Archive for the ‘The 12 X’s of Leadership’ Category

Number One Regret of the Dying

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Dave Weber - CEO/President

If you’ve ever heard me speak, you know I’m not a real Debbie Downer. But today’s post is a little more serious. It’s about dying with regrets. In the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, nurse Bronnie Ware discovered that the regrets of the dying boil down to five general attitudes. Over the next few posts I’d like to explore their regrets with you, in hopes that we all can avoid them.

This week I want to focus on just one—the Number 1 regret of the dying…

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

As a chronic people-pleaser, this regret hits uncomfortably close to home. How many times have I stifled my dreams, goals and even my identity in order to comply with others? How many times have I yielded to the beliefs and expectations of people around me—instead of pursuing the things that would have brought me the greatest fulfillment.

Here’s some of the “expectations” that I wrestled with for quite some time:

“Starting your own business in this economy is not a good idea. It’s better to stick with a job at a bigger, more stable corporation.”

“This is the way it’s always been done.”

“If you can’t do something perfectly the first time, why try it at all?”

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized something quite profound. The people with expectations of you are not living your life. Deep, right?

But seriously, if I had always yielded to the expectations of others, I would have missed out on the best experiences I’ve had in this life so far!

  • Falling in love with my bride Tina.
  • Starting my own company
  • Writing two books (and working on a third!)
  • Owning up to the fact that I hate eating green things.

In every one of the situations I mentioned, I’ve had some opposition. Sometimes people are jealous of your own dreams and ambitions. Even more often, they are afraid of change. Expect it. Better yet, embrace it! After all, the people you believe are putting down your ideas might actually be some of your greatest allies in your success. Consider their critiques. Let them force you to reexamine your dreams and your plans so that you can refine them and make them even better. I talk about this for an entire chapter in my book Leadership Redefined.

In Ware’s book, she notes that, “Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.” Don’t let the expectations of others hold you back—because one day your body will. Let go of people-pleasing today, and die without regrets.

How to Beat Workplace Burnout Like a Marathoner

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Dave Weber - CEO/President

Hidden in the canyons of Mexico’s Copper Canyon lives a shy tribe of people called Tarahumara, or the Running People. The Tarahumara live quiet lives, growing corn and beans and living in family groups in huts and caves often perched precipitously on the mountain cliffs. They are also all ultra-runners.

Marathon-Runners---Black-Silhouette-SunsetAt social gatherings and celebrations, the Running People will conclude the festivities with a friendly footrace. A footrace up to 200 miles, that is. For a guy like me that is out of breath after four miles on the treadmill, the thought of these people running through mountain passes in handmade sandals sounds more like a mirage than a reality.

In Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run, he marvels that in the midst of a 100-mile ultramarathon they, “churned up the slope like kids playing in a leaf pile.” Laughing. Smiling. Somehow enjoying a 100 mile run. For the Tarahumara, running wasn’t a chore—it was a time to connect with their world and with one another.

Now lets step back from the Copper Canyon and into your city, your home and your workplace. You’re fed up with the job you used to love. Coworkers you’ve collaborated with for years are grating on your nerves. Projects that excited you in the beginning seem stale and dusty. Like the American runners racing against the Tarahumara, you’ve burnt out, and you’ve got 150 miles left to run.

How do you return to the blissful state where you began? Mental toughness.

I know, I wish I had a different answer too. But oftentimes the only element in our day that we can actually control is our attitude. And, when the boss is happy and the workload is light it’s easy to stay upbeat. Throw in an irate customer, a missed deadline and some extra rush-hour traffic, and then you have a training ground for mental toughness. Here’s a few tips from the Running People themselves

Take Shorter Steps—your burnout might be the result of overextending yourself. Instead of focusing on everything you need to get done this week, focus on the five things you need to get done today. Break larger projects up into small pieces and knock them out one at a time.

Lose the Shoes—After researchers studied indigenous groups like the Tarahumara, they discovered these groups experienced far less injury than Westerners with hi-tech and cushy running shoes. At work, sometimes the very things we think we need are the things creating problems. Have you gotten bogged down in party planning drama or chasing down someone by email instead of picking up the phone? Maybe it’s time to pick up speed by simplifying your processes. Lose the shoes.

Look to your elders—Would you believe that among the Tarahumara, the best runners are often the oldest!? Though it seems contrary to nature, it’s true. The runners with years of experience have honed their speed, footwork, diet, and strategy. The same is true of great leaders in any industry. If you want to avoid burnout, begin to note the habits of those a few years down the road, and a few rungs up the ladder from where you find yourself.

Never run alone—In Tarahumara culture, racing is a means of bringing the community together. How would our workplaces change if we viewed collaborative work in the same way? Sure you might feel like the project is about as fun as running uphill in the boiling Mexico sunlight, but there is some solidarity in enduring it together. Find at least one person at your workplace who you know you can lean on during a particularly tough day. But be prepared to return the favor.

Mental toughness is choosing these attitudes and practices over the feeling of burnout. It doesn’t matter if you’re running 100 miles or just trying to make it through the last 100 days of school with a rowdy classroom. When nothing around you seems to be changing, change your attitude. After all, it’s a marathon not a sprint.

What Justin Bieber Can Teach All of Us About Leadership

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Dave Weber - CEO/President

LOS ANGELES - MAY 12: Justin Bieber arrives at the Wango Tango Concert at The Home Depot Center on May 12, 2012 in Carson, CA. Photo taken on: May 12th, 2012 © Carrie Nelson

LOS ANGELES – MAY 12: Justin Bieber arrives at the Wango Tango Concert at The Home Depot Center on May 12, 2012 in Carson, CA.
Photo taken on: May 12th, 2012 © Carrie Nelson

This week my Twiter feed has exploded with tweets about Justin Bieber along with the hashtags #WeWillAlwaysSupportYouJustin and #DeportBieber. Although the young singer’s actions were reckless and immature at best, the Biebs provides all of us with an opportunity to learn a thing or two about leadership.

1. A leader is anyone who has influence– As many beliebers are arguing today, Justin is just “acting his age” or “doing what kids do” and that his behavior is being blown out of proportion. Maybe that’s true, but his role as an entertainer has given him influence—massive influence in fact—over popular culture, music, acceptable hairstyles, and most importantly, other young people. Like it or not, the hoopla over his arrest only confirms his influence and identity as a leader.

2. All leaders have blind spots– Weaknesses, faults, temptations, call them whatever you like, but without a careful examination of your own blind spots any leader can make one of those mistakes that, to everyone else, looks like such a bonehead move. Money, fame and power certainly don’t eliminate blind spots. If anything, they enhance them. This is why it is so important to allow others to point out your blind spots to you.

3. Leaders don’t insulate themselves from accountability– We’ve all seen it. Whether a small-town politician or an international superstar, people flock to please those with power and influence. However, the most successful leaders know that they must have people on their team to hold them accountable to their goals and deliver warnings when a leader looks to be headed into a blind spot. I don’t know if Justin Bieber has people like this in his life or not, but I know that the unfortunate decisions he has made this week remind me to keep close the people in my life who are not afraid to “push back” on my ideas or actions.

4. Whenever a leader makes a mistake, the opposition will celebrate– We all know the moniker “nobody’s perfect” until one of our leaders lets us down. It is a sad truth that human beings seem to love seeing one another fail—and hacking one another apart on social media outlets. However, Justin, and any one else who has ever faced opposition, can choose to respond by ignoring the malicious, learning what he can from his critics and using the experience as a motivator to push him towards his goals—what I like to call falling forward.

5. Your character will ultimately shape your influence– No matter how thoroughly you divide your public life from your private life, both will eventually have to match up. In Justin’s case, his image has gone from hardworking entertainer to another spoiled celebri-teen. As the pastor Andy Stanley says, “Character is not made in crisis; it is only exhibited.” In challenging times, do our words, actions and reactions match up to the person we proclaim to be publicly?

For more insight into leadership and how we can redefine what true leadership means, be sure to check out Leadership Redefined.

The only resolution you should make this year

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Dave Weber - CEO/President

The presents have been unwrapped, the turkey’s been devoured, the crazy relatives have been pushed out the door, and we are all sick and tired of eggnog and Christmas music. It’s time to make some New Year’s resolutions. While losing weight, hitting your sales goals, or quitting smoking are great goals for next year, I’d like to challenge you to make only one resolution in 2014—and unlike the resolutions mentioned earlier, this one has the potential to transform every aspect of your life—your career, your relationships, your dreams and your health. Are you ready for it??

This year, resolve to keep the main thing the main thing.

Whatever the main thing is for you—a career goal, a desire to invest in certain relationships, or a dream you’re chasing—keeping the main thing the main thing will minimize your distractions and focus your actions with the precision of a laser pointer.

For example, if my “main thing” is to be the best husband and father that I can be, I will be working hard to be a great provider for my family—but I’ll also be curbing my late nights at the office so that I can take my wife on a date or catch a movie with one of the kids. I will learn that talking to my daughter about her day might be more exciting than whatever’s being covered on SportsCenter, or that walking our two energetic dogs with my wife transforms a mundane task into an opportunity to spend time with her. Wanting to live a long, full life with my family motivates me to eat a little better and move a little more. It makes me a better listener, a more productive employee, and a more generous giver.

So as you think about your own resolutions, I hope you identify your main thing, and perhaps a few action steps that you can take in order to keep the main thing the main thing.  May your 2014 be an exciting, successful year—but most of all, may it be the year when you begin to make progress on purpose.

140 Characters

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Dave Weber - CEO/President

How would your tweets change if you thought 140 characters had the power to alter your future?

A few weeks ago, I read the most fascinating article in the New York Times. With the explosion of social networking, more college admissions view applicants’ Facebook pages and Twitter feeds as a part—officially or unofficially–of their review, which is causing some students to lose the opportunity of attending the college of their dreams. While this may be new to the world of college admissions, businesses have been screening job applicants’ social media usage for years. I’ve been amazed at the capacity for decent, polite, and respectful people to log on to the Internet and spew negative, hateful, and just plain mean speech.  I shudder to think what my 18-year-old self might have said if I had that kind of social platform in my formative years.

Social media is a great way to stay abreast of current events, keep in touch, and find links to thought-provoking articles and blogs (cough, cough). But even 140 characters can be wielded to tear down someone else’s reputation, and as this article observes, unintentionally damage your own image.

In my book Sticks and Stones Exposed, I talk a lot about the power of positive uplifting words. After reading the Times piece, I wonder what would have happened if the admissions officers had seen positive words on the applicant’s social media feed—encouragement to a fellow student, excitement for a campus visit, gratitude to a coach or a teacher. Likewise, if a hiring manager searched for an applicant’s blog and discovered insightful business posts or Facebook shout-outs thanking colleagues for their contributions to a big project. You see, in addition to inspiring others around us, positive words reveal what we can contribute to a group—be it a professional organization or a college campus. Positive words are the hallmark of the inquisitive mind, the team player, and the great collaborator. Which are exactly the kind of students universities want to accept, and later, the kind of professionals companies are clamoring to hire.

You may not be a “leader” in you business, school, or community, but you can be a leader to others in the way you conduct yourself online. Instead of tearing people down, laugh at yourself. Rather than complaining, share something that you’re thankful for. Your influence and attitude online has the ability to move you closer to achieving your goals or abandoning them—140 characters at a time.

Commentary on NYT Article “They Loved Your GPA then they Saw Your Tweets” and the power of words.