Archive for February, 2013

Today is reflection day, so get you ready! Find your journal, pick out your favorite pen — you know the one, it fits your hand just so, and has the exact right size tip (micro fine for me, thank you!), and writes in your favorite color. Ready?

Spend sometime journaling about your experience from yesterday:

What action step did you choose to try? Or were you brave and tried more than one?

Which one(s) did you choose?

Was it easy or challenging?

What did you learn about yourself?

What did you notice about the other person’s reaction?

What will you do differently in the future?

What have you learned this week, with respect to putting aside your agenda in favor of that of your team?

How can you promote “We before Me” with your team going forward?

Map out some specific action steps and timelines you can follow, so you don’t lose what you’ve learned this week.

Remember: Application is the key to bridging the “knowing – doing” gap.

Have an intentional day!

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Today we apply what we’ve been thinking about and reflecting on this week. I love this part! This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road — application of principles and practices. After all, if we don’t apply what we know, nothing will change. It’s the biggest gap there is — the one between knowing and doing.

Ready to take the leap?

Today, watch for the following situations, and take action on at least one. Choose one that will be more of a stretch for you; after all, if it’s easy, there’s less opportunity for growth and learning.

Understanding — Before being heard on a subject today, seek to understand the facts and the position/perspective of the others involved, first.

Talk TO Someone, Instead of ABOUT Someone — When you’re tempted to talk about someone, go to them and discuss the issue with them in person, instead.

Be Transparent — Communicate clearly with someone instead of trying to hid your true thoughts or emotions. This is where we get away from being “political,” meaning words and actions intended to be what others want to hear, rather than what you really feel or think.

Outstanding Promises — If you have made a promise to someone, fulfill it today. If the promise is overdue, apologize and seek forgiveness. Vow to do better next time, and follow through.

Ask for Help — Instead of working on your own to figure something out, ask someone you know who may have better ideas or more experience in the specific topic than you, and ask him or her for help.

I can speak for only myself, but each of these have been growth opportunities for me at various times in my life. I frequently remind myself to follow these guides, so I can maintain the credibility I’ve built and demonstrate the integrity people have come to expect from me. I goof up on occasion, as I think we would all admit we do.

Really, the idea that keeps coming to mind is: Be intentional.

If you’re really brave, practice more than one of these! And make it a daily habit; you’ll be amazed at how these actions can improve your relationships over time.

Let me know how it goes for you.

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As we think more about team work this week, let’s spend some time exploring a few questions to clarify how well you contribute to a team.

Ask yourself these questions, and be honest; you’re the one who will benefit from the clarity your answers can bring.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Do I see to understand the situation before sharing my opinion?

When conflict arises, do I see out resolution with that person?

How well do I celebrate others before seeking the applause from others?

Am I willing to ask for help from others?

Is the team goal more important than my goals?

The answers to these questions can be quite revealing in terms of areas of opportunity, if you truly desire to be more effective in building relationships and developing strong, high-performing teams.

When I was younger, I was very much task-focused; I had learned from an early age to be very self-sufficient and to do as many things as possible by myself. I struggled with being willing to trust others, and didn’t give them the opportunity to help me … or even to disappoint me! I eventually reached a point in my career when I learned that it wasn’t a strategy for success.

I finally understood I would be successful only if I could form relationships, which would allow me to be much more productive and effective than I could ever be on my own. So, I learned to connect with people and build long-lasting relationships, with trust as the foundation. That’s not to say I get along swimmingly well with everyone I meet, but I am much more intentional about how I approach relationships. I am now living proof there is value in it.

I encourage you to really consider how better relationships can help you achieve more.

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I was in Orlando, Florida, last week for a John Maxwell Training. When I flew home on Saturday, I observed a situation in the airport that really disturbed me.

There was a very upset woman, probably around 40, with two young boys, maybe 4 and 6 years old. She was speaking very loudly to an airline employee, who was notably cool, calm, and collected. Of course, I can only speculate on what was going on, but based on the few things I heard and my observation of their interaction, it appeared she had missed her flight.

She was very loud and adamantly declaring that it wasn’t her fault, something about being told that she needed to be there 20 minutes ahead…The airline employee said something to her, too quiet to hear (I was ~10 feet away, standing in line to check my bag). She got even louder, telling him she didn’t need him to argue with her and make her feel like a seven-year-old, that she needed him to help him. She had tears running down her face, and was quite visibly agitated.

All the while, these two little boys standing there watching the whole thing…looking a little lost and frightened. As the mom walked a few feet away, the older boy went and wrapped himself around her waist, hugging and comforting her, telling her it would be all right. The younger boy joined them, but stood off to the side watching.

I had two very loud thoughts in my mind as I watched this scene play itself out. First, she had absolutely no concept of the lesson she was teaching her boys about how one deals with stress, the unexpected, and the people who are trying to help you. Second, was that she has an incredibly strong belief that she behaves like a seven-year-old, projecting that onto the airline employee who was trying to help her. Suddenly, I saw not a grown woman standing there, but a frightened, frustrated little girl, facing a situation she was not equipped to deal with.

My heart went out to her and her boys.

I hope they made their way home safely.

What lessons are you teaching?

I encourage you to be thoughtful and intentional about them…

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Week three’s focus is: We before me.

There are lots of stories we could discuss to really focus on teamwork and how critical it is to success. One story you might be familiar with is Remember the Titans, based on a true story.

It’s about a High School football team in the ’70’s, where the white football coach was forced to resign due to a controversial mandate from the school board; he was replaced by a black football coach. This decision created significant tension and polarized the community. The new coach was pressured to resign, but rather than capitulating to the pressure, he reached out to the one person who could help him salvage the Titan’s season — the former coach.

Together, the two men formed a relationship based on respect, and they worked together to break down the racial issues within the team. They took the team off-site for pre-season camp, and assigned each player to room with a teammate from the other race, setting the expectation each would learn three personal facts from his roommate.

The intent was clear — there would be no segregation within the team; each player must commit to each other and the success of the team. Of course, it wasn’t an immediate or smooth transition. There were rough moments, but over time the players developed friendships and the coaches were able to create a culture of unity. As the relationships strengthened, the team overcame all obstacles and won the State Championship.

I’ve been able to work with a number of teams, and I always begin with relationship building. A group of people will not just become a team, simply because they are tasked with working together. Real teams come together due to intentional team building. First, the members must get to know each other, beyond a superficial level. This allows members to identify common ground, which opens the door to the development of trust. This is the foundation of all healthy relationships.

As with the Titans, and the teams with whom I’ve worked, each of us has the opportunity to commit to contribute to something bigger than themselves. When you have the opportunity to work with others, do you put aside your personal agenda for the greater good?

Of course, you don’t have to focus on the team agenda. It’s a choice, to be sure. What I can tell you, based on my experience, is that a high-performing team is able to achieve things significantly more substantive than any of the individuals alone. What I can tell you, based on my experience, is “no one of us is as smart as all of us.”

Take some time today to think about the most difficult working relationship or team dynamic you have experienced. What made it hard? How did you handle the relationships? What did you learn? How will you approach similar situations differently in the future?

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Another Friday; has this been the fastest passing week for you, too?

Wow! There are not a lot of experiences like the one I’m having this week. I have been with ~600 like-minded people, soaking up the teaching of John C. Maxwell, as well as the expertise and wisdom of my other mentors: Paul Martinelli, Christian Simpson, Roddy Galbraith, Ed DeCosta, and Melissa Malueg. It has been educational, invigorating, exciting, emotional…unbelievable!

But I digress! It’s time to prepare for the weekend. Have you actually been doing this? What difference is it making for you?

What do you need to take care of, think about, prepare for this weekend? Here are some things to consider:

In keeping with our focus this month, what relationships do you need to focus on and nurture this weekend?

Is it possible there are relationships you need to end?

What about your relationship with yourself — what do you need to do to focus on and nurture yourself this weekend?

What will that mean in terms of time, energy, preparation, activity?

How much rest do you need this weekend?

I need a bunch, again. And, again, it’s highly unlikely I will get enough. It’s been an intense week with early starts and late ends to the learning/training program I’ve been in all week, and today is the last day. One might imagine that the Friday schedule would be lighter, yet it is, in fact, long and full…12 hours tomorrow, to be exact! Then I need to pack and prepare to fly home on Saturday…for a delightful reunion with my family!

How much – and what kind of – activity do you need?

What loose ends do you need to tie up from this week?

What do you need to do to prepare yourself for a great start to next week, preparing for Monday?

Finally, what thought are you giving to things you have planned or need to prepare for or complete in the coming months?

On Monday, we will begin month two – week three of our Intentional Leadership Journey, continuing to focus on Relationships.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll “see” you on Monday!

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Thursday is a good day for reflection.

Take a little time today to consider what happened yesterday?

Did you take the time to let someone know about the potential you see in them? How did it go? What’s happening as a result?

Now let’s take a different approach.

Think about three people from your work/professional life. Write their names on a piece of paper.

Next to their names, write down the qualities you most admire in them. Then jot some ideas on the amazing accomplishments you believe could be realized if they worked together on a project of your choosing.

Who would do what?

How would each person shine in the project?

Can you envision it? What do you think would really happen if you moved it from an idea to reality? If there’s value in this exercise, take it another step further…

If you want to really have an impact, and make a difference in someone’s life, write at least one of them a hand-written note telling them how much you value them and their abilities; be specific about the qualities you admire and the potential you see in them. I look forward to hearing what happens next (use the comments box below to share your stories!).

Sent from my iPad

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What did you learn from yesterday’s exercise?

What will you do differently, to truly connect and build relationships with the people in your life?

Today, let’s switch gears a bit. One of my mentors often says, “You can’t see the picture when you’re in the frame.” The point being, we can’t really see our full potential, but others can.

Which means you can see potential in others that they may not see in themselves. Spend some time today thinking about someone you see potential in, who may not be aware.

What might happen if you told them what you see in them? Is there a reason you wouldn’t share your insight with them?

Is there an opportunity you can give them that will allow them to cultivate that potential?

This is important stuff, so I encourage you to be thoughtful in the process, and then go ahead, have the conversation…you may just change someone’s life.

Sent from my iPad

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Today, we give some thought to what is true about ourselves.

Think of someone you know well and have a solid relationship with, or whom you consider to have built strong relationships with others. What are three key actions you’ve seen this person take to value and invest in others?




What are three actions you take that are natural and easy ways to build relationships with?




I know a woman who is very good at this, and am blessed to know she is truly my friend. She takes a genuine interest in people, understands the power of really listening to a person, and demonstrates her commitment to the relationship by making the effort to stay connected and engage in meaningful conversations with the people who are important in her life.

It’s a relationship I value and one that reminds me how important it is to not take people for granted.

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This week we are going to explore the potential we see in others.

How familiar are you with the story of Helen Keller?
She was unable to see and hear, and consequently, to speak. As a child, her parents brought in a tutor, Miss Sullivan, to teach her.
Miss Sullivan turned out to be most creative, perhaps even unconventional, in her methods for teaching Hellen to learn letters and words. She tried to “sign” a pattern of letters into Helen’s hand, but Helen failed to grasp their meaning.
Finally, Miss Sullivan took Helen out to the water pump in the yard, and held her hand under the running water. In her other hand, Miss Sullivan drummed out the patterns of the letters of the word “water;” Helen stood transfixed, feeling the water run over one hand while he focused on the pattern of the letters being tapped out in her other hand. It was ingenious!
Helen’s progress in learning was quite accelerated; she mastered a complex vocabulary, eventually learning to write — both the standard alphabet and in Braille. She even learned to speak.
She went on to graduate from college, wrote fourteen books, traveled to numerous countries, met a number of world leaders and served as an Ambassador for the American Foundation of the Blind.
It’s a miraculous story; one that would never have happened had Anne Sullivan not been brought in to tutor Helen, and had she not recognized Helen’s potential. The moral of the story: When we see the value in others, we have an opportunity to help them achieve great things.
Think back over the course of your life. Who believed in you?
What did they do to encourage you to stretch and go farther than you may have thought possible?
How did they demonstrate their belief in you?
Had they not believed in you — or didn’t demonstrate that belief — what impact would that have had on your life?
Who have you seen unrecognized potential in?
What did you do to nurture its growth?

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