Don’t fail the test

How long do you look at the maintenance is required light on your car?  Well, this morning I took my car in for service because I have been staring at the red light and screen on my car for about three weeks now.  It was just a normal service.  Rotate the tires, change the engine oil, and the other fifty checks or so they do on my car about every four months.  Other than the red light staring at me there were no other signs that maintenance was required on my car.

As I am waiting in the lounge area for the service to be completed. My service guy comes up to tell me that my battery failed the load test.  I am not an automotive technician, but I know this is not a good thing.  Lucky for me I had just replaced the battery last year and it was still under warranty.  So they put in a new battery and sent me on my way.

Again, not being an automotive technician I don’t know what failing the load test means specifically, but my car gave me no signs that it was having any problems.  It required me to go in and have it tested and that is what told me that it was not working correctly.  I can only assume that over time it would have become an issue and most likely would have happened at the most critical time that I would need my car.  It just seems like that is how it works, right?

This experience this morning got me thinking about us as humans.  Primarily, how often do we check ourselves to see if we are working at full capacity or working properly.  Just like my battery was operating just fine with no signs of failing, we as humans can operate the same way.  We can just get up and go through life performing are normal job duties, duties as a parent, duties as a citizen, duties as whatever, and never really know if we are working to our full potential or full capacity or load.

What kind of tests are you putting yourself through to see if you are working at full capacity?  When is the last time you set a goal that tested your endurance?  Or your knowledge.  When is the last time you did something that required you to try something new that tested your ability to be resourceful and creative to find a solution to a problem?   We have to constantly test ourselves to see if we are working to our full capacity.  Sure my battery was still working, but eventually conditions and the environment would change and it would then start causing me problems.  That is just like the business environment as well.  Conditions are going to change, you have to test yourself now to be sure you are ready for those changes.

To your success and your future.

 

 

3 Things I learned last week…11/16-22/2015

Failing to make a decision is a decision:  We all have decisions in our life that we make.  Some are easy and some hard.  We could all agree that some decisions are really really hard, right?  But what are the consequences of not making a decision?  What happens when we neglect the inevitable?  Here are a few things I have observed that can happen.  In an organization there can be fear, anxiety, concern, etc.  In an organization there can be positioning and posturing from people, this alone can have a negative impact on those that have to live with the results of a decision, or in this case a lack of a decision.  What happens if you fail to make a decision to get your car engine light checked?  There could be a simple fix. That simple fix that you neglected to make the decision to get checked could turn into a major fix that can cost you a lot more money in the long run.  If you don’t make the decision to have the hard conversation with your spouse about money and finances because you are afraid of what could come from it.  Over time the neglect and anxiety can take its toll on your health, and obviously ultimately could put your family in financial ruin.  There are times when I know I need to make a decision and for some reason I procrastinate on the decision too long, which is actually making a decision.  What I know is this, when I make a decision I can then move on to the next decision that needs to be made, this is called progress.

A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention: Now more than ever we have information everywhere don’t we?  If we aren’t looking at our smart phones we are deleting the hundreds of emails that we actually signed up to receive filling up our inbox of our several email accounts that we have.  Does this sound about right?  If you watch TV for a minute or turn on the radio in your car, you will get bombarded with information and ads.  Google is now a verb and the chances that you googled something in the last 24 hours is more probable than you actually exercising.  All of the information and access of information has created a great opportunity for us to know more, but it has created a bigger opportunity for us to be distracted and unfocused.  Last week this poverty of attention on the things that matter most, prevented me from moving forward in the things that matter more than some of the other things I pursued. I am getting back on track and eliminating some of the information that I receive that is preventing me from focusing on what I should be giving my full attention to.

Assume you don’t know the whole story. This is not something I learned personally by doing, although I have been here before.  No, this makes the list this week because I watched it happen.  Have you ever become emotionally charged about a situation or an interaction with someone personally that you later found out that you didn’t have the whole story?  Maybe it included you being mad at someone or something because of what someone told you, but you didn’t have the context of the whole picture?  Come on, it happens all of the time.  What I have learned before jumping to conclusions or getting emotionally charged and making myself look stupid, I have to get the whole story.  Yep, understand the whole story.  Sure you know the side you have heard or actually experienced, but before you go down the road of making assumptions or in some cases, accusations, be sure you know the whole story.

To your success and your future.

3 Things I learned last week…11/9-15/2015

Spend time with people with similar goals:  Sure I have talked about this before, right?  Who you spend your time with determines your success or failure.  But this last week it became even more abundantly clear to me why this is true.  I had two great meetings last week, and the week before I had one of these meetings. Sadly enough about ten days had passed and I only had three such meetings.  What was so great about these three meetings was the people I met with had similar growth goals.  They had personal growth goals, finance goals, reading great books goals, career goals, etc.  In each of these meetings I left feeling energized and excited about what I needed to do and what I want to accomplish.  Three such meetings in ten days is the sad part.  What if I had one of these meetings every hour?  That is my goal this week and in the future: have meetings with people who have similar goals more often.

Until you are obsessed with it, it wont happen: I listened to a caller call into the Dave Ramsey show last week and tell his story on how he became debt free.  He said that he and his wife had started down the path in 2011 but they got off track.  So ultimately they didn’t get out of debt the first time.  They got back on the plan to become debt free again in 2013 and this time they did it successfully.  They became debt free.  The guy said that they weren’t that committed to becoming debt free back in 2011.  This time they had several circumstances in their life come about and they had to be debt free.  He said that until you are obsessed with a goal you wont accomplish it.  Meaning you think about the goal 24/7, when you sleep, when you eat, when you are at work, when you are playing.  It is on your mind 24/7 and you want to accomplish the goal so bad that the goal becomes almost like breathing to you.

Respect yourself first: At times there are situations, experiences, environments, people, managers, friends, family, etc., that may not show you the respect that you deserve.  It may be deliberate and intentional, or they may just be clueless to the fact that you feel that way.  So what do you do?  You can’t change anyone but yourself.  So you must respect yourself first, and in some cases you have to move on from these situations. Or if they are people you can’t move on from, then you have to confront the people who are showing you the disrespect. Regardless of the situation you have to respect yourself, your abilities, your value, and the contributions you make.

To your success and your future.

 

3 Things I learned last week…11/2-8/2015

Knowledge advantage:  In life there are times when we might be outmatched or outweighed, or things might be stacked up against us.  We have all felt this way at one time or another.  I know I have.  There is one thing that we can all do, that doesn’t require us to be the biggest, the strongest, the fastest, the richest, the cutest, the most charismatic, etc.  That is we can all have an advantage when it comes to knowledge.  You can read anything you want on everything you want. You can become an expert in your line of work.  You can become the go to person in your place of work.  You can become the go to person in your city, on this or that topic.  Go out and get the knowledge advantage.  It is yours for the taking.

When you lose the “I’m important factor”:  Have you ever challenged someone’s level of importance?  You may have had a manager or boss, who is that kind of boss that wants everyone to know they are in charge? Or it could be that department within your company that for years has been the department that gets everything they want and their level of importance, at least in the eyes of the company, is the department that matters the most. What happens when you challenge their level of importance in either of these cases?  I have watched in many cases some bad things happen. Usually they go in to overdrive to show how important they are.  

This week I was listening to a talk show host talk about the current field of republicans for the 2016 presidential race.  The commentator discussed how the long time politicians in Washington and in our country don’t want an outsider to win. An outsider meaning someone who has never been in politics.  In this case they are referring to Ben Carson and Donald Trump.  When it comes down to it, most people in the political world will do whatever they can to diminish or devalue these so-called outsiders.  Because if an outsider can win, it diminishes their own value to politics and their chosen field of work.  At any level, it will diminish pollsters, it will diminish political directors, the different level of staff positions within a political campaign, every single position within the current political ranks will be diminished because it would show that their expertise is not needed and anybody can run and win.  

Why is this a good lesson for us to know?  Because if we look at this “importance” concept from the eyes of the person whose “importance” is being challenged, then we may have the advantage of knowing how they will react to certain things and why they react the way they might react if we challenge them.

Manage by hour, not by day: I made this commitment within the past week.  On days where I don’t have a lot of meetings it is really easy to get caught up in this or that and not be as productive as I would like.  So I made this commitment to myself last week that I would manage my days by the hour instead of by the day.  Seems really easy to do, but for some reason I haven’t been doing it as effectively as I have in the past.  So I have recommitted to it again.

Another great week of learning.  Please share with me what you learned.  Remember, experience doesn’t teach us anything.  We must evaluate our experiences for us to actually learn from them.

To your success and your future.

Why does change have to suck?

If you have read my blog very much you know that I am a huge Jack Welch fan.  Read here and >  Jack Welch to learn more about Jack and his philosophies.

In Jacks first year as CEO of General Electric he visited one of the companies businesses which was a facility that built nuclear reactor plants in San Jose, California.  The leadership team at that plant presented a rosy plan of how that they were going to build three new reactors a year.  Looking backward, that was a reasonable assumption since General Electric had been selling three or four reactors a year since the 1970’s.  However, it was 1981, just two years after the Three Mile Nuclear disaster in Pennsylvania. General Electric had not received an order for new reactors for two years now.  Jack listened to the team tell him how it was now coming back and that the future is bright.

Jack told them that they should quit building reactors and instead focus on selling nuclear fuel and servicing the 72 active reactors that they have already built.  The team was shocked and told Jack that he was crazy to think that would be a great model.  They said it would kill morale and they would never be able to bounce back from attempting this new business model.

As great leaders do, Jack didn’t listen to them and re-staffed the business unit to do exactly what he had proposed.  And the business went from $14 million to $116 in just two years.  20 years later when Jack retired not one new single order for a nuclear reactor was ever issued in the United States.

So what can we learn here?   Here are my observations.

  • When you are too close to a project, just like the leadership team at the nuclear reactor building plant, it is hard for you to see the bigger picture.  You get so focused on trying to save what is gone, or eventually will be gone, that you try to save something that shouldn’t be saved.  The culture at that time in the United States didn’t want to build more nuclear power plants. Sometimes you have to step away or have someone else come in and give you a reality check.
  • A car on a flat street in neutral doesn’t move does it?  Nope.  The only way a car moves is if it is in drive or reverse.  So that means a car can only go forwards or backwards. And that is just like us as well.  We as humans can go only one of two ways.  We are either looking forward and moving forward, or we are looking backwards because we are moving backwards.  My advice is keep your eyes forward and always be looking out to see what is next and where you are going and where could you be going.  That is what the leadership team should have been doing at the nuclear reactor plant.
  • Don’t abandon what you are doing, instead pivot. Instead of building nuclear plant, GE started servicing them.  Who better to service them then the people who built them?  Nobody.  They didn’t leave the core business they just did something different within it.

If you look at this example.  The change that the leadership team needed to experience didn’t have to suck did it?  As it turns out it didn’t.  Nope they pivoted their business, saw the bigger picture and moved forward with a new business model that actually earned them a lot more money.

This is the same for you.  Change doesn’t have to suck for you either.  How can you pivot to something new in your life?  What are the areas in your life that you keep looking back on? You should be looking forward.  My hope is that you haven’t had something similar to a nuclear reactor plant blow up in your life, causing you great harm.  This is very doubtful.  But even if it has, pivot and use your skills and talents differently to serve or make changes that you know need to be made so you can live the life you want to live.

To your success and your future.

3 Things I learned last week…10/26-11/1/2015

Last week I learned a few lessons by watching others.

If you don’t ask, you won’t get: Many people go through life upset about not getting this or that.  In their minds they are not getting what they consider to be their fair share.  If you ask them what they want to have, they can’t tell you.  Or, really challenge them and ask them what they have actually asked for and it is usually nothing.  They haven’t asked for anything. So, instead they play the victim role and pretend like they haven’t received what they think they should have received.  But in essence it is their fault because they haven’t asked.  Now should you receive everything you ask for?  Absolutely not, you get what you deserve.  This is another blog for another day, but to get what you want, you have to earn it and then you have to ask for it.

Domination and Success:  I have to admit I love watching someone, something, or anything just totally dominate, especially when it comes to sports.  For example, did you watch American Pharaoh this past Saturday win the Breeder’s Cup?  That was pure domination.  The horse dominated during its run during the Triple Crown as well.  Also, have you watched the New England Patriots in a while?  Tom Brady and his team are dominating the NFL.  What is it about watching domination that I like?  I guess for me it is the focus and determination of the group, team, horse, etc. doing the domination.  they have prepared for it.  They worked hard at it.  They put in the time, the effort, the sacrifice to be dominant.  When I look at my own preparation in certain areas of my life, I have to ask myself “Am I dominating this?”  If the answer is no.  There is a reason I am not.  It is because I am not focusing, preparing, and putting in the work to dominate.  That is the challenge for me this week and going forward.  If I want to dominate, I have to do the work.

Do it now: We all know this, but it is worth reminding myself of it again.  Anything that you put off, that shouldn’t be put off, wont get done.  For example: If I don’t work out first thing in the morning, the chances are I wont get it done that day. If I don’t make time to read a few chapters of a book in the morning, the chances are it wont get done that day.  If I don’t write down my goals for the day before I start the day, the chances are they won’t get done. So my advice is do it now.  Whatever it is you know you should do and need to do, do it now.  Don’t wait.  It is too important to wait.

To your success and your future.