The Duck Dynasty Debacle Continued

OK, so I wasn’t sure I should write the first post on this topic but I was pleasantly surprised with many of the comments I received. Yes, there where some who said I should die and others who said I was every bit as hateful as Phil. But most comments were serious and thoughtful and added a lot to the discussion. 

I received a tweet this morning about a high school teacher in southwest Ohio who has been suspended from his job for something he said. The person who sent me the tweet said he would like to see me defend this guy’s right to free speech and expressing his opinion.

A couple of things. First, I didn’t defend Phil’s right to free speech on the first post. Second, neither what Phil said or what this teacher is reported to have said are free speech issues. 

It seems a lot of folks don’t really understand the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It says and I paraphrase here, that you can say whatever you want. It’s doesn’t say anything about protection from being fired from your job for saying anything you want. 

The fact is, you can be fired for saying the sky is blue if your employer doesn’t like you saying it. So long as they fire everybody who says the sky is blue they have no problem.  All the First Amendment guarantees is that you won’t go to jail for saying it. 

Now, back to the tweet that put me on this topic. 

A high school teacher who allegedly responded to a black high school freshman that the nation doesn’t need another black president has been suspended. He responded to the freshman’s statement that his goal was to one day become President of the United States. The teacher’s board of education has indicated that the suspension is the first step in the firing process.

Since we already know this isn’t a freedom of speech issue let’s talk about his “right” to express his opinion. Many of the same people defending Phil’s “right” will be defending this teacher’s too but the situations are completely different.

Phil did what Phil is paid to do. He expressed how he felt, which is fine, and then he supported it with some outrageous comments. That’s reality TV. His network suspended him while taking what they described as the morale high ground and then caved like a cheap tent as soon as it became apparent that their position might cost them some money. 

The teacher did exactly what he isn’t paid to do. He isn’t paid to dash the hopes and dreams of his students. He is paid to teach, support, and mentor them. 

To be fair, I have no idea what the teacher really said, he claims the student has “misquoted” him. The only good thing for the teacher to have said to any student expressing such a worthy goal is something like this: “Well, good for you. Continue to work hard and you too can accomplish great things. I’m here to help you achieve your goal anyway I can.” 

I don’t know how that turns into anything near “we don’t need another black president” so the whole “misquoted” thing sounds weak to me. 

If it sounds like I’m holding the teacher to a higher standard than Phil you’re exactly right. If you don’t like what Phil says just change the channel. The student can’t change the channel. He is required to be there; the teacher is in a position of authority. The teacher is a leader and leaders willingly sacrifice certain “rights” in order to lead effectively. 

I don’t care what the teacher believes, he can believe and think whatever he wants. But   because he is in a position of authority he is also in a position of “imposing” his opinions on others. Because the student can’t “escape” the opinion of his teachers, the teachers should not be expressing those opinions while in the presence of their students. 

I hope this doesn’t become a big controversy because it shouldn’t. If what the teacher is alleged to have said is true, then the teacher said something really stupid. Does anybody really want a teacher like that teaching their kids? 

Maybe the teacher could start his own reality show, there are plenty of networks that could use one. 

Quit to Be Better in 2014

It’s that time of year. We’ll here it daily for the next week or so… Have a Great New Year!

I appreciate the sentiment and do not doubt the sincerity of those who offer it. I also assume that most everyone would like their new year to be better than their old year, no matter how good 2013 was for them. 

How about you? Would you like to be better in 2014? More productive? Happier, wealthier, and wiser. 

Are you hoping for that, wishing for that, or planning for that? There is a huge difference between the three. The first two can provide a bit of enthusiasm for a while but only the third one, planning can make a long-term difference in 2014.

Your plan must include doing something different in 2014 than you did in 2013, at least if your 2014 is going to be better. You simply can not be different without doing something different. Most people believe that doing something different means doing something in 2014 that you’re not doing in 2013. That could be right but for many, many people success and improvement in 2014 will be determined by what they stop doing.  

Successful plans are not just a list of things you need to do in order to succeed. The very best plans also include a list of things you need to stop doing. You may just find it easier to let go of a bad attitude than to have a positive one. Once you decide to let go of negativity the positive attitude you need for success may just find you. 

You probably didn’t have a lot of extra time in 2013 so if you’re going to start doing more in 2014 you best be prepared to leave some of what you were doing in 2013. Many people fail to do “the new” because they are burning their time doing “the old” stuff, often unproductive stuff, from last year. 

If you really want a better 2014 then don’t commit to do even one new thing without also committing to stop doing one old thing. You’re likely just kidding yourself if you think success will come from just piling more on to your already overburdened schedule. 

It is by the way, entirely possible to have a better 2014 just by stopping something old. There is no requirement to do more to have more. If you quit just one unproductive, unhealthy, or unwise thing in 2014 you could have a better year ahead of you.

Stop, maybe just stop, quit, or give up to succeed in 2014. That’s certainly easier than just committing to more that you can’t do anyway. 

The Duck Dynasty Debacle

I shouldn’t blog about this. Branding “experts” have warned me to stay away from topics like this. They tell me to stick with my core topics which I guess would be leadership, motivation and sales. But leaders don’t dodge tough subjects so I’ll just call this a leadership post.

I should begin by saying I’ve only seen a few minutes of Duck Dynasty, ever. I know people who absolutely love it and if you’ll pardon the pun, watch it religiously. I have nothing against it and the very little bit I’ve seen was funny but I’ve just never gotten into it.

I wonder how much “reality” is in this reality show and how much is actually made up. I mean can guys who do so well in business really do and say the ridiculous stuff that happens on every episode?   

Anyway, it’s nothing any of them have done on the show that has gotten them into trouble, it’s what the family patriarch said in a magazine interview. Phil Robertson said, and I paraphrase here, that the Bible has led him to believe that homosexuality is a sin. He said some other typical Duck Dynasty stuff but it was the earlier comment that has caused such a controversy. 

He was immediately and indefinitely suspended by the network that airs his family’s show. He has been ridiculed, pilloried, called hateful and compared with the worst of the human race. 

All this because he expressed an opinion. He didn’t say he hated anyone, didn’t judge anyone, didn’t say anyone was going to hell. He just said what he believed based on his understanding of the Bible. 

The network that has suspended him was well within their rights to do what they did. He said something they didn’t like and they benched him. No problem there; it might be a stupid decision but in the United States businesses make stupid decisions everyday, it’s a right. 

Just like expressing an opinion used to be. Used to be!

Today if you say something that someone or some group doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with you’re labeled a hater, a racist, a bigot, and a left or right wing fanatic. Whether you’re a left or right wing fanatic depends on who you offended, you can’t be both, at least not at the same time. 

I find this whole thing very confusing; this Robertson guy expresses an opinion and is labeled a bigot and hater. The groups calling him these names and in some cases threatening him and his family are doing nothing wrong. Saying what you believe, right or wrong, makes you a bigot. Threatening the person who has the courage of their convictions makes you a hero. 

Folks, there is something terribly wrong with that picture.

Now the network has a debacle on their hands. There is no way to let the guy back on the air without admitting they were wrong to suspend him. It’s not like he’s going to change his views any time soon. So either you let a person you’ve said is a bigot back on the air or you lose your most profitable show. 

I’ll say this for the network, they seem to be sticking to their guns, at least for now. If they put their principles over profits I would commend them for that, even if I disagree with them. I still believe in the freedom of speech that used to be commonplace in the United States.

They are certainly in better shape than the people at Cracker Barrel who pulled the Duck Dynasty products from the shelves and then put them back on 24 hours later. Nice work guys, I guess we know where you stand, well, maybe not. 

Now, here’s where I’m really going to get into trouble. I’m going to express an opinion. Here we go:

I think it’s okay to not like a particular group. I think it’s okay to not eat green vegetables. I think it’s good to think differently than everyone else. I think it’s just fine to express your opinion, even if it’s different than someone’s, or even everyone else’s. Wow, I guess that’s like 4 opinions, I guess I just got on a roll. 

So there you go, I expressed my thoughts and before you rip me for it remember this: if everyone thinks the same then somebody isn’t thinking. 

How to Stay Motivated

The pain of discipline is greater than the pain of failure. That simple fact leads to more failure than any other single factor. When we lack the discipline required for success we also lack the ability to “push-on” when we face the struggles associated with long-lasting success. There are struggles within every successful endeavor and within every successful endeavor someone found the motivation to continue the way forward.

Average people need someone to motivate them. Successful people find a way to motivate themselves and ask for help when they can’t. Here are just a few of the methods they use to get going when the going gets tough:

They re-dream the dream. Before they quit they remember why they started, they remember what’s in it for them if they can keep going. They see the end of the rainbow and reach for it again. It is that “reach” that provides them the momentum and motivation to continue forward. 

They make it fun. They enjoy what they do. Here’s a fact: almost 100% of successful people enjoy what they do. It is nearly impossible for a human being to excel at something they truly dislike. If you’re involved in a career or job that you simply don’t like then either find a way to make it fun or find your way to another career. You’re not likely to become the first person to put a square peg in a round hole so don’t burn up your motivation trying.

They are not afraid to change course. If something doesn’t feel right it’s probably not. There is almost always more than one way to accomplish something. Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean it’s being done the best way. You’ve likely heard the saying “there’s no need to invent the wheel’, well if that was true we would all still be driving on stone wheels. Looking for a “better way” is an excellent method for staying motivated. Settling for what you have makes it very difficult to push yourself for better.

Motivated, successful people reward themselves. They also celebrate their successes, both big and little. The bigger the goal, the greater the task the more likelihood of set-backs along the way. Set-backs wilt motivation and lessen resolve. Rewards, even small rewards like a longer lunch break once in a while or knocking off an hour early can be just the ticket to reinvigorate yourself. Small celebrations can refill your energy tank and provide the motivation needed to overcome the next challenge. 

Successful people have a mentor to motivate them. Staying motivated in the face of obstacles is  pretty darn tough to do day in and day out. It’s really tough without a little help. A good mentor will help you over the rough spots and help you to re-dream that dream. Successful people aren’t afraid to ask for help and the person they are most likely to ask is their mentor. 

If you don’t have a mentor today then find one now. Select a person who cares about you, a person who is successful and willing to invest themselves in you to help you succeed too. 

Here’s a big statement to make but I’m going to make it anyway…. there is not a single thing you can do in 2014 that will have a greater positive impact on your chances of success than having a coach or mentor. If you don’t have a coach or mentor then get one. 

Your motivation is your responsibility but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little coaching along the way. 

Your Last New Year’s Resolution

If you’re like most people you’ll make at least one or two New Year’s Resolutions in the next couple of weeks. If you’re like nearly 90% of the people who make New Year’s Resolutions you won’t keep even one. 

Now, I have no proof to back me up on this but I’d be willing to bet that most of the 10% of people who do keep a resolution keep the “fun” ones. The ones where they resolve to eat more chocolate in 2014. I could keep that one without even trying!

Resolutions fail for a variety of reasons; first they are intangible, not actually real, just kind of a thought. I sort of have the feeling that a good many resolutions are made with the “benefit” of liquid lubrication and hence are soon forgotten completely. There are also lots of scientific reasons why our brain can’t process a weak commitment like a resolution but we won’t get into the heavy science here. 

Whatever the reason this much seems clear; resolutions are just not an effective way to change or improve your life. 

Goals are.

If you want a better 2014 then don’t make resolutions, set goals. I write and speak a lot about a very formal goal-setting process. That’s a big undertaking, many people start that process and just don’t have the discipline to follow-through. So let’s not do the whole goal-setting process here, lets do a little one, an easy one. Let’s talk about setting some goals that anyone, well almost anyone, can achieve. 

Let’s set a goal to change one little habit each month in 2014. You’ll work on one thing in January and by the end of the month when this new thing has become a habit you’ll be ready for another new habit in February. 

If you want this to work for you then here’s what you need to do:

Change only one habit a month. No matter how easy this seems early on, don’t get over-confident and try to take on more. Our chances of over-all success go way down the first time we revert back to “old” habits so focus on ONE thing until it has become a part of you. 

Start small and stay small. You’ve got a year, there is no need to make big changes on any day when you have the perspective that 365 of those days make a year. You need to do something everyday but you don’t have to do everything on any day. If your goal is to lose weight that make it a habit to switch a candy bar for something more healthy at least once a week. Every week! 

Share it with others. Good habit building becomes so much easier when we add accountability. Write down what your new habits will be and tell everyone who cares about you. (Don’t bother telling people who don’t care about you, you’ll find that they are a major obstacle to your success) Ask them to help by checking on you frequently. Report your results to them; go ahead and brag  a little bit, after all, you’re building a better life for yourself. 

Reward yourself. All work and no play doesn’t just make you boring, in all likelihood it makes you less than successful too. If you’re going to develop new, better habits in 2014 then there needs to be something tangible in it for you. That doesn’t make you a selfish or greedy person, it makes you human. That’s just the way it is. So give yourself small rewards along the way; just make certain the rewards don’t conflict with the new habit you’re trying to develop. 

Before we begin how about one final New Year’s Resolution? Let’s all resolve to make no more resolutions. 

Now that’s a habit I could get used to! 

How to Find Courage

I had the opportunity this morning to present to a group of sales professionals. During one part of the presentation I made the comment that fear holds us back. Oftentimes when we need to do something and we can’t make ourselves do it it’s because fear gets in the way. 

I kind of let that thought hang and moved on but it got me to thinking; how do we get past our fear to do the things we need to do in order to succeed. 

I know some of the people in that group read this blog so for those of you who do, feel free to pass this along. For everyone else, I think you’ll find this useful too. I think that because fear is a major obstacle for anyone looking for success, so major in fact that I’m tempted to say THE major obstacle.

We don’t need to look very far to find courage; it’s already within us, all of us. It’s deeper in some people than others but to find success we all simply need to bring it to the surface. Here’s a few ideas on how we might do that:

Push Yourself. Do something, even if it’s small, to push yourself outside your comfort zone every single day. Think differently, admit you could be wrong. Give someone you think you don’t like a second chance. Look at a situation from another person’s point of view.

Trust Yourself. Surround yourself with people who care about you and have your best interests in mind. Your self-confidence and your self-value will improve. If you struggle to believe that “you can do it” then it’s vitally important that you have people near you who will remind you that you can. Stay away from people who would tear you down, they almost certainly do not have your best interests in mind.

Set Meaningful Goals. Make small easily accomplished goals each day. Once that becomes a habit make the goals a little more challenging. Once you teach yourself just how much you can accomplish fear tends to head for the exit. Once it’s out of you it’s very difficult for it to find it’s way back in. 

Control YOUR Attitude. The fastest way to improve your life is to improve your attitude. You can’t control every circumstance of your life but you can control your attitude everyday. A positive attitude is the enemy of fear. When you let other people and events impact your attitude you also let fear inside your head. A positive attitude reminds you how good you can be, it reminds you what you have already accomplished. A positive attitude will help you remember that you’ve overcome fear in the past and can do it again.

Don’t Procrastinate. The best time to take on a difficult task is the first chance you get. Fear doesn’t shrink by pretending it doesn’t exist. Attack it, prove it wrong. Do the most fearful thing you have to do first and the rest of your tasks become easier. When in doubt, DO IT NOW!

Courage is not the absence of fear, courage is doing something, moving forward, making progress, regardless of the fear. Take baby steps, you don’t have to eliminate all fear in a day, you just have to eliminate some fear everyday. 

Go for it!

How to Build a Leader

Good leaders build strong followers. Great leaders build more leaders. If you’re in a leadership position and you’ve built a strong team then good for you. You’re likely a very good leader. If you haven’t developed at least a couple of people who can step right in and fill your shoes then you’re not a great leader, at least not yet.

The ability to develop leaders is a trait that all truly great leaders have. They know that if their team still needs their leadership to succeed then they have yet to fully succeed as a leader. 

Leaders who build leaders do not “spend” their time developing people. They have a totally different mindset, they “invest” their time developing people. 

They develop their people by building trust. They coach, not command. They share their experience and offer advice. They delegate tasks to teach, not to dump work. 

They tell the truth even when it’s hard. They are the model of ethical and morale character for their people. They follow through and do what they say they will do. They know that if their credibility suffers their ability to lead suffers with it. The moment they lose the morale ability to lead their ability to build a leader is gone as well. You see, only a leader can build another leader.

Leaders who build leaders take the blame but give the credit. They redefine failure and use it as a teaching tool. They inspire others to see their potential – then see it themselves and unleash the talent of their people. They let them be wrong and let THEM fix whatever problem was created by the mistake. Their people trust them enough that they feel empowered to take a well considered risk.

Leaders who build leaders divest themselves from the day-to-day problem-solving activities of the organization. Instead they choose to maximize strategic and relationship-building efforts. It’s these relationships that contribute to the forward momentum of the organization rather than causing a “bottleneck” at the leader’s office. 

Leaders who build leaders don’t badmouth, they don’t gossip. They walk the talk and take others along with them. They listen more and talk less, showing that they value the opinions of those who will lead after them. 

Leaders who build leaders are great leaders indeed. They trust themselves enough to develop people who can and will one day take their job. They have the confidence to know that their ability to develop leaders is the one characteristic that will ensure their leadership will far outlast them.