Dale Earnhardt

Power of MindShift :: Emotion (Part 2)

September 8, 2020

What can NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s tragic death teach us about emotions and mindset?? Actually, a lot! His death cast a global spotlight on safety in NASCAR. Media outlets were camped outside Dale Earnhardt Inc., as well as NASCAR’s Daytona headquarters interviewing heartbroken fans and asking the question, “has NASCAR done enough to keep their drivers safe?” The late Bill France, Jr., was running NASCAR when this happened and he lost his close friend. It was a difficult time for members of the NASCAR industry as well as for the millions of fans who loyally followed the sport – and The Intimidator – Dale Earnhardt! NASCAR hired Jody Powell, a Washington heavy weight who was well-equipped to handle crisis situations. You see, Jody served as President Jimmy Carter’s Press Secretary. Jody told me the story of a meeting he attended at senior-level meeting at NASCAR headquarters in the wake of Earnhardt’s death. He told me how Mr. France was, rightfully so, very angry with how the media was portraying the sport – his sport (as Bill’s father, Bill France, started NASCAR in 1948). While being extremely angry (and voicing it clearly, as Jody recounted), Jody mentioned that none of the people in the room were making eye contact with Mr. France. It was a very tense situation, for sure. When Mr. France paused for a moment, Jody stepped in with a simple, yet powerful, statement – “Mr. France, with all due respect, being pissed off is not a strategy.” At that moment, Mr. France acknowledged that to be true and then looked to Jody and said, “you are right. So, what are we going to do about this?” How can we use the phrase, “being pissed off isn’t a strategy.” help us embrace emotion, yet still move towards action? We are experiencing a wide range of emotions these days, but we have to determine whether those emotions are moving us forward or holding us back! How we deal with our emotions and put them on display for others to see and experience also impacts our reputation. Make no mistake about that. Our consistent, daily actions influence how people see us and how they form an opinion of you and your reputation. Watch my video HERE to hear more about how emotions can keep us out of the race! Keep digging!

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The Inspiring Meaning Behind “Keep Digging!”

July 14, 2020

“Keep Digging!” “‘Keep Digging!’ You use it in your social posts and emails. What the heck does it mean, Mike?” That was how the email started and I want to share the back story of what these two words meant in my racing career and the deeply personal meaning they NOW have for me … The phrase “Keep Digging” was used very often when I was in racing and working with race teams. You could hear it over the team radio when we were in the tough-runs of a race or when we had to focus on the job at on hand and knock out a lightning fast pit stop. It was a phrase that the crew chief would often say to the driver when the racing was tough and the crew chief wanted to encourage the driver to stay in the fight! After I pivoted out of motorsports to pursue my calling to be a speaker and coach, I read a phrase that completely shifted my mindset to the phrase “Keep Digging!” The quote went like this, “I have seen the Creator move mountains. But, I still have to pick up my shovel every day and dig.” You see, if you have been called to something … if you have a dream, a desire, an opportunity, it’s not enough to wish, hope, and wait! We have to put our hands on the shovel and dig every single day! Hope this inspires you a bit today!! Check out the video on this story here And, yes, you know what I’m going to write below … Keep Digging!!

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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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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!   Check out this quick video HERE that brings the message to life!   Cheers to you shedding the skin of survival!

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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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2 Critical Components to Rebuild a Reputation

February 4, 2018

I am often asked if a person or company can recover from a reputation crisis.  The simple answer is, “yes”, but the effort and discipline it takes to do so is not that simple and is solely up to the individual or the leadership of an organization to act upon two vital elements – consistency and time. While reputations are fragile, and once cracked can never quite be put exactly back together, recovery can be achieved if there is genuine and transparent acknowledgement of what was done, if there is clear and consistent behavior to make amends, and this is done (again) consistently over time. Robert Downey Jr., comes to mind when I think of a person who rose to prominence, fell, and then repaired his reputation to find success (and work in Hollywood) again.  Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol brand is another example of a brand that lost confidence among consumers, but through diligent and consistent efforts, earned that trust back to regain its place as a global category leader, and a product welcomed back in people’s homes. Consistency – the key here is to recognize what actions or behaviors led to the reputation issue, make the proper amends, and then outline the ways in which you or your company will move forward in an authentic way to demonstrate your intent to regain trust and reputation – day in and day out! Downey Jr., took time to rehab his body from the addiction to drugs while also nurturing his mind and spirit to focus on what would be meaningful in his life and surrounding himself with like-minded people.  People soon saw that he was consistently working to make amends and move forward in a positive manner.  I’m not saying that the Iron Man franchise would not have happened without him, but there’s no question that his involvement and talent made it a blockbuster! Time – people can be skeptical as well as forgiving, so the critical element here is consistent behavior over time.  Commitment to a vision of regaining reputation is what will drive the consistent behavior over time.  Repetition (not only in how I ended the last two sentences) is the key to turning skeptics into supporters and from supporters to potential advocates.  Tylenol’s emergence from the cyanide tampering in the 1980s is an example of not only acting quickly (another form of time – see this story for the power of time), but also how leadership focused on creating a tamper-proof solution that would continue to demonstrate trust and reliability over time. If you or your company have been caught in a reputation crisis, it does not signal the end!  However, it will take deliberate planning to outline what must be done differently, clear communication to your family, friends, colleagues, customers or other key constituents as to what will be done differently moving forward, and then ‘walking the walk‘ each and every day!  Easier said than done, but your future and your reputation are more than worth the work! Don’t you think?

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Crisis of Values

December 24, 2017

We have a problem.  That’s right, we have a problem.  It’s not someone else’s problem – it’s our problem as leaders. The floodgates have burst opened through traditional and social media channels on the subject of people in power abusing their positions by taking advantage of those further down the organizational chart.  The storylines read of sexual misconduct, harassment, and greed, to name a few behavioral trends. Have these stories been told because people are fed up and are ready to name names? Is it because there are more news outlets willing to cover these stories? Perhaps it just took one brave person to step up and tell their story for others to find the courage to do the same?  I believe it’s a combination of all of those and more.  However, what I also know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that these stories shine a spotlight on the crisis of values that we see in leadership. The word values is one that we grew up hearing about and were told to reflect upon, think about, and use in our daily activities to guide us through the maze of life.  What we are seeing is a significant disregard of values by people in positions of leadership and power.  This chasm between values and behavior is what I’ve seen time and time again when deconstructing crisis situations over my 25-year career. Media reports make us first-hand witnesses to the void in the individual’s value in themselves, their relationships, their intentions, and their legacies.  Ultimately their actions, not just from a year or two ago, but some accusations spanning decades, are all being judged in the court of public opinion delivering career-shattering verdicts. These power plays have been happening for thousands of years and are not isolated to people on the public stage.  And, these behaviors are not gender based either as I think about inappropriate male student/female teacher relationships that are just as much about position and power as a senior-level executive or influential TV talking head.  But in today’s world of instant information sharing and online lynch-mob trolling, the stakes are at an all-time high. In many cases, careers have been ended, families have been split, decades of work have been unravelled, and legacies forever tarnished. And this isn’t just an issue for those in the public eye.  I can think of a person in my life who was a very close friend and was fired from his job of 10 years for embezzlement, which ended with jail time and a divorce.  Can you think of a scenario in your life that has hit close like this? What could have stopped these missteps from occurring? Some cases may have required professional counseling, however, at the foundation of this is a lack of values – plain and simple. Our values should be at the core of who we are … or, at least they should be! Our values are not negotiable … or, at least they shouldn’t be! Our values are what make us stand up for what we believe even when not popular … or at least they […]

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