Three Words Magnetic Teams Know

Three Words

I was having a conversation a week or two ago with a couple of friends about growing business, teams, and the challenges each presents.  We got to talking about how to specifically challenge team members to be great and having each member feeling fulfilled in their career path.  Two big challenges for everyone.  The goal is a team of magnets, pulling each closer together and growing in strength while working with one another.

A question was posed, “How can one person make this happen for 5, 10, 20+ people?  That’s a huge undertaking!”

My answer was three simple and short words.

“Give a shit!”

If a person truly wants to build a lasting team, they’ll give first.  If a person wants to complain about what they’re not getting from their team or team members, I will always challenge to look internally first.  Own up to what isn’t happening and start caring more.

If you’re thinking the answer is too blunt, it probably is.

The great owners, entrepreneurs, leaders, teammates, and coaches, who make great progress with their units, CARE unconditionally for their team.  They invest and don’t always worry about what they can get in return.  There is enough shared confidence in the unit to pay it forward.

Over the years I’ve seen many teams grow, and many die slow deaths with selfish leaders.  The teams who experienced tremendous success and growth looked after one another.  In one powerful instance, I saw a very close team pray together.  If you’ve ever seen this and stood admiring, it is quite a site!  Good work Tim & Corey!

In other successful instances, I’ve witnessed teams push one another toward a shared vision by pulling each other closer to the mission.  In each instance, the team had tremendous vitality and magnetism.  This vitality and magnetism crushes every challenge, competitor, and opportunity in its path.  To push through a challenge, pull the unit together.

In every instance, the successful gave a shit and limited selfish thoughts.

What does this look like in the business world working with cynical consumers everywhere? There is a story circulating the internet about Southwest Airlines.  Maybe you’ve seen it.  If not, it’s worth the read.  Plane has Already Left the Gate, Receives THIS News, Turns Back Immediately.  Someone at Southwest with a heart made the really simple choice to care.

I frequently listen to the audio book, Hyper Sales Growth by Jack Daly.  Jack tells a wonderful story about a time when he was much younger working in a supermarket.  He had an elderly woman shopping for a specific vegetable, and the supermarket was out of stock.  She asked young Jack, “Can you please help me find the fresh spinach?”  Jack’s response (knowing they were out of the leafy vegetable), “Of course, can you give me about 10 minutes and I’ll meet you at the checkout with the spinach?”

What did Jack do next?

He immediately took off to a competing supermarket.  Took money out of his own pocket, bought the spinach (2 bags just in case), and quickly made his way back to the supermarket to meet his patron at the checkout.  “Here is your fresh spinach Mrs.,” said Jack.  This one is on us.  Thank you for the continued support and patronage,” smiled young Jack ear to ear.  He knew he’d done the right thing.  His manager had taught him well.

Is there an ugly side to caring too much?

Of course there is.  Not everyone will care.  You will get your feelings hurt.  Move away from these people quickly and get them the hell away from your unified team.

Have you ever seen a good sports team go out and buy the newest high-dollar free agent on the market, hoping to be great with the addition?  What happens next?  The superstar wants to do it their way, and the culture suffers.  The team is actually worse off.  I’ve seen it too many times.  I’ve tried it.  It doesn’t work.

ACTION ITEM:  You can choose to be the asshole and get what you want…(for a while).  I hope you’re prepared to be hopelessly lonely.  Why not choose caring instead and build something that lasts?

Do You Like What You See?

Barry Melrose Like What You See

I was watching some Friday morning sports talk radio on TV and was hit by a moment of inspiration.  It came from a very unexpected source, Barry Melrose (currently broadcaster on ESPN and former NHL Hockey player and head coach).  You may have seen Barry before adorned in his loudly colored and often pinstriped suits on set.

Now I’m not a hockey fanatic, but I have recently been following the Chicago Blackhawks the last couple years.  Mike & Mike asked Barry what his pre-game speech would be for the Hawks?  The biggest speech their coach would deliver this year prior to their game 7 “winner-take-all” match-up with the Anaheim Ducks for a chance to skate for Lord Stanely’s Cup.  “What would you specifically say?” asked ESPN host Mike Greenberg.

He responded with strength and determination, “Like What You See!”

When the skates are off tonight men and you hit the shower, then stand in front of the mirror…like what you see.

He wasn’t talking about complexion or hair style either.  He was talking about a person/player looking themselves in the eye and being completely satisfied with the effort they delivered.

Imagine if we did this daily. Do you like what you see?

I believe the people that do like what they see, sleep well.  They wake up rested to tackle another day with all they’ve got.  They take action and “leave it all out there” to accomplish something every day.  Not everything will go their way, but they shake it off and continue on in a positive path.  They create momentum of achievements and progress every single day.

What about if you don’t like what you see?  I believe these people go to bed with a belly full of fear, frustration, or anxiety dreading what’s next.  Life happens to them and at this point in time, they’re not willing to punch back and change it.  The mirror has a funny way of bringing a harsh reality to a life.  A reality previously hidden from our site and vision becomes all too real.  The way we see ourselves, and what the reflection of the mirror tells us we are, conflict.  Conflict equals discontent or disagreement.  But, this conflict can be the best of things.  It’s a START.

The beautiful thing is, nothing is final (only death). Anyone can change.

If you don’t like what you see (and candidly I can say there are things about myself today I don’t like), change them!  Make moves today to start a new path.  Take a step, one step, in a different direction.

ACTION ITEM: If you see Barry, tell him I said, “Thanks!”  In the meantime, take an honest look in the mirror and don’t get angry.  Get moving.

Anxiety, Neurosis, and Living a Life of Fear

There’s an epidemic gaining momentum in society.

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Obviously I don’t believe I’m alone or I wouldn’t write about it.  Anxiety and fear are leaving people feeling trapped, living a life alone with their own thoughts.

It all started for me about five years ago with my UC (ulcerative colitis) diagnosis.  What began as a disease of the large intestine and specifically the colon, spread to my head.

No it’s not cancer.  I’m referring to the negative thought process I became fixated on and concerned with 24/7.  Worry followed by more fear and worry.  Here is a small sampling of my thoughts from about five years ago to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

  • Is this going to kill me?
  • What (if anything) could I eat any more?
  • Would it cause another attack?
  • What if I’m not near a bathroom? (near is a distance 15-20 seconds away at a panic jog rate)
  • What if I can’t eat anything?
  • Would I still be able to travel?
  • What if I got sick away from home?
  • How embarrassing is this going to be?
  • Eat more bananas? Damn it! More bananas?

Why am I telling you this?

Because I believe this is merely a glimpse at my struggle, and although it may not relate to you directly, I believe others need to know it’s okay to be afraid, but accepting of their fears.  What’s not okay is to let fear take over your thoughts, actions, and emotions 24/7 and ruin your life.  For me, this fear lead to panic, anxious thoughts, and uninitiated worry.

A couple years ago on the outside, I may have looked like I had it together, but on the inside I was a complete mess.

The “trifecta” I was living with included more than just the UC diagnosis and fears.  At the exact same time I was kicking a nasty nicotine habit (which needed to happen), while also facing a growing infertility challenge with my wife as we longed to start a family.  Brick by brick, a house of fears and frustration compiled.

It wasn’t until a couple years ago I realized the best medicine for my body wasn’t the two daily horse pills I take. I needed brain training for a reboot.  I’d personally beaten myself down with thoughts and feelings of insecurity and anxiousness.  Everywhere I went there was an undercurrent of fear riding in my sidecar.  If you can relate, you know what I’m talking about. The weeds find a way to grow, and they grow quickly!

What does this fear feel like?

It feels like a racing heartbeat.  Clammy and shivering hands.  Chills.  Feelings of being exhausted and alert at the same time.  It turned situations where I was 100% comfortable a couple years ago into fight or flight adrenaline jolts.  It sucked.

So how did I start to take back control?

Slowly. One step at a time my thinking had to be rebuilt.  Here’s what Ralph Waldo Emerson says,

A man is what he thinks about all day long.

The quote (and I’m not sure who said it), “Everyone has something,” kept running through my head.  “I’m not the only one in the world dealing with this, so stop being such a pansy ass,” I’d say to myself.  It could be so much worse.  I had to make a choice and commit to positivity and living life every day.

Commitment to change happened.

Radical change happens when a line is drawn in the sand and a person must be put to a decision.  In poker you would call this an “all-in” wager.  I didn’t want to wallow in the bullshit any longer.  I decided I’d own it and talk about it openly.  I chose to show others my hand (more card-speak), my insecurities, and not be afraid or embarrassed.  After all, this was me.  All of me, as John Legend puts it.

A crazy thing happens when you speak freely about fear.  It gets released.  When it’s released, it doesn’t carry with it the immense weight as it does in your thoughts.  It disappears like smoke from a fire into the night sky.  Seemingly never to have existed in the first place.

Tony Robbins teaches three things to help you get to this action decision.  You can find the link to his post here (How to Create Breakthrough in Any Area of Your Life)

  1. Change your strategy, change your result.
  2. Change your story, change your life.
  3. Change your state—you change it all!

The kryptonite to my fear, my anxiety, my neurosis wasn’t a pill (although I must admit a steroid pack helps a brother out from time to time if he gets run down and my stomach needs a boost).  No.  The answer lived in my thoughts, beliefs, and actions.  A funny thing happens when this choice is made.  You gain momentum and energy, and you never look back.

Thinking alone won’t ever cure me from my stomach disease or associated fears, but I’m not looking for that any more.  I’m not cured, I’m informed.  I’m committed to not living a life of fear and being a shell of my real self.  If that means saying no to a few more things, or resting when my body needs it, then so be it.

When the next challenge comes along (and it’s guaranteed to happen), I will be more prepared.  I will be more present in understanding what I’m feeling.  In the meantime, I’m going to hop on this black stallion called life and break her to live my way!

ACTION ITEM: I’ve been thinking about this post for some time.  A great deal of emotion came about when thinking about it.  It makes me feel even better writing it.  But, it’s not about me.  I know without a shred of doubt there are people struggling like I did.  If you are afraid, SO IS EVERYONE ELSE!

Make a choice to beat it.  If you’re a friend, make a choice to help them.  Life is far too short to be afraid all the time.

31 Days of Challenging Questions: Recap

First off, I must start this post with a sincere apology.

I didn’t realize til about a week ago the last three posts hadn’t gone out to the tribe for days 29, 30, and 31 of my challenging questions.  EPIC Fail.

I’m sincerely sorry and it lacks class.  Something I’m not proud of.

What happened, you wonder?  Life happened.  I was traveling and the big man upstairs welcomed home one of our family members (and his biggest supporters).  Mind you, if I was coaching myself I’d tell you these are excuses.  But, I’ve always been open to my readers and that’s the way it will continue.

Nonetheless, I wanted to recap the final three posts here and share a brief snippet about what I learned.

Day 29: Am I taking time today to appreciate and LIVE?

Day 29

Day 30: Am I thinking BIG enough?

Day 30

 

Day 31: How will I be remembered?Day 31

Recap:  This project meant a lot to me.  It’s also proved (short to my my last 3 day blunder) the people following this blog are hungry for more content like this.  I’d never done 31 days of straight content production and editing so I also learned a thing or two about time management and scaling a project like this.

I’ll leave you with this.  I had many more than 31 questions when I started my list.  I chose these because after some time reflecting these questions were the ones I was personally struggling to answer most.  Maybe this was the case for you, maybe it wasn’t.  The point is, I hope it caused you to take a moment and reflect.  I hope it left you feeling unsatisfied and energized to continue taking your next opportunity head on.

ACTION ITEM: Over the last 30+ days I’ve received numerous texts, emails, and mentions on phone conversations about this list.  Thank you!  Thank you for not being afraid to tell someone you appreciate their work.  Like they say in the airports, “if you see something (you appreciate), say something!”

 

31 Days of Challenging Questions: Day 27

DAY 27: Do the people I associate with believe in me?

Day 27

ACTION ITEM: I think this is an absolutely wonderful question.  Most every one of us works as part of a team.  Successful teams must believe in one another if they’re going to survive the challenging times (which we all know exist).  If you think you don’t know the answer to this question how would you find out?

Ask this question of someone on your team.  “I really need your help on a special project, can you help?”  Watch their body language…there is your answer.

31 Days of Challenging Questions: Day 26

DAY 26: Have I donated enough?

Day 26

ACTION ITEM: I’m guilty of having a selfish streak.  I get so caught up in what I’m doing I forget to be grateful and give back.  I need to ask this question of myself more often to make sure I’m doing what’s best for others and not just myself.   ~Sorry tribe, didn’t realize this was going to be a personal therapy session.

31 Days of Challenging Questions: Day 25

DAY 25: Have I made any crazy asks lately?

Day 25

ACTION ITEM: I really love this one.  Any time I’m reflecting and I get the feeling I’m playing it a little too safe I’m reminded to be bold, and ask for something OUT THERE.  Why?  Because the worst thing that can happen is the person can say no.  But, what if they didn’t entirely say no, and they met you half way?  What would happen then?

ASK FOR SOMETHING CRAZY THIS WEEK!

31 Days of Challenging Questions: Day 24

DAY 24: What can I do to make myself more valuable today?

Day 24

ACTION ITEM:  Success finds those who exceedingly provide value.  How can you be more valuable to your team, your client, yourself?  Secondly, I’ll ask you to take off your super-driven, achievement-focused hat for a second and reposition the question about family.  How can I be more valuable to my family?

31 Days of Challenging Questions: Day 23

DAY 23: Am I continuing to meet new people?

Day 23

ACTION ITEM: I find myself guilty of becoming comfortable in the people I know.  I need to remind myself to continually get out there and meet new and exciting people.  People with fresh perspectives and experiences on life existing outside of my circle of influence.  Doing this almost always opens me up to new reading material, daily rituals, success strategies and viewpoints I hadn’t considered before.