Happy New Year

Happy New Year 2019

‘None of us can change our yesterdays but all of us can change our tomorrows’ (Colin Powell)

2018 was a great year and looking forward to having a great 2019 as well!

I’m sure you will hear Happy New Year for the next few weeks, so I decided to get my version in via a blog post.  Positive thoughts lead to positive actions so let’s use the New Year vibe to create a road map for your personal and professional success.

I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions because the construct behind these resolutions have an air of whimsy.   Most resolutions are stated with an almost ‘either/or’ prospect without the foundation for future growth or success.

I sit down each January and generate a list of goals I will accomplish in the New Year.  These goals range from travel locations, fitness targets, professional pursuits, community involvement and reading plans for the year.  Generating SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Based) goals provides a template to determine progress towards meeting a specific goal.  The ability to gauge progress towards stated goals provide a level of satisfaction and accountability to meet or exceed a goal.  I also leverage an accountability partner who receives a copy of my goals and checks on progress throughout the year.

 

smart goals 2019

I routinely advise direct reports and mentees to generate 3 SMART goals in the following areas:  professional and personal.  This process has helped them set goals to ensure the new year will bring the success they seek.  Please note:  3 SMART goals are the minimum I request from my tree; most create a robust number of goals in these areas and others depending on their professional and personal needs.

Use the early days of 2019 to get organized and create goals that will enhance your entire 2019!  Don’t wait, get moving towards the productive year and outcomes you want to see!

Let’s energize your Walk into the Future!

What goals do you have for the New Year?   

The Humble Leader

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Photo by Prateek Katyal on Pexels.com

The concept of the humble leader sounds contradictory to what most people envision in the workplace.  The traditional leadership view (real or perceived) cast leaders as hard charging, take no prisoner and only out for themselves.

Humility: the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s importance, rank, etc. (Dictionary.com)

A true leader understands you lead people and manage programs.  Not the other way around.

A humble leader displays a level of self-awareness within the workplace to ensure growth for everyone.  A humble leader does not seek or need the spotlight to highlight the great work of the team.  The humble leader can inspire better team cohesion, eagerness to learn and a better performance outcome for their teams.

The process of leading by example and a leader with a humble approach when working with individuals and teams is an excellent example of this concept.  This consistent approach provides a template for others to follow and allows the team to perform knowing the true nature of their leader.

Humble leaders:

  • Build relationships
  • Listen
  • Enable trust in the workplace
  • Show appreciation
  • Reflect
  • Display authenticity

A humble leader puts the needs of others before themselves.  This could be a simple process of ensuring direct reports have the tools needed to perform their duties.  Sounds simple but how many times are work assignments delegated with deadlines, but instructions/tools needed to perform are not provided.  The humble leader looks to provide tools needed to ensure overall team success.  They are also not afraid to ask questions to ensure the assignment is fully understood.  Asking follow-up questions does not show weakness but shows the leader cares and wants to optimize time spent on a specific project.

Being a humble leader does not imply weakness.  Humble leaders are always looking to improve themselves and focus on larger, organizational goals—not just their individual goals.

A leader is best when people hardly know that they exist. (Lao Tzu)

What impact does humility have within your current work environment?  How would this concept enhance overall productivity in the work environment?

 

 

 

 

Networking

“Opportunities? They are all around us. There is power lying latent everywhere waiting for the observant eye to discover it.” – (Orison Swett Marden)

Networking

Who’s in your network?  No, really, what connections do you have to facilitate continued personal and professional growth?

Most people hear the term ‘Networking’ and immediately think of a stuffy, formal business event.  My view of networking allows you almost unlimited possibilities if you open your eyes and ears to the people and possibilities around you.  Networking opportunities are available in multiple forms, we must be open and ready for them.

Networking can provide a springboard to enhance goals, make contacts and potential employment.  People you meet provide a chance for you to network and share your story.  They may not be the direct person to change your world but can help introduce you to a friend, colleague or family member who may be able to help you Walk into the Future.

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One of my mentor’s always says, “You’re networking even when you don’t know it”.  Strive to make a good impression on everyone you meet since this can be a critical component on how much or if they are willing to help.

Make a list of professional contacts, professors, mentors and friends who may be able to help with your networking goals.  Ask them out for coffee or lunch to discuss your situation and seek their guidance.  Networking in this way allows you to maximize your visibility and viability to others.

Networking can be done face to face or via technology.  The time you spend in the gym, at a coffee shop, or a formal networking event is a prime time for you to branch out and communicate with others.  My preferred on-line networking method is to utilize LinkedIn.  This platform allows you to ‘target’ search based on your desired outcomes.  You can search for contacts by name, by organization and by location.  There are other filters available, so find the best filter combination for your needs.

When working with students towards their employment goals, I always show them how to search for LinkedIn contacts at their preferred organization (Examples:  Google, General Motors, Proctor and Gamble).  We discuss the best way to introduce themselves to contacts and how to ask for the order (what do they want).    Creating an introduction script makes this portion easier (who are you, what are your credentials and what you want to discuss with the contact).  Remember, networking is more than what you can get from someone; convey how this interaction can benefit you both.

Local Rotary Clubs, Chamber of Commerce and other professional organizations provide avenues to network face to face.  Leverage the ability to meet and speak with locals in these networking rich environments.

Don’t forget to ‘listen’ to what others have to say.  Networking is not just you talking; allow other attendees to provide you with additional content to keep the conversations moving.  Again, an introduction script may enhance your ability to weave into and out of conversations.  Request business cards or other contact information to follow-up (thank you, informational interviews, mentoring) with individuals who may be able to enhance your current situation.  Remember to be respectful of others time but always look to ask for what you need from people in a networking environment.

Practice makes perfect and the process of networking becomes easier the more you get out there–make it happen.

What other networking techniques have you used?  How can networking help you advance in your field?

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Run your pain away

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Running

This is one of my favorite ‘inspirational’ quotes.  It speaks volumes about the power of the mind and the benefits of positive self-talk.  We sometimes talk ourselves into and out of multiple life situations, but Emerson brings a level of clarity by identifying we own the process.  We become what we decide we want to become.  Simple enough!

One area I use regularly with this process is my running program.  In the past I would say out loud “I’m not a runner” and wondered why my running program never provided the results I thought it would.  Using Emerson’s words created a mental adjustment, so now I leverage my runs to recharge mentally and generate positive outcomes for my Walk into the Future.

The physical benefits of running include:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased endurance
  • Stronger lungs
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Muscle toning

Have you thought about the ‘mental’ benefits of running?

A running program can be used in a therapeutic way also.

Had a hard or challenging day at work?  Try going for a run to clear your head and generate positive thoughts you can leverage later.  It is very hard to hold on to negative thoughts as you run your troubles away.  You may find yourself generating new ideas once you remove the clutter of the day during your run.

Some runners identify the concept of a runner’s high while putting in the miles.   Endorphins are nature’s home-brewed opiates that act a lot like morphine (Runner’s World).  The chemical response running provides can help adjust your mood and put a smile on your face.  The release of endorphins is an extra benefit when I run and keep me looking forward to my next race.  Runners are a naturally happy bunch and you always can find them smiling and drinking beer at the finish line of most races.  The endorphins and the sense of completing a challenging run may contribute to most of these smiling faces.

Running can also be used as a stress reliever.  The boast in serotonin levels can provide a relaxing and calming affect as you run your problems away. It is extremely tough holding on to daily life pressures while also tackling a hill during your run.  Your full physical and mental attention quickly turns to help you get over the next hill or cover the next mile marker.  Your troubles don’t magically go away but they don’t seem as important while out for a run.  Run consistently and you will start to find running as a physical and mental outlet.

What other transformative and therapeutic benefits can running bring?  Thanks!

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Motivated or Inspired?

  • Motivation—the general desire or willingness of someone to do something. It is the set of psychological forces that compel you to act.  (Dictionary.com)

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  • Inspiration—the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. (Dictionary.com)

Inspiration

Most people use the words motivation and inspiration as interchangeable concepts when trying to express something to the outside world.

Looking at the definition of motivation identifies it as something that comes from within.

You have to ‘act’ upon what’s motivating you for it to become manifested and seen by others.  There are many times when I see the words ‘motivational speaker’ and wonder exactly what that truly means.  It implies someone can provide a series of words that will suddenly motivate others.  Sure, hearing someone speak can generate a spark, idea or urge to go do something great.  But did that motivational speech give you motivation?  I’m sure in the short-term you may find a way to act on the concepts you hear.  The internal motivation must already be there for you to sustain this level of action.

Now, contrast the definition of inspiration as being mentally stimulated to do or feel something.

This identifies the concept of inspiration can be ‘provided’ directly to another person if they are ready to receive and have the internal motivation to act.  Again, contrast the motivational speaker versus the inspirational speaker.  The inspirational speaker can provide a level of mental stimulation on a subject (leadership, mentoring, goal-setting, etc.) and then walk away from their audience knowing the seeds have been planted.  It’s now up to the individuals who heard the inspirational speaker to decide to act or not.

Why contrast these two terms?  Well, I view myself from the inspirational concept.  Blog topics, emails, direct conversations with me are designed to provide inspiration to everyone I contact.  I cannot give anyone the internal motivation to act but can provide a platform to generate the inspiration needed to create an action plan to walk into the future.  I view my workshops, podcast contributions and conversations as inspiration to others.  Some branches of my tree will act on these things and others may not—totally up to them but I’ve done my part.

The biggest thing I want to do daily is make a difference in the world.  I do this by continuing to inspire my tree to grow daily and then reach back and help others.

So, what did you decided?  Are you motivated or inspired?  Curious to hear your thoughts!

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The Self-Aware Leader

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“If we agree on everything, one of us is redundant”

(Colin Powell)

This is one of my favorite leadership quotes from Colin Powell.  This statement identifies true leaders want and encourage feedback from their direct reports.

This concept provides the leader with information needed to make sound decisions to help organizational growth.  New and ineffective leaders miss the opportunity to engage with direct reports on decision making for multiple reasons.  Some can be attributed to inexperience, lack of trust, and lack of self-awareness.  All can be overcome with concerted efforts to develop as a leader and engage within the work environment.  Leaders who are self-aware can begin to mitigate the inexperience and lack of trust mentioned earlier.

How do you become a self-aware leader?

  • Look inside and become introspective
  • Identify your strengths, weaknesses, values and how others view you
  • Understand how your self-view impacts others and the work environment
  • Knowledge of how your interactions (positive or negative) influence direct reports
  • Ensure actions and decisions are based in an authentic framework
  • Strive to build authentic relationships with everyone within the organization
  • Adjust based on interactions and feedback from others
  • Advocate for a continuous learning work environment

Work place impact of the Self-Aware Leader

The self-aware leader improves the work environment by modeling the attributes of self-awareness.  This modeling allows direct reports to see and understand the importance of self-awareness.  The leader actively acknowledges strengths and weaknesses.  This provides a framework to enhance staff members’ development within the work environment by catering to staff strengths and working to mitigate weaknesses.

The self-aware leader provides direct reports an engaging work environment where they know they are valued and input is encouraged.  This attribute showcases a leader who fully understands how they are viewed within the work environment.

Finally, the self-aware leader provides an organizational foundation for success by creating additional self-aware leaders.

How can you model self-awareness in your daily interactions?  What benefits would self-awareness bring to your work environment?

Self Awareness

Walk-up Music

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Major League Baseball (MLB) players leverage music to help in their in-game preparations.  The concept of hearing music at MLB games is not new but today’s modern players have really stepped up their games and insert their personalities and thoughts into their ‘Walk-up’ music selection.  Walk-up music is what you hear as a hitter steps up to the plate for an at-bat or a pitcher enters the game.  The music is normally picked by the hitter or pitcher and played over the stadium speakers to energize the crowd and the specific player.

View a list of 2017 Walk-up music here:  https://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/04/mlb-walk-up-songs-list-best-nelly

As you can see, the players select a wide range of music to represent them and to hype them up.

So, why are we discussing Walk-up music as part of your Walk into the Future?

Excellent question!  How do you get ready to tackle your day?  What actions do you take before giving a big presentation at work?  What impact would your personal Walk-up music have on your daily interactions?

Incorporating Walk-up music or some semblance into your daily interactions can provide the inspiration needed to accomplish your task.  Not saying you will have music blasting over a stadium PA system, but you can find your inspiration in music to generate the mindset needed for success.

As an introvert I still need an extra push prior to any speaking engagement I have.  My speaking engagements range from on-campus workshops, Chamber of Commerce presentations, Economic Vitality Council recruiting events and Keynote speaker responsibilities.  Most people who have seen me in front of a crowd assume I don’t experience nerves or anxiety before I take the stage.  Well, truth be told even with the amount of speaking I have done, I still need that extra push to get me prepared to speak and deliver the content needed.

I have leveraged Walk-up music my entire professional career like MLB players are doing.

Big presentation for me and I go directly to an 80’s Hip Hop classic by Eric B and Rakim:  Move the Crowd.  This song reminds me the main reason I’m speaking is to connect with my audience and provide them with content they can use.  It reminds me to lock in and focus on what I’m saying, how it’s said and why it’s needed.  I play this music in the car, on the computer or on my phone prior to my presentation.

I switch up my Walk-up music and where it’s played when I do Keynote speaking.  I have a love for Reggae music and the ‘Irie’ vibe it provides.  I like to play Bob Marley music for my audience prior to my introduction.  The Reggae sounds helps relax and focus me and seems to put the audience members into a great mood to receive my message.  I always play the song Jammin’ right before I’m ready to take the stage and impart my words of wisdom on the audience.  Again, the concept of Walk-up music is designed to get me and the audience ready in these situations.

So, I ask again:

  • How do you get ready to tackle your day?
  • What actions do you take before giving a big presentation at work?
  • What impact would your personal Walk-up music have on your daily interactions?

Look to generate your own Walk-up music ideas to help you during the day.  Leverage this concept to help mentally prepare for that big presentation you have coming up.  Find the music needed to help you thrive and enjoy the process.

Let me know your final selections for your Walk-up music!  Thanks!

Walkup music stats

Building Resiliency

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Resilience is that affable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever (Psychology Today).

Building resiliency can provide a new window towards stated goals and help adjust your mental outlook.  There will still be days where you will face challenges, but resiliency helps adapt to the challenges and come out stronger.

There are multiple techniques to use to build resiliency.  The American Psychological Association (APA) list the following:

  • Make connections
  • Avoid seeing crisis as insurmountable
  • Accept change
  • Move towards your goals
  • Take decisive actions
  • Look for opportunities for self-discovery
  • Nurture a positive view of yourself
  • Keeps things in perspective
  • Maintain a hopeful outlook
  • Take care of yourself

These are great reminders to add to your toolkit to help your personal and professional growth.

Two stand out to me:  Move towards your goals and nurture a positive view of yourself.

Goal Setting

Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-focused, time based) goals can enhance your journey towards resiliency. The SMART goal process will create a platform to view progress and adjust as needed.  SMART goal formation shows if you are truly moving towards your goals and highlights growth.

Nurture a positive view of yourself

This trait comes back to self-awareness and the ability to foster positive self-talk.  We can be our own worst critic in life, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Look for ways to give yourself credit for your progress (SMART goals) and generate positive thoughts (Irie) needed to enjoy the day.  There will be bumps in the road, but resiliency helps you navigate the tough times and come out on the other side better than before.  Continue to practice positive self-talk as you interact throughout the day.

Building resiliency is an on-going process.  Practice resiliency daily and adjust as needed.  It will be well worth it as resiliency will help you power through your day.

References

The Road to Resilience. (n.d.). Retrieved September 24, 2018, from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx

Resilience

Orange Theory Fitness

Orange Theory Fitness (OTF) is based on the science of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) designed to get clients’ in their ‘target zone’ to stimulate metabolism and increase energy (OTF).  This approach allows OTF clients to burn calories during their 60-minute workout and up to 36 hours after workout completion.  This group training program is led by a coach who provides instruction, motivation and an extra little push as needed throughout the training session.

I decided to try OTF to see if this training program can be added to help me with my half marathon training program.  Still looking for training methods to help me with my stated goal to run a half marathon under 2 hours.  My normal training and running routines are going very well but wanted to explore OTF to see if this type training would increase endurance and speed needed to meet my running goal.

My local OTF studio allowed me to sign-up for a free session to experience the workout and ‘afterburn’ advertised.  I was able to pick a day and time that fit my schedule.  The studio staff did a very good job explaining the science behind the OTF process.  They also conduct an in-depth interview to gauge each client’s fitness levels and goals.  This information is used to help the session coach understand how to help each client meet or exceed their goals.  Identifying my running goals allowed my session coach to come over and provide individualized coaching on ways to improve my endurance, speed and running form.

My free session was focused on ‘endurance’ and was comprised of multiple treadmill, water row and weight lifting cycles.  The first half of my session had me rotating between cardio stations (treadmill and water row).  We were given time and distance goals for each station and rotated after meeting those goals.  Example:  4 minutes on the treadmill at 5.5 miles per hour then 700-meter water rows then repeat 3 times.  This comprised the first portion of the session.

My small group rotated over to the weight floor to complete a series of weight/body weight exercises.  Compound movements were used to help/maintain endurance and proved tougher than I thought they would be.  We could pick our own weights but were given guidelines on what we should lift for each rotation.  There were 6 different movements required to complete this portion—some I’ve never tried before.  I was surprised how tough body weight pushups became after a few cycles based on the other movements we completed.  Example:  dumb bell ski lifts (12 reps), push-back push-up (12 reps), dumb bell kicks (12 reps) then repeat 3 times, followed by dumb bell swings (12 reps), bicycle abs (24 reps), push-back push-up (descending reps) repeated 3 times.

Sounds like a lot of work but it was fun, and I could tell I had completed a good workout.  My pump was intense, and I felt surprisingly good after my OTF experience.

Researching the multiple membership options provided to see which would benefit me the most.  This type program can enhance my current half marathon training and get me under my stated goal of two hours.

Have you ever tried the OTF program?  What benefits can a program like this bring to your current fitness level?  Curious.

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Coffee Shops

The past few months on my ‘Walk into the Future’ have allowed me to discover and immerse myself into the coffee shop world.

Not saying I’ve never been in a coffee shop, but my current walk has me exploring coffee shops as an outlet for my creative flow.  Most of my previous blog posts were imagined, designed and written in a coffee shop.  I find the environment rich with audial, creative and visual stimulation to help generate ideas and then put them in some measurable format to share via blog.

The people watching in this environment is first rate!  It’s amazing watching the people interactions within a coffee shop—regardless of the time of day.  The amount of business being transacted within coffee shops highlights the benefits of networking away from an actual office.  People bring clients or prospective clients out for coffee to discuss work product, marketing designs and mergers.

Friendly get togethers are another large portion of the people who frequent coffee shops on a random Tuesday.  Friends meeting up after a morning yoga class or run occupy most of the seats today.  The demographics of these groups highlight a diverse crowd who really enjoy good coffee and conversation.

I make a point to patronize multiple local coffee shops to experience interactions on multiple spectrums.  Some of the shops I frequent have a faster pace to patron interactions, tone of the conversations and the actual noise level within.  Others have the pace, feel and sound inflections like a library with the real or perceived ‘hush’ look from people.

I find myself gravitating towards the quieter coffee shops because I can concentrate a bit more and research/write additional context.

My favorite coffee shop so far is Lucky Goat.  Good coffee, pastries, atmosphere and the people are always friendly.  There are numerous coffee shop options available but Lucky Goat continues to draw me in.

What’s your favorite local coffee shop?

 

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