With the recent and extremely sad news of the passing of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I've been thinking about this a lot. I don't pretend to know or understand their situations and I certainly can't claim to have experienced anything like what they may have. But, I believe it's important to reflect and see what we might be able to learn from these situations in order to best help ourselves, our friends and our families.
I was reminded this week of the power of having difficult conversations. They can be uncomfortable, challenging, hard, scary, and more but they are absolutely vital to maintaining healthy relationships in our businesses and families. In this episode I share 2 thoughts that have super been helpful for me and I know they will be for you, too.
Bias is easy. Especially when we hear a compelling story. But, there's always more to it than meets the eye. This communication lesson has made such a huge impact on how I resolve conflict with my team (and my wife)!
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We've all thought, "if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself" before, right? You may not have even thought about it consciously, but if you have ever taken a task you should be trusting your capable team to handle, then you're acting on that belief. The problem is, THIS BELIEF IS MASSIVELY LIMITING YOUR GROWTH AS WELL AS YOUR TEAM'S GROWTH!!
I've learned three really super mega important lessons lately and I have shared them with you in this episode.
What do you think? Are you a master delegator or do you have some work to do (like me)?
I LOVE interviewing people. It's one of my favorite things in the whole world. But, it's super time intensive and it doesn't allow me to share stuff that I'm learning with you as often as I'd like. So, I'm going to experiment with shorter, more frequent, bite size episodes. The intent is still the same. We're still learning as much as we can to become better leaders in every aspect of our lives. I'll go out and do the hard work, you just have to listen and apply. Deal?
I wanted to have this episode perfect, but perfection was getting in my way. I didn't have time to record a proper intro, so there's not one. It'll come. At some point, though, after telling people over and over that sometimes you have to launch imperfectly, I had to heed my own advice.
Thanks for watching. Thanks for doing the hard work it takes to get better, to grow, to develop, to make this little planet better than it is for the sake of others. You're incredible and I love you.
I believe the most effective way we learn to lead is by watching and mimicking other great leaders. But leaders are typically pretty busy people. So, how do we find the time to surround ourselves with excellence?
Make up a reason.
This morning my reason was a Book Swap. I invited entrepreneurs and leaders to come to breakfast and bring a book they highly recommend to someone else. It was was an amazing experience and I’m really grateful for these fellas and their desire to grow.
You don't have to put together a book swap to get around greatness, but you do have to do something. What are you going to do to ensure you intentionally surround yourself with excellence? Don't wait for an invitation.
Oh and here's the list of books that were traded:
The internet is rife with people telling us to work harder and longer. Icons of modern industry suggest we hustle, grind and "work until our eyes bleed". Social media is an unending stream of photos with nice quotes about doing more than yesterday and brags about how many hours we're putting in. Even Apple touted the virtues of neglecting our families for the sake of our businesses in a recent ad (they wisely later pulled).
And for what?
Because this is a necessary step in order to accomplish a great vision?
Because it increases our impact on the world?
No. Simply to be seen. A desperate cry to be viewed as important. Self aggrandizement.
The value of hard work applied strategically and methodically to an endeavor cannot be overestimated. Nothing of value comes easily. Toil and hardship often accompany the greatest of missions throughout history. But, the constant burn to do more, more, more without proper perspective is a fire we must put out.
As a leader, what metrics define your success? I don't have a great answer for that question though it's one I think about a lot. Leadership is intangible making metrics difficult to map out. One thing I know for sure is that the best leaders develop other leaders around them. They ensure that the people in their business, non-profit or home are continually being cultivated. The challenge for me comes in looking up from my to-do list, my daily priorities, my personal mission. So easily am I entangled with tasks and chores that I forget to take time to be intentional with my team. So, I challenge you as I challenge myself, take a minute today to be intentional with those around you. Ask some questions about what they're learning or thinking or doing. Take one action today that will show you care more about who they are becoming than what you are accomplishing.
To lead well is to love well.
Certainly, you can lead massive movements without love. Hitler did it.
But, you can't have important and valuable lasting impact without caring, generous, forgiving, thoughtful, compassionate love.
I'm often guilty of not asking for help; not because I think I have all the answers but because I think I'll figure it out. If I keep working towards a solution and keep asking myself the right questions, eventually the answer will come to me. Last week, I went against that notion and decided to ask for help with Bold Future from 5 friends. I knew where I wanted to take this project, but was having a really tough time mapping out how to get there. Within an hour and a half they had provided more ideas, creativity, clarity, vision and direction than I could have imagined. I was kicking myself for not doing it sooner. There's value in independence and figuring things out on your own, but eventually you'll hit a wall. Ask for help.
I have a coach named Erik. I've never met him in person and I only know maybe 5 facts about him, but he is an invaluable member of my team. Every time I get on the phone with him, for 30 minutes he asks me questions to ensure that I am have a clear vision of my goals, that I have a clear plan to get there and that I am taking massive action every day. He’s done a lot for me in the last few months since we’ve been talking, but the most impactful questions he asks me are:
- What are you going to do?
- By when are you going to do it?
- How will I know?
There’s nothing amazing about these questions; what’s amazing is that they are being asked and answered. Not everybody has a coach or even wants a coach, you don't need one to get results. Start asking yourself these questions. Start asking your team these questions. They are simple and so powerful to moving us towards great progress.
If you want to hemorrhage money like a hole in a bucket, head to Disney World and Universal Studios. I knew it would be expensive when we went last week, but I had a moment where it was all piling up fast and I was overwhelmed by how much we were spending. There are two choices we can make in these situations. Get depressed and upset at how much the terrible food costs and the Uber rides and the hotel and the flights and the everything. Or, we can get grateful. This time, I decided to get grateful. I started thanking God that I had the money to spend in the first place and that I could take my wife on a trip she wanted to go on. It didn't make me want to spend it, but it helped me release the burden and focus on making the trip as amazing as possible rather than being in a bad mood about it. Suffering and gratitude do not exist well together. Choose gratitude and watch how radically different the outcome will be.
- Energy drives everything. Often Tony gets relegated as just motivational hype and positive thinking. I understand why, but it became clear to me that beyond motivation and surface hype is an unrelenting energy source that we rarely fully tap into. I truly believe God has given us energy to use as a tool. Specifically, one tool we can use is our bodies. By simply changing out physiology - our breathing, the position of our head and shoulders, our motion, we immediately change the way we feel. When we change the way we feel, we change our entire lives, what we are capable of, our endurance, our creativity, our ability to solve big problems. I’ve been doing state changing exercises each morning for the last 60 days and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
- Our limiting beliefs are deep seated in our subconscious and must be eliminated. I come from a loving, supportive, encouraging family with outstanding parents who love me. I have a wife who believes in me and is constantly encouraging me. I have devoted friends who support me and care about me. Yet, somehow, one of my limiting beliefs was that 'I am not good enough’. Consequently, I never allow myself to celebrate the good work that I’ve done and what I’ve achieved because I think it should be better. I’ve always thought the idea of loving yourself was hippie nonsense, but I’m convinced that loving yourself is foundational to then being able to love other people fully. We spent time rooting out these limiting beliefs and learning how to continue to eliminate them moving forward.
- Progress = Happiness. In any are of our lives, if we aren’t growing, we’re dying. With God, with family, with friends, with business, with finances, we don’t experience the full joy that is available to us when we are not making steps forward. I was challenged this week to think through my life and be really honest about where things are and what I need to do to make them better. Some areas need small incremental shifts to continue to make progress, others need to be overhauled. Where are you making progress that you need to celebrate? Where are you stagnant and need some work?
I've been obsessing and re-reading over parts of Setting the Table by Danny Meyer for the last 8 months. My team is probably sick of hearing me talk about it at this point, but this quote on hospitality vs. service is one of the most important ideas I've read this year:
“Understanding the distinction between service and hospitality has been at the foundation of our success. Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel. Service is a monologue—we decide how we want to do things and set our own standards for service. Hospitality, on the other hand, is a dialogue. To be on a guest’s side requires listening to that person with every sense, and following up with a thoughtful, gracious, appropriate response. It takes both great service and great hospitality to rise to the top.”
Being misunderstood and leading go hand in hand. There is rarely an opportunity to explain every reason for every decision to every person on the team. Consequently, opinions are formed and things are said that lack basis or understanding. The response to this seeming injustice is unclear. Seeking to clarify at every turn is futile. Giving up the fight to clearly communicate is lethal. Maybe the only solace is intention. We will get it wrong, oh so wrong, so many times. But, I have to believe that a long term strategy of caring for others and acting in what we believe is in their best interest will trump the bumps in the road along the way.
I recently shared a passage from a book called Setting the Table by Danny Meyer with my team. Danny is a successful restauranteur whose concepts run the gamut from upscale fine dining to burgers and fries at the always packed, Shake Shack. This passage about hospitality vs. service is beautiful, impactful, and I could not agree more...
Understanding the distinction between service and hospitality has been at the foundation of our success. Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel. Service is a monologue - we decide how we want to do things and set our own standards for service. Hospitality, on the other hand, is a dialogue. To be on a guest's side requires listening to that person with every sense, and following up with a thoughtful, gracious, appropriate response. It takes both great service and great hospitality to rise to the top.
I once heard Tim Ferriss say that "A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have." I don't know if that's true, but it seems definitely, very much, certainly true.
Nothing more clearly shows me how often I am wrong than my journal. When I look back over that last few years worth of entries, it's painful to see how many times I was incorrect about decisions and the results of those decisions. But, I don't think the percentage of decisions we get right is necessarily what matters. I think it's the number of decisions we make. Isn't it so much better to look back and see a path full of course corrections than a path of inactivity because we were simply afraid to be wrong?
So much of life and business isn't fair. It's not fair that your team misunderstood what you said despite your best intentions, that a customer left a scathing review about something that never actually happened, that your competitor said that stupid thing they said.
A lot of things happen that just shouldn't. While I don't recommend that we throw up our hands and take whatever comes our way, I'm also not sure the fight for fairness is worth it. It seems far more valuable to focus on our response to the inevitable than to seek its impossible elimination. Fighting for the fair and equal treatment of all humans is a necessary and just endeavor. Fighting for fairness for yourself is, generally, just a waste of time.
Michael Jordan was born with an insane amount of natural talent and then he worked his butt off to become the greatest basketball player in the world. I was born with a marginal amount of basketball talent and can work my butt off to be the best in my world... the rec center, pick up games, whatever.
The same is true of leadership. Some people are born with a surplus of leadership ability and some are not. We can all work to be the best leaders we can be in our world... at home, at work, at our non-profit, wherever.
I get tired of the nurture vs. nature argument. The answer is yes. Plus it doesn't matter. Plus you should just do the best you can with what you have and not worry about it and stop asking silly questions.