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I love our people!

“Once you get to the point to where you see your people like I see the Citgo sign, you will know exactly what I am talking about.”

Okay, work with me here (all of you that are not from the greater Boston Area). There is something about that sign (and every city has its own landmark). When you see the Citgo sign, you know you are in one of the greatest cities in the world and right around the corner from the legendary Fenway Park. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy, brings back great memories, and is just simply awesome. Ever since I was a boy (my wife might argue that I still am one), this sign has been a back drop for the home runs over the Green Monster. Somehow that backdrop also brings good summertime memories, and for anyone who loves Boston in general, the sign has huge value.

Some of you may not be as fortunate as I am in regards to employees. My employees are probably some of the best people in the business. Both personally and professionally. They have a bounce in their step, have tremendous integrity, are hard-working, like their job, and generally are happy to be alive. Sometimes I wonder if this was orchestrated or if is just by chance that this caliber people are working side by side with me every day. Either way, I’ll take it.

I challenge all of you managers, supervisors, and executives alike. Get out of your office. Say hello to all of your people daily. Call them by name. Get to know them. Carry their burdens (to an extent) and share in their victories. Trust them. Train them. This will help you keep them. You might find this to be a secret weapon, as many employees don’t quit companies, they quit supervisors, managers, and executives.

Once you get to the point to where you see your people like I see the Citgo sign, you will know exactly what I am talking about.

Game of Inches

It has been said – inch by inch it is a cinch, yard by yard it is hard. In business, like football, the goal is to move the chains down the field. The primary focus is to keep moving in the right direction inch by inch.

Now, I am assuming you have surrounded yourself with a winning team. If you have not; what are you waiting for? President Calvin Coolidge said “nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.” Complacency is the prime suspect in the death of potential. Sometimes, you need to replace the complacent “superstars” with people that have the desire to move the chains forward. Many of the self proclaimed “superstars” would actually be superstars if they applied all that they claim they know. I would rather have an average but hungry participant than someone who basks in the glory of their accomplishments from days gone by. If you have talented team members that are complacent, you will not be as strong or successful with them on the team. Make the change and make the change quickly. Let them be someone else’s problem.

Fast forward to a team that is engaged and everyone wants the same result. Once that happens, it is the small changes or adjustments that will pay huge dividends. If everyone on the team is committed to get a little better every month, the results will be astounding.

A little better at negotiating, a little better at getting an offer, a little better at making appointments, a little better at follow up AND BOOM: the entire team is well-oiled and having strong results.

So don’t lose focus on moving forward an inch at a time. Do this often, and you’ll have a winning team. Because inch by inch it is a cinch.

Want to be Unknown?

Recently I paid a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. It is not the first time I have visited this location, but I will tell you, it never gets old. I grew up in a patriotic home and have always had a reverence for this nation. It dawned on me as I was watching the guard perform his duties flawlessly, that we are all called to a similar mission.

On the tomb itself, it reads –HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD. Although the cemetery is filled with heroes, there is an emphasis on the ones that fulfilled their duty in an unknown fashion.

In business, there are too many of us clamoring for the next level, and waiting for the bronzer to call to ask which pose we would like be cast in, for the statue on the front lawn of our local town hall. Harry Truman said “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” If we put our heads down and look to the common goal without looking for a continual praise parade from those below, around, and above us, we could and would accomplish so much more.

If we would take this approach in our church, and fulfill our duty as a Christian without looking for the recognition, imagine what could happen. As Christians, we are all called to die to self and follow Christ, but too many times, we are too worried the cares of this world. If we were focused on His life, His things, and His agenda, there just might be more light in the world. The Bible places a special  emphasis on those in Heaven who have been martyred for their faith. Now that is something to be celebrated — The tomb of the unknown Christian — if you will.

So, whether in protecting our nation, moving up the corporate ladder, or standing in the gap in our local church, I encourage all of us to take a sober look at ourselves and be willing to be unknown. It just may not be as bad as we imagine. After all, the least will be exalted over the greatest in end.

 

Assuming the Familiar

“Doctor Jones. Again, we see there is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away” (Raiders of the Lost Ark pun.)

As I was getting my coffee at a national chain today, I was once again greeted by an employee that does not know me, but feels it is okay to call me “coach, pops, pal, my-man, my-brother”, among other cute names that escape me at the moment. I also noticed he does the same thing with each and every customer, each and every morning. I by no means deserve some kind of preferential treatment, as I am much less important than probably many of the customers that frequent this location. However, he does not know me, my name, or my background.

If we were watching a re-run of Friends, we would assume that everyone is addressing each other in the familiar, or even one step further — with nicknames.

Welcome to true life. In true life, the familiar is just fine if you have been given permission. Permission grants access to the familiar. However, until permission has been granted, the full measure of respect should be shown. If we are speaking to someone we do not know (or know anything about),  we should address them with sir, madam, miss, or ma’am at the very least.

Assuming we know a little about them, we should respect titles until we are instructed differently by the person we are addressing. If they are a doctor, we should address them by including it in our greeting, such as “Doctor Jones. Again, we see there is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away” (Raiders of the Lost Ark pun.) If they are a lawyer, it may be “attorney Jones, so nice to see you.” If they are a representative in Congress for your state, it may be “Congressman Jones, I hope your day is great.” If it is our next door neighbor, perhaps “Mr. Jones, your lawn looks great.” And, it is our Priest or our Pastor, it should be “Father Jones/Pastor Jones, good morning.”

If we are sure to show respect, we may be corrected by Dr. Jones with him telling us, “call me Henry.” BUT, until we are given permission to address him by his first name, we should always call people by their title, sir name, or at the very least the prefix of sir, madam, miss, or ma’am. Assuming the familiar is not polite and lacks social etiquette at the bare minimum.

The Top 3 Things You Must Do to Stay Married (to your spouse or your job)

Let’s face it, getting married is easy. Staying married is not. Whether we are talking about our spouse or our job/career, the principles are the same. SIDE NOTE – There are many spiritual components to a marriage as well, but we will only cover the non-spiritual.

Stop Looking

The first thing we must do in order to stay married to our spouse or our job is to stop looking. Looking is very dangerous. People all over the US spend millions of dollars each and  every day of the week in retail stores across the country. Remember, they are not buying (at first). In fact, they even say the actual phrase; that they are “just looking”. “Looking” leads to buying. Period. If you are on Indeed or CareerBuilder for the next best thing, you are already in danger of “buying”. They say the grass is greener where you water it. I made the fatal mistake a few years back by “looking” myself into a bad career move. Be thankful for what you do have and always give it 100% without looking for something better. In most cases, it is never better.

Remain Loyal

The second thing we must do in order to stay married to our spouse or to our current employer is to remain loyal. You may not be the one “looking”, but that does not mean that someone else isn’t looking at you. If you are good at your job and your head sticks above the crowd in relation to results, be sure that someone will contact you for an opportunity. Learn to not be flattered. Learn that every opportunity looks great until the newness wears off. Your spouse and your employer have likely poured into you and invested much time and effort. The person looking to woo you away has nothing invested. Remember that the next time someone is trying to get your attention.

Give More Than You Expect to Get in Return

Lastly, speaking of being invested; we must give more than we think we can, no matter if it is returned. Stop keeping score and just give. When you are done giving, give some more. You will then find that 25 years have passed and anniversaries have been celebrated. Everyone will look at you and think you had it easy or it was just “meant to be”. Truth being told, it will be because you stopped looking, remained loyal, and gave more than you expected to get in return.

When Discouragement & Disaster Collide

It is bound to happen sooner or later. That is, unless you live in a bubble. There is no such thing as perfection all day, every day. Eventually, the good times pass and disaster strikes in some shape or form. It may come in the form of relationships that have soured. It could come in the form of not getting the promotion, not making the team, or not being included in social situations. It sometimes is related to our health or our finances. Whatever the reason that discouragement comes on so strong, there is a way out; even though we feel it may actually be a disaster.

The first step is to expect it. Just as the daylight comes to end each night and the streak of sunny days is broken by the rain, so shall our smooth sailing be interrupted by a “storm”.

When the discouragement is deep and the disaster grand, the first thing we can do to remedy our situation is to remember that this too shall pass. Good times are not permanent and bad times just the same are only temporary. Even if it feels like a hundred years: it is not.

The next thing is to remember how we felt in the good times. If we can remember how living the “mountaintop” life was fulfilling, then we can have hope to get back there again after climbing our way out of the “valley.” This also gives us strength to get through our current circumstance because we remember just how good it felt to have things going well for us.

Lastly, if we will accept the fact that disappointment and disaster have a way of teaching us, growing us, and making us wiser, then we become open to the bitterness of bad circumstances to be our teacher and ultimately making us greater.

So, the next time discouragement and disaster collide; remember to expect it coming, that it is only temporary, and to learn from the experience.

BIG Shoes to Fill

When someone who is important or has done an outstanding job leaves a position, it is said “the company has big shoes to fill.” Why? Because the person that is leaving, put their head down and made a difference. If they were in sales, they crushed it. If they were in management, people loved them and they moved the needle for the business owner. If they are in upper management, such as a VP, etc., they were well organized, helped the people in the field, and made a big difference.

In Boston’s Faneuil Hall, there is a bronze plaque with Larry Bird’s actual sized sneakers. People from all over the world, put their feet next to Larry’s to see just how big his feet were. Most of us have smaller feet than the Boston Celtic Hall-of-Famer. But it is not the size of the actual feet that matter. It is the size of the positive deficit the person leaves when exiting the company or team. If they have truly made an impact, their departure will be felt.

So, go and be the person who’s shoes will be nearly impossible to fill. Strive for big dreams, reach for what others deem impossible, and dare to achieve what others think cannot be achieved. Lift other up at all times, choose your words wisely, encourage and don’t tear down, be truthful, have impeccable ethics and grooming, be kind, and put others first. If you do, you will be the one that others speak about when they say “those are big shoes to fill”.

The Dirty Irish Towns (Make America Clean Again)?

Now that I have your attention; there is nothing further from the truth. After spending a week traveling throughout Ireland, I can’t help myself from continually thinking about a single point. The point is this; there was no trash, or litter, or garbage of any kind — anywhere! Ireland has to be one of the cleanest places on earth. Why? Because the people of Ireland care and take responsibility for their own actions. They do not throw their trash out the window or on the ground assuming “someone else” will take care of it. No, they take responsibility for their own trash and take pride in their land.

Driving on country roads or major highways, you could not spot any litter. Walking the streets of Dublin; same thing — clean. Walking the beach on the Celtic sea, there were plenty of shells and rocks, but no bottles, plastic, fast food bags, etc. Walking through the crowded streets of Galway — spotless.

The point is, when will we as Americans take pride in our country? When will we take ownership of our own trash and actually stoop down to pick up someone else’s forgotten litter? I long for a day where our country is clean and well taken care of — not by the government, the neighbor, the teacher, or someone else — but by each of us the people. Let’s get it together Americans. Make America Clean Again!