Month: December 2014

Not Time to Give Up

At some point in our lives, we have all felt like giving up on various things. We may have felt that way about a relationship, a job, a position, any difficult challenge.

Giving up is what many seem to have done in our society. They have given up on work, on education, on patriotism, on treating others with respect, on being respectable, on being productive members of society, on faith, on God, on gratitude, on freedom, and on liberty. This tendency has brought about a certain void in our midst, one that leads those who possess it to others for solutions to their lack. There are always those who would seek to harness the discontent and procure a following by providing solutions in the form of “things”. Once that circle is complete, the things are the masters, and the people are followers

While it may seem logical to “give up” on those who are giving up, it’s the last thing we should do. Those of us who believe in the things that are solid, productive, and virtuous must continue to pursue those things. By doing so, we show those who have given up that there are things worth fighting and working for. At least, our children and grandchildren will have the tools needed to continue with integrity. The time to give up will never come!

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Serving Others

I am often amazed when those who depend on customers for their livelihood simply forget who pays their salary. Whether it’s a plumber, a carpenter, a mechanic, or a sales person, they seem to ignore those on whom they built their business.

Perhaps they rely on past friendships or customer loyalty to generate enough business to keep them going, but that will only last so long. After that, any competition nearby will take that business because they are willing to return calls, update customers on any delays in service, and do quality work as promptly as possible. This is simple and basic business common sense.

Trust in business is the same as trust in any other situation. It can be lost rather quickly, but not regained nearly so quickly. It will involve starting over with the public, and re-earning that trust. It can be done, but the business person must rediscover the original energy that built the business in the first place. The question is: is he/she willing to do that? Are we?

Growing Others

If suddenly I could not report for work, I know what would happen. First, someone else would step in and do the job. Second, after a couple of weeks, co-workers would be wondering where I am. Third, after about a month, those whom I see on fairly regular hospital visits would ask, “Who was that little guy that I usually see when I’m here?” This is the way it should be. This says nothing about me, but about the work, and how it should go on.

One of the most satisfying experiences in working with others is watching them grow and learn. A good leader will not be threatened by the maturing and improving of those around them. Rather, he/she will be satisfied that the best atmosphere exists to allow that to happen.

Why should we think about succession? Until recent years, I had not give much thought to who might succeed me in my job if suddenly I couldn’t do it anymore. I guess I figured it would be someone else’s problem. Additionally, I would like someday to retire (have more options) and someone will need to step in and continue in my place. So, in recent years I have given more thought to who that might be.

Another satisfying thought is there are two or three individuals nearby who could do what I do, tomorrow if necessary. I have worked with them all, and feel them very capable of providing the service as well or better than me. Rather then make me worried, it makes me glad for those whom we serve. I would want the transition to be as smooth as possible. What about you?

The Important Things

It’s often confusing to sort through the mass of information and invitations for products and events. We find ourselves overwhelmed with too much of nearly everything.

There is no better time of the year to slow it down and find the things and people that mean the most. Clear away all the rest, and focus on the priorities in life. Let it be about those things, people and places that enrich life and deepen your spirit.

Make it your own time to renew. It will be good for you.

Follow, then Lead

Leadership is essential in our world. In fact, we need good leaders now more than ever. There seems to be no shortage of those who want to be leaders. Yet, many of them lack one key ingredient needed to be a leader: the ability to follow.

The need for leaders should not result in bad decisions that put in position those who are not ready. The overall characteristic of those who are not ready is impatience. They are convinced they are ready now to take more responsibility, but they have not yet learned to handle smaller responsibilities consistently over time.

We must first be convinced a person has the ability to follow those who are wiser and more experienced, and willing to learn from them. Then we can give them the amount of responsibility they can successfully handle. Gradually they will develop into the type leaders who can mentor others to do the same.

Terminal Impatience

Building trust takes time. The problem with time is we tend to feel we don’t have nearly enough of it.

This leads to a self-imposed deadline to gain enough trust to be trusted with more responsibility and recognition. It seems the harder we push for that goal the more mistakes we make. This, in turn, results in less trust. It’s a vicious cycle and makes us frustrated and wonder why others don’t seem to recognize our value to others.

I’ve heard people say they did not have time to prove they can handle more. In that case I would say their impatience is more than a chronic case. It is a terminal one, with no cure other than the death of the ego.

Careful or Undecided?

How do others know whether you are doing “due diligence” in making a decision or taking action, or you are just undecided? The perception will be vastly different depending on the image you convey. How will people know?

If you simply communicate why you are taking the time to research or verify your proposed actions, it will answer the question. Some people are wired to be more careful than others. Rather than make a snap judgment, you may have the need to take a more methodical approach. That’s understandable and even commendable.

However, you still owe it to those you work with to let them know of your extra care so they will not assume you are not interested or overly bureaucratic in your work. Communication is the key!

Slowly But Surely

We have become very accustomed to instant everything. From the speed of communication to the speed of our arrival at conclusions. It’s impossible for us to reflect on our information as well as our judgment.

I believe this trend must be combatted and slowed if we are to make a positive impact on our surroundings. We don’t walk to conclusions, we jump. I’m almost jealous when I read of a time when things were slower. The only advantage I see for instant news is that of a weather warning. I might struggle for a while, but I could get used to the idea of not knowing everything immediately. In fact, I’m already used to the idea of not knowing the future, and also not worrying about it.

If we rely on what we know, and act on it, we will show others that the future is not necessarily our enemy, but it could just as easily be our greatest ally. We would have a chance to contemplate what we may want to do with that future, and be more prepared for what it may bring. This is the slow way, but much more sure, and with better outcomes.

Respond vs. React

In my weakest moments, when I become angry with someone, I can be sharp and say things I later regret. Rather than respond, I react, which is always negative. Instead of addressing the issue, it creates a new separate issue: that of the tone and content of my reaction.

As professionals, parents, or just decent human beings, we must keep our heads, and respond to those who may differ with us or even difficult people. It matters little how others act, but it matters how we respond. Even if the dialogue deteriorates, it need not be us that causes the deterioration. We can still look good doing it. This leaves the other person responsible for the bad outcome.

So, it is imperative for us to maintain an outward professional face, regardless of what we may be thinking. This will take prior intentionality on our part, and not just “winging it” as we go. Our natural reactions are almost always negative, but we can give some thought and prevent that from happening.

New Things

Just when I think I have learned all I really need at this stage in life, along comes something very valuable that I wish I had known 10 years ago.

This is one of the things that keeps life interesting, and makes the difference between a mediocre (or even poor) leader and a good one. If those who work with you feel you will never learn or practice anything new, they will become discouraged. They will wonder, “Is this the best we’ll get?”

I once worked as security director on a college campus. A lunch time gathering of retired professors was an interesting group to watch. They would sometimes invite me to join them. They were reading and writing papers on topics totally outside their area of expertise, and talking about it. They were excited to learn new things, and it no doubt kept their minds active. if a university professor can learn something new, so can we.