Do People Know Your Intention?

October 12, 2019

Do people know your intention? I read once that trust is comprised of two elements – character and competence.  Knowing the character of an individual will certainly determine if they are trustworthy.  Do they act with integrity or kindness? Just as well, it’s imperative to know that the person has the competence, the ability, to get the job done. That got me thinking about a third element that I don’t hear much about in leadership conversations.  How often do we focus on intention? I really believe this is one of the most fundamental elements of leadership and a building block for trust and reputation and yet, how often do we intentionally focus on intention (see what I did there?)? To be clear, I’m not speaking of being intentional in behavior or starting your day by setting your intentions – which are very important, by the way – rather, I’m speaking about your team, customers, or stakeholders knowing the true intention behind your actions. Are your intentions externally focused on your team’s mission, goals, values, and growth opportunities? Or, are they internally driven for your gain? If people don’t know your intention, it leaves them to wonder and in those spaces of speculation, trust, reputation, and results can diminish because rarely are people thinking of positive intentions.  Oh, you say that sounds so negative, Mike! According to a Harvard Business Review study, 58% of employees would trust a stranger over their boss! Think that’s a problem with intention? Jim Meehan, a British psychologist, once wrote that to gain trust with people you need to let them know two things: I mean you no harm I seek your greatest good As leaders, isn’t that our true goal with building trust, which then will lead to results? Stop leaving your intention to question! It’s a waste of everyone’s time and energy – two resources we never have enough of! So, how do you let people know your intention? It starts with how you show up and engage based upon your values.  Are you values grounded in your personal belief? The team’s mission? The company’s vision? If you are living into these values on a consistent basis, then people will know your intention by what they see.  Complement your actions by also verbally telling your team your intentions – for them, for the project, for the client. Transparency is a vital piece of trust and leadership.  If you are walking the walk, then being transparent won’t be an issue! Give it some thought.  How do you ensure people know your intention? To watch a video on this message, please visit my YouTube page here!

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Remembering 18 Years Post 9/11 – Are We Living With Purpose?

September 11, 2019

Remembering 18 Years Post 9/11 – Are We Living With Purpose?   6,570 days, 157,680 hours, 9,460,800 minutes = 18 years!   While we reflect on Sept. 11, 2001, I’m pulled towards thinking about how it seems like a blink of an eye – until I look at those numbers!   I think about how I felt and what I saw in the days and months after this tragedy. The emotions. The actions.   Gratitude. Kindness. Sacrifice. Service. Pride. Purpose.   Purpose lights up for me because something awoke in me in the days after 9/11. I was determined to live differently, work differently, connect differently – with intention and purpose!   Maybe you felt something similar?   Admittedly, that lasted all of 3 months before I was back into my old habits and lifestyle.   Now, 18 years later, (what???) I can’t believe how quickly the years have rolled by – again, until I look at those numbers!   As I think about the lives lost and the dreams snuffed out on that September morning, I also recognize the reality of our finite time on this earth.   I want to honor those legacies through my daily and intentional actions. Through gratitude. Through sacrifice. Through kindness. Through purpose.   Will you join me? Please click here to watch this message on my YouTube Channel!  

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How to Break Out of the ‘Either, Or’ Decision Trap

August 25, 2019

How to Break Out of the ‘Either, Or’ Decision Trap Have you ever gotten caught in the ‘Either, Or’ Trap when making a decision? I was recently talking with a friend who was trying to think through a career transition and was contemplating some pivots of things she could do.  The conversation cadence went something like this, “You know, I have a great opportunity with company x, so I could either move forward with them or pursue some speaking gigs.” “I also have interest from company y and have been asked to do some coaching and mentoring.  So, I could work with company y, or really dig into the coaching and mentoring.” It’s easy to fall into that ‘Either, Or’ trap when we are thinking through life and career options since it’s been a decision-making process we’ve been trained into for many years! Think back over your life when people would tell you that, “you can do either this, or you can do that.” Or, “you can be either this, or you can be that.” Make your choice! Yeah, I remember plenty of those throughout my life! But, does that have to be the case with our decisions? I encouraged my friend to think about her decisions through a different lens.  What if the answer you are looking for didn’t have to be ‘either, or’, but could be ‘and’? She said, “I never thought of it like that.  This completely flipped the way I can look at these decisions!” 3 Key Tips to Embrace Your AND: Look Around You: Observe others in your life who are creating multiple streams of impact.  You’ll probably notice that they have a passion for something, unique talents and skills, and there is a marketplace where people are willing to pay them for the work they are doing (we aren’t talking about you finding another hobby!).  Talk with them and learn how they went about building this multi-faceted life.  You can learn a lot from them as well as get inspired to really connect with your unique skills and talents! Capacity & Systems: Once you speak with these people, you’ll probably notice that they have identified how much they can do in each area (i.e. capacity).  It’s about understanding your capacity and having the right organizational systems in place to do great work. Start to outline the time you could allot to this work and the systems you would need to put into place. Scale & Patience: It would be foolish to believe that we could do everything 100% right out of the gates.  The reality is that we need to start methodically.  I would recommend devoting the majority of your time to the area of work that is generating and delivering significant and/or stable cashflow.  Then begin carving out time for your ‘and’ to begin working on your craft, product, or content.  As this begins to gain traction, you can use your systems (refer to point No. 2 above) to do more, create more, and scale up your work. This will take both patience and consistency! How would your life look if you used […]

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3 Keys to Avoid Change Fatigue

July 3, 2019

3 Keys to Avoid Change Fatigue How many times do we hear that people WANT change, but don’t WANT TO change? I’m a believer in that, however, I believe that leadership and Change Fatigue has a lot to do with the latter! A study on change management featured in Forbes article illustrated that 70% of organizational change fails! Change is thrown around so much these days that it can cause more harm than good – for individuals and organizations. Change Fatigue can happen when people have experienced poor change managers and management – “Here we go again! What makes them think it will be different this time?”, is a refrain I’ve heard in hallways over the years (both as an employee and change agent). People have to belief that the promise of the new is worth the abandonment of the old. What can prevent Change Fatigue is change WITH leadership serving up healthy portions of vision, planning, and communication! It takes all three if you are leading change and only providing 1/3 or 2/3 of that equation (in any combination) will lead to team frustration, dissent, ambiguity, anxiety, and disenfranchisement, to name a few areas of concern! For many people change can be paralyzing. Change can leave them wondering about their value and worth within the team or organization. “Am I going to work myself out of a job?” “I’ve been known for this skill on the team, but will it still be needed? Will I still be needed?” Vision: Where are we going? Why are we going there? How will this benefit our organization, and me?? These are just a few of the questions that must be addressed, built out, and clearly defined if people are going to put forth the effort and invest the time required to bring this vision to life! Planning: How will we make this vision a reality? What is my role? What are the benchmarks that tell us we are heading in the right direction? Planning brings to light the tools and processes that will be required to bring the vision to life! Communication: The consistent cadence of updates, reminders and encouragement during challenging times of change is vital when we often don’t see the immediate results. Communication becomes a glue that will help bind teams and individuals together – or, if there is not enough well-thought-out communication, can erode trust and enthusiasm. I once read that if people on your team can’t do a good impression of you, then you aren’t communicating enough! The responsibility of change rests on the shoulders of leadership. So, if you are considering change within your organization or team, embarking on change, or in the middle of change, make sure that you are hitting the vision, planning, and communication targets to drive the change you are looking for and drive out Change Fatigue! What are your experiences with Change Fatigue?

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What’s the Difference Between Ignorance & Apathy?

June 10, 2019

What’s the Difference Between Ignorance & Apathy? I was recently at my son’s New Student Orientation day at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and one administrator was telling the parents about how she works with new students to shift their mindsets from high school to college. One way to do this, she said, was to ask the students what the difference was between ignorance and apathy.  She said she got an interesting response from a student one time that went like this, “I don’t know and I don’t care!” First off, what a priceless answer, but after the room of parents composed itself, I really started to think about that question and what came to life for me when I reflected on the answer and its mindset. For me, as I thought about the question, answer, and subsequent mindset, I began to think about the word complacency! I can’t afford to be complacent in my work as I build my practice or the value I strive to deliver to those in my life.  In order for me to create, evolve, and make an impact, I cannot be complacent.  I cannot sit back and be satisfied, nor can I just sit and wait for opportunities to just show up. Years ago, that mindset would have scared me because it meant that I was always on and couldn’t celebrate or be happy.  And, for a long period in my own life, I was that person.  I feared that if I showed any sign of happiness or contentment for my work that I would fall behind. I learned that is not a healthy way to live or work towards my goals (not for myself or the people around me!). I’ve learned that I can chill, that I can celebrate wins, and be happy – and, most importantly, that I won’t lose my edge to be competitive, to create value, and drive forward! But, getting back to complacency … I’ve written that word on an index card as a visual anchor to keep me focused on making that call … sending that email … creating that piece of content in order to keep moving towards my goals – and, yes, still celebrating along the way! I’d love to know what word pops into your head when you think about this! Please share it in the post and let’s continue to motivate each other … if you’d like to see this video message, please click here and enjoy! Cheers to you!

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Shed Your Skin of Survival!

May 19, 2019

Shed Your Skin of Survival! We are living in an amazing time of greater awakening and personal awareness to “what could be?” Many are waking up to question that little voice in their heads telling them all the fear-based reasons they aren’t enough … Many more are harnessing the courage, strength, and vision to drive themselves towards greater opportunities – a greater life!   A greater life is purely defined by the individual, but I can tell you that it is definitely not a life of survival! It’s not a life of sleep walking!   New habits will create a new life.   Can you catch a glimpse of a vision that you can run towards? Can you put a name to the habits that no longer serve you in this new season?   Remember, habits are also the thoughts that we give credibility, acknowledgment, and belief to … habits are also our self-talk! The way that we speak to ourselves when thinking through choices of either staying in survival mode or breaking out to thrive in new ways.   So, what are you saying to yourself?   We can’t underestimate the power of that little voice in our heads … but here’s something to remember – the more we think about and move towards breaking out of our comfort zones to do more or be more, the louder that little voice will become … know why? Because that voice is rooted in survival! It’s fearful … it knows that if you listen to another voice – the one in your heart – that you will no longer need it … and, the truth is, you don’t!   Cheers to you shedding the skin of survival!

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Get Outside of Your Jar!

May 7, 2019

I recently spoke at a business owner summit and asked the audience how often they checked the finances of their company.  The answers ranged from quarterly and monthly to weekly and daily. Then I asked them why they check their finances? Their answers included “to get a baseline”, “to properly forecast spending” and “to see if there are any problems that could be coming and prepare.” All very responsible answers, I told them! Then, I asked “when was the last time you did a check on your reputation?” The room fell silent! You see, the finances are an external measure while our reputations hit us personally.  And, that usually freaks people out because it makes us vulnerable. However, within vulnerability comes immense strength – if you have the courage to step into it in order to grow, evolve, and make an impact. “It’s hard to read the label when you are inside the jar!” While a Reputation Audit can be done for an organization, I’ll focus this on you, the individual! Here are Four Key Steps to performing your personal Reputation Audit: Identify Your Core Group – Choose a small group of people that you trust will tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear. Trust is critical for this exercise because when we know the intentions are for your growth, then we know the feedback is honest and for our greatest good! Ensure that these people represent different aspects of your life – work, social, faith, community, family. Communicate Your Goal & Ask Questions – These are individual conversations, so let them know that you want to check in on your reputation, that you want to ensure it’s strong or whatever your goal in this may be. Then have some questions ready to go, for example: “Do you know my values by the way we interact?” “Do my actions align with my values?” “Do I live into my commitments?” “Am I responsive?” “What is my reputation?” Since you will be getting answers from people in different areas of your life, you may begin to see trends where people are having/seeing similar experiences with you.  Listen. Don’t Talk! – Stephen Covey once said that people often listen with the intent to reply, not with the intent to understand. Don’t try to “explain” your behavior when people are giving you feedback. Just listen and take notes. Again, this is where those behavior trends may start to emerge and you may see gaps and opportunities appear.  Perhaps you realize that the decisions you rationalized as “not a big deal”, were in fact a big deal to those around you! You won’t know until you ask and listen. Make A Plan & Act – Now, gather the information and target one or two areas that you can begin to work on.  Start with small steps to ensure that your actions and decisions are aligning with your values.  By doing this, with consistency and over time, you can make an impact and then move on to other areas.  Continue to think ‘long game’ on this! There is no […]

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Jussie Smollett – Empire Crumbling Around Trust & Reputation

February 24, 2019

As more explosive news reports roll out about actor Jussie Smollett’s alleged fabrication of his racial and homophobic attack in Chicago, people are left with questions such as, “Where is the truth?” “What is the truth?” “Why did he possibly do this?” Questions that are now in the hands of the Chicago court system. I’ve been asked lately how I would go about rehabbing Jussie’s reputation as this epic story of trust and reputation unfolds.  My answer is simple, “Nothing.  This is not the time to be focusing on rehabbing his reputation.” Jussie is in the crucible right now.  This is the period of time when his actions and words are vital.  How he acts, what he says, how he reacts during the court hearings will determine how he emerges and how rehabbing his reputation could be managed. As many are quick to judge and the court of public opinion sways, we should focus on one of the key issues here – trust.   If what the police allege is true, that Smollett orchestrated this attack to increase his public awareness in an effort to negotiate a raise, then this will become an epic story of betrayal of trust! “There are three things you can’t hide from – the sun, the moon, and the truth.” – Confucius We are living in an age where only 30% of Americans believe that people are trustworthy. So, while the lawyers in Chicago build their cases, let’s look closer to home and reflect on how we are building or busting trust in our daily interactions! We are all responsible for trust in every interaction we have. Here are three actionable ways that we, as leaders or individuals, can build and strengthen trust today. 1. Pursue Understanding, Not Responding – How often do we listen to others and focus on what we are going to say instead of truly listening to understand their perspective and how you got to the current state? Asking more questions will allow you to better understand the situation and collaborate on action-oriented solutions. 2. Own Your Mistakes – As leaders we set the tone and expectations for our teams. It’s too easy for us to say that we are “running fast” and “have a full plate” and therefore rationalize our mistakes to others.  What example does that set for those you are leading? Remember, what they see is what they expect and, ultimately, what you get.  3. Keep Your Commitments – Following through on your commitments is critical.  Commitments are promises and whether you keep them or break them, they become an underpinning component of trust. If you find that you can’t keep your commitments, then you need stop saying, “yes” so much! Perhaps you need to delegate more? Perhaps you need to better manage your time? Keeping your commitments will always build trust! Yes, we are human and make mistakes.  So, these are also great strategies for rebuilding trust! Only you can change your situation! I’ll keep sharing reputation management insights and strategies as the Jussie Smollett case unfolds.  In the meantime, put these three strategies into play and see […]

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Doing the Right Thing!

February 4, 2019

Doing the right thing! Often easier said than done. We have the choice, or maybe better positioned as opportunity, to do this each day but what choice do we make? Does it depend on the stakes? Does it depend on who is impacted? Does it depend on what it would take to fix the situation versus just sweeping it under the rug? I experienced this recently with my son – and it was a great life lesson (for us both). On a late Sunday evening, a moving truck drove down our street and completely ‘pancaked’ the driver’s side of the car.  Literally every inch of the car, from front bumper to rear bumper and both front and rear wheels, were dented, gouged or cut down.  The picture doesn’t do justice to the damage, but the entire left side of my son’s car needed to be replaced! But, I noticed a note under the windshield wiper.  The person whose moving truck had ‘pancaked’ our car came back and left their contact info. What? This person actually took responsibility? Here’s the kicker – when I spoke with the person, I asked where they had moved into our neighborhood.  The response? “I didn’t. I was moving from Maryland to Alabama and we stopped in Huntersville for the night. We got lost and ended up in your neighborhood.” This person had so many reasons to become vapor. Really, they could have just drove off and went about their business. I had to ask why they decided to come back … the answer, “I was taught to do the right thing no matter how big or small the situation.” Who are the people in your life doing the right thing? How are you modeling this to yourself, your family, your organization, or your team?

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Was Anyone Spotting for John Skipper?

March 24, 2018

I feel for John Skipper, former ESPN chief.  It’s hard not to, in some capacity, when you see someone’s life work unplugged and unravelled.  But here is where my mind goes after reading his fall-from-grace story – he was not alone. I grew up watching ESPN and I know a lot of what I came to love about the ESPN brand and sports was a direct result of John’s efforts and passion. As a professional, I also had the privilege of working with ESPN on numerous occasions with NASCAR, NHRA, B.A.S.S., and other sports properties.  I can tell you that the people who worked there reflected John’s attitude and vision – they were first-class people. Now, I also believe that we make and must stand by our choices.  And, like John, we are not alone. In racing, we have spotters.  These people have an elevated perspective of the race track and tell drivers what is happening in their blind spots and how to navigate through wrecks happening ahead of or around them.  There is a remarkably high level of trust between drivers and their spotters to ensure their safety and ultimately their success – as a team. I don’t know who John’s spotters were in his years of cocaine addiction, or if they tried to help and he ignored them.  But I can’t believe he was alone. Can we learn from this? Yes. Who are your spotters? Who are the small group of people in your life that are looking out for you?  The ones to tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear.  We may not like what they have to say, but if they are trusted, then we know from where their words are coming – and we need to listen. So, who are they? Can you rattle off their names right now?  Do they even know that you consider them your spotters? Who are you a spotter for in your life? We are all in this journey together and need each other to have our backs when we are operating in our blind spots. Career stage does not matter.  Life stage does not matter either.  We all need spotters and they need to know that we need them to shoot straight with us and that we will listen! John, I have no doubt you will rebound from this and be stronger than before!

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