Making a difference–the first 100 days!

(Image by Free Photos from Pixabay)

“If you are walking down the right path and you are willing to keep walking, eventually you will make progress”.

(Barack Obama)

Love starting Walk into the Future blog articles with quotes to introduce the topic for each week.  The quotes are selected to get me into the right frame of mind to generate content my followers will enjoy.  I try not to overdue my Barack Obama quotes but he provides inspiration on multiple levels and I can always find something generated by #44 to help me find the words to make a positive impact with my writing.

I am an avid reader and discovered author Robert Hargrave’s book, Your First 100 Days in a New Executive Job:  Powerful First Steps on the Path to Greatness prior to taking my role in Fort Pierce.  Decided to leverage my first 100 days in my new role to find ways to make a positive difference in our daily operations.  The COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has on normal operations was a huge challenge to me.  I accepted my position at Indian River State College in March 2020 with hopes the pandemic would be mitigated during the summer and we would get back to what use to be normal workday activities.  The COVID-19 numbers exploded over the summer and most of the country remained in a work from home mode out of necessity.

I did not let COVID-19 limit my focus on making a difference daily.  Referred to President Obama’s quote daily and looked for ways to chip away towards the progress I sought.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  How do you make workplace progress?  One project at a time.

My first 100-day point at Indian River State College was 7/28/2020.  The Career and Transfer Services (CTS) team was not briefed on my 100-day plan but were key players to ensure we got the results I wanted us to gain.  I take a lot of pride in being able to organize and execute action plans and set about getting a lot of things completed in the first 100 days.

Vision

One of my first tasks was to create and then share a vision for the CTS team.  This process allowed me to educate the team on how we would work together to help generate wins for our operation.  Robert Hargrove advises to seek out as many wins as possible in the first 100 days—it builds positive energy.

I went on a listening tour (virtual, phone, in-person) to speak with staff, colleagues, students, and faculty to understand the best way to partner with each of them.  I learned a lot during these conversations (good and bad) and discovered who I needed to mend fences with.  It was not important when the fences broke but it was my responsibility to get things moving in a positive direction.

The team conducted a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis to identify what we did well, our weak areas, improvement opportunities and organizational threats.  This was an eye-opening experience for the team because they had never analyzed the operation at this level.  I needed a full view of our operation to make the first 100 days productive.

We created action plans to mitigate weaknesses and threats (wins) because we could not grow without addressing these two areas.  This process led to improved training, better communication, and improved team interactions.  The SWOT analysis is a living document and will extend beyond the first 100 days but is a positive step.

We leveraged multiple teambuilding activities during the first 100 days to ensure our continued growth.  We leveraged the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), created team values statements, enhanced professional development training, and got on The Energy Bus.  Each initiative built on the previous one to help us all grow as team members.

This teambuilding process allowed us to create additional wins:

  • Produced a Career Ready Infographic
  • Created and produced a Resume Guide
  • Created and produced a Resume Rubric
  • Created and produced a Mock Interview Rubric
  • Created CTS branded PowerPoint template
  • Developed a CTS workshop library
  • Developed employer specific marketing

These are a few examples of our wins in the first 100 days—excited to add a few more wins as the team continues to grow together.

We continue to walk on the right path and progress is evident daily!

How do you measure your progress?  What steps do you leverage to continue to move forward?

“Little things make a big difference”.

(Picturequotes.com)

Walking with a positive work environment

(Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

“Positive work environments outperform negative work environments”.

(Daniel Goleman)

Positive people make positive things happen is one of my favorite sayings to inspire people in my world.  I created this as a mantra when I enter a work environment to help my team understand the mindset, we need to get positive results.

I was introduced to Positive Psychology during my course work and it remains with me daily.  One premise of Positive Psychology is people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.  This could be on a personal or professional level.  I like leveraging Positive Psychology within the work environment to show direct reports how our mindset influences work outcomes.

I mentioned in an earlier post, my daily response to how I am doing is to say fantastic.  This is not a way to hide my true thoughts or feelings but a way to energize myself.  I found by saying I am doing fantastic provides a new level of energy for myself and it can inspire others around me to join in on the fun.  The word fantastic is not used very often in daily life so it makes people take notice and encourages them to get on The Energy Bus.

Now imagine if you had a leader who was always negative and never had anything nice to say.  How would this person impact the work environment?  I am sure this negative mindset would translate to everyone in the work environment and would not be a pleasant place to work. 

Leaders must be cognizant how their energy (positive or negative) impacts the work environment.  This knowledge will go a long way to build a positive work environment culture to ensure positive things get done daily.  Sounds simple, huh?

It takes a while for this positive process to take hold within a new work environment.  The speed of this process can be enhanced when everyone is ready to engage.  One negative teammate can slow or aggravate the process, but this can be mitigated by the rest of the team pulling in the same direction.  A new initiative for me is to follow Rule #6 from The Energy Bus—I have a sign posted that reads No Energy Vampires Allowed in my office in a prominent location.  I will point to the sign when the tone of a conversation starts to become negative.  I welcome different views and opinions but look to negate negative tone, language, or interactions.  It takes time to eliminate the negative, but the goal is to move forward in a positive manner.  I struggle sometimes because I want everything to head in a positive direction but also know things take time. 

A positive work environment is a place where everyone can thrive, grow, and provide input.  We spend a large amount of our lives in the work environment and I strive to create a space where we can work hard, laugh, and enjoy the process.  Leaders who understand work does not have to be stressful create a space where productivity can be displayed daily.  I have worked in places where people dreaded coming to work and I made a vow to never duplicate these types of environments when I reached the big seat.  Well, I have been in the big seat for a while now and smile whenever one of my tree branches reach out and say they want to work with me again.

I am sure not everyone feels this way, but I have enough of these folks to form my own wolf pack.  😊 Still learning and growing but will continue to promote positive work environments because they are productive and fun.  Imagine that, fun in the workplace!  Guess Google, Microsoft and Apple understand what people want in the work environment.  I do not have ping pong tables, yet, but play a lot of reggae in my office.  Irie!

What do you see as the benefits of a positive work environment?  How do you contribute to ensure your work environment remains positive?

 “Positive anything is better than negative nothing”.

(Elbert Hubbard)

The Energy Bus—team building program!

(Image by Marek Studzinski from Pixabay)

“Thoughts are magnetic. What you think you attract”.

(John Gordon)

Dictionary.com defines teambuilding as the action or process of causing a group of people to work together effectively as a team, especially by means of activities and events designed to increase motivation and promote cooperation.

I have always been a fan of conducting teambuilding activities throughout the years to keep teams focused and pulling in the same direction.  I have been fortunate to create teambuilding platforms at UCF and FSU to enhance our team dynamics and set us up to accomplish our work goals.  Teambuilding is a critical component to organizational success and is necessary to remind each team member how interconnected we are daily.

I have leveraged the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) at every stop I have made since I left the Air Force.  I find the MBTI an excellent way to understand team members’ communication style and allows us to adjust to how individuals prefer to communicate internally and externally.

My MBTI is ISTJ (Introverted/Sensing/Thinking/Judging) and is displayed on my desk to remind my team of my preferred communication style. Each team member gets a desk placard highlighting their MBTI to help them communicate with others and serves as a reminder we all have different preferences and work styles.  One is not better than the other, simply different.

I was introduced to Clifton Strengths while at UCF.  I was charged with building a teambuilding program for Career Center staff and Clifton Strengths provided us with a platform to build on the strengths of everyone on the team.  We reached out and hired a certified consultant to come in and work with us to learn how to maximize team strengths so we could grow the organization.  This was an eye-opening teambuilding experience for the group and has remained an integral tool for me when working to build my respective team dynamics.

Ice breaker activities are another great way to bring teams together and enhance socialization.  The ice breakers used do not have to be elaborate but should have an element of fun while the team learns more about each other.  The platform should enhance communication and help the team find ways to discover new things about teammates.

My latest teambuilding adventure was introduced to me by one of my new team members.  She found out I am a huge reader and shared a leadership book from her library with me.  I had never heard of the book but was intrigued by the concept after she explained the premise of the book.  The full title, The Energy Bus:  10 Rules to Fuel your Life, Work and Team is an international best seller and the author, Jon Gordon is sought by organizations to share his Energy Bus knowledge and help people continue to grow.  I watched several of his talks on YouTube to get a better understanding of his concept to determine if this was something I could utilize.  He has a ton of stuff on YouTube so recommend taking some time to explore his work to see how it can help you and your team move forward.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=jon+gordon++

The book is an extremely easy read and reminds me of the classic, Who Moved My Cheese but in an actual work environment.  I was impressed with how his concepts could be applied to my current work situation as I had to find new and inventive ways to conduct teambuilding while maintaining physical distancing due to COVID-19.  Never imagined 6 months ago I would be able to implement teambuilding activities with team members in 8 different locations via virtual platforms.  I chose the Energy Bus because the 10 rules identified are easy to follow and fit where I wanted to take the team.  We must get creative with our work products now and needed them to understand we must pull in the same direction.

Leveraging the https://www.theenergybus.com/ site, I was able to send each team member a bus ticket to invite them onto my bus.  It felt funny generating the ticket, but it seemed to excite people when they received the invitation.  Most of the team reached out to ask if they needed to present their ticket at our scheduled teambuilding session.  It was not required but a lot of them had their ticket ready just in case.  😊

10 Rules for the Ride of Your Life

  1. You are the driver of the Bus
  2. Desire, vision, and focus move your bus in the right direction
  3. Fuel your ride with positive energy
  4. Invite people on your bus and share your vision for the road ahead
  5. Do not waste energy on those who do not get on your bus
  6. Post a sign that says “No Energy Vampires Allowed” on your bus
  7. Enthusiasm attracts more passengers and energizes them during the ride
  8. Love your passengers
  9. Drive with purpose
  10. Have fun and enjoy the ride

We were able to go through the 10 Rules and discuss the impact each had on our new team adventures.  I gave the team my view of the 10 Rules and how I planned to leverage each of them.  We went around the virtual room and had each team member provide their feedback on each rule and how they would incorporate the rule daily.  I was pleasantly surprised when one of my teammates asked if she could give a full rundown for ALL the rules.  She did a fantastic job summarizing each rule and how it would be incorporated in her daily interactions.  This set the tone for the rest of the teambuilding session and let me know we are heading in the right direction.

I am always looking for ways to get the team to the next level.  Will continue to research teambuilding activities but highly recommend The Energy Bus if you are looking for ways to bring a team together.

What teambuilding activities does your organization use?  How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your team’s ability to gel?

 “Your positive energy and vision must be greater than anyone’s and everyone’s negativity.  Your certainty must be greater than everyone’s doubt”.

(John Gordon)

Why Black Lives Matter (BLM) matters today!

BLM

(Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay)

“Human rights are something you were born with.  Human rights are your God-given rights. Human rights are the rights recognized by all nations on earth.  And any time anyone violates your human rights, you can take them to court”.

(Malcolm X.)

Dictionary.com defines human rights as a right that is believed to belong justifiably to every person.

Interesting to hear politicians, everyday Americans and TV news programs talk about the Constitution but most only cite the Amendments that fit a small segment of society.  A lot of folks will scream for their Second Amendment rights even though it was written when the country did not have an Army and militias were needed to defend the country.  These same folks do not make a peep when the Fourteenth Amendment is brought up.

14th Amendment cliff notes version:  No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person in its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The Fourteenth amendment seems clearer to me in today’s climate than arming a militia we do not need because we have professional armed services (Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, Guard and Reserves).  Imagine if all Americans were treated equally as described in the Fourteenth amendment.  The world would be a better place right now.

Had a fantastic conversation with an older gentleman last week about all the things (protests, marches, etc.) going on after the death of George Floyd.  The gentleman is a retiree and he drives the customer shuttle part time for a local car dealership.  He was giving me a ride home after I dropped my vehicle off for repairs and wanted to discuss current events.  He let me know he wanted to talk with someone but did not know how to start.  He asked if I would be willing to talk with him so he would have a better understanding of current events.  Guess I made him feel comfortable because I had only been around him 10 minutes before he decided I was the chosen one to enlighten him.

He asked me two questions:

  • Why are people saying Black Lives Matter (BLM), shouldn’t all live matter?
  • Why are the confederate statues coming down so important today?

Explained to him the BLM movement is needed to highlight the injustices black people continue to face with no end in sight.  No one ever said all lives do not matter but BLM is a way to focus on people who have been marginalized, forgotten, abused, and brutalized since being brought to America.  The BLM movement keeps the continued injustices against black people in America at the forefront and signals we will not be quiet anymore.  Anyone who says All Lives Matter, White Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter have not been subjected to the same level of systemic racism, policing, sentencing, violence, government oversight and oppression as the people who need you to understand Black Live Matter!

https://blacklivesmatter.com/

I let my new friend know the confederate statues were routinely placed as racial dog whistles to a past that honored men who fought to continue slavery.  Most people do not know but a lot of these statues were put in place throughout the 1900’s.  The state of Arizona built a confederate monument in 2010.  Let me repeat that—the state of Arizona commissioned and placed a confederate monument in 2010!!!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Confederate_monuments_and_memorials

Placing these monuments in public places is a slap in the face of all Americans but is reprehensible for anyone who was subjected to slavery, cruelty and death at the hands of the men others are trying to honor with a heritage claim.  Does Germany or Japan have statues of American Generals who fought against their countries?  What would they think having to walk by statues of these people daily?

The confederates who are depicted by the statues fought against America!  They would be considered enemies if they were from a different country or race.  They were traitors against the American government and fought to keep black people as slaves, but some people want to hide behind a heritage claim for why these statues should remain.  They are a part of history but should not be given a higher regard than true American heroes who did not become traitors against their country.  Confederate generals, soldiers, sympathizers, and apologists are traitors to the American way of life.  Who would claim being a traitor as a heritage to be proud of?

My new friend and I departed after having a great conversation.  I am happy he felt comfortable enough to want to talk with me.  He let me know he would talk with his grand kids later that day to help them understand everything happening around them and become a better BLM ally.  Smalls steps on this journey!

Who can you help understand the BLM movement?  What support do you need to keep the conversation moving forward?

 “It’s a privilege to educate yourself about racism instead of experiencing it”.

(Sir John)

Pivot into the Future

Pivot butterfly

(Image by GLady from Pixabay)

 “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be”.

(Maya Angelou)

The Walk into the Future blog and my parallel journey began on May 21, 2018.

Did not know how much my mindset and writing style had changed over the past two years until I started looking back at the archive articles.  Happy to see improvement in my article design, verbiage, visual appearance, and storytelling abilities.  Never want to think I am in the same place when I started especially with Walk into the Future as the blog title.  Still got more things to learn to ensure my content grabs a reader’s attention and attracts new readers to the blog.  Will leverage new techniques, visual presentations, guest bloggers and concepts to stay fresh in the blog world.

Five examples I highlighted for a Walk into the Future were:

  • Take that vacation you have been putting off
  • Decide to create your own blog to document your walk into the future
  • Make time for family and friends (again)
  • Discover new talents you may have or wanted to explore
  • Live life the way you want to

Did not keep a running tab of how well I was doing in these areas but happy to report I have repeatedly checked off each item listed above, multiple times.  My initial vision for my Walk into the Future was basic but I have been able to grow through personal development and gravitating to things I enjoy.

Sounds simple enough but the concept of generating content for the blog has been a life course on:  continuous learning, networking, research, leadership development, mentoring, storytelling, public speaking, traveling, training, running, marketing, cold calling, selling, patience, blogging, blog design, Word Press, podcasts and the art of pivoting.

I identified everyone should be prepared to pivot as needed in a previous post about overcoming fears.  There are times a fundamental change in approach is needed to get what you want (quoting myself here).

Throwback article:

2020 Pivot

The Walk into the Future blog has been a fantastic incubator for my time, thoughts, and actions.

I was presented with multiple opportunities to join forces with others based on the growth mindset I have gained from Walking into the Future.  I have been extremely selective on who I work with and what projects I decide to add to my portfolio.  No more Big Gulps for me!

Happy to report my Walk into the Future has relocated to Fort Pierce, Florida.  I will create new tree branches as the Director of Career and Transfer Services at Indian River State College.  I was able to leverage my past work experiences AND my Walk into the Future topics, adventures, and growth during the interview process.  The ability to relay real-world examples on how I interact with others, my mission to make a positive impact and desire to be a People Builder were leveraged to show impact I will have at Indian River State College.

This pivot creates a larger audience for Inspiration Man and allows me to keep my Walk into the Future moving forward.  Excited for the new adventures, location, beaches, tree branches, thoughts, actions, energy, and blog articles.

The Walk into the Future journey continues, just from a new location.  I am sure I will write most of my future articles from the beach with an ice-cold drink close by. 😊

The Walk into the Future production process has generated a roadmap for two new projects I am working on in 2020.  The first project will be to develop several Walk into the Future leadership articles into a concise eBook titled, The Voice of a Leader.

The second project will be to develop an on-line Authentic Leadership course to help learners understand the leadership model and the variables needed to become an authentic leader (self-awareness, internalized moral perspective, relational transparency, and balanced processing).

These projects are exciting to me since I will get to learn how to create an eBook and build/design an on-line course people would be interested in.  More to come as I get smart on both platforms.  The eBook will come first since I have got the content at my fingertips, just need to organize, and reformat—sounds easy enough, huh?

Interesting fact (to me)

I view life as a daily adventure and continue to seek ways to make a difference in this world.

One area I explored was teaching psychology courses since I do have a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.  Seemed simple enough but a funny thing happened on my Walk into the Future.  I applied to the local community college to teach General Psychology as an adjunct professor.  Repeat, an adjunct professor! Never heard back from them even after reaching out to people in the department via LinkedIn and direct email.  Ironically, if they had leveraged my talents in the classroom, I may have missed this amazing pivot opportunity.  Things happen for a reason—Irie!

Tree branches will still receive text messages, emails, and LinkedIn articles from me. You have all been a major part of my journey and look forward to expanding our reach—just from another location.  Walking, smiling and inspiring into the future!

 “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity”.

(Amelia Earhart)

irsc project wall

(Summer 2020 project wall)

Transition towards the future!

Transition

(Image by Volker Sachse from Pixabay)

“Light precedes every transition.  Whether at the end of a tunnel, through a crack in the door or the flash of an idea, it is always there, heralding a new beginning”.

(Teresa Tsalaky)

I spend a large amount of time generating lists in my daily Walk into the Future.  This is not a new phenomenon because I find my lists help keep me focused and moving forward in multiple areas.  I track everything:  daily activities, weekly to-do lists, yearly goals, every gym workout, every mile I run and how fast I ran them.  Small correction, I do not track what I eat—may need to add this process since I have decided to eat better in 2020—we will see!  Guess a grocery list would help with this, huh? 😊

Decided to discuss my list making process because a tree branch wanted me to write an article about what the transition from my previous work life to my current Walk into the Future journey looks like.  His interest was more in understanding the transition because a lot of people talk about making a change but never really discuss what happens during the transition.

Of course, my transition started with a list.  I sat on a beach on 4/14/18 and created a PRO/CON list to give me a visual of why/if I wanted to Walk into the Future.  Did a complete assessment and put items under the PRO (stay) or CON (walk) column to give me something measurable.  The list was heavily populated on the CON side so my decision to Walk into the Future was easy to make and backed by data.  I will not dive into what was on the list but wanted to share there was a process involved to help with this decision.

“Transitions in life can offer opportunities for discovery”.

(Robbie Shell)

Throwback article on moving forward:

I am sure there are books and additional articles written by others who have transitioned from one work environment to another.  This process is unique to everyone who decides to Walk into the Future—I will share things unique to me and my current Walk into the Future.

Humility

Being humble signals a willingness to learn and continue to grow.  I have never professed I know everything, so I continue to be a lifelong learner.  I read, network and ask questions when I do not understand something.  Humility can speed up the transition process by seeking others to help along the way.  Therefore, I never turn down meetings, speaking engagements or random conversations—I am learning as I go, and everyone can be a good source of information for me.  I have maintained relationships with mentors and expanded my mentor pool to ensure I’m continuing to learn and grow.

Patience

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!  This is an old leadership axiom to get people to focus on the process and not get overwhelmed with the perceived end results.  Most things in life are a process and can be overcome with a patient approach.  I have had to display a high level of patience during my Walk into the Future because not everyone I encounter is trying to get to the exact place I am.  They may not even know how to help me get where I am headed and may need to refer me to someone else.  I have learned the art of the follow-up call/email very well during this period! 😊  Remember, one bite at a time.

Sense of Humor

Laughter is a great way to release endorphins and makes you feel good.  Laughter is also needed in this process because I do not take everything so seriously.  Life is stressful enough without us adding more to it.  I make a point to laugh, tell jokes and enjoy life to the max.  I smile when I pitch a proposal to organizations for speaking engagements and I smile when organizations so no thank you.  I generate a big old grin when I book a gig—it feels good!  The key I believe is not to get too high or low during this process—laughing daily helps with this.  I make a point to smile, laugh and enjoy myself when presenting to others—believe people relate to others who smile.

Confidence

Spend any amount of time with me and you will understand I do not lack confidence.  This really helped when making the decision to Walk into the Future.  It also leads to the ability to keep moving forward even when things do not go my way.  I have heard the word NO more times than YES during this process but cannot let that distract me from my mission to make a difference daily.  My lists mentioned earlier help as well because they allow me to check things off—never discount the importance of checking things off a list—it shows progress!  I view life as a journey and confidence helps every step of the way.  Positive self-talk is an outstanding way to get and maintain your confidence levels.

Mental and Physical outlets

My blog articles cover a lot of topics as I continue my Walk into the Future.  I purposely seek out activities to enhance my mental and physical well being daily.  My daily workouts, running program and yoga practice are designed to boost my physical fitness and allow me to generate endorphins.  Never discount the impact physical activity provides to daily life.

I am an avid reader, so bookstore and library visits are a regular part of my program.  I gravitate to blogs, online articles and LinkedIn to ensure I continue to learn new things.  My book topics range from self-help, psychology, poetry and autobiographies.  I do not venture into fiction much—John Sanford is the only fiction author I read on a regular basis.  Discovered him by accident over 20 years ago while stationed on Okinawa, Japan.  Been reading his work ever since.

I maintain a journal which helps me process my thoughts and aspirations.  This is a weekly process for me or anytime I am at the beach.  Lastly, the Walk into the Future blog provides an outstanding mental outlet vehicle for me.  Get to write and test out ideas here right in front of YOU! 😊

So, there you have it.  This is still an active transition for me as I explore new ideas, topics, interests and partnerships.  This journey will continue, and I am sure there will be pivots needed but the smile on my face will not go away.

Enjoy your transition as you walk with me!

How can you make the transitions needed for your journey?  Who can you partner with to enhance the transition period?  Thanks!

 “Life is a transition”.

(Lailah Gifty Akita)

The mirror can lie! Blaze your own trail

round leaning mirror with white frame
Photo by Emre Can on Pexels.com

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”

(Audre Lorde)

Really love the words presented by Audre Lorde.  The concept of creating your own definition of self is vitality important to truly progress in life.  There are people who look in the mirror and automatically see bad examples staring back at them.  Please know, the mirror can lie and the bad examples from the past do not have to hinder the present and/or future.

Bad examples can manifest in multiple locations.  I will focus on two specific areas to help highlight how bad examples can and should be used to fuel a positive Walk into the Future.  The two areas I focus on are leadership and personal development. I’m sure everyone has a story on bad examples in these areas as well.  My attempt will be to show how these bad experiences can be leveraged for a positive tomorrow.

Leadership

Would like to say everyone I’ve worked for has been an outstanding leader but that would not be true.  It may not even be realistic to expect EVERY leader to possess the capability to be outstanding.  Turns out the leaders who were not the best provided me with enough tough lessons to sharpen my leadership skills.  Please note, I’ve had some great leaders/mentors in my life who I lean on even today.  Their lessons are with me daily, but the few bad leaders impact my leadership style and methods as well.

I gravitated towards the Authentic Leadership style because I’ve seen organizations destroyed because the so-called leader wasn’t authentic.  They profess being a genuine and transparent leader but then their true self comes out and it is the opposite of authentic.  Seeing these type leaders in action reinforces why the concepts of authenticity, self-awareness, having a moral compass and relational transparency are so important in my leadership style.

I’ve seen leaders who walk by their direct reports’ multiple times in a day and never say hello.  Seems like a small thing but how can you say you care about your people and can’t acknowledge them?  Not saying a leader must stop and talk every time they see someone but it’s a lot easier leading people when you are relatable and engaged. Also, only talking with direct reports when something is needed or due signals the leader only cares about the bottom line.  Staff will do more within a positive and nurturing work environment.

These are two leadership examples I leverage to help build my authentic leadership platform.  I proactively do the opposite of these leadership examples because I’ve seen them in action and how they deflate staff and organizational morale.

That’s my approach, things I don’t like or disagree with from a bad leader, I simply don’t repeat—not rocket science but it works.  No need to subject others to these habits—create positive energy and blaze your leadership trail to enhance the work environment.

Personal development

There are instances where environment can hinder personal development but many more where great outcomes occur almost against all odds.  Life is impacted by choices (good or bad) and we have the capability to choose not to mirror bad examples but learn from them.

I love working with college students from South Florida.  They routinely tell me they’re the first person in their family to attend college and they want a different outcome for themselves.  They don’t want to forget the struggles from home but use them to continue to grow.  They also strive not to repeat some of the bad neighborhood examples others succumbed to.

They tell me of proactive actions they took to avoid running with the wrong neighborhood friends.  These people may have been well intentioned but set bad examples of how to truly progress in life.  They experienced family and community situations that potentially could hinder growth, but they didn’t let these things stop them.  These things were used as inspiration to overcome obstacles.

Environment is an important element in personal development but can be overcome—I’ve seen it done.  Mentors and positive examples can help with personal development.  Self-awareness and learning from bad examples can increase the ability to blaze a personal development trail.

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

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

How do you define yourself for you?  What does your personal or professional mirror reflect? How can you leverage bad examples to enhance your Walk into the Future?

Stop limiting your progress—remove personal roadblocks

Road Block image

(Image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer from Pixabay)

“Love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning”.

(Carol Dweck)

What is holding you back from accomplishing what you want out of life?

This question and subsequent answers can be applied to your personal and professional life.  I’m a huge advocate for positive energy helping us meet or exceed our life goals so, begin the process to remove anything that would limit your progress today!

Dictionary.com defines progress as forward or onward movement toward a destination.

Let your daily thoughts, actions and words lead you toward the progress your desire in all areas of your life.

I’m a firm believer we can talk ourselves into or out of anything in life.  I’ve started answering the question how’s your day? with the response fantastic.  I use this response to trigger the destination I’m seeking and ensure my thoughts match the destination.  I know this is a simple explanation but how many people have you heard say the following:

  • I’m not a morning person…
  • I want to work out but don’t have time…
  • Working on this project is going to suck…

They have just created a negative thought pattern for the highlighted activities.  Not saying simply putting a positive spin would make everything work better BUT it can’t hurt.  Why create these roadblocks for yourself?  Positive self-talk can be used here to get better outcomes.  It takes time to adjust your mindset but should be worth the attempt.

“There is no elevator to success.  You must take the stairs”.

(Unknown)

Next, put the necessary actions in place to match your positive thoughts.  Identify the things needed to reverse the identified roadblocks.  Using the same thoughts listed above can help highlight how actions can help with your thoughts:

  • I’m not a morning person…
    • (Action: establish an earlier and consistent bedtime)
  • I want to work out but don’t have time…
    • (Action: start small, walk during lunch or after dinner; work out at home)
  • Working on this project is going to suck…
    • (Action: research the project, look for ways to influence positive outcomes)

Finally, put the appropriate words in place to ensure your thoughts and actions move you towards the progress you seek.  I leverage reggae and specifically Bob Marley songs to get me in an Irie state of mind prior to speaking engagements.  This may seem like a small factor, but I’ve found sustained success when I do this.  Playing reggae also enhances the mood and mindset of my audience.

I routinely write the following words in my notes prior to speaking:  eye contact, speak clearly, move the crowd and have fun.

These words are consistent with the outcomes I want from every presentation.  I mentioned in an earlier post I still get nervous prior to speaking even with my experience level.  Writing these words prior to an engagement give me the focus needed to ensure a successful presentation.  My words in this example influence my thoughts and lead to positive actions.  Simple, huh?

This is not an overnight process!  It takes time and self-awareness to fully understand how your thoughts, words and actions impact your daily interactions.

What roadblocks have you created that limit your progress?  What thoughts, actions and words can you leverage to remove these roadblocks? Thanks!

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right”.

(Henry Ford)

Open Road

(Image by Rohan S from Pixabay)

Mentoring and people building daily

People Builder March 2020

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark”.

(Whoopi Goldberg)

Had an interesting conversation with a good friend today about why I consider myself a People Builder.  My explanation comes down to this is something I was destined for—my purpose if you will.  There it is—I’m a People Builder!

Got invited to speak with 3 Student Success classes at Tallahassee Community College in December 2019.  The professor and I worked together at FSU years ago and reached out to see if I could energize her students.  I never turn down speaking roles so decided to work on some new material to help students find the why in their studies.

The invite came the week prior to finals so most students were ready for the semester to end–then I enter the arena.  Always love a challenge and the end of a semester provides plenty of them.  Didn’t let this deter me as I prepared for my full day working on the TCC campus—I’m built for this! 😊

The main message I wanted the students to take away is they control their destiny.

Education and life are active endeavors and the more they participate, take charge and act the more empowered they will feel in all aspects of life.  Wanted to ensure the students understood empowerment by having them create a life and educational why statement while I was with them.  Some never heard of this concept but were quick to embrace it since the professor made this an extra credit project prior to finals—it takes all types of motivation. 😊

Had several students share their why statements with me during the class sessions—came away impressed with what they generated during our time together.  Also introduced the concept of SMART goals (Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) to the students to help them with future educational and life pursuits.  Leveraged SMART goals to help the students understand how written goals would impact their why statements.

The professor conducted a survey to get the students to identify what they took away from my visit.  See a sample below.

Sample student survey results:

  1. What was your favorite part of the Leadership Presentation? My favorite part of the presentation was what Dr. Williams proved to us. He proved that all of us are leaders of our own lives. He made me believe that I am far more capable of doing great things than I give myself credit.
  2. What did you take away from the perception vs. reality part of the presentation? The perception of a person is how they carry themselves such as how they walk, talk, and dress. For example, Dr. Williams walked in confident, dressed in professional attire, and he was very well spoken. Yet he is a very introverted person.
  3. In your own words, what was Dr. Williams’s why statement? Dr. Williams’ why statement was simply that he wants to leave a positive impact on every person that he meets.
  4. What is your why for your education (including this class)? My why for my education is so that I can grow into a mature and responsible adult and to be able to become an officer in the United States Army. My why for this class is to help make a smooth transition into college which has been interesting.
  5. What is your why for life? My why for life is to recognize that I will not live forever but I want to create something positive that will.
  6. How long did it take Dr. Williams to learn his why? It took him 20 years.
  7. In your own words, describe what happens when everyone in an organization agrees on everything? Everyone stops learning, they all stop growing, and eventually all become complacent.
  8. How was the presentation helpful to you? It helped me realize the many things that I can do right now for my future. It was very eye opening and motivating. Thank you for having Dr. Williams come in.
  9. If you were a tree, what kind would you be? Explain why you would be this tree. I would be a pine tree because I may not be the toughest, but I am flexible and dependable.
  10. Share something you learned that you can put into action this week. I made a game plan of how I can get into ROTC at FSU. After class today (December 2nd) I made an appointment with the recruiter at FSU ROTC for tomorrow.

Happy to report most of the students I spoke with left with the same energy and got active making positive things happen.  Several reached out to me on LinkedIn to stay connected for mentorship opportunities.  Got invited to coffee recently for additional insight on goal setting—progress was made at TCC!

People building closely resembles being a superhero—Inspiration Man strikes again!

How can you become a People Builder?  Who in your circle would benefit from a little construction?

“Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can”.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

 

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)