Because your work and how you do it is personal. It’s your brand. It’s what makes you indispensable. So it stands that it should be highly personal. Otherwise, why do it if it’s not?
Why would anyone choose someone else instead of you?
If what you have on offer can be done by someone else for less, there is no loyalty to you. But what if how you acted, how you inspired, how you led, how you worked and the results you achieved could only be performed by you? And what if your performance was in demand and so valuable to someone they would gladly pay you more for it?
Loyalty isn’t reserved for brands, companies and products. It’s for people too. Might as well be you.
Expertise is essentially driven by two things…falling in love with a subject and relentless effort to change an outcome…practicing enough to achieve the result you seek.
Consider the young mechanic who spends hours of his off-time learning about the physics of friction and how it impacts the transmission. Or the musician who dives into music theory to better understand the relationship of notes and why some work better together than others. Or the aspiring chef who takes chemistry classes to better understand how sauces change food. Each could certainly do the job adequately without the additional insight. But it’s the love of the craft and the obsession to understand what’s in-between the cracks that creates break-through.
Same goes for practice. Practice is for failing…for failing differently on purpose to gain confidence…confidence which then reduces those mistakes to make room for others, higher level ones. And the cycle repeats, over and over, resulting in higher level mastery.
But it all starts with love…without it, expertise doesn’t stand a chance.
The great American statesman Henry Clay captured this sentiment perfectly: “Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart.”
I’ve noticed in my thirty-five years of innkeeping that it’s almost always the small acts which impact people the most, both guests and staff. It’s particularly meaningful when you stop to focus on them when you hadn’t planned on it, when you’re hurried…when it’s the most inconvenient. At this point it’s no longer a task…it’s a gift. The result…wow, you did that just for me.
When you don’t have the time…take the time. Caring matters.
Today I’m releasing my second published work, Will You Be Missed?. It’s been twelve years since the last one. I know, I’m taking too much time.
Will You Be Missed? isn’t a short story or manifesto. It’s a workbook, an exercise of personal reflection meant as an alternative to the traditional performance evaluation, usually completed by your boss. The trouble is that your boss doesn’t know you as well as you do. Your boss doesn’t have the insight, the clarity or the truth that you do. And she likely doesn’t care as much about you and your future as you do. So don’t wait for someone else to tell you how you are doing…you already know. My hope is that you will use what you know to move forward, to reach your goals and realize your dreams.
You can find my new work here. I hope it helps.
Beyond the transaction of the job and the compensation on offer, the job interview is for understanding how we are going to help each other realize our dreams by working together. So the challenge then isn’t to determine the hard skills, the aptitude, how much or how fast we each can produce. More important is to understand what we care about, what difference we are trying to make and how we plan to get there.
The lottery works because it creates momentary hope…a very small chance for a new start. It’s for people who believe that financial freedom creates happiness and some sort of a springboard to success. Of course, it’s almost certain that your not going to win. In fact, the chances of winning the lottery are almost the same…whether you buy a ticket or not.
Alternatively, rather than investing in almost certain failure and the false hope of the lottery system, why not create something worth talking about. The chances of becoming a millionaire (or billionaire) are far greater when you make stuff…put things into the world which make a difference. The odds begin to shift in your favor when you do the hard work, go through the trials and tribulations of uncertain outcomes and take responsibility to lead change. It turns out that you are far more likely to realize your dream of financial freedom if you work to create a legacy of remarkable work. But first you have to believe in yourself. And then you have to start. Good luck.
Leaders don’t ask this question…managers do.
Outside of establishing your cause and the culture you seek, choosing those that will join you on the journey is the most important act. Selecting people who are enrollable...people aligned with your values, who have similar world views and who are willing to make the same sacrifices as you is critical to the eventual outcome. The wrong choices will waste time, cause friction and drain the life out of the project. This has nothing to do with completing assignments, working hard or making things happen through authority. That becomes necessary when you haven’t chosen well…when people who can’t see it your way, who don’t believe what you believe, insist on hanging around. And when they do, they resort to commander tactics because that’s what’s left when you aren’t able to get someone to fall in love with an idea…which it turns out is so hard to do when you don’t believe.
Find people who believe what you believe…the work is so much easier when everyone wants to lift.
Perhaps the most powerful words one can utter or write. The power comes from taking responsibility…shifting it from someone else to you…being on the hook. But it goes beyond power…it’s a gift. It’s an offering of freedom and peace from worry…worry about being blamed, worry about lowered status, worry about financial impact and so on. And it comes without expectation, without quid pro quo. It’s not a transaction, it’s an act of generosity. If it comes with strings, it’s not an apology…it’s merely a deposit in a zero sum game. And the withdrawal is inevitable.
When you notice…see a chance
When you care enough to put someone else first
When you show up over and over, practice and put forth effort to do something remarkable
When you choose hard, and right over easy
When you cause someone to reflect, Wow, you did that for me.
When you choose to, you can make a difference.
isn’t reserved for the few, the appointed, the smart, the titled, the powerful. It’s reserved for anyone who chooses to…
- Take responsibility
- Give credit generously
- Make a difference
vs. being conflicted.
A conflict of ideas is a good thing...different outcomes, more possibilities, often leading to compromise or a new idea altogether. It’s a welcomed beginning. Conflict within a team, partnership or even with yourself however is a deep rooted problem which prevents constructive analysis of opposing ideas. The lack of trust, empathy and fear of uncertain outcomes undermines the chance to work together to solve problems and consider options. Too often we mistake personal conflict as idea conflict and work to create compromise or simply to choose one to move things along. Managers choose, often through compromise. But ultimately, they decide. Of course this leaves one or more sides unhappy...leading to more conflict. Alternatively, a leader focuses first on the root issue, resolving conflict by restoring or building trust, teaching the value of generosity and seeing alternative points of view. At this point conflicting ideas are no longer seen as a problem, as an obstacle to get past so one can win out over the other, but rather as a range of possibilities for an even better outcome. A group who trusts each other and is enrolled around a central cause now sorts it out themselves. Of course leadership like this takes longer and requires more effort. But the results exponentially expand the universe of possibility.
If I lead enough people to see it my way…
If I train hard enough…
If I learn more about this than most…
If I become an expert…
If I become the only one...
The ability to see through the hardship in advance with some clarity keeps you in the game. Knowing what pain, embarrassment and failure lie ahead allows for the mental preparation necessary to see it through. But that vision also keeps many people from starting. The question then is...what happens if you don’t?
Harley riders wave to other Harley riders. Same for Mini Cooper drivers and Aston Martin’s.
We see you…and we respect your choice. People like us drive vehicles like this. We care about uniqueness, out of the ordinary and most of all the feeling we have when someone acknowledges us for our decision.
This sort of wave is beyond an act of kindness. But it’s reserved for those willing to live on the fringe. It’s not found in the mass market middle or in the ordinary. While there’s nothing wrong with the middle and the safety that comes with it, that choice doesn’t garner the same type of respect and acknowledgment as an outlier…one who seeks to be different.
Change doesn’t happen without those seeking to make it. Thank you for being one of them. And here’s a wave to you…for making life interesting.
Most of the time we should demand it.
Conveying a point should not be misconstrued with artful storytelling. Both have tremendous value. But too often, we add words to be kind, take the edge off or to assert status through our command of a larger vocabulary. Stories are necessary when we are sharing a vision…creating a mental picture of a place to go. But they aren’t needed when time is of the essence…because the receiver isn’t ready for a story.
Less is more. And it takes practice.
When you fail, you know what it feels like…to be beaten, to be ignored, to be disappointed, to be ridiculed, to be exposed. And every time you fail, you practice the feeling. Over time, there’s less fear…of what it’s going to feel like. You know what’s coming…and it’s not as scary as the last time.
Failure isn’t something to be avoided. It’s something to be cherished…something to be sought out.
Not good. Certainly not remarkable. Not worth going out of your way for.
Acceptable…if you don’t have another choice.
But why settle?
People confuse leadership with authority. They say they want to get a promotion so they can lead. But what they really want is authority...to be able to tell someone what to do. They want control…to be the boss. They want this for status and to earn more money. And almost all organizations are set up this way…people in charge, managing other people to produce outcomes more efficiently. The better you fit into the system, the more successful you become and in turn you receive more authority. And the cycle continues. But this has nothing at all to do with leadership. Leadership isn’t reserved for people with direct control over another. It has nothing to do with giving instructions. Leadership requires vision for change, the ability to enroll people in a cause and the desire to take responsibility when something doesn’t work out as planned. It means you’re on the hook. Authority comes with a system, a structure that’s on the hook. There are always systems and other people to blame when it doesn’t work.
I haven’t met many people who want more people telling them what to do and exactly how to do it. Alternatively, I meet a lot of people who want to go somewhere exciting, create a legacy and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Seems logical then that we need more leadership and less authority. So who to promote…choose wisely.
Of course the first sign might work...the goal is to get noticed. And, while it’s not likely to change anyone’s mind, it might help someone not change it…to help reaffirm their decision to vote for our side. So that’s who the sign is really for…the person who has already decided. The problem with defensive tactics is they almost always lead to more…defensive tactics. So more signs appear. Because when there’s more than one or a few, it creates silence. No one accomplishes their goal. It’s merely litter.
The alternative is to not use defense as a strategy…but rather to do the hard work of personally connecting with people and earning trust. The goal should be to build a tribe that is so enrolled in your idea they can’t wait to choose you, again and again. I vote for hard work and less litter.