Are you an Elite Olympic Athlete…

Right now everyone is watching the Winter Olympics.  It is pretty amazing watching these elite athletes do what they do.  The Olympic Athletes of their chosen sports are no different from the Professional Football Players of the NFL, or the NBA Basketball Players, or Major League Baseball.  The difference is that professional sports teams have a season every year that is highly televised whereas the Olympics only come every four years.

What is amazing to me are the stories of the Olympic Athletes.  Yes we see the highlights of what these Olympic Athletes accomplish in the Olympics, but the stories of triumph and obstacles and adversity is what I like the most.  We are just blessed to see the results of their effort and it is really cool.  They work for four years to do what they do.  They plan, they execute, they train, they work hard to be the very best in their sport. Mediocrity doesn’t even get them to the starting line, it is all about excellence and that takes training and constant development.

But I have a question for you.  What are you doing to be an elite athlete of your chosen sport?  When I say sport, I mean your career or your job, which ever you call it.  Either way, what are you doing to be the best, or the elite your chosen field.

As a Corporate Trainer, I recently reached out to several people who had an excellent opportunity to take advantage of some very beneficial training that most people have to spend thousands of dollars to get, but they can do it for free.  The people I invited I assumed since they have chosen the field they have chosen, they would want to be elite in their field and be the best (some call me naive, but I assume the best of people, until proven otherwise), but instead of taking advantage, they chose to not participate. If you are not training for your success, you are training for failure.  There is no in between.  You are either progressing or regressing.  When a car is in neutral, it will not go forwards or backwards unless you are on a hill.  I believe a career is that way as well.  You are either going forward or backwards.

I recently read that Elite Athletes will do whatever it takes to get an edge.  (Not a Lance Armstrong Edge), but a legit edge.  I believe this should be the same in a company as well.  Whether you are a bank teller, an engineer, a VP of Sales, a sales person, it doesn’t matter (all careers apply) you should do whatever it takes to be Elite in your chosen field.  Why wouldn’t you?  Some people say, “Well I don’t have time.”  Ok, the company doesn’t have time for you to be mediocre either.  Some people say, “This is not a job or career that I want to be in long-term”, then my advice is quit.  Life is too short to do something you don’t want to do.

I will never be an Olympic Athlete or a Professional Athlete.  However, I am working every day to be an Elite Athlete in my chosen field.  I encourage you to do the same, why wouldn’t you want to be the best!

Getting out of the pile..C

As you have read I have been discussing what I have determined, based on my experience are some of the most beneficial things you can do to separate yourself from the pack within a company or organization.  As I write this last blog on this topic, I quickly want to re-cap what I have stated are the principles for you to successfully get out of the pile.

  • Results
  • Ideas/Solutions
  • Set the pace
  • Candor/Diplomacy
  • Personal/Self Development
  • Give more than what is asked for
  • Never be satisfied
  • Choose well

Volunteer: I had a friend tell me that when he went into the Navy, a group of officers asked a group of these new seaman if they would like to volunteer for a special assignment.  He said that he volunteered.  He spent the next 4 years on a submarine.  He suggested to me to never volunteer for anything.  I obviously disagree.  I have volunteered for things even when I know I don’t want to do them.  But by putting myself out there over and over, it allowed me to separate myself from the pack and get out of the pile.  It has also exposed me to things that I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to.  This not only included experience, but people as well.

Attitude: I personally believe that many of the things I have already talked about illustrates what an attitude is. However, I guess I probably have to put this on the list as being a principle.  I don’t consider myself a naturally optimistic person.  I honestly feel like pound for pound I am like most people, I am kind of neutral most days.  But I spend the first 2 hours every day getting my attitude in a place that has allowed me to be successful.  I think to do many of the things I have suggested in this series is an attitude and your attitude is what will determine your willingness to adhere to the principles.

Gratitude:  3 years ago, this would not have been on my list.  I didn’t think this way.  I always thought of more, and what can I do to get more, I didn’t appreciate what I had enough.  I never had an attitude that I deserve more, because life has a funny way of giving you exactly what you deserve (another blog by itself).  But I never took the time to actually acknowledge and appreciate what I do have.  I now do this everyday.  Some of this things are pretty basic as well.  Like a home, a great family, close friends, a great career, and health.  These things are easily forgotten. So be grateful for what you have within your company.  Your manager will notice this and again will help you get out of the pile.

Don’t wait:  I honestly didn’t know what else to call it, but this encompasses a lot.  Don’t wait for your boss to tell you what to do, Don’t wait for your boss to ask you what you are doing for self-development, Don’t wait for your boss to suggest for you to go to training, Don’t wait to tell your boss about a good suggestion, Don’t wait for anything.  Be pro-active. I tell most people that we all have to “Lead Up”.  Leading up means you are helping yourself by setting the agenda with your boss.  I can tell you that when you are doing the 11 above things very well, you will be leading up (meaning your boss will be following the agenda you are setting, because you are out in front).

I hope this has helped some of you.  Again, any suggestions on principles you would add to the list, I would love to hear them.

  • Results
  • Ideas/Solutions
  • Set the pace
  • Candor/Diplomacy
  • Personal/Self Development
  • Give more than what is asked for
  • Never be satisfied
  • Choose well
  • Volunteer
  • Attitude
  • Gratitude
  • Don’t wait

Getting out of the Pile…B

Getting out of the pile part B.  As mentioned in Part A.  In every organization and company there are many people trying to work their way up, but may not know what to do and how to do it.  How do you separate yourself from the pile (the pack).  In my previous blog, I wrote about four ways that helped me get out of the pile, and on a career progression track that has exceeded my expectations beyond my belief.

Continued Core principles of getting out of the pile.

Personal/Self Development:  If I were to number these principles, and I may one day.  I would put personal/self-development number two, right behind results.  If you are reading this blog, it is very evident that this is where my passion lies. Regardless of my passion for self-development, I have seen so many case studies in the business world.  I have witnessed person after person, that is basically where they were 1,2,5,10, 20 years ago, in their career, because their education and their self-development stopped those amount of years ago.  For things to get better, you must get better, that is a fact.  One of my mentors and friends used to say all of the time.  There are people who have 20 years of experience and there are people who have 1 year or experience 20 times.  Who do you want on your team.  As a leader now, I know the answer to that.

Candor/Diplomacy: This is hard one. I honestly feel that telling how it is, is what actually got me on the path. Being candid with people and processes, and providing solutions to problems and telling leadership what they don’t expect to hear is so beneficial. Through out the years though I have learned to “tell it how it is” with a little more diplomacy thinking about the receivers opinion in the feedback I am providing.  The bottom line is things only happen with and through people, and having their best interest in mind when pushing your agenda and getting results is crucial for your ability to influence and get out of the pile. If you are able to push things forward and influence from where you are, your growth potential is huge.

Set the pace:  To put it a different way, work harder than everyone else.  Be the first person to show up, set in the front of the room, contribute to everything, as mentioned earlier, show results.  No manager wants to constantly have to push people, and when you are an employee that is constantly in front of them (your manager and colleagues), you are setting the pace and they will recognize it.  I have noticed that in most organizations, it is really easy to set the pace.  Working longer hours, volunteering for everything, being a contributor, being early, staying late, being around when no one else is around. Most people don’t want to do these things, so if you just do them, it will set you apart and it will help you get out of the pile.

Ideas/Solutions:  Be the one who has something to say.  Be the one, that is more educated on a related topic on the business or industry that everybody listens, because you have the credibility to contribute.  No manager likes the people who never have any opinions, however don’t always have an opinion on the obvious, be unique, bring something different to the table.  If you bring the same ideas and solutions, tell them how you will do it different this time.  Be a solutions finder and a problem solver.  As Zig Ziglar says, some people find fault like there is a prize for it, don’t be that person, if you do, bring solutions.

More to come on getting out of the pile.

Leave me your comments, I would love to hear your feedback.

Getting out of the pile…A

Getting out of the pile was something I just did by being who I am, but later learned what it meant from another great leader and quasi-mentor for me, the famous Jack Welch.  Jack Welch says it best.  In every company, every organization, there is a pile, a pile of people all (well most) trying to climb the ladder within that organization.  So how do you get out of that pile?  I accomplished getting out of the pile in three organizations that I have worked for and reflecting on my ascension of getting out of the pile was unique, but revolved around the same core principles in all three company’s no matter what the challenges were in the very different businesses.

I am planning on writing on this topic over the next three blogs.  I don’t really have a defined number of principles, maybe I will after I blog, just a lot of philosophical beliefs and passion that I hope to illustrate.

Results:  This one is number one for a reason:  It doesn’t matter what you do, if you don’t have good results, none of the other stuff I write even matters.  In the Five Major Pieces of the Life Puzzle: Jim Rohn says “Results are the best measurement of human progress.”  “We must make measurable progress in reasonable time.”  Your results are in direct proportion to the activity and effort you put in to pursuing results for a given goal.  In the first sentence I carefully chose the word “good” results, because I believe you don’t have to have “great” results to get out of the pile, when you have good results along with some of the other principles I will discuss, I have shown you can get out of the pile.  I have had great results in some cases and good results in some cases.

Give more than what is asked for:  Nothing earth shattering here, but profound nonetheless.  If you are sitting there reading this. Ask your self:  “Are you really giving more than what is asked of you?”  Zig Ziglar says it like this:  “When you do more than you get paid for, eventually you’ll be paid for more than you do.”  I have worked with lots of people who think they are doing more than they are asked to do, and I have been one of those people. Ex: My first leadership position I had a terrible boss. This person, was the one who didn’t give any credit, always criticized, and we really just had a bad relationship.  Guess what: That person wasn’t going anywhere. So I had to change.  So what did I do?  I just worked harder.  I made sure I beat them to work everyday, I went way above and beyond in everything I did. Our relationship changed after that, but for things to change I had to change, the only thing I have control over, is me.

Never be satisfied:  This is a hard one for me to articulate and it is also one that I struggle with everyday on trying to find that perfect balance. As a leader you do have to celebrate the little wins, if not your team will want to shoot you, because you are never happy.  However that is when you are a leader, as a person trying to get out of the pile, your manager will appreciate the fact that you believe that there is always a better way and you can do better next time.  Never being satisfied will keep you hungry, it will keep you pursuing, it will keep you striving. Leaders in an organization appreciate the people who are constantly seeking excellence and those who seek more, better, and faster.

Choose well:  Who do you associate with.  I learned this lesson a few times.  In every organization there are different people within a team, or department, and the organization. Typically four groups.  The Ninja’s:  They are the ones that are the silent killers.  The ones who gossip, they are not bought in, and really hurt the culture of a team.  Good leaders typically sniff them out.  Hostages:  They are the ones that don’t want to be there and think that every thing sucks and in their minds they feel like they are a hostage, and really they do have an option to quit, but they never do, they just complain all of the time. Vacationers:  Just seeing how long they can hang out and not do too much.  Don’t really add very much to the organization.  Hanging out for the time being until something better comes along. Learners and Doer’s: These are the ones that seek to add to the organization, they constantly volunteer and go above and beyond in everything they do. So if your want to get out of the pile who should you associate with?  I think it is obvious.

Stay tuned for future blogs and insights on how to get out of the pile.