are you empowering young leaders to be the bold standard-bearers of tomorrow or are you hammering out beat-down cowards to do what you’ve always done?
There is power in youth. Harness it for yourself and for your community.
You leave the big meeting or company retreat and spirits are high. You go to a leadership conference and ideas are flying. So now what?
Recently I’ve been following the success of a new program from Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY). One of my favorite programs, HOBY helps young people discover their passions and develop leadership through service to others.
All through the event, HOBY participants are pumped up, surrounded by like-minded, driven individuals who have huge dreams. When they go home, though, the students are thrust back into the “real world,” where everything seems ho-hum by comparison. It’s called the HOBY Hangover.
You’ve experienced this, right? You’ve got a great idea, you prepare a great proposal, and then BAM! Your presentation has to wait. You have a meeting with your team, you formulate a plan, you make assignments, and then…everyone goes back to their figurative cubicles.
How do you keep momentum alive? I’ll tell you what I strive to do:
- Feed It: The simple truth is that momentum naturally slumps off without careful attention. You’ve got to provide fuel by recognizing progress. Feed the momentum first by setting small goals and second by publicly celebrating accomplishment.
- Lead It: What happens when momentum gets ahead of you? You’re dragged right through the dirt! You’ve got to manage momentum so that you lead the charge or have systems in place that allow you to ride the wave. You may want to delegate or share leadership, spreading ownership of the project.
- Speed It: Even if you have a ridiculously successful experience and your team’s project or task is complete, have another project lined up to take advantage of the momentum of the team and the chemistry you have built. We judge our experiences by our current expectations; dare to be always moving the bar.
Here’s another key to maintaining or taking advantage of momentum: do something! I’m the world’s worst about planning and planning and planning and having a great plan and drafting an excellent grant proposal and formulating breath-taking scaling schemes…get the picture?
When you leave HOBY– whatever your HOBY is– with a purpose and a passion, act on it. You could write out a plan, but you’ve got one hiding in the back corner of your mind already, right? Make it happen.
If you don’t know how, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For absolutely free, I’ll help you turn a passion into an idea, an idea into a plan, and a plan into a project. No gimmicks or time-share presentations. It’s what I’m passionate about.
Just don’t let that feeling of urgency, that ache to get started, that unstoppable momentum…run and hide when you hit the “real world”.
Are you struggling with your own HOBY Hangover? Take my prescription above and call me in the morning.
Leaders are problem-solvers. But it’s easy to mistake complaining about problems for actually solving problems.
Every organization has problems. When you’re new in town (or simply in the office), it’s incredibly easy to spot opportunities for improvement. It’s also easy to sink into complaining with your new coworkers, especially if it makes it easier to fit in.
Those decisions you make– whether early in your career or when you’re already established– to do your brainstorming around the water cooler could make a difference when it’s time to take a leadership role.
The truth is, nobody builds influence by backbiting or trying to get ahead by tearing others down. It can be tempting to take advantage of a superior’s mistakes or time of weakness; rather than trying to stamp out your “competition” or climb to the top with a boot in your coworkers’ face, be a solution-producer.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Complain Less: Complaining feels good, right? Cut it out. You’re eroding your influence with coworkers (even your co-complainers). Besides, suppose your boss gets wind that you’re a pot-stirrer. Farewell, trust.
- Serve More: Find a way to offer your help to a struggling coworker or boss. Whether he or she is suffering from burn-out or problem-solvers’-block, some help will be appreciated. Just don’t offer your help in a way that says “you’re not doing well.”
- Develop and Invest in Your Ideas: For a long time, I really struggled with offering ideas as soon as they popped into my head. At least most of these were great ideas that needed a little nurturing. Unfortunately, I’ve found that some coworkers (and even managers) are eager to let the air out of your balloon. Develop your ideas before you share them.
- Seek Input: Find a trusted leader or coworker and get his or her input on your ideas. Get lunch. Float your ideas. Ask for help strengthening the weak spots so that your now-developed ideas have some push. In addition to strengthening the ideas, you’ll secure some buy-in from a coworker or leader.
- Test the Waters: Try out some of those ideas on your current situation. See how guests or customers react to the tweaks you’ve made to the way you view and execute your work. Work out the kinks and use the time to perfect the new solutions.
- Present Your Success: When you’ve developed your ideas, sought input, secured buy-in, and tested the waters, it’s time to report to the boss. If he or she is engaged in team members’ daily work, you may have had other opportunities to present your ideas. The most powerful illustrations of your solutions, though, are those times when they turn a problem into an opportunity…and you knock it out of the park.
Examine your heart! If you’re seeking to displace a boss or climb over coworkers, you’ll find limited success. With a heart to serve, your personal transformation could extend to the entire organization.
Have you been climbed over before? How did it affect your ideas about how to “get to the top”? How can you get there with the respect and admiration of your coworkers?