Archives for September 2016

The Power of Community

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On an early morning flight from Los Angeles to Augusta, Georgia I met Bert Sackman. Bert is an eighty-three year old retired mathematician and cultural anthropologist. He introduced himself by remarking that the shirt I was wearing reminded him of the musical Oklahoma. This is not the best way to engage me after getting up at 4:00am for a cross-country flight.

Moving beyond the Oklahoma musical comment Bert asked me what I did for a living. My curt answer didn’t dissuade Bert from further conversation. No, after learning more about my work he shared with me his research into drug and alcohol abuse and the power of community and it’s influence on the choices we make. My conversation with Bert had just become interesting.

Bert has done extensive research into the power of community and how communities influence the choices people make regarding the use of heroin. Specifically, his research and work for the National Institute for Health found that 95 – 97% of people who use heroin use heroin in functional ways. Functional means that they continue to work and maintain personal and professional relationships. 3 – 5% of people who use heroin end up abusing heroin primarily for medical reasons. They have in the common vernacular an addiction and cannot choose not to use heroin.

What was really interesting was his research with functioning heroin users who worked for the federal government. This group of people with high security clearances had “heroin parties” where the purpose was to help one another use heroin in “safe” and “functional” ways. If anyone started to exhibit abusive behavior the community rallied around the person and asked the person to change their behavior or leave the group. The peer pressure and fear of being kicked out of the group increased the likelihood of people choosing more “functional” choices.

My conversation with Bert reminded me that fostering positive choices can be enhanced with and through the power of community. By that I mean that the benefits of creating communities of like minded co-collaborators; people who inspire and help one another to make choices aligned with a higher hope, dream or aspiration. Communities can and do influence the choices members of the community make in powerful ways. The people you and your employees choose to spend time with influence your behavior and act as bumpers as to what you do regardless of whether you define it as positive or negative.

Bert reminded me that creating communities is a powerful tool for enabling positive choices. He also crystallized my thinking regarding the structure of my Mastering Your Mindset Intensive. I’ve integrated the power of community into the program in such a way as to help you make dramatically more positive and powerful choices by creating a community of like minded co-collaborators who are accountable and committed to making positive choices in their leadership, their results and their personal well-being.

The good news for you is that you will not have to wear a shirt that reminds people of the musical Oklahoma to experience the power of community. You simply have to make the choice to show up and surround yourself with 40 other people who plan on mastering their mindset in positive and transformational ways. Over the next four weeks you’ll receive instructions as to how you can access a very limited offer to join a Mastering Your Mindset Intensive cohort.

Three Dimensions of a Leaders Purpose

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Whenever I recommend having a leadership purpose to leaders the question will always come around to how will the leader know their purpose is a good one. My quick answer is that it will be three dimensional. The three dimensions of a compelling purpose are:

  1. It determines a leaders behavior. You’ll know you have a compelling leadership purpose when you have a big idea, a dream, hope or aspiration that is so important and compelling to you that it determines what you do and how you do it.

One of my clients recently clarified for his entire company that in order to live out his purpose fully he wanted to do something daily to make a positive difference in a customers and employees life. He wasn’t simply thinking of making a difference; he was converting the abstract intellectual construct of making a difference into something that would determine his behavior.

  1. It drafts employee engagement. Quite simply, disengaged, unhappy or unfulfilled employees will never provide any real or lasting value to a customer. Their disengagement, unhappiness or lack of fulfillment will remain a major barrier to a flourishing business until the leader creates an ideal future that is so compelling that employees get caught up in the same idea future.

What my clients know is that financial rewards are not a compelling purpose. For employees to agree to and engage with a leaders purpose it must engage the hearts and minds of the employee and speak to something bigger and more compelling that money. It must aspire to improving the quality of life for a specific customer. When a noble and compelling purpose is articulated employee engagement goes up by two fold and financial performance goes up by 350%. That’s the power of purpose.

  1. It drives customer delight. I recently took my wife and in-laws to our favorite neighborhood restaurant, the 909 in Burien, Wa. We asked Chase, our waitor of choice for four filet mignons. He informed us they didn’t have any, but that the owners brother, who runs a restaurant five blocks away might have some. He called and asked if they had four and three minutes later came back and told me they would drive over and pick them up. He then asked, “how would you like them cooked?”

This act took between five to ten minutes and delighted all of us. This type of service is what makes us raving fans of the 909 and has us telling everyone we know about the amazing service and food at the 909.

 Monday Morning Mindset Challenge

  1. Are your employees setting out to delight your customers?
  2. Which dimension of your purpose is working well for you?
  3. Which dimension of your purpose is not working?
  4. What area needs addressing in order for you to reach your strategic objectives?

Why You Need A Coach

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When I was twenty-five years of age I was hired for a big new job and I thought I was the big guy on campus. I went out and purchased new clothes, found a new apartment and even purchased a new car. I really thought I had made it.

Within ninety days of being on the job the CEO called me into his office and said, “Hugh, you may be smart and talented, but you’ve ticked off every single person in the corporate office. I cannot have someone like you working here, but I will give you ninety days to correct this. If you do you can have a long and prosperous career here. If you don’t correct the relationship with all of the individuals in the corporate office you’ll be toast. You’ll be gone. Am I clear?” I walked into the CEOs office thinking I was a hero and walked out a zero.

But, I was really fortunate because I had a family friend who was a healthcare consultant. I explained the situation to him and he said something I’ll never forget. He said, “Hugh, what got you into this situation is your thinking and what’s going to get you out of this situation is your thinking.” I asked “what do you mean?” He said, “you seem to think that leadership is all about you and that you’re the big guy on campus (which I did) and you seem to think that everyone should be working to make your life easier as opposed to you making their lives easier. You don’t really have a servant/leadership mindset. You’re going to be the problem as opposed to the problem solver.”

That hit home. I asked what I should do. His advice was for me to go and apologize to everyone and you ask them for their help. I did exactly that. I said to every person, “it’s been brought to my attention that I’ve really ticked a lot of people off, and I’ve come across as arrogant and opinionated and that it’s my way or the highway. I want to apologize, and if you’ll accept my apology, I also want to ask for your help in correcting this situation. What can I do to repair the relationships and make it better?” I did that with every single person in the corporate office.

Now lets fast forward nine months. I made the changes necessary and remained employed. Yes, I made it beyond the make it or break it ninety day period. I repaired the relationships AND was promoted to regional manager where I was now over four businesses, not one.

That’s how dramatic an improvement a coach or a mentor can have. I was inches away from being fired, but a coach/mentor came alongside me and helped me see things from a different perspective. They gave me a strategy that if I implemented it would improve the quality of my relationships immensely. Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot solve our problems by ourselves. Leadership is never a solo activity. We need an outsiders perspective.

Here’s my bold claim: you should have a coach or a mentor because you will make more progress faster and it will be sustainable.

Where do you need a coach or a mentor? Where do you need someone to come alongside of you to have a candid conversation about what’s working and what’s not working? I have benefited immensely from having a coach or a mentor, and I have been fortunate to be asked to be a coach and mentor to others. This week figure out where you need a coach or mentor and look for a resource you can trust to help you get where you want to go faster and with great zest. If you do, you will experience unprecedented growth.