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Posts Tagged ‘Values’

Last week, I spent some time in Huntington, WV, meeting with clients. One of them was kind enough to join me for lunch, and she suggested we dine at Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti. The place is truly a landmark in the city! And it’s a shining example of crystal clarity on who they are and what they stand for.

The Jim’s menu is very simple and clean. They offer a few sizes of spaghetti (meat sauce or marinara), and few sandwiches, a few salads, a few drink options, and several choices of home-made pies. Nothing fancy, just good, solid home-cooking presented and served in a no-nonsense way by very friendly staff.

When I arrived, about 30 minutes early, the place was bustling, with booths and counter space full throughout the restaurant. As I waited for my “date” to arrive, I observed the place. It’s decorated as I imagine it has been for years — reminiscent of an older coffee shop or diner; simple, serviceable fixtures. The front counter has a sign that clearly states the establishment does not accept debit or credit cards; although they do provide one of those slim-line ATMs if you need to get cash (I assume they prefer to not deal with the fees charged by credit card companies, but are not averse to their customers paying them, if need be!). Note that this lack of accommodation for a mode of payment we all take for granted these days has not slowed business at Jim’s one iota! Pictures adorn some of the wall space — clearly, many a dignitary has dined at Jim’s, including JFK and Senator Joe Manchin.

My lunch companion grew up in Huntington and has been a customer at Jim’s since high school. She shared stories with me of what a local icon the place is and how it hasn’t changed much in the many years she’s been going there, even though it is now managed by Jim’s daughter.

I’ve been thinking about Jim’s for a whole week now. It’s a great example of knowing exactly who you are, what you stand for, and what you’re good at. Jim’s puts on no pretenses and that’s exactly why its success has stood the test of time.

There are valuable lessons to be learned here. Can you state, with equal clarity and simplicity, who you are (as an individual or as a representative of some organization) and what you stand for?

If not, I encourage you to spend some time working on this. If you aren’t clear, imagine how fuzzy it is for your employees, suppliers, customers, and potential customers…and what the implications of that lack of clarity has for your success.

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The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.  ~Albert Einstein

Take some time today to consider what impact you will have on others, as you live out your personal mission statement. The overall test is this: Would others say their lives are better or worse as a result?*

What impact will my mission have on my clients and/or community?

What impact will my mission have on my family/relatives?

What impact will my mission have on my friends?

What impact will my mission have on my co-workers and peers?

What did you learn, going through this exercise, about your mission statement?

Will you pursue it? Or do you think you need to make adjustments?

*From the Intentional Leadership booklet, by Giant Impact. 

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As we are talking about Belief and how it relates to, or empowers, our mission, let’s spend some time today thinking about our personal missions.

Before we get into the mechanics of developing a personal mission statement, here’s mine:

I am on a mission to make the world a better place, one encounter at a time, by beaming rays of light (helping them to see themselves and others with greater clarity) into their lives.

To get started, ask yourself these questions:

What do I want to achieve, for myself and others?

Why do I want to do this?

Specifically, what behaviors do I need to demonstrate, or what actions do I need to take, to achieve my mission?

Here are three questions you can ask yourself, to test your mission statement:*

1. Is it connected to my most deeply-held values?

2. Does it inspire and motivate me to act?

3. Is it simple, straightforward, and easily understood by others?

If you can say yes to these three questions, you are off to a good start.

So, get started today. Don’t rush through it. Be sure it feels true to you at the heart level. Give yourself permission to refine it over time. This isn’t a one-time exercise.

I hope you’ll share your personal mission statement with me when you have it written.

*From the Intentional Leadership booklet, by Giant Impact. 

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You know what’s coming next, don’t you? Now that you have three people identified who share your values and may be capable of carrying on your legacy, it’s time to take action.

Today, meet with one of the people you’d like to invest in and begin to develop an action plan for intentionally developing him/her…think about relationship building, what training and mentoring they might need, what kinds of experiences do they need to have, and how you can instill your vision in them. What steps do you need to take to help them understand your vision and help prepare them to carry on your legacy?

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John Maxwell reinforces the need to ensure you have a values match when you join an organization. This is worth serious consideration, because is you don’t heed his advice and join an organization with which you don’t share values, you will soon find yourself in an uncomfortable position, having to decide whether to stay true to who you are and what you value or take actions that are contrary to your convictions in order to be considered a “team player” and move forward with a direction you don’t necessarily believe in our support.

This is also true when you are choosing people to carry on your legacy. When you have a values match, it’s easier to commit and what you’ve built has a much better chance of lasting.

So what do you value?

Take some time to write down your tip five values. Keep in mind, these are the things you would not trade or compromise for anything…including the last seat on the last lifeboat off the Titanic!

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Now, who do you know who shares your values and in whom you can invest to carry on your legacy? Keep in mind, they don’t have to do it all exactly as you would, and ideally will think different thoughts than you (this is why diversity in healthy teams is so critical…otherwise, you end up with tunnel vision and miss all kinds of opportunities and don’t see obstacles before you hit them!). List at least three people you need to start investing in on a regular basis to give your legacy a longer life.

1.

2.

3.

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When you think of the word “legacy,” what person or organization comes to mind? Are you thinking of someone or organization because they left a positive legacy, or a negative one?

Why do you think their legacy made such an impression on you?

Think of it in terms of the ripple effect; envision the concentric circles formed in a pool when you drop a stone into it. The center-most circle is the first impression the person/organization made on you. The next ring is when they did or didn’t earn your trust. The third ring is what they did to maintain (or break) your trust and respect. The fourth ring is their current impact — what they are doing now, in real time. The outer-most ring is their future impact, and this one reaches the farthest.

What was your first impression?

What initially earned your trust and respect?

How does the person continue to earn/maintain your trust and respect?

What is the current impact of this person or organization?

How will tomorrow be different because of this person’s/organization’s impact?

Yesterday, I introduced you to one of my former leaders, Tom Stokes, CEO of Tree Top, Inc. My first impression of him was that he was a regular guy. When I interviewed with him, he was clearly comfortable in his role and in his skin. He was open, welcoming, treated me with respect and as if I had expertise the organization needed. While my position would be a couple of layers beneath his in the org chart, he treated me as if we were equals — equally valuable and with much to offer.

He was open, honest, transparent about the challenges facing the organization, and about its strengths. He had a vision and a plan for what he needed to do, and was building his inner circle to ensure he had competent, confident people around him to carry out the work. He was supportive and straight with me, even when circumstances called for difficult conversations. He conferred with his inner circle, gave serious consideration to the various inputs he received, and did not shy away from making the hard decisions.

While I’ve been away from the organization for five years, I understand he has not changed in these respects. I maintain my connections and friendships with former co-workers, and they respect him, as well. He’s done enormous good within the communities where the company operates, both in terms of financial support and through staff expertise and collaboration.

Personally, aside from everything I’ve said about him so far, he has proven to me that functional, healthy organizations do exist. And having worked for a number of them, I’ve personally experienced the opposite in terms of dysfunction and poor leadership.

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Can’t believe we are starting the second half of this year, already. It seems like it was just January!

I’m sure you can think of leaders who have left a lasting legacy; some positive and some not so much!

When I ponder this concept, I think of Tom Stokes, long-time CEO of Tree Top, Inc. I worked with Tom a number of years ago, and have a great deal of respect for him. Over the course of my career, I’ve worked for 10 different companies, and Tom stands head and shoulders above any other executive I’ve worked for or with over the past 20+ years.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t put him on a pedestal as the perfect leader, but he did a number of things I’ve not personally experienced to-date. First, he worked his way up through the company, so he knew the organization from all angles. He was/is conscientious about building strong relationships with the people around him, both inside and outside the organization. He hires the talent he needs and empowers them to do what they were hired to do, respecting their expertise and listening to their advice before making decisions. He’s open, humble, has a good sense of humor, and knows what he’s there to do and who he’s there to serve.

I’ve been hearing he may be thinking of retiring in the next few years. If that’s the case, he’s certainly earned it, as he has carefully steered the company through many years — some quite prosperous and some quite bumpy! I imagine the Board will be hard pressed to replace him with someone of equal caliber.

There’s no doubt in my mind, Tom will be leaving a positive, lasting legacy.

As a leader, it’s critical that you behave in accordance with your espoused values. If you merely pay lip service to them, it will become quickly apparent, and will have a damaging affect on your effectiveness, credibility, and potential for accomplishing anything. However, when you are in sync with your value, and authentically model them over time, the ripple effects of your influence can be felt over the course of several generations.

Take some time today to consider how well you have modeled the values you claim to hold dear. What effect are you having on those around you?

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