Superheroes are all around us—open your mind to see them!

Superhero 2020

(Image by John Hain from Pixabay)

“It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me”.

(Batman)

My current Walk into the Future provides multiple opportunities for me to discuss life, travel, interests and potential blog topics with tree branches.

I’m lucky to identify future blog topics from the great people I interact with daily.  I can’t develop every idea into something useful for the Walk into the Future blog, but I try extremely hard to never miss a topic to help others on their walk.  Thank you to everyone who has sent me topic suggestions so far.  Please note, if you haven’t seen your topic then I’m still working on the development process.

Superheroes

I published an article back in October 2019 discussing the challenges superheroes face daily:

This article led to an interesting phone conversation with a tree branch while driving to Orlando for two networking events.  Normal conversation but we detoured onto the subject of superpowers.  Not the Batman versus Superman hype or who would win a fight type conversation but what superpower would I have.  We laughed a bit and I had to put some real thought into what superpower I display.

There are a lot of things I bring forth daily.  My main mission has evolved to make a difference daily.  Simple enough but I’ve found the best way to accomplish my mission is to find ways to inspire others to reach or exceed their stated goals.

So, my superpower is inspiration!  You can still call me Calvin when you see me, but I will answer to Inspiration Man!  Nice little ring to it, huh? 😊

Seriously, I view my ability to help others achieve things in their personal and professional lives as making a difference daily.  The concept of serving others has been with me for a while now.  It started with my many roles in the Air Force (instructor, mentor, leader) and continues to expand with my consulting work as well as former roles in higher education.  I don’t have a fancy Inspiration Man uniform (yet) but take pride in being able to guide others and provide tough love when necessary.

My current Walk into the Future provides maximum flexibility to work with diverse people with differing needs for inspiration.  I take pride in my ability to listen and then help generate outcomes to assist people I partner with.  This process can be formal or informal, but my goal is to leave folks inspired to go tackle their day.

My tree branches get daily and weekly check-ins from me to let them know I’m always here for them.  It may not appear to be a lot of inspiration in this process but I’m sure someone smiles when they hear from me—just guessing! 😊  My #1 client is my niece Jayla who will graduate from UCF in May—she gets the full-blown Inspiration Man act daily—even if she doesn’t want it—so lucky!

Speaking engagements and presentations provide me with additional ways to inspire others.  I make a point to never turn down a meeting or presentation request because Inspiration Man needs an audience.  I see these as opportunities to generate additional tree branches and continue to make a difference in this world.  Just finished speaking in 3 Student Success classes at Tallahassee Community College—received the topic the night before the presentations but I willingly accepted the challenge and opportunity to inspire students to find their why.  Again, I don’t turn down opportunities if I can help it.

“Be your own hero.”

(PictureQuotes.com)

Tree branches

Recent conversations highlight superpowers for several of my tree branches:

Positivity Persuasion Writing
Relentless Analytic Organization Connecting with others
Activating Destiny Adaptability / Positivity Writing / Editing
Unstoppable Energy Caring / Empathy Networking

You can see I’m associated with a team of superheroes with diverse and impactful powers.  They are making a positive difference in the world and I’m excited to watch them change lives daily—well done team!

Think we need a cool team name—Avengers, Justice League and X-Men are already taken! ☹😊

So, what’s your superpower? How do you use it to make a difference in this world?  Can you match the superpower to one of my tree branches? 😊

Thanks for walking with me!

“The most important thing is to try and INSPIRE people so they can be great in whatever they want to do”.

(Kobe Bryant)

Planting seeds in Orlando to grow new trees!

Planting seeds at UCF

(Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay)

“To move forward, you have to give back”.

(Oprah Winfrey)

My Walk into the Future provides me with flexibility to work on projects in multiple locations.  I consider myself a running tourist but can also travel and work in different locations with others when needed.

I’ve worked on projects for the Seminole Tribe of Florida (Immokalee), Intern Pursuit podcasts (Orlando), Salvation Army (Tallahassee), Mastering College to Career podcasts (Orlando), individual clients (Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando and DC), Tallahassee Community College (Tallahassee), MLK event Keynote (Jasper) and the University of Central Florida (Orlando).

Each project had a different audience and expected outcomes which is exciting to me.  Picking these projects allow me to hone my skills and continue to grow as I extend my reach and grow new tree branches.

“Your greatness is not what you have, it’s what you give”.

(Unknown)

My project with UCF was especially rewarding because I was invited to train a group of student workers by an active tree branch.  We have worked together for the past 10 years—first at UCF, then at FSU and now again at UCF.  Full disclosure, this tree branch worked directly for me at FSU.

I conducted team building training for her student workers at FSU and she wanted to bring the same training to UCF as a part of their enhanced student professional development program.  An extra bonus for me conducting the UCF training is my niece, Jayla, is a current student worker in the UCF Career Center and would be a participant.  This was her first time to see me working with students instead of hearing about my work.  Think she came away proud of her uncle! 😊

These opportunities allow me to give back and help the next generation Walk into the Future.  Love the energy I get when standing in front of motivated college students.  Believe the energy they put out helps me find another gear when presenting material to them.  They inspire me to get better daily.

This workshop was designed to help the student workers understand the importance of working within the team environment.  We also touched on how they can still be individuals but can’t let this hinder the overall function of the team.  Example, someone who is naturally quiet will still have to speak publicly in a customer service environment.  We explored understanding differences and how to find strengths in others to ensure work is being accomplished in a proper manner.

We were also able to leverage communication styles and techniques to enhance workplace interactions.  The students were well versed in how their personalities can impact interactions with peers, faculty and staff.  We utilized their knowledge to build team dynamics and translate this information directly to their respective roles in the Career Center.

Team building is not a formal course of study and takes time to implement.  Believe getting students engaged in understanding team building dynamics early will translate directly to their work and life experiences after college.  It also creates a strong foundation they can utilize while in school—group projects, presentations, fraternity/sorority life, student government, etc.

We can all sharpen our team building skills—this workshop is my way to keep this important workplace tool growing.  I was able to plant seeds during this presentation and look forward to watching the new trees grow in the future.  Several students have reached out via LinkedIn and I’m actively mentoring them to help reach their respective goals.  One of the students that reached out works for another tree branch in Orlando—small world!

What are your favorite team building tools?  How does your organization ensure team building is a strong component for growth?  (Respond in the comments section—thanks!)

Thanks for walking with me!

“As you grow older, you will discover you have two hands – one for helping yourself and the other for helping others”.

(Audrey Hepburn)

UCF Training

Mentors provide valuable lessons for us to share

man and woman discussing and sharing ideas
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“Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can”.

 (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

We all need someone to mentor and guide us on our journey.  I have had some great people step into my life and provide guidance needed for successful outcomes.  I reach out and thank them as much as possible because their lessons walk with me every day.

I purposefully relay those same messages to my tree branches when needed.  So, the tree started with my mentors, and my goal is to keep it growing with new branches who will grow additional branches.

Had an interesting conversation with one of my closest branches.  She mentioned she met with former students at their request and realized these students were branches from her tree.  I hope to continue to hear about additional tree branches sprouting in other areas.  How many branches have you added to the tree?

Greatest lesson learned

The greatest lesson I learned from my mentor is patience with others.  The pace of the world continues to accelerate but patient leaders provide direct reports the space to learn, make mistakes and grow.  Leaders who display patience in the work environment provide a space for reflection and active coaching when needed.  The exact lesson my mentor gifted me I call:  3 check-ins.  Sounds like a weird game for the work environment but I’ve seen it work and leverage it to this day.

So, how does 3 check-ins work?  Great question!

Example:

You assign a work project to one of your direct reports with a specific due date.  Instructions are provided but you allow the direct report freedom to get the project completed prior to the due date.  The assigned project will have 3 check-in points built in where the leader comes back to the direct report to:

  • Make sure the assignment was understood (reflection)
  • Answer outstanding questions (learn)
  • Offer support/guidance if needed (coaching)
  • Adjust goals (as needed)

The 3 check-ins are spaced out to allow for adjustments to the project if needed but keeps the direct report focused on positive outcomes.  Creating organized check points for the project shows the leader is a willing partner and seeks growth for team members.  This also eliminates the direct report from feeling like they are alone on the project.  We want them to take initiative but not feel they have no support.

The 3 check-ins approach is not designed as a fancy way to micromanage a team.  It provides a support system to enhance professional growth and ensure successful outcomes for the entire team.  Also, the approach allows the leader to serve their team and maximize individual talents.

How do you provide support when assigning projects to your team?  How can the 3 check-in approach enhance your operation?  (Please respond in the comments section below—thanks!)

“The best teachers are those who tell you where to look—but don’t tell you what to see”.

 (Alexander K. Trenfor) 

silver bitcoin
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“Play chess not checkers in the work environment.”

(Calvin Williams)

Thanks for walking with me!

Leverage individual communication styles to enhance team operations

top view photo of people near wooden table
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“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly”.

(Mark Sanborn)

There are no two teams that are exactly alike.  Not the most prophetic thing I’ve ever written in this blog space but worth stating.

Teams have different dynamics and function based on these things and the people who make up the team.  The most successful teams can leverage the talents of each team member into the overall organizational dynamic to ensure successful outcomes.

We’ve discussed team communication strategies in previous posts with an angle to strengthen your team.  Individual communication styles and preferences should be reviewed and discussed when you add someone new to your team.  I’m sure everyone strives to hire the best candidate to fill an opening on their team.  How much thought do you put into understanding how to integrate the new team member’s communication style in with others?

I’m a firm believer that leaders should know direct reports’ communication style and preferred way they want to receive information.  This knowledge allows leaders to seek ways to ensure they communicate in a way to maximize operational needs.  This knowledge has helped me when assigning tasks to team members.

Example #1:  When faced with a project that has an extremely quick turnaround time, I normally assign this project to my ENFJ (MBTI) staff member.  This type project excites the staff member and I know they will get things done quickly with enough time for review before the deadline.

Example #2:  When faced with a project due four months from today, I normally assign this project to my ISTJ (MBTI) staff member.  This type project allows the staff member time to plan, strategize and ask all the questions they need to for a successful outcome.

The examples listed above are two actual scenarios I’ve tackled in the past.  Both had successful outcomes because I knew and understood how to engage staff to maximize their talents.  This in turn produced successful outcomes for the organization.

Knowledge of individual communication styles also provides a blueprint to help build training plans to help staff members grow.  Introverted staff are not exempt from ever getting a task with a quick turnaround.  The leader needs to provide a more detailed set of instructions and understand they may have to follow-up with the staff member.  This process begins to stretch the staff member and helps their professional growth.  This also provides the leader with another staff member who can handle future quick turnaround projects and not wear out the extroverts.  Also, extroverted staff are not exempt from being assigned long term projects—training applies to all staff members.

There are multiple ways to engage staff to understand their individual communication style.  MBTI and CliftonStrengths are two tools used in my work environments.  These tools allowed me to get a better understanding of everyone on my team and integrate this knowledge to help teammates understand each other as well.

What’s the most successful way for me to understand how to communicate with my team?  I sit down with them and ask everyone how they like to receive information.  Simple, huh?  Then I make sure to communicate with everyone in a manner they identify (as much as possible).  Things pop up but I try to remain consistent with the communication process.  Direct reports seem to appreciate this fact and respond in a positive manner.

A final note, leaders need to ensure their team knows how they like to communicate as well.  The team shouldn’t have to guess how to approach a leader.  This creates undo stress and is not productive.

How do you account for individual communication styles in the work environment?  Can this knowledge impact your current organization?  (Please respond in the comments section below—thanks!)

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something”.

(Plato)

blackboard business chalkboard concept
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People are more important than the job description (My soapbox)

colorful ball float soap bubble
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“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say”.

(Andy Stanley)

So, need to vent for a minute.

Continue to see and hear across multiple industries where the boss makes job description modifications (additions/deletions/unit changes) without discussing with the person doing the actual job.  The boss is then surprised when staff decide to find a work environment that views them as more than the job description.

Please note, I’m not saying changes can’t be made to a specific job description.  Organizational missions change and updating duties, responsibilities and unit structure provides growth needed to move forward.  Leaders need to ensure the people tasked with getting things accomplished remain a part of the overall process.  Imagine the favorite part of your current position is removed and nothing was said to you prior to implementation.  How would you feel?

I know leaders who make decisions based on how the job description is written and refuse to consider the impact on the person in the position.  Never agreed with this logic and still don’t.  People are more important than the job description!

The authentic leadership variable balanced processing would help in these situations.  My research identified balanced processing as the variable that best explains job satisfaction for direct reports.  They want to be involved and should be.

Leaders are encouraged to seek and find the big picture before making decisions.  Simply identifying potential job description changes would allow staff to provide input before the final product is created.  Balanced processing is leveraged to build trust, encourage professional growth for direct reports and provides a foundational and reliable decision-making process.  It also signals all opinions are valued and expected.  The concept eliminates personal bias from the decision-making process, everyone in the organization has input prior to the final decision.  Again, people are more important than the job description!

I continue to promote the authentic leadership model because it can help create positive workplace outcomes and improve organizational performance.  It may also stop workplace turnover and get me off this overworked soapbox!

Okay, I’m dropping the microphone and stepping down from my soapbox. 😊

black microphone
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How does your work environment ensure people are not overlooked?  Does your leadership put job descriptions ahead of the people doing the job?  (Please respond in the comments section below—thanks!)

“It is trust that transforms a group of people into a team”.

(Stephen Covey)

green and white show planes on sky
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Don’t fear the unknown–life moves forward

full frame shot of text on wood
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“On the other side of your maximum fear are all the best things in life”.

(Will Smith)

How many times have you talked yourself out of doing something based on perceived fears?  I’m talking about larger life episodes like changing careers, starting your own business, learning a new skill or traveling to an exotic locale.

Sometimes we fear the unknown simply because it is unknown.  Nothing has happened to instill the fear we live with; we just bring it along into our daily routines.  Don’t let that little voice in your head talk you out of pursuing something you want to accomplish.  Positive thoughts generate positive outcomes!  Tackle life with an Irie mindset!

Look for ways to embrace your fear and understand the root cause.  Challenges provide opportunities to grow so don’t let a little apprehension stop you from making a move.  Try to place a marker or name on what you fear.  Is it the actual change, lack of confidence, professional requirements or something else?  Understanding the root cause of fear provides a road map to help overcome the thing you fear—sounds simple, right?

Look for ways to visualize the successful outcome you seek.  Leverage a vision mapping process to walk you through the entire process.  Start with the most basic concepts and then work to put everything into a step-by-step diagram as a road map for success.  Your vision map may show holes in your thought and execution patterns you can counter to help eliminate fear and enable success.  The vision map also allows you to put time frames in-place to accomplish the task you identify.

Positive people make positive things happen!  I continue to stress having an Irie mindset.  Believe this is vital daily in life.  Expect great things to happen and back up the expectations with proactive research, conversations and efforts needed to get what you want.  Positive thoughts will help build up resiliency so when faced with obstacles you go to the next option but never stop trying to get what you want.

Be prepared to pivot as needed.  There are times a fundamental change in approach is needed to get what you want.  This is not a failure but a proactive way to work towards outcomes to enhance your current situation.  Do you need to get a specific certification prior to starting a career change?  Do you need to have a business partner to make your small business idea successful?  The willingness to pivot when needed can eliminate a level of fear associated with similar changes.

“Staying positive does not mean that things will turn out okay. Rather it is knowing that you will be okay no matter how things turn out”.

(Unknown)

Accept fear as a natural motivator in life.  Sounds counterproductive but what if you tackle a small fear daily to build up confidence for the larger things in life?  Fear public speaking? Then join Toast Masters to get in front of people to learn how to overcome this fear.  I’m a natural introvert so speaking in front of people was a fear I had.  Discovered the more I speak in front of groups the less fear I have.  The process becomes easier the more I face the fear.

Mentors can help you when facing your fears.  We should all have multiple mentors to help get through personal and professional scenarios.  Why not enlist a mentor when you must face a fear?  This trusted advisor may have experience in the area and can provide insight to help you move forward.  The mentor can also serve as a sounding board for you to present your thoughts.  This simple concept may allow you to hear what’s holding you back.  Your mentor will be able to provide feedback based on thoughts you present as well.

Fears are natural to most of us.  Visualize success, leverage positive thoughts, pivot if needed, accept fear to defeat it and engage your mentors.  Simple, huh? 😊

Remember, everything Irie!

What tools do you leverage to overcome fear?  What have you thought about doing but let fear hold you back?  (Respond in the comments section—thanks!)

 

 

“Named must your fear be before banish it you can”.

(Yoda)

Strong tree branches keep me moving forward

two brown trees
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“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together”.

(African Proverb)

My collective tree branches continue to amaze me daily!

I enjoy watching the great things they are doing in their respective areas of higher education, mentoring, volunteering, speaking, podcasting, recruiting, leadership development and fitness to name a ‘few’ areas these outstanding folks are making a difference.

The one area that stands out to me today as I write this is the teamwork they constantly display.  My Walk into the Future has led me away from a physical office space—as noted, I primarily work out of coffee shops with Lucky Goat being first choice.  My previous work life allowed me to be surrounded by direct reports and colleagues every day.  There was always someone available to me whenever I had a question, concern or marketing idea I needed to hash out.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”.

(Henry Ford)

My current walk provides me unlimited freedoms to decide what I work on and when.  The one limiting factor is I don’t have ‘my’ team right down the hallway to bounce things off.

A great aspect of having so many tree branches is they are only a text message, email or phone call away when I need help.  Today was a perfect example of how great my tree branches are.  Needed some help generating a Presentation Value Proposition for a conference proposal I was working on.

I had no trouble describing my proposed presentation, highlighting learning outcomes and generating an overall summary.  Couldn’t generate the Value Proposition for the presentation for some odd reason—just couldn’t make it pop or even sound interesting.

Reached out to two of my most creative tree branches and described my dilemma.  Provided them with what I needed to do and my attempt to generate the Value Proposition.  They both jumped into teammate mode and sent me back appealing options for the Value Proposition that made the presentation sound exciting.  The point being is even without us being in the same cities, my team still has my back and we make each other better daily.

The ability to stress the importance of teamwork is something I’m proud to bring to every organization I’ve worked with.  It’s great to see my tree branches continue to embrace team concepts and help others grow.  Well done tree branches—keep up the great things you do daily!  Very proud of your efforts!

Thanks to my tree branches who return my texts, emails, phone calls and LinkedIn shout outs!  You’re fueling this journey one step at a time—Irie!

What are the most important team concepts you display daily?  How can you enhance the team experience in your work environment?  Thanks!

Respect Melissa and V’Rhaniku!

ER 2016

(2016 team bowling outing)

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else”.

(Booker T. Washington)