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Committed?

I’m a Denver Broncos football fanatic.  This of course means, I’m in morning over the way our season abruptly ended in defeat.  Beat handily by the Indianapolis Colts, who were subsequently pummeled by the New England Patriots – we were clearly not the elite team that we thought we were.

It reminded me of a key leadership message delivered at our 2015 sales kick-off meeting:

Complacency kills opportunities for success.

Were the Denver Broncos complacent?  Maybe not exactly.  I think their demise can be attributed to something else – something worse.  The same something worse that can happen at a company.

As it turns out… the leaders of the Denver Broncos were engaged in the pursuit of next year’s opportunities vs. remaining focused on this year.  It was reported that the EVP of Football Operations (John Elway) and the Head Coach (John Fox) were “not in sync”; “mutually agreed to separate”.  Actually, it was worse than that.  They were not committed!

Leadership commitment rolls downhill, don’t you think?  Elway was not committed to Fox; therefore, Fox’s Offensive Coordinator (Adam Gase) and Defensive Coordinator (Jack Del Rio) lacked commitment – which they reciprocated by poorly preparing their players for the Divisional Playoff – and the players portrayed what non-committed playing looks like.

Leadership commitment – we can all feel the presence; or absence; of leadership commitment, can’t we?  I suppose it originates from the old adage:

In a ham and egg breakfast, the chicken is involved but the pig is committed. 

Unknown Sage

The Denver Broncos leaders were “involved” in their Divisional Playoff game, as were their players.  But they were not committed.  And the lack of commitment, closely related to complacency, infected the entire organization.  That day – they were beaten.

At the start of our 2015 sales year, my company’s leadership warned of “complacency”; closely related to “commitment”.  Not just whether our leaders are committed.  In business like football, a company’s success is attributed to everyone’s commitment, true?

Contrast the Denver Broncos debacle with miraculous come-from-way-behind-victory the Seattle Seahawks accomplished in their Divisional Championship game.  Although their quarterback (aka, “field general”) Russell Wilson threw four interceptions, his teammates refused to lose.  I say again – his teammates refused to lose!

It’s one of the reasons I coach sales professionals to “hunt as a pack”.  The Steve Jobs’, miraculous Apple rescue aside, trying to win in business today from the efforts of a singular, super star, hero comes with a corresponding “Hail Mary” chance of success.

Back to football; according to Wikipedia:

A Hail Mary pass is a very long forward pass in American football, made in desperation with only a small chance of success,… 

The term became widespread after a December 28, 1975 NFL playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings, when Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach (a Roman Catholic) said about his game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Pearson, “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary.”

Yes, business requires risk-taking.  And it’s true that not every business risk can have a successful outcome.  But dealing with business risk should be at a far distance from relying on a Hail Mary.

I prefer to rely on a group of people (aka “the pack”); united in a common cause (aka 2015 goals); helping each other recover from interceptions (aka “occasional mistakes”); all the while portraying a zeal for success (aka commitment!).  I believe my teammates (and our leaders) refuse to lose in 2015.  Because of this commitment it will be a very good year.  Yours?

GAP

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THINK…

Before we continue hyping our current generation as being the smartest, richest, and most technologically sophisticated generation of all time; before we continue the rock star, hero worship, mantel of grandeur we bestow on all those intellectually brilliant, college drop-outs that have risen like a phoenix to billionairedom…. 

Permit me to pause for just a moment and give credit to a pioneer of the technology industry who enabled these billionairedom pursuits of the current generation – Thomas J. Watson, Sr. 

Thomas J. Watson, Sr. perfected the business growth of the most powerful, technology company the planet has ever known – The Computer Tabulating Recording Company (CTR).  Ring a bell? 

Wikipedia cites this about Watson,

A leading self-made industrialist, he was one of the richest men of his time and was called the world’s greatest salesman when he died in 1956. 

Thomas J. Watson, Sr. was the “Grandfather” of today’s sales methodologies.  The Xerox sales process; SPIN Selling© by Neil Rackman; Strategic Selling© by Robert B. Miller and Stephen E. Heiman; and the various permutations and customizations of related B2B sales techniques all tie back to the beginning of customer-centric thinking that was originated by Thomas J. Watson Sr.  In fact, CTR’s very first U.S. Trademark was, “THINK”! 

Watson’s sales genius was based on the principle of, “Superior Customer Access”.  In fact, his customer access was so powerful that once customers figured out how it was being used, they put up tall barriers to prevent vendors from gaining such superior access.  We in the sales profession have been struggling to “get in” ever since. 

CTR was the original company to leverage the “Principle of Good Enough”, too – selling products that sometimes lacked the “bells and whistles” of their competitors.  Undeterred, they wrapped their “good enough” products with superior salesmanship and stellar customer service to become so dominant that the federal government needed to invoke anti-trust laws to prevent them from driving all of their competitors out of business. 

Although not revered today with the same awe we may have for Apple, Google, or Face Book, the Computer Tabulating Recording Company (rebranded and renamed in 1924) remains an unrivaled, powerhouse – aka International Business Machines. 

Back to Wikipedia

In 2012, Fortune ranked IBM the No. 2 largest U.S. firm in terms of number of employees (433,362),[7] the No. 4 largest in terms of market capitalization,[8] the No. 9 most profitable,[9] and the No. 19 largest firm in terms of revenue.[10] Globally, the company was ranked the No. 31 largest in terms of revenue by Forbes for 2011.[11][12] Other rankings for 2011/2012 include No. 1 company for leaders (Fortune), No. 1 green company worldwide (Newsweek), No. 2 best global brand (Interbrand), No. 2 most respected company (Barron’s), No. 5 most admired company (Fortune), and No. 18 most innovative company (Fast Company).[13] 

IBM has 12 research laboratories worldwide and, as of 2013, has held the record for most patents generated by a company for 20 consecutive years.[14] Its employees have garnered five Nobel Prizes, six Turing Awards, ten National Medals of Technology, and five National Medals of Science.[15] Notable inventions by IBM include the automated teller machine (ATM), the floppy disk, the hard disk drive, the magnetic stripe card, the relational database, the Universal Product Code (UPC), the financial swap, SABRE airline reservation system, DRAM, and Watson artificial intelligence.

Not bad from the roots of a business leader who asked his employees first and foremost to, “THINK”, don’t you think? 

GAP 

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Are we there yet?

Ah July!  Summer time!  Brings back fond memories of family vacations.  Did you ever take a family road trip riding in the back of that original SUV – the “station wagon”?  I know, I know – we now live in the era of car seats and seat belts.  Too bad.

Even in today’s safety-conscious world, family vacations are the best, don’t you think?  And during your trip, do the kids ask, “Are we there yet?”  I know, I know – we now live in the era of GPS chips in our car; our phone; the kids can track latitude and longitude as we go.  Too bad.

The phrase, “Are we there yet?” also applies to our business pursuits.  July started the 2nd half of 2013 – how’s your year?  Will you make your plan?  I wrote a little ditty in January about planning ( Welcome to 2013).  Remember writing your 2013 Annual Achievement Plan?  What; no GPS on your plan?  Too bad.

Did you do an “Operations Review” (aka Ops Review) at the end of Q1?  No?  Now is a good time to do your 1st half Ops Review, yes?

I learned the value of the Ops Review while working at the behemoth payroll company, ADP.  They weren’t always a behemoth.  Under the guidance of their legendary CEO, Josh Weston, ADP grew from $350 Million to $8 Billion before he turned over the day-to-day operations to his successors.

Josh used to lead monthly Ops Reviews. It was unpleasant for those of us being reviewed!  Too bad.  Josh used to say,

Every month, we are one month smarter in our ability to meet our annual plan.

Ops Reviews enable us to make adjustments when we’re off course – adjusting to reality.  Susan Jeffers tells us that no matter how good we are at planning,

  Life is what happens when we’ve made other plans.

For business planning to be effective we must diligently interact with it.  And, it must be in writing (as emphasized in January).  It must be grounded on reality – “Hope is not a Strategy”!

Also, everyone must believe in the plan!  Our favorite, Unknown Sage said:

In the beginning there was the Plan.

And then came the Assumptions.

And the Assumptions were without form.

And the Plan was without Substance.

And Darkness was upon the face of the Workers.

And the Workers spoke among themselves saying,

“It is a crock of sh&! and it stinks.”

And the Workers went unto their Supervisors and said,

“It is a crock of dung and we cannot live with

 the smell.”

And the Supervisors went unto their Managers saying,

“It is a container of organic waste, and it is  

 very strong, such that none may abide by it.”

And the Managers went unto their Directors, saying, 

“It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide

  its strength.”

And the Directors spoke among themselves, saying to one another,

“It contains that which aids plant growth, and it

  is very strong.”

And the Directors went to the Vice Presidents, saying unto them,

“It promotes growth, and it is very powerful.”

And the Vice Presidents went to the President, saying unto him,

“It has very powerful effects.”

And the President looked upon the Plan and saw that it was good. 

And the Plan became Policy. 

And that is how sh&! happens.

We must believe in our plan; ops review it; and adjust to reality.  Are we there yet?

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website and book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

Worth it?

I love sports, how about you?  I think I watch a pro, college, or high school game every evening.  I watch more than I participate these days.  You know the old adage:  “I used to be an athlete but now I’m just an athletic supporter.”  And this week is Masters Week in golf – yeah! 

But there is also a dark side to sports; not what the Greeks had in mind when the Olympics were established. 

Golfer Tommy Bolt is known for his sweet swing and foul temper.  While giving a clinic to a group of amateurs, Bolt tried to show his softer side by involving his 14-year old son in the lesson.  “Show the nice folks what I taught you”, said Bolt.  His son obediently took a 9-iron, cursed, and hurled it into the sky.

Thomas Roswell 

Unfortunately, this type of bad reputation seems to be increasingly more common in sports these days.  So bad that it is starting to beg the question, “Is it worth it?” 

From www.definitions.net: 

Worth (prep.)

1. good or important enough to justify (what is specified):

advice worth taking; a place worth visiting.

2. having a value of, or equal in value to, as in money:

This vase is worth 20 dollars.

3. having property to the value or amount of:

They are worth millions.

4. (n.)excellence of character or quality as commanding esteem:

people of worth.

5. usefulness or importance, as to the world, to a person, or for a purpose:

Your worth to the team is unquestionable.

6. value, as in money. 

“Important enough to justify; excellence in character; usefulness as to the world.”  Do these attributes come to mind when you think of sports?  Or does, “value, as in money” dominate sports today? 

Think back on our sporting headlines: Rutgers University’s abusive basketball coaching videos; accusations of payola and grade fixing in Auburn University’s football program; the National Baseball League’s 50 game suspensions for performance enhancing drug abuse; Lance Armstrong; Tiger Woods.  There seems to be no end to lightning rod images in college and professional sports. 

Even at the parental level, sports can morph into bad situations.  It used to be that kids played sports for the fun of it.  Is back-to-back, competitive baseball, soccer, volleyball, basketball, 365 days a year, year-in and year-out worth it?  It’s not unusual to hear the story of teenagers dropping out of their sport because they’re “burned out”; as a teenager!  Really – was it worth it? 

Thankfully for many of us, there still is a positive place for sports.  And thankfully, there are still sports men and women who believe in the precepts of teamwork, fair play, and character building through competitive lessons, true?  It’s still worth it. 

And for those of us whose playing days are over, there remains great entertainment value in watching, reading and debating the highlights of the day’s teams (whether today, yesterday, or yester-year is our paradigm).  Here’s an example – Who is the greatest basketball player of all time?  LeBron James (today’s paradigm)?  Michael Jordon (yesterday’s paradigm)?  Wilt Chamberlain (yester-year’s paradigm)?

Recently, one of my college basketball teammates shared this 2 minute and 42 second YouTube video.  It’s a clip from a high school basketball game and reinforces the positive power of sports:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTaB-hPg0P4

In our world of me-first; trash-talking; win-at-any-cost; if-you-ain’t-cheating-you-ain’t-trying; athletics – the perspective of these high school kids in this game is what I would call worth it! 

GAP 

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website and book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

2012 goals…

Welcome to December – the last month of the year!  Yeah!  How will 2012 turn out for you?  How are you doing on your goals?  Yes, goals – you remember – we talked about setting goals back in January (see http://thequoteguys.com/2012/01/2012-a-year-of-fulfillment-2/ ).

My 2012 has been quite stellar!  (Thank you Lord.)  Have you ever had one of those feelings that things are going “too” well?  I actually find myself figuratively looking over my shoulder from time to time worrying that “bad news” is creeping up behind me. Scary.

I am going to miss one of my 2012 goals.  You see, there is still a little more of Gary than I wanted.  It’s nice to want things.  I guess that dieting thing needs a more disciplined effort.

After getting down to 212 pounds in 2011, I was “hoping” I would simply continue down to 200 (my collegiate playing weight).  Well, “hoping” is not the same as setting a goal and sustaining a disciplined action plan to achieve that goal.

So, I started the action plan; joined a health club in November; working out daily; you know – the typical stuff.  Initial results?  So far, I’ve gained 3 pounds!  I think I’m going to need a little help.  But where do we turn when we’re seeking guidance to help us achieve our goals?  Maybe I could start with Winston Churchill:

Success is the ability to move from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

Good advice.  I’m definitely enthusiastic.  But The British Bulldog was also known to have been a bit of a kook:

Like the story told of a Woman Member of Parliament who, after an extensive tirade at a social function, scornfully told the Prime Minister, “Mr. Churchill, you are drunk”, to which Churchill replied, “And you Madame, are ugly.  But I shall be sober tomorrow.

And tomorrow, I’m still overweight!  Yes, starting on a plan to lose weight is admirable.  Thinking about it; talking about it; seeking reinforcement from others is one thing.  Finishing what we start can be something else, true?   I’ve been enthusiastically thinking about getting to 200 pounds for over a year.

Our Unknown Sage suggested maybe my wife might help:

My wife says I should cut down on meat, and eat more fruits and vegetables.  But what does a cow eat?  Corn.  And what’s corn? Vegetable.  So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system.

So now what?  Well, that same Unknown Sage suggested I seek advice from a therapist:

My therapist told me a way to achieve peace was to finish things I started.  Today, I finished 2 bags of potato chips, a lemon pie, a fifth of Jack Daniels, and a small box of chocolate candy.  I feel better already!

That would definitely make me feel better!  But it’s not the path to achieving a little less of Gary, is it?  I think I will just have to “bite the bullet” (better than biting the donut!), and actually change what I eat.  There.  I said it.  I’m going to have to develop an action plan of eating healthier foods and sticking to it.  Discipline – that’s what it’s going to take:

“DISCIPLINE”:  The ability to do what you don’t want to do to become the person you want to become. 

Unknown Sage

Goals – easy to set; easier to talk about; but achieving them?  That’s going to take some discipline.  Lord help me.

GAP

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Olympian…

Did you enjoy watching the Summer Olympics?  Olympian – who wouldn’t want to have that on their resume?  What about our profession – what can we learn from Olympians that applies to business? 

During Olympic coverage, the sports media pours tons of hyperbole over the gold medal performances.  The spotlight also shines on those athletes that fail, too.  Either end of the extreme is good for the ratings business, I suppose.  

But in Olympic competition, not every competitor can win every event.  Their day is a lot like our day.  So following the closing ceremonies, what do you suppose the athletes are doing this week?  Getting ready for their next competition, I’ll bet.  

Competition is about striving to win; preparing to win; competing to win.  Winning (or losing) is simply the end result of competition, isn’t it?  You and me, we compete in our daily lives, don’t we?  And when we fail, what motivates us to try again?  Here’s Steve Richard’s view: 

            Who motivates you?  You!   

Yes, motivation can be a powerful force for all of us.  Of course, sometimes our family, friends, and mentors can play a big part in helping us leverage the power of motivation to overcome failure and pursue success.  As a sales professional, I advocate “hunting as a pack”.  I learned this approach from Joe Newton, who coached, “running as a pack”. 

You may have read my writings about “Tiger Joe” before.  He is one of the most successful high school boys cross country coaches ever, and although I was not a runner, he was the person who most influenced my sales career.  

There are many elements to Joe Newton’s competitive approach; the principle of continuous improvement; the ability to earn great success yet go back out every day to compete anyway; etc.  One key element I remember was his focus on offering positive motivation to his kids.  His key to positive motivation?  Pretty simple, really.  

Every day at every practice, Coach Newton called out every kid by their first name – every day.  Every kid (and most of his teams have 100 runners or more) would hear his coach call him by his first name (or nick name), every day.  Joe Newton coupled this technique with saying at least one positive thing to every kid, too. Every day. 

It’s amazing how far a simple; “Way to go!” goes.  The motivation Joe Newton stimulated helped his runners, run; every day.  They were motivated to train hard – harder than their competition.  On race day?  They dominated.  

Returning to today’s Olympic theme – perhaps your heard Sebastian Coe speak during the closing ceremonies.  According to Wikipedia: 

Sebastian Coe won four Olympic medals, including the 1500 meters gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984. He set eight outdoor and three indoor world records in middle-distance track events – including, in 1979, setting three world records in the space of 41 days – and the world record he set in the 800 metres in 1981 remained unbroken until 1997. 

The connection to Joe Newton?  Joe was the first high school coach to coach in the Olympics.  His star “pupil”?  Sebastian Coe. 

Back to business – Loren Brockhouse, a former colleague of mine, offers us this link to Inc. Magazine’s “9 beliefs of remarkably successful people”. I particularly like Belief #9:

            The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland.

Enjoy the full article – 9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People 

Way to go Loren! 

GAP 

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Not just OK…

When you hear the name Elvis Presley, what comes to mind?  Do you think we should strive to be like Elvis?  Hold that thought; I’ll come back to it. 

Elvis Presley recorded his first single in 1956.  By the time he died 21 years later he had become a worldwide icon: 

According to the R.I.A.A., the governing body that certifies Gold, Platinum, and Multi-Platinum record sales, (Recording Industry Association of America) the leading all time artist in record sales is ELVIS PRESLEY. Elvis is the leading sales artist for both Solo Artist and Group. Elvis has sold over 2.5 Billion records worldwide. Elvis has been on the charts more times than any other artist or group. Elvis has the most hits in the Top 100, the Top 40, The Top 10, and has had 32 Number 1 Records. Elvis is the only artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Country Music Hall of Fame, The Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and The Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame.

John Lennon said: “Before Elvis there was nothing”. 

We just returned from Memphis – and Graceland, “Where Elvis Lives”.  Elvis Presley: a worldwide icon.   He sold more records than anyone who ever lived; took time out to serve in the Army; was a movie star; and a recording Hall of Famer.  His music spanned fans and genres from the 1950’s to the 1970’s and his legend continues to live on larger than life to this day.  

All from a man born into a poor family; with a high school education; who pre-dated Facebook, social media, and the Internet; yet by the time he was 30 he was a worldwide icon.  (Maybe earlier – I’m not sure who officially confirmed worldwide icons back in those days.)   Oh, and by the way, he accomplished all of these things without ever performing outside of North America. 

So how does Elvis “live on” in our daily life?  Music might be one answer – if you like Rock & Roll, Country, or Gospel music.  Fancy clothes, jewelry, luxury cars, and other “larger than life” accoutrements might be another example – if you’re into living larger than life.  

For the cynics, perhaps what you remember most about his image is the final years; fighting obesity; succumbing to prescription drug abuse; struggling to be an aging icon.  A worldwide icon struggling – just like you and me. 

Regardless of our age and different viewpoints, we might all agree that he left quite a legacy behind.  So how did he do it?  And, how could we benefit if we strove to be like Elvis?  

In one interview of a Production Director he commented about the movies Elvis starred in.  Some of the movies were well-produced; Elvis enjoyed them and was proud of them.  Other movies were poorly produced, which Elvis hated and was embarrassed by.  The Production Director agreed, saying his first movies were excellent; the others were just OK – but, he went on to emphasize: 

 Elvis Presley was not about being just OK. 

Yes, as we toured Graceland and later, visited the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, we could tell that everything about Elvis Presley was definitely not about being just OK.  He put all the energy he had, every day, into being who he was and doing what he did – and what he did made him a worldwide icon. 

What could we accomplish if we strove to be like Elvis?  

GAP 

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Can you believe it?

Even if you’re not an NFL fan; a Denver Broncos fan; or a Tim Tebow fan; how can you not enjoy this story?  Though the story is over for now – I’ve been all three. 

I haven’t had this much fun watching football since the 1985 Chicago Bears; Refrigerator Perry; the Kooky QB; Sweetness; the Super Bowl Shuffle, et al.  Now there was a championship team that added fun to the game.  Watching the Denver Broncos this season was fun, too. 

When the Broncos beat the Miami Dolphins in an improbable comeback during the last few minutes of the game, I said, “If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.”  After they beat the Chicago Bears in overtime, I said. “I was there; I saw it in person; I still don’t believe it.”  With a little over 2 minutes to go in regulation and the Bears up by 10 points, the oddest sight was that no one at Mile High stadium was leaving; we were believing! 

And after watching the games, listening to the analysts, and being subjected to the unbelievable hype that bombarded us all, I’m happy to report that I have finally discovered “the answer” to the questions: 

  • Is Tim Tebow a great quarterback?
  • Or, is Tim Tebow a terrible quarterback?
  • Or, is Tim Tebow something else? 

The answer is, “Yes”.  

But let’s not spend all of our time marveling at the year Tim Tebow, and the Denver Broncos, had.  Let’s see if there are cross-over-lessons we can learn from their improbable year that we can apply to our business pursuits, OK? 

Attitude Counts 

After beginning the season losing 4 of their fist 5 games, the Denver Broncos changed more than just their starting quarterback – the team changed their attitude.  We all witnessed it when a single word soared above the media din; “Believe”.  Of course, this is not a new business lesson.  Zig Ziglar has been citing Henry Ford for decades: 

Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.                                                                                   

Mistakes Trump Talent 

All Marion Barber, running back for the Chicago Bears, had to do was fall down.  If he did, the Bears win, and the Tim Tebow story ends then and there.  But he didn’t; he ran out of bounds, which stopped the clock and gave the Broncos enough time to tie the game in regulation.  (They won it in overtime after, believe it or not, Marion Barber fumbled on his way to scoring the game-winning touchdown.) 

In my profession, sales people pull a “Marion Barber” too often.  We pressure the prospect to close; we become overly aggressive in bashing the competition; we get complacent and cut corners; and we do other, stupid, things.  When we make mistakes, it costs us deals. 

One Person Can – and Does – Make a Difference 

As I mentioned above, the most amazing thing about the Denver Broncos’ story, is the team’s transformation when the coaching staff (grudgingly) made a change of one starting player – one. That one player inspired his teammates to elevate their level of play.  The result was all over our TVs, radios, newspapers, social media sites, and even a few Denver billboards,  ever since. 

One with passion is better than forty who are merely interested.                                                                                   

Tom Connellan 

Do you have the passion to lead your company; or your department; or yourself to success in 2012?  You better believe it! 

GAP 

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please check it out Subscribe.

Are you in the spotlight?

If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know that I like to poke fun at the leaders, the executives, and the managers at our companies.  They can make us scratch our heads sometimes, can’t they?  However, when employees get upset, it’s too easy to blame it on our managers.  It’s easy to focus the spotlight in the wrong place. 

To use a sports analogy, company executives are like team coaches; and employees are like players.  To succeed, which role is more important – player or coach?  It’s ideal, of course, to have excellence in both players and coaches.  However, can our companies succeed with great employees even if our managers can’t properly operate a spotlight?  Have you ever played for a bad coach or worked for a bad manager, and still succeeded?  Or, do you know someone else who has?  I have.  

If you were faced with the challenge of building a great company, what would your approach be?  Here’s how Tomas J. Watson put it: 

I believe the real difference between success and failure in a corporation can very often be traced to the question of how well the organization brings out the great energies and talents of its people. 

We do have great energies and great talents, don’t we?  Our company can count on us to bring it to the next level of success, true?  Even if our manager can’t properly operate a spotlight.  

It’s easy to give up I suppose; easy to get discouraged.  Average, everyday employees don’t often get time in the spotlight.  Maybe we didn’t get a positive review.  Or, perhaps our managers nit-pick everything we do.  Remember the days when companies used to give their employees a raise?  (A “raise” – what is that?)  As times have gotten tough and companies are stressed just to stay in business, it can be easy to neglect the contributions of our employees.  This, in turn, can diminish the level of commitment employees make to the company’s success. 

Have you ever had a situation as a customer where the company you were doing business with screwed up seemingly simple things?  Everyday occurrence you say?  Is it harder to do it the right way the first time?  And what if it is a little harder – we are up to it, aren’t we? 

I believe in hard work.  It keeps the wrinkles out of the mind and spirit.

                                  Helena Rubinstein 

When I look in the mirror, I know there’s no reason to hide.  I know what I’m supposed to do in my job, and I know that I am excellent at doing it.  I also know that I should be excellent day-in and day-out, with or without a spotlight.  Delivering the highest quality service, exceeding my customers’ expectations, and being a great employee – all this is in my control and is, in fact, my responsibility.  Spotlight, or no. 

One of my favorite scenes in the movie Kingdom of Heaven comes to mind: 

A King or someone with power may move a man.  But the man’s soul is the man’s responsibility alone.  When facing God, he cannot say, “Others made me do thus; or Virtue was not convenient at the time.”

                                  King Israel 

Perhaps we can agree that the company is not our king and the spotlight is not our puppet-master.  It is our choice to be great employees, today and every day; and to keep the wrinkles out of our minds and spirits, yes? 

GAP 

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please check it out Subscribe.

Story or Style?

What do you do today for the pure fun of it?  Ever daydream about converting your passion into a for-profit-pursuit?  Here is a recent experience that might connect to your story – or your style.

I was listening to the writers in my MeetUp group read the other night.  As we were discussing a few of their excerpts, I had questions.  (If you know me then you know I always have questions – drives my wife crazy!)  I wanted to know (1) Do you have to read in order to write? and (2) Which is more important to writing, your story or your style?

I read some, but compared to these writers, not nearly enough.  I might be OK on the story side (you tell me).  As for style – who knows?  The writers in my MeetUp have style, though.  What an amazing group of talented, story tellers!  (If you’re an aspiring author, and find yourself in Denver, check it out http://www.meetup.com/Northwest-Metro-Writers/events/22934941/)

Their stories are terrific.  They write novels, novellas, short stories and poems that grab your interest in the characters right from the start.  Then they do bad things to these characters later on to tug at your emotions.  (And you thought sales people were manipulative!)  They maintain a logical story line, include natural sounding dialog, and paint vivid pictures of scenery with their words.  They also use a rich, diverse vocabulary that we never find anymore in our mobile, texting, Face Book world of acronyms and our modern form of shorthand born on a Blackberry keyboard.

Style?  Well, an author needs a distinctive style.  But, where does style come from?  Even if you have both story and style covered, that’s still no guarantee.  The late, great Johnny Carson put it this way:

Talent alone won’t make you a success or being in the right place at the right time.  The most important question is, “Are you ready”?

Is that what these writers are doing – getting ready?

I’m not sure why I’ve developed such a serious interest in writing at this stage of my life.  Is it naïve to dream about traveling the world, making a living writing and selling my books? Well, maybe I shouldn’t quit my daytime job just yet.  (Where is Oprah and her book of the month recommendations when you need her?)

Isn’t it ironic – I write as a hobby and yet have been a career sales professional for over three decades – just the opposite of:

I write as a passion; and sell as a hobby.

                                                                  Unknown Sage

What a story!  So here I am, writing for the pure fun of it (if not profit) and wondering how to develop a distinctive style.  I doubt if I’ll ever be able to write like my MeetUp colleagues.

And while attending our meetings, I’m not sure if I’m amongst future rich and famous authors or just a group of nice, talented, sharing people who help me pursue a new passion in my life.

So here’s to us and the story of our life’s passions – let’s pursue them with energy, imagination and style!  Though we may never extend our passions from fun to profit, let’s keep John Wooden’s words of wisdom in mind:

Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

Now there was a man with an unbelievably great story, plus a world-class style.  But that’s a story for another day.

GAP

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