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Leadership, Business, Coaching, Recognition and Appreciation

Leaders grow and learn from each other. As a lifelong entrepreneur, business man, youth basketball, soccer, & football coach, husband of one and parent of two, I have learned from and served beside some of the best. This blog is my attempt to share some of my experience and to show appreciation for all those who have poured into me over the years

The Truth Quest: Your Truth or Mine?

The Truth Quest: Your Truth or Mine?


I had a fun conversation with my wife the other day on our way out to the lake. She said “I am worried about you. A while back you made a statement in your blog about your truth, my truth and universal truth. I don’t know what that means. Real truth is the same for everyone.” Her statement made me pause and rethink what I was trying to say.

 

The Quest

I feel that the quest for truth is a fundamental foundation to good leadership and a peaceful conscience. I think it is important for us to recognize that, as unique individuals, what we perceive can be different. The fact that we may not agree on what is true, does not change what is true. We may have truthfully experienced or seen something differently, but our experience or our perception of what we saw does not change what actually is.

 

Perception Changes

So that brings us back to how do we know what is true? Often our idea of what is true is based on what we know at the time - the evidence. Until some can show or prove that what we think to be true at the time is not actually true, it is true for us. Once someone shows us a different way, our old “truth” just becomes our perception of what was true. The truth did not change, just our perception did. That is why we have to understand that finding what is true is a quest. Because we are capable of always learning (and making mistakes), we are capable of discovering new truths everyday.


Truth Does Not

A Nazarene named Jesus once said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” John 8: 31-32. To me, the implication is that as long as we remain students (disciples) and in this case learn from the word of God, we will be shown the unchanging truths of this life and the afterlife. And to know what is really true is freeing, empowering and life giving.

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Leadership Maps: Where You've Been, Where You're Going

Leadership Maps: Where You've Been, Where You're Going

 As leaders we leave a wake behind us of our past leadership. 

Knowing where one has been is as important as knowing where we are going. I am not saying our past performance is an accurate predictor of the future, but reflecting on the past and learning from it helps us learn from our mistakes and build a better future. Seeing victories, no matter how small or large they might have been can encourage us and give us the hope we need to sustain ourselves through leaderships valleys.

 Building a visual tool that allows us to look back over a longer period of time could be one way of determining if our leadership is headed in the right direction or if we need to adjust our sails a bit. 

I recently visited my daughters soccer coaches office and noticed her method for doing just this. I love her central mission and how she builds on that by visually illustrating her avenues for living it out and recording accomplishments along the way.  With her permission I am sharing her bulletin board as just one potential idea. 


Yours or mine might look much different but the challenge for us is to examine our process. Have we created a tool that clearly states the reason for our leadership, the avenues we are going to take and the accomplishments or setbacks we have experienced along the way?  

 

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The Art of Unity

The Art of Unity

In a world where diversity is almost worshiped, unity gets lost and we can forget how to achieve it. Yet unity, in families, businesses, and even in government, is so important to forward progress that it cannot be ignored. It is an art.

 The Art of Unity

There seems to be a lot of buzz about what unity is and what it isn’t. When seeking unity with others I concentrate on:

  • Being pure at heart
  • Knowing I may have an opinion, but I am not the judge.
  • Seeing possibilities in others, being patient with them, avoiding assumptions about them
  • Letting the truth speak for itself. Truth does not need to be defended. In the words of Augustine. “The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.”
    • Silencing others does not expose truth, letting them speak does.
    • Knowing that just because it has been said or written down does not make something true
    • Knowing an author's history does make a difference
  • Understanding that people are very complicated, often a culmination of their experience more than their education.
  • Knowing that there is no such thing in relationships as pure black or pure white. Grey areas exist and need to be understood and exposed for what they are.
  • Admitting, “I honestly don’t know the answer to that.”
  • Loving, even when you disagree

These are my thoughts on the art of unity.  I would love to hear yours.






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Oh, the Possibilities!

Oh, the Possibilities!

Hypocrite? Who, Me?

I just noticed the hypocrite in me. I am  listening to the book “The Art Of Possibility” by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander.  Even though I think of myself as a pretty positive person the word “possible” is not exactly the first thing I think of when faced with a life challenge, especially as I get older. It has been my experience that my human nature seems more likely to respond “that's impossible” than “I see a possibility here”. 

I grew up with a very loving father who was very optimistic and believed anything that HE was doing was possible. But what I was doing would scare him to death, so he took a more realistic or pessimistic (my perspective) attitude toward it. I am sure he felt he was just keeping me from ruin or heart ache. Now that I am a father of adult children, the hypocrite emerges.  I understand what my father was feeling and find myself saying and sharing the very same words and feelings with my children. (ouch!) 

Father Knows Best?

I remember my father always saying “if I were twenty years younger I would …” or “If a guy were to...“. I remember thinking to myself, what is he trying to tell me? I’m a guy, I’m 20 years younger - maybe he thinks I should do it. But it rarely turned out that way. Once he thought I was interested in exploring the possibilities of one of his ideas, he would turn back into the realistic, devil's advocate that any loving father would be. This appears to be the default in our culture, especially the older we get and the more we have to lose. If it is going to be hard and there are more unknowns than knowns then we best not take the risk.  

Wise Words

Jesus taught his disciples “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The truth I think he is telling me is that the more I have to lose, the harder it is for me to see the possibility of what I have to gain in taking a risk. If I lose that child-like faith and attitude, I simply don’t have the eyes to see the same possibility in things. 

Jesus goes on to tell them “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to keep that child-like faith of possibility and model it to my family, employees and community, no matter how old and risk averse I become. 

 

 

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Choosing A Response

Choosing A Response

 

I struggle with crafting a good response when my paradigm of the world is challenged.  But, how I respond is an important factor when representing the organizations I help lead. The easiest “out” is to just be silent and not engage in the conversation, especially publicly in places like social media. 

But staying silent does not help change the world, and it just makes me feel like a coward. 

Whenever I am faced with the temptation to respond harshly to an opposing world view, I like to do what I call a “heart check” of myself. These are the thought strategies I’ve found most helpful:

  •  Play the devil's advocate and seek to understand the other party. If I were in their shoes (had grown up where or when they did) would I see it differently? I remember often being very critical of my parent’s conservative handling of their possessions. But I did not grow up during one of our nation's worst economic depressions. They did. 
  • Consider the end goal. Is my goal to change the other party’s mind or just tear them down and make them look like a fool? When I do the latter I most always end up looking and feeling like the fool myself.
  • If I am honest, am I able to identify any good motives in the other person's position? Knowing that there are good intentions does not always bring agreement, but it sure opens the door to understanding and a civil debate of the issues.

If using these measures brings no hope of understanding,or making the other person feel understood, then my best and wisest choice might be to not engage in a discussion with this person. The engagement will possibly just make me angry and bitter, and I don’t want that spilling over into my other relationships. 

 

"Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

Proverbs 17:28






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Who Is a True Patriot?

Who Is a True Patriot?

Who is a true patriot?

You would think it would be easy to be a true patriot in a free country like the USA. Who doesn’t want this kind of freedom? Who doesn’t want to live in this kind of country?

But with freedom comes the inherent right to be an independent thinker. If we are both thinking independently, what you think is loyal and just, may not be what I think is loyal and just. What is really interesting is that two people, who fundamentally believe the same things, can have totally different responses when their beliefs are challenged.

In every country there is a tension between individuals, people groups, generations, schools, religions, cities, states and political groups.  But in a free country this tension is often created by our freedom to speak out in accordance with our beliefs, values, and loyalties. It becomes apparent that we don’t all have the same beliefs, don’t agree about what we should value and don’t have the same priorities when it comes to loyalty.                                                                                                                                                                                    

So this week, as we celebrate our independence, are we truly able to be grateful for this independence that allows others to think differently than we think, to have a different world view, a different sense of what it means to be patriotic? Do we have a spirit that allows a humble, kind response to the differences and the tension created by our freedom? Good questions for this holiday weekend.

Have a wonderful Independence Day! 

Give generously and love, expecting nothing in return.



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Hiring for the Right Skills

Hiring for the Right Skills

 

 

“Your intelligence does not impress me, It’s how you speak, act and love others that impresses me. Especially with those that are not like you”.  Dennis Smith of Apple Awards

Hiring new staff for a small business can always be a challenge, especially in a rural small town setting. Not many people are itching to put down roots in a small town.

In many industries, people skills can be the primary factor in a hire, as it is with us. Good people skills coupled with experience is ideal and can put you as a front runner for a position. Primarily we now hire based on a person's ability to get along with co-workers and customers, closely coupled with their trainability. 

Getting along with co-workers always comes first in my book. If employees cannot work well together, solving problems and creating or if there is a lack of trust and commitment, the likelihood of a good customer experience is small.

People skills can be taught, but usually the lack of these skills goes a lot deeper than what can be taught by an employer. The emotional health and intelligence of a candidate plays a huge factor in determining their success. If I see that a candidate has been in the past, or is currently working on improving their emotional health, or even knows what that phrase means, that gives me hope.   

As an employer I need to set the example and continue to grow in my emotional health. There is an unlimited supply of free resources at our disposal, and I am sharing one that I am currently learning from - Your Not the Boss of Me. Check it out!

 

 

 

 

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Leadership and Truth

Leadership and Truth

Leaders need to take care, with a deep respect for the truth, because people are following them.

Effective leadership always includes correctly defining and distinguishing between “your truth”, “my truth” and universal truth.

It includes being able to identify an individual truth, like my name is Dennis and yours is Tom. These are true statements about people that are different, individual and can be relatively easy to change by filling out a couple of forms and submitting them to the proper authorities.

There are also universal truths, like the law of gravity and the world being round. These truths are the same for everyone and remain constant whether we like it or not as long as we live on this earth. The truths only change if our reality changes - we get in a spaceship and leave the earth's atmosphere or a huge meteor strikes the earth and breaks it in two.

I believe leaders have to keep an open mind and be willing to understand that truth is a pursuit. They have to be willing to look bravely at evidence and compare it with their view of reality. If those don’t match, what changes would be required to make them match? If evidence and reality can’t be made to match, effective leadership recognizes that their “reality” is not real or truthful and needs to change.

This happened to Elizabeth Holmes and her company Theranos. Even though she had a noble idea and dream, there came a time when she had to realize that her idea was not yet working. She should have faced evidence. She didn’t, and as a result she allowed deception to take over and it altered her life forever. The company she started collapsed. The investors that took a chance on her with their 600 million dollars of investment would get nothing in return.

Her dream may be possible someday. Someday an accurate, reliable and exhaustive blood analysis may be available from the prick of a finger but truth, borne out by evidence, shows that it has not happened yet and possibly never will. What she presented as universally truthful, was not reality.

Owning the truth, of the present moment or eternity, is critical in everyone's life. But for the leader, it can have broader consequences far beyond just ourselves. If we do not recognize truth, face it, speak it and live it, head on, the people we lead will be affected also.

 

In addition to preventing problems like Elizabeth Holmes encountered, read in last week’s blog , how “the truth can set you free” and produce peace for the effective leader.





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Sincerity and Leadership

Sincerity and Leadership

Think about a leader who has been a true and sincere blessing in your life. Hopefully there is more than one, but one is good.  

Webster's definition of Sincerity: the quality or state of being sincere : honesty of mind: freedom from hypocrisy

The relationship between you and the leader you are thinking about might cause you to notice some other traits.

  • They love what is good and helpful.
  • They hate what is wrong and debilitating.
  • They are devoted to the people and cause they are leading.
  • They value others more than themselves.
  • They serve with zeal and fervor.
  • They show hope in the future, joy in the moment, patience with the difficult.
  • They are faithful in service, generous to a fault.
  • They welcome others to their presence with grace.

If you think this sounds more like a definition of love, well you are right. It is sincere love in action. If you add truth (which is a whole other topic) to sincerity and love, I believe the result is peace. Sincere, loving leadership works toward the peace we all crave in the workplace, the home and in life.






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Creativity and Renewal

Creativity and Renewal

Creative, innovative and engaging organizations, I believe, are constantly educating and challenging  themselves. Their health and success depends on their ability, not to conform to what other businesses in their industry are doing, but to transform their industry in ways previously thought impossible.

Romans 12: 2 starts out by telling us, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

This verse speaks truth about what it looks like to live a good and holy personal life that is pleasing to God. I think it also speaks truth regarding what it looks like to lead a business, classroom or team that will be pleasing to its customers, students and teammates.

I love being out in nature. To me, nature displays the infinite creativity of its creator - colors, smells, sounds, tastes, shapes, textures.  The possibilities just seem endless.

So, don’t you think that we ought to  follow this creative example given to us and not be bound by the cultural norms that often keep us locked in our old ways? Ways that are often destructive, life debilitating ways?

What if we woke up every day with a willingness to be renewed, a desire to see new and endless possibilities in ourselves and the people we lead. I think our organizations could be transformed by this energy and continue to be good, pleasing and healthy for all those involved.  It all starts with recognition of the gifts we have been given and then doing the hard work to develop them.

The second half of the verse, "Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."



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"Crushing It!", How Do You Measure Success?

"Crushing It!", How Do You Measure Success?

To “crush it”, is to succeed, maybe succeed big. But, how do you define and measure success?

For some reason I spend allot of time trying to define and measure success. This is what we do as leaders. We want to know if what we do is working and matters.  Gauging success in the form of our bank account or wins on the playing field feels like the most reasonable way to do this. But, I find defining success, particularly when it comes to leading people, very frustrating. It  rarely shows itself in the form I expect, or if I’m real honest, in the form I desire. It’s hardly ever in a form that can easily be measured by worldly standards. 

In his book “Crush It”, Gary Vaynerchuk makes the statement, “Legacy always trumps currency” when carrying out a plan. This is a challenging assertion when it comes to gauging the effectiveness of what you are doing. There is immediate and tangible feedback on the spreadsheet if you are “crushing it” financially. But, “crushing it” when it comes to your legacy, well, that seldom shows up until you are gone from this life,or your current position in it. 

I Timothy 6-7 says, “We brought nothing into this world, nor can we take (carry) anything out”. This thought of leaving a legacy and not just material things that will rust, decay and slowly fade away, challenges me. Not all, but most material things will soon be of no eternal value to anyone. If you are fortunate enough to leave a hospital, school or church in your wake, that is amazing. However, few of us will ever achieve success of this kind. I do believe though, that each of us,individually or corporately, holds onto something, whether in our hearts or minds, that we can leave behind as a legacy. We just have to find the courage to say it, do it, or write it down, and then share it.

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Reunited!

Reunited!

Reunited, and it feels so good!  It’s true! We’ve just had this experience at Apple Awards this spring and it was a positive one for us.  

As the school year winds down for many, I want to share with you one of my favorite teachers from high school, Nancy Nelson. She was my accounting and keyboarding teacher. She was not special because keyboarding (typing back then) or accounting were my favorite subjects, she was special because of the way she made us students feel, the way she treated us. She made learning fun. The thing I remember the most about her is her smile, laugh and positive, encouraging demeanor.

As the years went on and I started my own business, she started teaching business and entrepreneur classes. I was fortunate enough to be invited into her class room to share what I was learning as an entrepreneur. In turn, she would bring her students to come visit and tour my businesses.

This spring I was looking for help at Apple Awards during our busy season.  I wondered if Mrs. Nelson, now retired, would consider coming in to help us out. As you can see, she said yes. This spring she is once again a blessing to 5 of her former students who got another chance to work beside her. And once again, she was bringing encouragement to students and educators all over North America through awards and recognition. I am happy to report she has not lost her smile, laugh or positive personality.  

Thank you Nancy for being a bright spot in so many lives over the years. You bring truth and meaning to the saying “to teach is to touch a life forever”.

 

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Are You Using Your Rear View Mirror?

Are You Using Your Rear View Mirror?

Effective leadership requires a 360 degree view. Vision and seeing forward is a integral ingredient of effective leadership. Equally as important is seeing what you are leaving in your wake. I call this self awareness. Are we willing to look in the rear view mirror of life and see how we affect others by our words, attitudes and actions?

For some, self awareness is intuitive and for others, not so much.

Now don’t get me wrong, we all have our blind spots. We all occasionally find ourselves dealing with pride, and selfishness. Sometimes we don’t notice the unhealthy things we are doing that may affect ourselves and others. But this does not have to be the norm.

Just like a good car operator we need to stop and check our mirrors when navigating the relationships in our life. Relational wrecks can be as destructive as the ones in our automobile. They can often be avoided though, by slowing down and checking your mirrors once in awhile to see if you have run someone off the road, or worse yet run them over. The only way to know this is to glance back, while still keeping our eyes on the road.



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Getting Back in Balance

Getting Back in Balance

Have you ever lost your emotional balance? Recently, I found myself having an unusual number of bad days in a row. There was a noticeable aggravation lingering in my spirit. The problem was I could not identify anything specific that was causing it.

As I reflected on current events in my life I just could not identify anything out of the norm. There were the usual problems, nagging health issues with myself and  people I love, people getting on my nerves, things just not working like I had hoped. None of these were anything new. Nothing drastic had changed that would throw me into this low spot I was experiencing. It was just everyday life. I thought to myself, what am I missing?

It took some uncomfortable time sitting still in silence to realize that my life, particularly my thought life, had lost its balance. It had become predominantly focused on me and less on others.

I know this may sound trite and simplistic but all it took was a few intentional acts of generosity toward others and I could feel my spirit and attitude righting itself almost immediately.

This Sunday is Mothers Day. Reach out, whether it’s in person, by phone or just resurrecting a memory of your mother. Practice focusing on someone other than yourself and see what happens.



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The "Other Guys"

The "Other Guys"


There are times when we break from a role because it seems meaningless to us when in reality it is exactly where we should be, because it is preparing us for something better. Even if that something is simply a lesson.

Back in high school I was a part of a club. Well, it wasn’t officially a club, it was just something two of my basketball teammates and I made up. We were the OG’s, short for “other guys”.

The three of us got a lot of time on the court during JV games and made up the heart of the scout team, the group of players that would run the offense or defense that our next varsity opponent would likely run against us. However, we rarely got into a varsity game. We were always asked to suit up for the varsity games, in addition to playing on the JV team, and maybe, late in the game, if we happened to be fortunate enough to be far enough ahead, the coach would lean over and look down the bench and say “hey, you other guys, get up here.” That’s how we got our name.

Truthfully I did not mind playing JV or being on the scout team. I took my role very seriously and worked really hard at it, in hopes that I might earn a chance to play a more meaningful role in a varsity game. It never happened. I decided not to go out for the team my senior year. At that time seniors did not get to play JV ball and I just could not stand the thought of putting in all that time and effort and not getting to play the game.

My senior year I signed up for track. It was a huge disappointment to me because I was not in the physical condition I needed to be in and in spite of good intentions of working out (during those evenings free of basketball practice) the discipline and conditioning of basketball practice was missing. I was not at my best.

To this day I regret that decision. First, because I let myself quit based on my perception that “playing time” in the game was the most important thing. Second, I failed to see how my participation in basketball prepared me for much different roles, later in life.  

The lesson was clearer to me as I became a coach and employer. I realized, with great appreciation, the roles held by players on my teams. I learned the importance of showing appreciation, in every possible way.  I now try to share with them how their participation might prepare them for the future in other endeavors. To me, they are more than just those “other guys”.

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Dealing with Trust Issues

Dealing with Trust Issues

When I find myself in a situation where wrong has been committed under my authority whether intentional or not, the quickest and best way back to forgiveness and trust is through a plan.

When Something Goes Wrong

Recently I had a customer contact me regarding a recent charge made by my business on their credit card. Three months prior they had made a purchase from us, but not recently. It was not a large purchase, but a purchase nonetheless.

Pausing in this story, I have to give these people credit for how well they monitor their finances. This was not one or two weeks later when they reconciled their statement. This was the very day the charge was made.

Now this greatly alarmed me. We take people’s trust in us very seriously, especially when it comes to handling their sensitive financial information. At first I had a sense of disbelief that accidentally charging the wrong person's credit card was even possible. But, as I soon found out, it had happened, and it was due to an unforeseen breakdown in how we processed charges. I won’t go into all the details, but it is worth noting that even though we had this system in place for years without problems, the problem was apparent now and needed fixing.

Turning Problems into Opportunities

Thinking that customer relations problems were opportunities to build trust, we have always handled resolution by doing the right thing, fixing the product or refunding their money. But for some reason, in this situation, it did not feel like enough. It wasn’t because I had thought it through or heard advice about it. I just knew that we needed to fix the system and then share that information with the customer, to demonstrate that we had a conscious plan of correction for the future.

Trust Building

I was right. The customer quickly responded with gratitude. She had received a brief but detailed plan of prevention and was assured that the mistake would not occur again. And, of course, the charge was quickly reversed on her credit card.  

There has been so much to learn from this situation. When faced with a problem that involves trust, actually sharing a corrective plan of action with the wronged party goes way beyond just making it right by doing the right thing.



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A Hopeful Faith

A Hopeful Faith

A Hopeful Faith

I think of myself as a positive and hope filled individual and it’s because of my faith. I attribute my faith to the eye witness accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus, his death and his resurrection.  These accounts happen to be recorded in a book called the Bible,specifically the writings of some of Jesus’s disciples - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These letters along with others recorded in the New testament by other eyewitnesses or people of the time, all speak to the “Good news”.

They Were There

One of the reasons I find the gospels so believable is that at the same time they appear so  unbelievable. If the writers were trying to convince me, a mere man to their way, they most likely would not have written much of what they did unless it was true. They wrote it because they saw it with their own eyes and as a result believed. Not because it was of any physical benefit to them because most of them died brutal deaths because of what they believed. To them it was undeniable because of their eye witness.

The Dark and the Light

The Gospel of John starts off with the statement ”In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”

I can see that there is darkness. It exist everywhere and we cannot deny or avoid it. John's description of Jesus tells us that in him there is light, but unlike darkness that is unavoidable, we have to choose the light. We cannot earn the right to walk in the light we have to choose it. Because we don't have to earn it, it is not dependent on talent, skill, attitude or health. So essentially, it is for everyone, yes everyone. I find the act of believing to be somewhat of a mystery because it is so simple, but yet for many, it is not easy. It is hard.  

The Hard and the Easy

People are not attracted to hard things. They are attracted to easy things. But if we are honest with ourselves, it is the hard things that typically produce the most fruit, valuable lessons and positive changes in our lives.

To me, believing in the hope found in Jesus is not a religion. The religious people in Jesus’s story were the darkness that killed Jesus. Hope is not found in religion. My hope is found in the person of Jesus, God’s son. The fact that he lived among us, died a brutal death, and then rose and physically appeared to so many, is more than enough for me. About this, I am specific and I am sure. 

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On Being a Committed Generalist

On Being a Committed Generalist

It is common knowledge that to become an authority on something, a heavy dose of focus on a single subject or genre is required.  But what about me, the happy generalist? What am I an authority on?

I have seldom felt like an authority on anything, I feel more like the Heinz 57 type person. Very non specific. I often feel strongly both ways.  Some would say I have an open mind, others would say I am wishy washy.

I have a wide range of interest, I like to do many outside activities not limiting the majority of my time to a single specific one.  I like to create and lead businesses, it often doesn't really matter what kind of business. If it has purpose and serves people I can find myself all in..

I like to be involved civically. I guess in a way I tend to be more specific here, I like coaching youth, but there again it doesn't really matter much which sport or activity it is. When my son found his love for music and theater, something I know nothing about, I found myself striking the stage after performances or chaperoning their trips.  After coaching basketball for close to 20 years my daughter fell in love with soccer, so I learned the game of soccer.

I have eclectic variety of friends and family with different tastes, faiths and interests. I like them all for their individuality and diversity.  Speaking of faith, this is one area where i feel my journey has led me down one specific road. But it has not always been that way. More on this next week.

When my wife and I would share at Marriage Encounters events they had a saying. “Feelings are neither right or wrong, they just are.”  Are some of us just destined to be nonspecific generalists? Not because we are weak or non committal but “ just because we are”.

For a more thorough (and thoroughly interesting) conversation concerning the Heinlein quote on our cover, visit the link below from ricochet.com

https://ricochet.com/512910/archives/quote-of-the-day-specialists-and-generalists/



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Your Credit Score

Your Credit Score

How does the desire to get credit for an idea or product figure into your decision to share it with others? Some thoughts from Dennis Smith as he considers his own business philosophy...

Credit or Caution?

Sometimes when I come up with a creative idea, I tend to hurry to share it and don't practice due diligence.  It’s important to use caution and wisdom, to not cause harm to others, to my idea or reputation - harm that could come by shipping* an idea or product too early. However, if I wait for my idea to be perfect I may never share it or get credit for it..  At some point it has to be good enough, if not perfect.

Here is my struggle. I often find myself wanting to get it out there first so I will benefit by getting credit for it.  It’s difficult to create, for no other reason than that others can benefit from our creation.

The Ideal

As a true servant to the well being of mankind:

  • I would not care who gets the credit. I  would just be happy that the idea or service is out there helping and solving problems.
  • I would  collaborate with others in hopes of making the product or idea better.
  • I would not fear my idea would be stolen and just keep it to myself. Fear of theft or ridicule can cause us to hide our true gifts to society.
  • I would be more concerned about the integrity of the product than who gets credit for it. If my main concern is getting the credit, I’m likely to ship something inferior, or before it’s time.

The “When” Question

Knowing when a creation is good enough is not a clear cut science. Drug companies don’t just settle for good enough when people's lives are at risk. There is a danger in putting things out too early.. But, It’s important that I don't succumb to the opposite, which is waiting until the idea or product is perfect. Getting something perfect the first time is unlikely, maybe impossible. If I’m waiting for perfection, it is a good bet that I will never ship the idea. At some point I have to decide that the benefits outweigh the risks.

There is no clear cut answer to the “when” question,  but it is something that I carefully think about and contemplate. There is nothing black and white about the right time to ship and share our product or idea. There will always be risks involved,  but I contend if somehow and someway I can take myself and the need for credit out of the equation I will make the best possible decision on the “when” question.

Time to think. How is your credit score?



*To Ship, (I don’t think you will find this term defined in the the dictionary this way.)   A term often used by author Seth Godin to describe publishing or acting on a plan or idea so as to expose it to the masses or public.

 

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Showing Up

Showing Up

One of the many great principles that organized sports teaches is the value of “showing up”. You may ask, how is something as simple as showing up a great principle? Isn't it just an expectation of any participant?. Yes it is, but showing up teaches a valuable lesson. We discover the true potential or value of an individual, or a team, when there is a strong commitment to showing up.

As a coach, I enjoyed helping to shape and mold young people through the sport or activity I led. One of my jobs was to help them find their sweet spot, that thing they loved to do so much that showing up ceased to be a problem. In fact, if not being able to show up and participate was heartbreaking for them, I knew I had found their sweet spot. Often finding this place took time, courage, risk and vulnerability. I sometimes had to move them around a bit and try them in different places.

From time to time, a player who had been on the team would choose to do something else. I would find myself wishing they would come out for the team and wondering if I had failed to be a good enough leader. I wasn’t satisfied that they were already a part of something else. I just wanted them on my team!

I can now honestly say I have grown past the point of wanting everyone on my team. More importantly I no longer feel like a failure when those I lead make a different choice. What I now find important to me is that everyone is showing up somewhere. If they are adding their God given value where they are, being generous with their talent and their time, encouraging others and showing their love for the game or cause, then I am happy.

The thought for the week is, are you showing up somewhere? And how do you know if your showing up where you’re supposed to be? I think it is as simple as this - will you be missed if you are not there? It’s not all about your physical talent or ability. Your support, encouragement, work ethic, and leadership are other necessary ingredients of a well functioning team. If you don’t show up, will you be missed?

I challenge you to ask the people you show up with if they would miss you if you were gone. You might be surprised by their answers and the reasons they would miss you.  It’s likely not what you would think.

I believe there is a place, a sweet spot, for every humble soul. Now, find yours and go show up!




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