Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Legacy of a Man

In his classic book "7 Habits of Highly Effective People," Stephen Covey tells us that we need to "Begin with the End in Mind."  Covey tells us to picture that we are attending our own funeral.  What do we want people to say about us?  What do we want our legacy to be?  How do we want to be remembered?

As dark as this sounds, it is a great way to envision your life...and then lead it.

Most men (and women) would deem their days on the earth a success if their legacy had these three real tributes:

1)  They Helped
2)  They Laughed
3)  They Loved

I bring this up because my grandfather Tom Heakin just passed away and I have been thinking about his legacy.  My grandpa was stubborn, honest, caring, fun and so much more.  But it occurs to me that he embodied those three things.

He Helped:  Tom Heakin was a generous man that served his community (on City Council) for many years.  He stubbornly voted his conscience, even when it was unpopular.  He took this civic duty seriously, because it was more than just about him.  In addition, he (and his wife) were always there to help friends and family in their time of need.

He Laughed:  Nearly everyone who knew him could tell you about him telling jokes and teasing people (in good fun).  He was always making light and laughing.  When I last saw him (in Intensive Care) he was suggesting the nurse should get permission her husband to date him.  His sense of humor helped to make tough situations better.

He Loved:  As my family worked to orchestrate his memorial services, considerations have to be made for family coming in from all over (including Alaska) to say goodbye.  He (and my grandmother) created a family tree filled with love...that now has roots all over this country.

Thanks Grandpa Tom, for showing me what a life worth living looks like.  It's a lot to live up too.  But I am honored to try.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Reason For Goals

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal."  Henry Ford.

No matter what you hope to accomplish in your life, there will be times when things do NOT go as you had hoped (or planned).  These bumps in the road can often come at, what feels like, the most inopportune time.  And if you are not positive and focused, they can come in groups!  They compound and pile up until you feel like the universe is secretly working against you.

These bumps and obstacles put you in "reaction" mode.

These are the times when you (and I) need to revisit our goals!  Get them out and re-connect with them.  If you have not written them down, do it now!

The re-connection with your goals will drive you to projects that not only are you passionate about, but will give you a renewed sense of optimism and control.  You are not JUST focusing on the obstacles, you are driven back toward things that will get you on track.

Pull out the goals today.  Get in pro-active mode today.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Assuming The Best

My wife and I were out walking last night, discussing an issue that we need to tackle.  The biggest challenge is, there is a big portion of it that is totally out of our control.  These are the toughest (at least for us) to get our arms around.  If it is IN our control, then we can buckle down and get to work.  But when a problem is out of your control, it can become maddening.

So often we assume the worst. 

We fret about what will go wrong.  We worry about what will happen.  We get mad and frustrated because we can't do anything about it.  But that's the thing, we can't do anything about it.

That's why sometimes it's just best to assume the best.  It's not blind optimism.  It's not sticking your head in the sand.  But if there is nothing you can do anyway, you might as well dedicate that energy to something productive.

As the Dalai Lama said, "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength."

Assume the best will happen today.  You just might find you are right!

Monday, September 15, 2014

What Do You Do AFTER The Party?

Remember how you feel the day of the big event?  You are tired, sure.  But you get out of bed at the first alarm.  You know you have a lot to do, but are excited to see it all come together!  You have worked on this event (or project, or party or launch) for weeks or months, and now it's time to see it go off!

You have plenty of energy.  You are excited about the feedback.  You are all over it!

But what happens the next day? 

The real pros get up the day after the event...and go to work again.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Any time you are trying to make big strides toward change in life (whether in finances, work, relationships, etc.), there are going to be setbacks.  Intellectually we know that.  We know that nothing really worth doing is easy.  But in the day to day grind, it is easy to focus on the setback. 

It's easy to get hung up and frustrated and ask "why me?"  Especially when these setbacks happen continually on your road.  It seems you are heading swiftly down the right path when something (whatever it is) gets in the way. 

I understand.

Today, keep in mind that progress can be slow.  But as long as you are closer than you were yesterday, you are doing fine.  Remember, 2 steps forward and 1 step back still moves you ahead.

Keep pushing.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Be "That Guy" or "That Girl"

I had the opportunity to play in my high school's alumni soccer game this past weekend (yes I am still sore) and it was a really fun time.  I am not a good soccer player.  Truth be told, I didn't even play in high school.  But they let me run around like an idiot and don't make fun of me (at least to my face).

At one point in the game, a player in front of me controlled the ball and was not being pressured.  Most people were conserving energy and waiting for someone else to run up.  So I did.  I ran as fast as I could toward the guy with the ball and tried to put myself between him and his goal.  He got around me and sent the ball to a teammate, but he had to make a quick decision.

It occurs to me that this situation happens a lot in life too.  We get in a situation at work, or church or home where everyone knows what to do.  Everyone agrees that taking that action is probably the right thing to do.  At the very least we all know that we need to take AN action!  But no one wants to do it.  We are all either too tired, too reticent, or too scared to be the one to rush in and make a rukus.  We don't want to be embarrassed.  So nothing happens.

So be the guy (or gal) that is willing to take action.  The world needs more of "that guy."  The world (and your work) needs more people who are willing to put themselves out there and throw themselves at a project or a goal.

Be "that guy" or "that girl."  Your organization will be better for it..and you might have some fun too!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Working on What You're Passionate About

Nearly every time I get bogged down in life, I find it is because I am spending way too much time and energy on things I don't REALLY care about.  The capital letters there are on purpose.  The tricky thing is, they are things I do care about...a little.  I "kinda" care about them.  I "sorta" care about them.  I care about them. 

I just don't REALLY care about them.

Derek Stivers says that when choosing a project to throw your time at there are only two answers, "Hell yeah!" or "No."  In other words, you either are totally insanely passionate about it...or you must say no.  Otherwise you spend a ton of time and energy on projects that take you away from the things you do REALLY care about. And that becomes frustrating because nothing gets done the way you want.

The key is to say NO on the front end to those projects that you are not REALLY passionate about.  But that is tough.  Sometimes we all over-extend.  So when we do, and we recognize that we have a lot on our plate that we don't REALLY care about, it's time to clean out the project closet.

It's time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

6 Lessons From Anita

Like most people, I have had quite a few bosses in my life.  Most have been good, one or two have been bad, and one has been truly great.  I recently attended a party for the best boss I ever had...Anita Rector.

She decided (after being Dave Longaberger's first employee), that it was time to do something different.  She resigned from the Longaberger Company in order to take a new position.  So a group of former Longaberger employees gathered in Dresden Ohio to recognize her.  It reminded me of the many things I learned from her as I started my own "leadership" journey.

So here are (some of) the things I learned from Anita Rector.

Work Can Be Fun:  To be fair, I think she might have learned this from Dave Longaberger (who said 25% of your day at work should be fun).  But Anita led by example showing us that it was okay to laugh and have fun while getting things done.  The fact is, when a group of people join together to do something, it often IS fun! 

Sometimes...Just Listen:  When you come to me with an issue, I want to solve it.  I want to tell you what you need to do to fix it.  But Anita taught me that sometimes people just want an ear.  They want to know that you understand what they are going through.  I still struggle with this one.  I want to solve problems.  But I am often reminded that I have two ears and one mouth for a reason!

Be Willing To Pitch In:  It seems so basic to me now, but when asking people to do a job, it helps if they know you can and will do it too.  Are you willing to pick up trash?  Are you willing to serve?  By showing your team that the answer is "yes" you gain credibility and respect.

Be Compassionate:  Anita is great at knowing that although employees are there to do a job, they are people.  Sometimes even the best of employees have things outside of work that become a distraction.  By understanding that (and allowing them to deal with it), she not only allowed people to be better employees, but also gained a huge amount of loyalty.

Work Is Important...But Not Everything:  Make no mistake, Anita knew we needed to get things done.  But I remember many times when she, literally, forced me to go home.  She knew that I had a young family and I needed to be there for them as well.  She knew that if I had balance I would be able to be better at the office.

Hire Right:  As I look back at the department that Anita headed up (when I worked for her) I am amazed at the group.  We had our detail people and our dreamers.  We had our creatives and our task-masters.  Right brains and left brains all working together on a common task.  At the event the other night I told a few of them, "If I started another company, this group would be a great core to start with."  Get the right people on the ship...then decide the direction to sail.

These are just a few lessons...and frankly I am still working on these!  But I am glad to have had the chance to learn from her.  Good luck in your new endeavor Anita!

And, thanks!