Trust is All That Matters

Trust is All That Matters

I recently transitioned to a new company within my industry. I have found my new role to be very rewarding. The pace of my work has slowed, which allows me to focus on honing my skills and improving the business. In previous roles I found that extra margin to be lacking. I am also very thankful for the better “work / life balance” I’ve been able to enjoy as well.

I have found my new work environment to be void of one very important characteristic, and it’s giving me grey hair by the day.

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Trust is arguably the most precious commodity in business, as in almost every other part of life.  Lack of it can poison the work environment and paralyze growth.

There a few measures of a healthy business environment that smacks in the face of what I’ve experienced.

  1. Seek First to Understand – Rather than a rush to judgement and an assumption of the worst, people choose to stop and better understand a fellow co-worker before acting.  This takes a reinvention of our instincts.  Most people are born with a mistrust of others, so it is natural to assume the worst.  In order to achieve understand one has to resist the knee-jerk reaction and pause before responding.  Seek to understand what makes the other person tick.  Seek to understand why productivity may be suffering.  Is it a lack of training, or is it deliberate?  Seek to understand the strengths of a person, and how to lead using them.  More importantly, seek to understand their weaknesses and engage them on a path towards personal growth.
  2. Cease Gossip – Negatives should travel up, not down, and if you’re not a part of the solution you have no business being a part of the conversation.  Dave Ramsey’s team defines Gossip as discussing anything negative with someone who can’t help solve the problem.  This is key.  Gossip ruins culture quick.  Until you squash it, nothing is going to change.  Take problems directly to the source.  As a leader, resist the temptation to lament the challenges of your role with those who report to you.  Be mindful of confidentiality and respect the definition of gossip given above.
  3. Show Appreciation – Showing genuine appreciation can right many wrongs.  Most people feel underpaid and under appreciated at work.  I know I have felt that way at times.  Why would I not expect my team to feel the same way.  Now, when I am tempted to throw a pity party for myself I get up from my desk and look for ways to appreciate my team.  They soak it up!  They long for it.  Appreciation should flow in all directions, up, down and sideways.
  4. Helping Hands – You don’t hear, “That’s not my job” in a healthy business environment.  Nothing boils my blood quicker in the workplace than this phrase.  It shows lack of teamwork, it shows disrespect, and it shows no passion on the part of the person saying it.  That isn’t the kind of person I want working for me, or with me.  Pull your head out of your rear end and acknowledge that none of us can do this alone, we have to work as a team.

No company is perfect, and no doubt you’ve experienced similar challenges as a leader.

The buck stops here, and I drive the culture of my team.  I have to remind myself to stay focused on the important things and drive a shift in culture by practicing these simple steps.

What steps have you taken to improve the culture where you work?  What has worked, and what hasn’t?

How to Achieve Your Goals This Year

With the onset of a new year comes the time honored tradition of goal setting and new year’s resolutions.  For most people those goals and resolutions are a thing of the past within two weeks.  This year, set SMART goals to accomplish more in your life.

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At the beginning of every year I set out to achieve a number of goals for the coming year. More often than not I have given up by the end of January.  I know that I am not alone in this fact.  only 8% of those who make a New Year’s Resolution are actually successful in achieving them by year’s end.

To achieve more this year, use the SMART formula for goal setting. SMART goals are…

Specific – Specific goals have a much higher chance of being achieved than general goals.  In order for a goal to be specific you need to answer some very basic questions.
  • Who:      Who is involved?
  • What:     What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where:    Identify a location.
  • When:     Establish a time frame.
  • Which:    Identify requirements and constraints.
  • Why:      Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

A General Goal would be to “get in shape”. But a specific goal would say “Run on the greenway three times per week.”

Measurable – Possibly the most critical step of this process is to create a concrete means of measuring progress towards reaching your goal.

This allows you to stay on track, keeping you motivated along the way.  It can be very rewarding to see the progress you make.

In order to make your goal measurable ask questions such as How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished.  Knowing when you’ve reached your goal may seem a little obvious, but for the purposes of measuring your progress this must be determined.

Attainable – Goals should stretch you to become more than you are.  There is nothing wrong with setting lofty goals.  You should be careful to set goals that are actually attainable if you work hard and stay disciplined.

Don’t set yourself up for failure right out of the gate.  “Run a marathon in 3 months” may be a great goal, but if you’ve never stepped foot out the door to run you may want to set a more attainable goal first.  “Run my first 5K in 3 months” is still something that will stretch you but is much more likely to be achieved given your circumstances.

Be realistic in your goal setting.

Relevant – Your goals should fit into the bigger picture of your life plan.  A relevant goal should ask the following questions:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match my other efforts/needs?
  • Why is achieving this goal important to you?
  • What values in your life does this goal reflect?
  • What effect will achieving this goal have on your life or on others?

Answering these questions within the context of your current life circumstances will ensure that you’re less distracted and more motivated towards achieving your goal.

Time Bound – The final step in setting SMART goals is to give yourself a deadline. Give your goal a sense of urgency by assigning a specific date or time frame for the goal to be accomplished.

“Lose 25 pounds by July 1st” is a time bound goal.  This gives you the ability to measure and work towards something specific.

Your goal can be specific, measurable, attainable and relevant, but if you leave it to be done “someday” you’re much less likely to fail.

You’ve gone through the first four steps of SMART goal setting, seal the deal by putting a deadline on your success.

2014 can be your year.  It can be filled with successes large and small.  Whether your goal is to lose weight, quit smoking, get out of debt or spend more time with your family, these goals can be achieved using the SMART formula for setting goals.

What tactics have you used to achieve your goals?  What will you set out to accomplish this year?

The Day I Became Interested In Politics

I’m often asked what sparked my interest in politics…

It was the fourth day of my freshman year in high school. The year was 1996.

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Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole was in the midst of an all out battle for the White House against incumbent president Bill Clinton.  We know today that we was not successful, but on that day his Presidential race was alive and well.

He was making a scheduled stop at my small Christian high school in Dayton Ohio.  The Secret Service had arrived in force the day before to take up shop in my science class and got straight to work.  By the next morning my locker had been sealed shut with some very official looking tape.  It is the one and only time I’ve ever used the excuse, “My homework was sealed in my locker by the Secret Service.” excuse and it actually work.  Go figure!

The day of the event came and the first thing I noticed when I stepped foot on school grounds was the crush of national media attention.  Satellite trucks from every channel and network imaginable seemed to have take over our parking lot.  Once inside the doors we were sent through a security screening before being allowed back to our classrooms.  I’m fairly certain we didn’t have any actual classroom activities that day.  I could be mistaken.  If we did, I clearly wasn’t paying attention.

Then at around mid-morning the event was set to kick-off.  It was not open to the public, but there were plenty of people invited.  There was a courtyard in the middle of the school typically reserved for the cool kids lunch table, but on this particular day it hosted a Presidential contender on the worlds stage.  An announcer blared over the PA system an introduction of the candidate and the crowd roared.  I stood there, perched hanging out of a first floor window looking out on the courtyard in awe as a small piece of history played out before my eyes.

I couldn’t tell you anything specific from his speech that day.  It was more of a forum of sorts than a traditional speech.  I don’t remember what policy or program Senator Dole was pitching, or what attack he may have hurled at the Clinton campaign.  Aside from a few noticeable faces in his entourage I don’t remember who else attended that day.

But what I do remember has stuck with me since that day.  I remember the pomp and pageantry of a national campaign stop.  I remember seeing people in person that you’re only supposed to see on CNN or the nightly news.  I remember watching a man who had dedicated his life to public service try to influence and persuade people to cast a vote to help elect him leader of the free world.  I remember being in awe of seeing a national election up close, and impressed by the grandeur of it all. That day sparked an interest in politics for me, one that has not waned since.

Since that day I’ve become more convinced with each passing election that it truly matters who governs.  The policies and principles of an individual, and a party, matter in how they govern.  There is absolute truth, and our faith should guide the decisions we make at home, at church, and in the public arena.

My appreciation and respect for the process has only grown stronger since that day 17 years ago.  I admire those who offer themselves for public service, even when I don’t agree with their philosophy. We are fortunate to live in the greatest country on the face of the earth.  I pray we don’t take it for granted.

Question: What about you?  What sparked your interest in politics?  What is your view of our political process?

Wild College Football Weekend

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What a weekend it was for college football!

As a big Ohio State fan I was thrilled to see us get bumped up to the #2 spot in the BCS rankings.  My second favorite team, Alabama, suffered a heartbreaking loss to get us there.

Next week is conference championship weekend, and it couldn’t matter more this year for the Buckeyes.  We need a great showing against Michigan State if we want to seal our chances to play in the championship game on January 6th.

It’s a great time to be a Buckeyes fan!

Happy Thanksgiving

Sitting here this morning on Thanksgiving Day I’m mindful of the many blessings in my life. Even on my worst day I am more fortunate than many people in this world. I thank God for that.

It’s easy to get caught up in what others have, and what I want. But it takes a little more maturity to step back and just be grateful for what I already have.

A beautiful wife, two healthy and wonderful children, a loving family, a steady well paying job, a roof over my head, food in my belly and the unconditional love of a Savior.

Can’t beat that!

I pray this holiday season that you find gratitude for the blessings in your life, and are able to enjoy them to the fullest!

Gratitude turns what you have into enough…

Happy Thanksgiving from the Lewis family to yours!

By Marianne Williamson

 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness That most frightens us.

 

We ask ourselves Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.

 

Your playing small Does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

 

We are all meant to shine, As children do. We were born to make manifest The glory of God that is within us.

 

It’s not just in some of us; It’s in everyone.

 

And as we let our own light shine, We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, Our presence automatically liberates others.