Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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To increase an individuals and teams performance there must be a desire, dream, hope or aspiration that fuels behavior. There is always a motivation and a payoff for behaving in the ways we do. For Bernie Madoff it seems to have been greed, and for Pope Francis it seems to be the desire to share the love, generosity and joy of Catholicism. Two different motivations produce two different outcomes.

What motivates you can get muddled by the pressures of the world of work. But when you strip away the demands and pressures of the never ending to-do list, there is a hope, dream and aspiration that is waiting to be fulfilled. It is locked away in between our ears and rarely sees the light of day. Why? Because too often we are afraid our hope, dream or aspiration will never be accomplished. In turn, it remains hidden away where it can’t be seen and most importantly can’t disappoint us with its lack of accomplishment.

And therein lies the problem. The hope, dream or aspiration that can inspire our thinking, that can infuse our work with courage and that can put a bounce in our step, remains hidden from our everyday personal and professional lives. Without an overarching hope, dream or aspiration we devolve to what Thoreau described as “quiet lives of desperation” where we “go to the grave with the song still in us.”

My greatest hope, dream or aspiration is to help people flourish. To that end I have three questions I believe will help you know what truly motivates you.

1. If your life were guaranteed to be exactly the same over the next five years as it has been over the last five years, would you sign up for that? If yes, why? If not, why not?

2. What is your greatest hope, dream or aspiration personally and professionally? Is there a connection between your answer to question one and question two? If so, what’s the connection?

3. What is it that captures the majority of you mental bandwidth? What is it that you are striving for, working toward and making plans around? Does this uplift you and leave you invigorated? Or, does it leave you anxious and depleted?

These questions are a great first step in moving toward knowing your highest hope, dream or aspiration. But the real question is, do you want to maintain the life you have now? Or, would you like for your life to be appreciably different? If you want it to be different, get busy answering these three questions.

Your Most Powerful Four Letter Word

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Video Notes:

I want to talk to you about THE most powerful four letter word you will ever use in your personal and professional life.

Here’s what I mean. Upstairs is an eighty seven pound giant schnauzer that jumps with joy and does circles and barks up a storm when it’s time for his morning or afternoon walk. He spins in a circle and starts barking because he is elated about going for a walk.

Here comes the four letter word; love. He is in love with morning walks. He gets to smell the other dogs, he gets to smell the rabbits, he gets to smell the salt air. He just loves going on a walk. He loves being with Alyson and me because we’re his pack. He is also in love with walks because he knows he will eat after his walk. Dogs are food focused, so I think he’s in love with that also.

I don’t think we use love in the workplace nearly enough. I’m not talking about a romantic sappy love. I’m talking about agape, a selfless love, the type of love that you have when you have fallen in love with a hope, a dream or an aspiration. You’ve fallen in love with something that prompts you to put aside your own selfish interests, and you’ll talk about or work towards a selfless greater good for the whole.

Ladies and gentlemen, we don’t use the word love enough in the world of work. What would it be like for a leader to say, “I really love my employees?” What would it be like if employers could say, “I really love our customer?” What would it be like if we could say that we work every single day to have our customers really, really love doing business with us?

Love is a powerful word. It will transform people’s lives, it will make people do heroic acts, because they love an idea, a hope, a belief, a cause, whatever it may be.

How much love is in your organization? How much love is in your leadership? How much love is in your team? Let’s use that word. Love can transform the world of work from an idea into a noble aspiration. Love can transform the world of work, and it can transform our personal lives for the better.

Ladies and gentlemen, this week think about that. How much love do you have for your employees? How much love do your employees have for your customers? And how much love does your customer have for you and your organization?

Whatever your answer is, how do you increase the amount of love? You’ll only increase it if you love what you do.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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Heightened Expectations

Organizations are continually choosing between one of two paths regarding growth and financial wellbeing. They are either choosing to raise the bar and move beyond the safe, known and secure in order to achieve memorable experiences for their customers, or, they are choosing to maintaining the status quo and rely on what has worked in the past. The first leads to heightened customer satisfaction, heightened employee engagement and heightened financial performance. The latter leads to complacency, mediocrity and underperformance.

If an organization chooses to raise the bar regarding any aspect of their operations, the heightening of expectations must always be accompanied by heightened clarity around five key aspects of organizational performance:

1. Clarity of purpose. What are we here to do and why is it important to us, our customer and our employees?

2. Clarity of expectations. What expectations will our customers have of us? What expectations do we need to have of one another?

3. Clarity of measurement. How will we measure our progress? What are the output metrics versus the input metrics?

4. Clarity of accountability. Who is the sponsor of the heightened expectations? Who are the champions?

5. Clarity of talent, skill and mindset. What talent, skill and mindset is needed? Do we have it now? How can we develop it?

Which of the five key aspects above do need heightened expectations around?

Make A Difference or Make An Exit

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Video Notes:

I have somewhat of a harsh message for a lot of leaders, but it’s a message a lot of employees want me to deliver.

I’ll say this in the nicest way possible, but it is somewhat of a tough love message. Here’s the message:

If you are not making a meaningful difference in your employees life, and by that I mean if you’re not helping your employees flourish, if you are not helping your customers flourish and in turn making a meaningful difference in their life, then it’s time for you to make an exit from the ranks of leadership. I don’t know of any other way to say that.

You see, if you are not passionate, if you do not care, if you are not actively involved in making a meaningful difference in your employees lives, and in your customers’ lives, and helping them flourish every single week, then my best recommendation for you is to get out of leadership and become an individual contributor. There’s nothing wrong with that.

I want you to think this week; are you fully engaged in making a meaningful difference in your employees and customers life this week? If you are and you want to make a difference stay, but if you don’t, it’s time to make an exit.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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What would your customers say?

When we purchased our new vehicle for Alyson recently, the salesman knew the dealership would send an electronic survey to gather customer satisfaction data.

But what impressed me was the salesperson saying the following, “you will have a chance to give me, this dealership and Toyota a lot of valuable feedback about how we’ve done during your purchase, but because this business is a personal relationship business I wonder if you’d be willing to answer three questions for me in person. I want to ask you them in person because as an important customer to me these questions are important questions to ask, and I want to hear your answers in person. Are you willing to spend fifteen minutes with me to do so?”

We answered, of course. Here are his three questions.

1. What was the best part of your experience working with me/us?

2. What was the least favorite part of your experience working with me/us?

3. Have I helped make the purchase of your vehicle easier, better or more rewarding? If yes, how?

We gave him our answers and he listened. He genuinely and sincerely listened. He asked clarifying questions, he elaborated when need be and then he thanked us.

He also said that because his was a relationship business and because we had such a positive experience working with him, he would be honored if and when we knew of someone who would be interested in buying a car that we would refer them to him. We have and will continue to do so.

His name is Roger Stone and he works at Burien Toyota here in Washington State. You can find him at 206.243.0700.

What would your last customer say about working with you? Would your last customer do the same as I just did for Roger? If not, you will benefit immensely from asking these three questions.

Four Traits of Passionate People

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Video notes:

This week I want to talk to you about whether you’re passionate. Passion gets bantered around a fair amount these days in the world of work, but I’m going to suggest you stop thinking about employee engagement, and start thinking about employee passion. Let me tell you why.

Passion is the fuel that drives people. It compels people to do things that they may not know how to do. There are four traits and characteristics of passionate people. They are:

#1 is curiosity. Passionate people are always looking to learn new things. They will uncover new ideas by looking in the strangest of places, they will overturn rocks, they will open drawers that nobody else has opened before because they’re genuinely curious.

#2 They’re courageous. Passionate people are willing to be uncomfortable and they are willing to push themselves outside of the known, safe, and predictable to learn more and to take what they’ve learned and apply it in ways that challenge them.

#3 They’re committed to exemplary work. Passionate people don’t do just ordinary work…that’s not acceptable to someone who’s passionate. Someone who is passionate says, “What I want to strive for is the exemplary and that is what I will do.” Extraordinary and exemplary work…that is the line that they have drawn in the sand.

#4 They have a community. They have a community of like minded co-collaborators that are willing to challenge themselves, that are willing to learn, that are committed to exemplary growth. They come together, they share best practices, they teach one another, they learn from one another.

So they’re curious, they’re courageous, they’re committed, and they  have a community. Here’s the question though: do people describe you as passionate? Would people describe your employees as passionate? Would you describe your customers as passionate about your organization?

Ladies and gentlemen, infusing passion into an organization starts with the organizations leaders. So this week, I suggest you ask yourself those three questions. On a scale of one to ten with one being low and ten being high, how passionate am I for my work? On a scale of one to ten, how passionate are my employees? And on a scale of one to ten, how passionate are our customers for our services? If you start asking these three questions you’re going to have a fabulous week.

That’s the Monday Morning Minute. I hope you have a fabulous week, and I’ll see you here again next week. Take care.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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Passionate leaders and organizations have one thing in common…they have an idea, hope, dream or aspiration that has grabbed hold of them and won’t let go. But if you’re like many of the leaders I talk with on a daily basis, you don’t consider yourself passionate because you erroneously think being passionate is synonymous with being the Cheerleader In Chief.

There is good news. There are plenty of leaders who are passionate and don’t wave their arms, pound the desk and give eloquent and stirring speeches. Passionate leaders do have four key characteristics in common however, and when they are in place they point to that which makes the leader come alive. These four key characteristics all begin with the letter C. They are:

Curiosity: They love learning and are willing to overturn rocks to learn and see what’s possible. Their curiosity propels them to read and learn as much as they can, not out of obligation, but out of a desire to learn and grow.

Courage: They are willing to challenge their beliefs and assumptions as well as those around them. They’re not arrogant know it all types, but they do strive to be experts in their fields. They seek out divergent opinions and willingly challenge themselves to push the boundaries of what’s known.

Commitment: Passionate leaders are committed to excellence and apply what they’ve learned quickly. They do so because they love what they do and are willing to apply the best thinking to get the very best result.

Community: Passionate leaders build communities of like minded co-collaborators who also embrace curiosity, courage and commitment. They create informal and formal networks where best practices are shared and the learning and growing process is accelerated.

Here’s my personal example: The idea of converting human potential into accelerated business results has grabbed hold of me and won’t let go. I love the idea of helping leaders see their job as primarily one of helping employees flourish professionally. If leaders do that, they will have flourishing customer relationships and in turn flourishing business performance.That’s something that propels me out of bed in the morning.

If you want to know what you are passionate about there are four key questions you have to answer.

1. What do you love doing?

2. What part of your work is the most rewarding?

3. What can you get lost doing because you enjoy it so much?

4. What’s the one idea hope, dream or aspiration that’s grabbed hold of you and will not let go?

After answering these questions don’t be surprised if you become the Cheerleader in Chief.

The Three Steps to Powerful Persuasion

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Video Notes

This week I want to talk about how you can persuade someone to do something. There are three parts to this process.

#1 The first part is that you have to build a strong relationship with the person. Building a strong relationship involves having a relationship characterized by trust and respect. These are two absolutely essential ingredients if you want to influence someone. Someone must have a trusting and respectful relationship with you if you are to positively persuade them.

#2 You have to know what is important to the person you want to influence. You can’t focus on what is important to you, but rather what is important to the other person. What are their dreams, their hopes, their aspirations, their goals or their objectives. You have to understand what is important to them.

#3 You have to make their life easier. You must bring a solution that helps them get what they want. Ladies and gentleman, for you to persuade somebody to do something you have to build a trusting and respectful relationship, understand what’s important to them and then bring them solutions that will help make their life easier.

If you do these three things people will be interested, engaged and listen to you about what’s important to you. It starts with you extending an olive branch to them and to go the extra distance to see the world from their perspective, and to help them get what they want. If you do that, you will be incredibly persuasive.

That is the Monday Morning Minute. I hope you have a fabulous week, and I’ll see you here next week. Take care everyone.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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When you boil accomplishing extraordinary feats down into their basic elements there are seven focus areas that help you to think bigger and become more successful. They are:

1. Focus on an extraordinary exemplar. Find someone who has achieved something extraordinary and study them. Look for patterns of success, traits or characteristics that if you were to adopt them you too could be successful. Be careful to not waste time by reinventing the wheel.

2. Focus on a compelling aspiration. Recognize that thinking bigger is often about perfecting an idea and not inventing a new one. It is much easier to find an idea for improving an existing process or improving a customer or employee experience. Find your one idea and run with it and don’t exert energy starting from scratch.

3. Focus on a previous success. Recall a big success and what people said to you and what you said to yourself. Look for compliments and or specific acknowledgments and vow to take them and use them repeatedly. A previous success can be a precursor to future success if coupled with the other six focus areas.

4. Focus on building your confidence. One of the most effective ways to think bigger while also strengthening your confidence is to create a success file that captures your list from #3 and review it and add to it frequently. When you see the pattern of what you do successfully and how you’ve done so repeatedly, your confidence increases and your willingness to think bigger grows also.

5. Focus on what you read and watch. You can only hold one dominant thought at a time. If you plant the seeds of entitlement, victimization and defeat through the books and movies you watch, you are planting in the fertile soil of your imagination these attributes. If you immerse yourself in the biographies of people who have achieved something extraordinary and learn from them, you plant theses seeds in your imagination. The latter is far more valuable.

6. Surround yourself with big thinkers. Without question, the environment where you spend the majority of your time nurtures in you the thinking that created the culture. Regardless of your position on the nature versus nurture argument, your environment is a significant factor in your thinking and how successful you’ll be. Spend less time with people who limit themselves to safe “in the box” type of thinking and venture out to the farther reaches of what’s possible with expansive bigger thinking people.

7. Focus on how you use your time. Time management is a priority issue and not a resource issue. If something is important to you you’ll make it happen. If it’s not you’ll resist making the time available. In turn, review your calendar every morning and determine which one task or appointment you’ll think bigger about and devote time to think in advance how your avatar would approach it, how you can use your previous success as a catalyst for even greater success, or how would someone who thinks bigger approach this issue? These three questions specifically will jump start your thinking and accelerate you toward greater success.

What will you focus on today?

Purify Your Thinking

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Video Notes:

This week I want to talk to you about pruning the trees in your yard.

Ladies and gentlemen, outside my window is an apple tree that has been pruned over the weekend. That apple tree looks a whole lot better. It had long spindly little branches that had grown erratically because it had not been pruned in five to seven years. We’ve been in the house for three so we left it alone because we had different priorities during the remodeling process. But over the weekend I said to my wife, “the apple tree is starting to interfere with our view. Let’s let’s have it pruned.” We did and now I have more natural sunlight, I have unobstructed views towards Puget sound and the yard looks cleaner and better maintained. There are a lot of benefits to pruning the apple tree.

I’m going to suggest that there are things in your life that need to be pruned. For my purposes it’s not the tree in your front yard, it’s the things that are growing in between your ears. If you’ve participated in my Transformational LEadership Project you’ll know this as the purification principle. It prompts you to determine one thing from last week you thought did not work well for you. What’s one thing, either from a professional perspective or from a personal perspective? Just notice one thing, without any judgment, that did not work and commit to not doing that again next week.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you can look in your yard and see a garden that needs to be weeded, or a tree that needs to be pruned, what would lead you to believe that cannot or doesn’t happen in between your ears? I want to suggest to you that you embrace the purification principle. Find one thing every week you don’t want to replicate or duplicate next week and vow to either reduce it or eliminate it. If you’ll do that, the view that you will have of your personal and professional life will be much more expansive, you’ll have a lot more natural light coming in to your thinking and your well being, and you will enjoy your week so much better.

That ladies and gentlemen is the Monday Morning Minute. I hope you have a fabulous week, and I’ll see you here again next week. Take care.