Fork Use

Many times, people wish they could be more successful in their career. They might even wish that they could just have a simple breakthrough. The problem is; wishing is a poor business strategy.

Imagine if every time you ate, you ate with your fingers. Then, someone showed you a fork and how to use it. Instantly your eating experience would be improved greatly. But then, at your next meal, you ate with your hands again until someone had to point out that you can use a fork, which you already have been made aware of. You thank them, use a fork but on your next meal you repeat again eating with your hands. I know this sounds ludicrous. But that is exactly what stops most people from getting to the next level in their career.

It happens every day in corporate America. Millions of dollars are spent on training, sharing the newest tips and tricks of the trade, and mapping out the processes that lead to a desired result. The people attend, take notes, and return to the workplace only to be told in time that they can use a “fork.”

They hear and see good ideas but do not implement a system in their daily routine to do the very things that they just learned that lead to success. I always say that I might not be the smartest person in the room but I am second-to-none at hearing a good idea and implementing it in my daily routine. Yes – it has to be daily. I once heard someone say that a person does not control their earthly destiny but they do control their habits and their habits will in fact control their earthly destiny. The ones who implement good business practices daily, seem to be further ahead than the ones who don’t.

The quicker you learn to use a “fork”, the quicker you will get to your goals. Stop starting and stopping — and starting and stopping again. If you have been shown how to get the job done, don’t be in the place where you have to reminded again to do so. Or worse; again and again and again and again to do so. Get out of your own way and use a fork would ya!

Stand Alone

Every single person in the world is a one-of-a-kind. Remarkably unique. There are no two people exactly alike. Even identical twins differ. The fact that everyone has their very own fingerprint, is an extraordinary differential, setting everyone apart from each other. If we would stop there and realize that we are unique and that we were made by design, we could accomplish so much and be happier in the process.

The danger comes crashing in when in comparing and coveting become an everyday occurrence.  

When we compare ourselves against another human being, one of three things will likely happen. First, we may feel superior because after all of our comparing against a particular individual is completed, we will see that (in our mind) we are further along, more talented, have more money, live in a bigger house, or a host of other things that will puff us up. This breeds arrogance and many other attitudes and habits that are not justified. They are not justified, because comparing our strengths to another’s weaknesses is absurd.

Second, we may feel average after comparing ourselves to others and this can seem to satisfy us because we don’t feel too weird, too tall, too short, too fill-in-the-blank. This is a very dangerous place to be because mediocrity never really accomplishes anything. Ever. It is also fertile ground for apathy. Apathy is ugly and one of the highest dream killers of all time, because it keeps people from action.

Lastly, we may feel we have less after comparing ourselves to another person. Less successful, less good-looking, less outgoing, less friends, less life experiences, and the list goes on and on.

The world is full of imposters. It is full of people trying desperately to fit in, only to find themselves depressed and full of anxiety while they chase the very things that they were never designed to catch. When we covet someone else’s position, looks, spouse, bank account, and more, we can quickly get on a hamster wheel trying to catch “them”, trying to be more like “them”, wishing we were “them”– and everyone has a “them” if we were honest with ourselves. But “them” is for them, not you. Desiring what others have ultimately leads us to a place where we are not satisfied (and probably where most mid-life crisis originate from.)

If you will learn to walk in your own skin, run your own race, and win your own battles, you will find yourself much happier. I liken it to a key to a car. The key is programed for a specific VIN number and it will not start any car in the world except the one it was designed to start. No one would be angry that their car key is not starting the neighbors car but on the same token they will get upset that their life (key) isn’t exactly like or better than their neighbor’s.

Everything made has a purpose. But everything made is not multi-purpose. Everything made was made intentionally. That includes you. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. You were intentional, even if someone has told you were an accident. There are no accidents in human creation. The secret is being content in what you were created for. You were not created to be a failure. However, in success lies many setbacks that look like failure. Failure is not final unless you stay there. It is a temporary setback and once you overcome the setback, be sure more “failures” will follow. Keep pressing forward. You will succeed when you realize that you must walk in the footsteps you were created for. When this happens you will realize you can stand alone and succeed in your own endeavors – not duplicate someone else’s.

Don’t Rust Out!

I once heard it said — of trying to find the right person for the job — that it is easier to give birth than to resurrect the dead. Meaning; it is easier to replace someone on your team (or the leader of your team) than trying to get a person who is not interested in changing their ways, to change their ways. Getting someone motivated is very simple if the person is teachable and hungry for success. The problem is, once a person has resolved to hang on yesterday, they will seldom desire to change, even though they know that the world is moving forward all around them and they are no longer doing so.

Sometimes a person spends years growing and reaching but then they plateau and stay there for a period of time, or worse – forever. When everyone else is moving forward, the person who has decided to plateau stands out – and not in a good way. When it happens to be a leader in the organization, their plateau can become contagious and that will breed apathy in the team below. We must be fair and give that leader every chance to charge their “weak battery” before they become a “dead battery.” But after you have given the leader several chances to change, given them opportunities for training, given several action plans, recommended books & podcasts, and finally included HR in the process; it is time to replace the individual.

I have spent years trying to help people grow; and more specifically trying to pour into leaders who simply would not receive the gesture. Only to find out that they were pretty satisfied with mediocrity. Mediocrity is the Achilles heel of success. You can never want it more for someone than they want it for themselves. One of my personal strengths is also one of my weaknesses – believing the underdog will rise up, fight back, and win. Most of the time, they will not.

Finding someone new is hard. It has been said the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. This is one of the reasons why organizations don’t move from good to great. Simply said, they get used to “good” because “great” seems so far out of reach. Keeping the same people and hoping they will change doesn’t have good odds. It can happen. It has happened. But not as many times as the demise.

After struggling to find a replacement, if you are patient, you will eventually find the right fit and you will be elated and wonder why it took you so long to act when your organization was stuck in neutral for so long. I can tell you from personal experience that the results are sweet and synergy that come from replacing Mr. or Mrs. Mediocrity is wonderful. Many times in the process, you will not only find a new leader; you will meet a friend, a confidant, an ambassador, and a game changer all in one. You’ll know the right person when you see their eyes dancing. I can work with someone who is ambitious and wants more out of life; and who is not afraid to put in the work. But if I look into a set of eyes and see flat eyes —  like a taxidermy has gotten the best of them —  it is highly unlikely any sort of change for the better is coming any time soon. That does not mean that someday they won’t get their eyes dancing again. It simply means for now, we need some new blood. New blood shows up early, stays late, puts the effort in, thinks “I can”, invests in themselves, believes in themselves, and is worth pouring into.

After you have given a period of time for change, training, and results; act quickly and decisively. Once you determine you do not have the right person in the right position – act. Find your new team and bring your organization/company/team to the next level(s). But be careful not to wait too long, as you might just rust out in the meantime.

Humility is on Life Support

*Disclaimer – This post is meant to cause a pause — and get people to think. It is not political. If you get infuriated, you need to read it again and reflect on the last sentence.

It seems that society has become like a bunch of misbehaved children with no parent to correct them, put them in a time-out, or to give them an old fashioned spank to wake them up. Society has removed the people that can speak into their lives and encourage correction. If your Pastor or Priest tells you where you have missed the mark, you immediately think the Pastor or Priest is the problem and justify it by recalling their errors in their life. If a boss does not give you a favorable performance review, in your eyes the boss is automatically incapable of doing their job.

You may know one or more of the people that are saying things out loud or posting derogatory phrases, put-downs, or the like somewhere for the world to see. They could be part of the problem. Calling people names creates a bigger divide and reveals an enormous ego that is not easily quenched. Calling the President or President Elect an idiot (or orange or a dementia patient, etc.), is really just an exercise to artificially inflate personal intelligence; and it is ugly for all to see. The problem is, they have systematically unfriended, deleted, and/or disassociated themselves with anyone who thinks differently than themselves and certainly anyone who disagrees with them. In their bubble they seem to be right. After all, their news channel, their friends and associates and social media feed all serve up the things they believe — so it must be true.

Even in the church. And it should be the church that shines a Light. Not a flashlight on their favorite candidate or civic movement. We are called to reflect Jesus only. I have painfully watched church-going Christians post on social media (until their fingers must have hurt) who is right, who is wrong, and who God wants in the White House. And I might add it didn’t seem to be done in love. In the Bible, the book of Second Kings is full of righteous kings and more so full of wicked kings. And in the same Bible, the Apostle Paul teaches us that the leadership over mankind is God’s doing (Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God). The Apostle Peter exhorted us “honor the king” with a small k. Meaning honor those who are in authority over us (Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king.) Simply put; Submit to Trump even if we do not agree with him. Submit to Biden even if we do not agree with him. Submit to the police even if we do not agree with them. Submit to parents, pastors, priests, bosses – anyone who has authority over us: not just the ones that tickle our fancy.

Sometimes the people that name-call and wag their finger, have never really accomplished anything in life. Some that have accomplished something in life, truthfully believe they are superior. I can hear it now – “I am superior” some will say. That is because they have not really given themselves an accurate self-appraisal.

Until we as human beings learn that we should not think too highly of ourselves and consider others more than ourselves, our society will continue to decline. Most people are too concerned with being “right”, that they are willing to die on that hill at all costs. They simply compare other’s weaknesses to their strengths. When they look at their own weaknesses, they are full of excuses and justifications. Many times false excuses and false justifications. Some argue those in power are narcissistic as they themselves post on social media and run back to their post to see who has liked it. The old saying it takes one to know one still rings true.

In 2020 I did a lot of listening an very little talking or writing. It was a time of self-reflection. Here is what I found; I do not know everything: I am not the most important person in the world (even though I might think so:) My opinion is just that – opinion. Keep your opinion to yourself is still good advice: When your mouth is open it is possible your brain is on parade: What I think in regards to hot topics doesn’t matter to everyone else: I need to listen more: I need to love much more: I need to forgive more: I need to understand more: It is likely no one will change their mind by hearing an opposite view screamed at them. As Dale Carnegie stated “ A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still:” I need to connect better and look to understand others more.

I do not have it all figured out. My hope is that some will pause and consider the principles. Circumstances are many; principals are few. Circumstances always change but principals never do. I am confident that if we look to change ourselves first, we will see we are flawed (maybe more than those we think need to change.) This self-assessment should shine light on how far we have drifted and drive us to have more compassion, grace and love to others – not hate, discord, & judgement.

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