Last night our family got some sad news that a dear friend of our family had lost her battle with Colon Cancer. At the age of 37, she had only been diagnosed 9 weeks ago, but the disease had spread so far, so fast - that the challenge become to great. Lynn - we will all miss your smile, your humor and your prescence. May god look down upon your family and give them strength. Our prayers are with you and them.
Life is short - don't let today be a waste of time. Tell people how you feel, do the things you think you can not do, live the life you imagine. Our candles only burn so long, don't let the fire go out without shining your light on those in this world that matter the most - your freinds and family.
Sometimes the most effective leadership position is silence. Too many times leaders who become enamored with success and power feel the need to pontificate in big or small settings. Most team members like leaders who not only act, but listen as well. Listening requires silence.
The best leaders I have ever known - and were the most respected by their teams - were those who said the least and listened the most. It seems like a simple concept - but try it sometime. Go to a meeting and work at saying nothing (verbally and non-verbally). See how well you do and see the response from others - you might be surprised.
Considering the source, you may just want to skip right past this post, since
I’ve only paid attention to political maneueverings long enough to learn how to
avoid them. I’m not much of a political player at work. A few years (and
positions) ago, an older colleague of mine was regularly berating me (in a
caring way) for not paying attention to the political process at work. I just
didn’t have the stomach for it. Still don’t. Sometimes to my detriment,
actually. But I’m cool with that–at least I can sleep at night. And I mean that
literally. The craziest stuff will keep me awake, so staying non-political, at
the very least, is a surefire way to ensure better sleep. I assume that folks
who are political at work also sleep well…they just have a higher craziness
tolerance than me.
The why The primary reason that I stay apolitical is that it takes
up too much space and time, and I’ve already got enough things to worry about.
Plus, I don’t get the sense that being political would appreciably contribute to
my overall efficiency or productivity. So I stay out of it.
The how This is both simple and sublime. I strive to just be me.
Here’s how, deconstructed and in no particular order:
Wear no mask. By “mask” I mean those identities that we assume in
order to fit in better, feel more comfortable in a situation, or get people to
loosen up around us. I don’t do it. Some folks think it’s a good idea to change
like a chameleon to suit the situation. I think that’s a recipe for disaster. I
try to be me, all the time. The guy that walks into your office is the same guy
that walks into your colleague or boss’s office. One face, no mask.
Be transparent. Not invisible, just without guise. All my agendas are
clearly visible. You want to know what I think? I’ll tell you. The words I say
might make one or both of us uncomfortable, but I’ll do my best to soften them
without diluting their truth.
Flex and bend. Rigidity is a sign of rigor mortis. I strive to be
flexible and willing to hear opposing points of view. Defending a lame position
for any reason is, well, lame. I don’t assume I’m the smartest person in the
room, and I generally take the opinions of others at face value (this is where
being apolitical can be painful, but only in the short term).
Listen to ‘em. This helps with the flex and it helps with the ‘no
mask’ thing. Learning to really listen is dangerous to my status quo. Truly
listening means I’m extending myself beyond my own boundaries, at my risk and
for the benefit of the other. It’s hard to do if you’re unwilling to be
Park the ego. This is a difficult one (and probably is for everyone),
but it’s essential for me. When my ego gets wrapped up in the work, it’s too
easy to start defending those lame positions mentioned earlier.
Forget the empire. I don’t want to be an empire builder. I’ve got my
responsibilities and I attend to them. If I acquire an empire, I’ll probably
No gossip. I fail too often at this one. Gossip is talking about
stuff that you haven’t confirmed as true. Unfortunately I slip into gossip mode
too often, and I think it’s because I’m so willing to talk things out. Though
censorship is a sign of politics, ironically a little greater control over the
internal censor is probably well advised.
Focus on it. What’s the business issue at hand? Focus on it. Straight
outta Druckerland. The key is to be sure I’m not being myopic about the issue
I’m focusing on. Sometimes the issue is broader than my current focus.
Apologize later. As opposed to asking permission first. This is
really just a corollary, but the willingness to act first instead of asking
permission sometimes helps me avoid other people’s political quagmires.
All of the above is really what I do. I think it’s just a tad ironic that I
have a plan to avoid being political, but my plan basically boils down to being
consistently authentic. Seems to work pretty well.
I just got done with a radio interview discussing how and why our company did the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Project. One of the things that I still can't express clearly - is how much good there is in our lives. What so many see when these projects occur is how much help and kindness is provided to the family in need. People come from all over come to help - to be part of something and touch what is still good in life. I think in many ways we see so much that is bad - the news, the media, etc... We constantly are hit by all the bad that we come to believe that this is the norm.
....But then - life gives us the opportunity to help someone in a dramatic way and brings out so much of the good in people. I can still remember the day when a group of neighbors came to my house and helped put up Christmas lights in our front yard. We had been at the hospital for a week straight with my daughter and people came from all over to help spread some joy. My daughter is no longer with me - but the joy she brought me and the lessons from her life will never go away.
The world is a place that has many dark corners and despair - but it also a place where people share what is in their heart and give back to others. Shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition may not be able to help everyone - but slowly - they are showing us the way. Shine your light a little and give back - you may be surprised how you feel.
Meetings can be a thing that most of us dread - in fact my favorite quote is - "meetings are the productive alternative to work". Our company has lots of meetings - so much so that we started a group to make our meetings more productive. How did we do it? Here is what we tried:
We created a survey that sits in every conference room and all attendees are to fill them out after a meeting: They are filled out anonomously and then given to one of our receptionist to tabulate.
Here is what we ask:
1. Did the meeting start on time? Yes No
2. Did it End on Time? Yes No
3. Was there an agenda ? Yes No
4. Was this meeting an effective use of your time? (1 to 5 Scale)
5. How well was the agenda followed by the meeting
Organizer? (1 to 5 Scale)
6. How well were responsibilities and follow up action items
addressed and assigned? (1 to 5 Scale)
We have just started this - but we hope it is a way to force more productive meetings and give honest feedback to those running them. Right now - our biggest lesson is that you should have an agenda go out before the meeting so people know whether to attend and what to prepare for.
During the month of March I had the good fortune of being able to participate with Extreme Makeover:Home Edition here in Philadelphia. Our company - Dewey - was selected to help build a home for the PY family in Northeast Philadelphia. You can view everything about the project at www.deweyextreme.com.
I am so thankful to all the people and friends who came out to support this event. It is truly amazing to see how people extend their hand and help out those in need. This event represented and showed what people can accomplish when there is a common purpose.
One of the quote's we used to help motivate our team is a quote from Pantanjali:
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary
project, all your thoughts break their bonds: your mind transcends
limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you
find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces,
faculties, and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a
greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
I appreciated the opportunity to part of this event with the City of Philadelphia, ABC, our trades, sponsors and everyone at Dewey. Thank you so very much.