All Play and No Work . . .

Okay, let’s face it; the first day back at the office after a nice relaxing vacation can be very challenging. After all, while we were on vacation, we would have taken some time to unwind and refresh and probably slept in and overall we would not have exerted ourselves. Then, the first Monday back to work seems surreal. We are expected to go from a leisurely stroll to a full sprint.

COVID-19 has changed many things but probably the most important thing to notice is our pace at the office. For those of us working in a variable pay environment, we have been forced into a leisurely stroll. Those of us that were not furloughed have had reduced hours, reduced traffic, reduced tasks to be completed and an overall reduction in job related stress. The real danger is settling in and getting used to the results that we are now producing in the slowdown.

Most economists will agree that April was the low point in this economic stand still. Most believe that May will mirror March, and June and July will have a sharp increase, however, even with a sharp increase in June and July, we will be in a recession environment. Not all people furloughed will be asked back to their positions, not all businesses will open back up, and the reality of a long recovery is at hand.

With this said, it is vitally important not to become complacent with reduced hours and production. We live in a capitalistic society that rewards bigger results based on our efforts. It is important to set bigger goals for May than you think are possible and plan for an even bigger June. Do not get lulled to sleep by the March/April business climate. It will only be the new norm if you choose it to be. If you choose it to be, you will be left behind. In fact, for those of us still working, we have people who are depending on us to grow our business back to a resemblance of where it was when they left — and in a short amount of time, so that they can get back to work.

So look back on March and April with gratitude to have been able to hit the pause button in life, which afforded you to be able to smell the roses. But it is now May and we have work to do. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Conversely, all play and no work makes Jack an undisciplined, unproductive member of society. Set your sights high for May and beyond. Reach higher; work harder; FOCUS; stretch; and grow. Learn to have a balance of smelling the roses and being more productive with your time when you are back to work.

All I Can See

I recently saw a documentary about our plastic epidemic and the effects on the planet. Thanks to that one hour documentary, all I can see is plastic, plastic, and more plastic — EVERYWHERE. It is like a cruel game of Eye Spy.

We are currently dealing with COVID-19 and that is all that people can see. On the news or in person, the average human is inundated with stories, facts, news, or otherwise. So, it goes without saying that the coronavirus is all they can see.

Truth be told, all I can see or you can see is what we fill our thoughts and imaginations with. I suggest we fill our thoughts on love and not hate. On faith and not fear. On hope and not despair. We are in complete control of what we think about but what we fill our minds with will either propel the thought or starve the thought to the point of filling it with something else.

So, maybe you need to starve your thoughts that fan into flames a negative overall mindset, and replace them with something productive; such as thoughts and words of faith, attitudes of hope, and actions of love. Let’s share good news and an overall message that lifts us and others to a better place. After all, if we focus on these things, it will become all we can see.

Cake, Less Eggs, Ain’t Cake

You have to excuse the grammar; I heard this saying once and it jumped out at me. Building a team in business is like making a cake . . . so to speak. Just the right ingredients mixed just the right way will produce an outstanding cake.

I recently have been interviewing for an open management position I have available, and all of the candidates are good at some things but not good at all things. Some have 20 years worth of experience but their overall automotive IQ doesn’t support it. Others have only a year of experience but have quickly seasoned and have a very high automotive IQ.

Picking the right person for the position can be a challenge as it relates to overall  experience. However, I feel it is even more important is how they fit in with the overall recipe of the store’s culture. Think about it; when you make a cake, you have eggs, flour, sugar, flavoring, butter, and salt. If you put too many eggs in, or not enough sugar, or only use a bowl of flour alone, it will be a cake to forget — if a cake at all. Eggs in and of themselves are not bad at all. But a bowl full of eggs alone will never get you the end result you are looking for, if the end result is a tasty cake.

When I interview, I am asking myself if the candidate will compliment the overall feel (or recipe) of the existing team. I wonder if they will be what we are looking for as we move into the future. I wonder if they will challenge and nudge the team members to be better or will they be argumentative and hostile in general. I am probing to see if I actually like the person, as in, are they kind/well groomed/well spoken/professional/humble/confident. It is even more vital that my existing management team will be assisted to even greater heights by the new hire and not fall into discouragement or worse; discontentment with their position based on the new recruit. It is not always about how many mountains you have moved on your resume or how many awards you have collected. It is also important that the fit is right interpersonally, because when putting a recipe together; cake, less eggs, ain’t cake.

Tune in Tokyo!

In business there is a chain of command and a way for managers to share a message that has been communicated behind closed doors to everyone on the staff.

It is interesting when the message that has been communicated is not the message that gets passed down. The antenna’s job is not to change the channel or change the message. Its job is to make the message more clearer.

Middle management is hard enough to handle in and of itself, but when the message gets distorted from its original intent, I assure you that the middle manager will have even more to handle, especially after the leader discovers the intentional communication faux pas.

The leader depends on the middle managers in the organization to communicate the vision or message clearly, and trusts the managers to waive the banner and plant the flag so to speak. The leader does not expect to find the team they have invested in, twisted and in poor spirits because a middle manager flakes out. Actually, the leader is trusting the manager to be a good steward of the business and a good steward of his or her vision.

If the antenna doesn’t do its job and make the content clearer for all to see, sometimes the leader throws it away and invests in a better product — like cable or streaming.

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.