Archive for February, 2008

At the 2008 oscars, boring as they were, there was one interesting acceptance speech

At the 2008 Oscars, boring as they were, there was one interesting acceptance speech. Brad Bird, winning for Best Animated Film, thanked his middle school guidance counselor.

He then recited what sounded like a frequent dialogue between this 13 year-old and his frustrated counselor:

What do you want to do? Make movies.

What if you can’t do it? I’ll figure out how to make movies.

What if there weren’t movies? I’ll make movies.

What if you couldn’t do it? I’ll figure out how to make movies.

He credited his skeptic advisor with preparing him for cynical Hollywood. What he meant was that his middle school guidance counselor helped “get him ready” through his probing questions.

Who in your life is getting you ready?

The flip side of this question is, whom in your life are you getting ready?

When you were younger, you likely head a parent, aunt, coach, or guidance counselor who asked you questions about your future. It started when you were five: what are you going to do when you grow up?

For Bernett Williams, CEO and Executive Director of the Akron Urban League, it was her Aunt Bobbie who asked the questions to get her ready. Every Saturday Aunt Bobbie drove her young niece to every Goodwill store and every rummage sale every Saturday’s newspaper announced. Bernett figured out at a young age that her aunt was teaching her how to count change.

What she didn’t realize until adulthood, was that her aunt was teaching her how to plan her life. It wasn’t the questions that Aunt Bobbie asked that were so important. It was that the questions forced a young Bernett to start thinking. For with every answer, Bernett found another question lurking in the front seat. Aunt Bobbie was the eternal questioner, coaxing her young prot?g? to look at issues from every angle and a larger lens.

As you progressed from elementary school to middle school, the questions progressed too: where are you going to college? What’s your major going to be?

As you matured to high school the questions matured also: what grades do you need to get into that college? What schools have that major?

In college the questions often emanated from an advisor: what if you don’t get into that program? What if you have to re-locate? What if you don’t like it?

And then you graduate and morph into the workplace. Now who asks you questions that get you ready?

You are ascending up the corporate ladder. Who is asking you questions that get you ready?

It’s likely that no one is asking you because “they” think you already know. And you think you are supposed to know. You may have even stopped asking yourself questions.

That vacuum of curiosity is a detriment to you and your company, firm, or team. You benefit from an external, objective source to ask you questions from a different perspective. You may be able to be the objective source for others on your team or in your company. That may be enough.

But it’s challenging for an internal source to provide an objective perspective. Just as it was a challenge for your parents to challenge you as a teen-ager. It’s a challenge for you to provide objectivity within your company.

Those in the middle of a challenge focus on the process. They tend to spin within the world of “how” rather than concentrate on the world of “what”. An external source provides a faster road out of process to the solution. Everyone benefits from the question, what is the result you want to accomplish?

Be or find an objective source to ask you questions that get you ready. Don’t be reluctant to go to an outside source. You may think someone outside of your industry does not understand. GOOD. Select someone who does not drink the same Cool-Aid, someone who will think differently. Remember, your client, customer, patient, guest, or member does not think the way you think. You need to think the way they think.

There will come a time when you not only benefit from someone asking you questions, you can benefit someone else by asking questions.

Silently, you will pass from beneficiary of questions asked to the one who asks questions of others. Who are you helping to get ready?

Your torch of knowledge can be passed to others by the asking of questions. The quality of your work and your life will be improved when you find someone who asks you questions to “get you ready”.

You will be both personally and professionally enriched when you become the objective, external source helping someone else get ready for their challenge, their life . . . and indirectly your satisfaction.

The Oscar belonged to Brad Bird. What about the guidance counselor who asked the questions to help get the once thirteen-year old middle school boy ready? You can bet he shared the glory.

Many successful writers have talked about incredible ways to prioritize our tasks, organize our days, and get the best out of our time by focusing on what is truly important for our success in life

Many successful writers have talked about incredible ways to prioritize our tasks, organize our days, and get the best out of our time by focusing on what is truly important for our success in life.

All this makes a lot of sense and even sounds wise.  Many of us try to apply it to our lives in an attempt to become better human beings and professionals; however, there is one little, or maybe not so little, thing called procrastination.

An important part of the active population of the world suffers from procrastination, a condition that makes us ignore behaviors and actions that could enhance our lives and change them for the better.  In order to get over this condition, one must find its root, which in many cases seems to be fear.  Some studies have established that there are three aspects that influence procrastination:

–    Confidence in oneself, an issue guided by fear
–    The need for immediate fulfillment, due to early programming
–    Impulsiveness, trait of immature behaviors designed to meet early needs

Basically, it is different for each person; it depends on his or her upbringing and how he or she has developed ways to fulfill his or her basic human needs.

As a child, Susan commonly felt she had no power over her controlling father; thus, she procrastinated to feel in control and to feel free.  Eventually, Susan learned a different and positive way to feel powerful, but this was only possible after she identified where the problem was.   

Roger is a senior executive at a marketing firm.  At one point he was so overwhelmed by work that when his boss asked him to handle a new assignment he became extremely anxious.  He was so scared of not being able to do it right that he just avoided the project. He procrastinated.

People mistakenly confuse procrastination with laziness; however, laziness does not encompass a dose of guilt, while procrastination makes the person feel extremely guilty, and he or she punishes him or herself.  It eventually becomes a vicious cycle, because the more the person punishes himself or herself, the more they procrastinate, and the more they procrastinate, the more they punish themselves, leading to a complete self-esteem crisis.

The good news is that there is a way out of this negative behavior, and here we show you 4 steps to get you there:

1.    You have to recognize that procrastination is not something you ‘caught’ yesterday.  You have to be willing to go deep into your life to find the root, and a good way to start is to try to identify when it started affecting you.

2.    You have to allow yourself to act in spite of the emotion.  You can have negative feelings, everyone does, but the difference lies in whether you let those feelings rule your behavior or not.  We shouldn’t let emotions guide our actions, but we commonly do, especially when there is fear or guilt involved.

3.    You can start small.  Think of what you could do, a small task, that would get you started and out of procrastinating.  It can be the smallest thing.  Let’s say you have been neglecting cleaning the attic.  You can start by making a list of everything you remember is in storage there, next, think of what you would like to do with some of the stuff; maybe you would like to give some furniture pieces to your daughter, or donate a box of books to your community’s elderly home.  

4.    You have to be aware of distractions.  These can control you if you don’t control them.  Honestly think about what distracts you from acting on your goals. It could be something like checking your inbox, soap opera time, or playing solitaire to ‘relax’, only you know what excuses you make up.

Each small step you take will make you feel stronger and better, and if you can imagine how good it will feel to get there, you can certainly get motivated to complete the task.

Maybe the most important thing is to learn to forgive ourselves.  We are human beings, and when we have to overcome a condition such as procrastination we have to understand that it takes time to heal and that we deserve to be kind to ourselves.  

Now you are ready to start your journey; do not waste another second! Get going and start living!

Become the Leader Your Company Needs. Get My 6 FREE Leadership Videos Here:

Is there a magic ingredient or proven recipe for leadership success

Is there a magic ingredient or proven recipe for leadership success? Or; is there one answer to the question “what makes a good leader?” There is an abundance of leadership books available at the local bookshop, each book selling the authors own, unique, recipe for leadership success.

If a single, proven recipe for making a good leader existed, then all people would look to the same role model; however, some people look to Richard Branson while others aspire to emulate the style of Jack Welch or even Mother Theresa.

Most aspiring leaders will identify a role model, a successful leader who they aspire to be like, someone whose books they read and whose stories they tell.

With an increasing diversity of books and reference material on leadership becoming available, the challenge becomes selecting the type of leader we aspire to learn from, someone whom we should to strive to model our beliefs and behaviours on.

How can do we choose the right role model?

Choosing the right can be difficult especially when our research quickly identifies good leaders with such diverse attributes as Richard Branson, Jack Welch and Mother Theresa.

When I ask people to identify a good leader, they always surprise me with who they choose, and their reasons for doing so. My advice is to select a few leaders to be your role models. As a minimum, choose one who appeals to you and one who was successful in your filed.

Note: Good Leaders Achieve Results

However, instead of looking at the person or personality, the path to success becomes more apparent when we focus on what a good leader achieves. A good leader achieves results, Richard Branson, Jack Welch and Mother Theresa all delivered results in their field and they did so because of the attributes that they do have in common.

All good leaders all have the attributes of passion, persistence and resilience in common.


Good leaders are passionate about what they are doing; they not only seek to be good leaders but also to continually learn more about their field.

Sales Example:

If the good leader is in a sales environment, they will seek to maintain their knowledge of sales and customer service, keeping abreast of contemporary research, the latest thinking and trends within their industry or in other industries. This knowledge is detailed process knowledge, which will enable the good leader to discuss sales with their employees.

If you discover that you could improve the sales experience if your employees gently touch the customer’s hand as they return the customer’s credit card or change, then you will never stop talking about it.

You will be persistent about the things that are important for your business.

Manufacturing example:

If the leader is in a manufacturing environment, they will be passionate about the products manufactured by the business and/or the final product that uses your components.

A manufacturing leader will also be passionate about the moment of truth; that point in time where the customer receives the benefit from using your product.

(Sales folk should also be passionate about their business and the products they sell)

How to be passionate:

To be passionate you need to prioritise and allocate time to

1. discussing your business, its processes and products with your employees

2. seeking customer feedback directly, don’t rely on reports and survey results3. investigating best practices within and outside your industry

The passion cycle

The passion cycle builds: as you acquire more knowledge from your customers and your best practice research you will use this knowledge when talking to your employees, they will feed on your passion and inturn their passion will build

.As your employee’s passion builds, they will start to source relevant product or process information and will begin sharing the information with you.

Together you will build a passionate organisation.


Why persistence?, because you will hit roadblocks, people will put obstacles up in front of you and even when you are hitting home runs it may take some time for the results to show.

When you first start talking to your employees, (Management by Walking Around) about your processes or your research they will not respond to you. Some of your employees will be cold others will preach failure, however you will need to be persistent.

It may take 6 weeks for the early adopters, (First employees to respond positively) to respond to your passion and even longer for the rest of your employees.


Resilience is a personal quality that comes with confidence, experience and achievements.

Resilience is;

1. Knowing that you will be successful, no matter what happens, what challenges you face or if you have an occasional failure, you pick yourself up and try again.

2. Holding steady – once you have your plan people will start to tell you why it will not work, once you start a change initiative people will tell you that it is not working.

3. Holding your nerve, keeping your faith and continue selling the vision.

4. Never loosing your passion

5. Never loosing you persistence

You can now see that it does not matter which leader you select as your role model. Passion, persistence and resilience are the mandatory required traits of a good leader where a good leader is someone who delivers results.

A good team also needs a team leader

A good team also needs a team leader. By word and by example, a team leader gets the most from the other members of the team, influencing, guiding, inspiring – all of which affects their motivation in positive ways. A team leader is every bit as important to the success of a team as the manager – maybe more so. You should be the leader of your team.

To be an effective manager, you need to do all these things. And when you do them you’ll start to be not just a manager, but a leader.

The manager of a baseball team decides who plays and who sits on the bench, he makes out the line up, and he determines strategy. Then it’s up to the players to make the plays and carry out the strategy.

Leaders don’t push, they pull. That means you have to be out in front.

Leaders don’t coerce, they persuade. That means you have to talk with, not just to, your team-mates.

Your authority doesn’t come from the job title. It comes from the people you work with. They decide to follow you because they want to go in the sale direction you’re going, and you seem to know how to get there.

The leader coaches, teaches, demonstrates, urges, coaxes-does anything and everything necessary to help the other perform up to and sometimes every beyond their capacities.

The team leader explains the goal and the steps needed to reach that goal. Effective team leaders don’t just talk it; they demonstrate, correct, encourage, and exhort every step of the way. Then they stay on the sideline and let the players play the game.

Being a team leader is a tall order. But leadership actually takes less time and energy than being a boss-while boosting productivity and morale. Imagine the difference in your motivation working for a boss compared to working with a team leader.

The Team leader wins or loses with the team. The success of the leader is tied to the success of the team.

Recent Posts