A Self Fulfilling Prophecy

This is a story about a prosperous, or formerly prosperous, Hot Dog vendor in a major metropolitan city. He began his business with a single Hot Dog stand in the heart of downtown. He was a gregarious fellow who served excellent all beef Hot Dogs with all the fixins’. 

He could talk up a storm and always had something of interest to share with his customers. His customer base expanded over the first couple of years. His profits grew to the point he was able to pay for his son to attend one of the finest universities. 

The dad continued to do well with his Hot Dog business too. So well in fact that he added several additional stands throughout the city along with a handful of employees. All while his son was away at school. By any measure his business was booming. 

His son graduated with a degree in finance and triumphantly returned home. Upon learning of his father’s rapid growth he was shocked and concerned. He told his dad that he was very likely growing his business too fast. He added that the economy was on the cusp of a recession and he needed to downsize to “protect” his business. His business was sure to decline and he would be stuck with overhead and bills he wouldn’t be able to pay. 

The dad was surprised and disturbed by this news. He had no idea about the “mistakes” he had been making. All his bills were paid. He had no debt. His customers and employees were all happy and his profits were continuing to grow. But he had no formal education and his son had a newly minted degree. So he decided to follow his son’s advice. 

He immediately closed one of his stands and as his son had predicted sales began to decline. So he closed a second stand and once again, as his son had predicted sales and profits fell even further. 

Over the course of the year he laid off all of his employees and closed all but his original Hot Dog stand. Sales were once again at the level of years earlier before his son had gone off to school. 

The dad was amazed at how accurate his son’s “predictions” were and thanked him immensely for “saving” his business. 

Now this isn’t a true story but it very well good be. And if you’re not careful it could be your story too. 

As we continue in our turbulent times and approach a recession, or maybe already are in a recession, the “experts” will be out in force. The naysayers and doom makers will have ample “evidence” as to why you can’t succeed. Listen intently, use what you can from their “insights” but always always always decide for yourself. 

You know you better than anyone else. You know what you’re capable of. You know your business. You know your marketplace and your customers. The consultants and experts can add to your knowledge base but they can’t decide for you unless you allow them to. 

Never allow them to. Don’t become so “data driven” that you allow data to take over for your critical thinking skills. There was zero data to indicate any consumer demand for something called an iPod or a touch screen phone. But Steve Jobs went with his gut and moved forward anyway. It seems to have worked out reasonably well. There are still “experts” predicting the imminent death of the iPhone but I’ll bet Apple builds a few more next year anyway.

Good business plans, excellent leadership, sound values, integrity based principles, and undeterred perseverance will always win in the long run. Don’t let anyone who doesn’t truly know you and your business tell you otherwise. 

And never let their “predictions” become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

On a different subject… Everyone can use a “nudge” towards success. I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

The Importance of Recognition 

All leaders understand the importance of giving their people timely and meaningful recognition. But not all leaders demonstrate that they understand that importance. Many fall into the trap called the tyranny of the urgent. They get so busy doing things that appear urgent that they allow the important things to fall into oblivion. 

They pay a steep price for that mistake. Failing to recognize deserving team members leads to higher turnover. Especially these days. Failure to recognize top talent significantly decreases their level of engagement. An organization’s most expensive employees are not the ones who are the highest paid. They are the ones who are least engaged. 

When recognition falls so does employee performance. Especially the performance of an organization’s best people. 

In a recent survey of a cross section of employees from various industries the question was asked, “What is the most important thing that your company or manager does that causes you to produce great work? Employees answered in their own words but a clear pattern emerged. 37% of respondents said that more personal recognition would encourage them to produce better work more often. That is 3 times the second place answer which was “nothing.”

The survey also showed that recognition makes employees feel that promotions are fair. It spurs innovation and drives extra effort. Recognition is also the single greatest driver of positive company culture. 

None of that comes as a surprise to an experienced leader. But even experienced leaders struggle with their priorities. The urgent things that come with managing a business take priority over the importance of leading people. 

Authentic Leaders put recognizing their people at or very near the top of their daily priority list. They block time to recognize people. Their recognition goes well beyond a simple “nice job.” They can state, with great specificity, how their employee’s effort had a positive impact on the organization. Many times that recognition will also come in the form of a hand-written note. They know that investing a few minutes to jot down their thoughts increases the significance of the recognition ten-fold. 

Being “busy” is absolutely no excuse for failing to provide consistent recognition to the people you lead. In fact, it’s when your organization is at it’s busiest that your people most need recognition. And yes, I said need. Recognition is the fuel that lights their fire of productivity. It fuels their determination to excel.

It’s really this simple…if you want your people to perform at a higher level then you’re gonna need to lead at a higher level.  Giving recognition is a key character trait of a high performing leader. So stop reading and go give a deserving member of your team some recognition RIGHT NOW.

On a different subject… Everyone can use a “nudge” towards success. I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

Negative Stress Has No Benefits

Everyone experiences stress in their lives from time to time. Some of that stress is forced upon them and some of it they create themselves. But no matter where it originates from it is likely not good for them.

I say likely because some stress is actually positive, although it may not feel like it at the time. Some stress pushes you out of your comfort zone and drives you to take action. You would accomplish much less if there were absolutely no stress in your life. 

But the fact is that much of the stress in people’s lives is negative stress. The kind that has zero benefit. The negative stress that is piled on people by bosses, uncontrollable circumstances and the like is the toughest to deal with. But if you can think about the stress in your life with a clear head you may discover that much of the uncontrollable stress in actually controllable. 

When you continuously allow people into your life who do nothing but add stress to it then that’s on you. That’s something you can control. You only have to decide that you will.

Many times people manufacture their own stress. There are a few ways people do that. 

One is they become mind readers. Here’s a typical example. You’re in a big meeting and you see your boss leave the room with his boss. Now there’s only one thing they could be talking about out in that hallway…it must be you. You wonder what you did. You wonder if there’s any chance it’s a conversation about something you’ve done right. But you quickly decide it is not. And presto, just like that you start stressing. The amazing thing is that there are likely other people in the room stressing like you. Stop reading minds because it is highly unlikely you’re any good at it. You’re only manufacturing stress that does you no good.

The second way to manufacture stress out of thin air is to mistake feelings for facts. People, like me for instance, often mistake their feelings for reality. If you want to see how that works just watch a Hallmark movie. At some point, usually with about 20 minutes left there will be a huge misunderstanding and someone’s feelings will be hurt. The person assumes what they feel is based on facts but low and behold, with mere seconds left in the movie it’s all straightened out and two people live happily ever after. 

The problem is life isn’t a Hallmark movie. The misunderstanding often doesn’t get straightened out and the stress we manufacture has huge consequences, sometimes those consequences last a very long time. If you’re not CERTAIN about the FACTS of a situation ask for clarification. Even if you run the risk of looking stupid it’s better than being stupid by creating unnecessary stress in your life. 

And then there’s this…people turn molehills into mountains. That do that by catastrophizing. They turn every little problem into a catastrophe. Every mistake is the end of the world. Every problem becomes an insurmountable obstacle. They are doomed. This kind of manufactured stress increases day by day until the person is paralyzed into inactivity. All this because of what is essentially an over active imagination. 

You can eliminate much of the stress in your life by understanding it’s origins. A whole bunch of it likely is self-created. When you feel that happening the best thing you can do is disconnect from the situation, even if only for a few minutes. Talk a walk, call a friend. Ask for help. Or do what I do, eat some ice cream. You’ll find that to be particularly effective. 

There will be circumstances outside of your control that add stress to your life. Don’t add to it by creating more of your own. 

On a different subject… Everyone can use a “nudge” towards success. I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

Misguided Pride

I think pride gets a bad rap. Pride is good. Parents should be proud of their kids. (Hopefully their kids give them reasons to be proud) Leaders should be proud of the people and teams they lead. It’s great, and even necessary, to take pride in your own efforts. Being proud of what you do and how you do it can promote healthy self-esteem. 

The key word in that previous sentence is “can.”

People begin to notice when you have success. They tell you how good you are. Hearing that you are doing something right, or doing something better than other people, never gets old. But…

When you’re in a leadership position people may start commenting on what a great job you’re doing building the team. That’s nice to hear. But sometimes you’re better off not hearing it and if you do you’re way better off not believing it. 

As an Authentic Leader you have a positive impact on your organization. You may even bring out the best in your people. But you didn’t put the best in them, it was already there. You helped them bring it to the surface. You didn’t give them the potential for greatness, you merely helped them discover it was there all along. 

When someone points out that the team “couldn’t have done it without you” your first, second, and third thoughts should be that you couldn’t have done it without the team. Every Authentic Leader knows full well that their success is completely dependent upon the success of the team and people they lead. 

Authentic Leaders help people succeed in many ways. The key word in that sentence is “help.” The success of the people you lead is theirs, not yours. When you become too proud of their success that you start believing their success actually belongs to you then you immediately begin to lose the opportunity to Authentically Lead. 

Your people stop performing for you. Their engagement level drops. Their commitment level disappears. You lose them. By then it’s often too late to recover, your misguiding pride has led you away from the people you used to lead.

So as a leader go ahead and be proud of the fact that you’ve helped other people, maybe even lots of other people. Celebrate their accomplishments with them but never forget they own their accomplishments, not you. You were and are, merely the guide on their path to success. 

Self-esteem is a vital ingredient for a happy and fulfilled life. Some level of pride is required for self-esteem. Just remember, there is a substantial difference between being proud and being prideful. 

On a different subject… Everyone can use a “nudge” towards success. I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

The Two Absolute Rules for Success

There are two rules that the most successful people do not break. Ever!

The first involves the sharing of information. Too many people, including people in leadership positions, believe that knowing something that no one else knows gives them power over the unknowing people. That’s often not accurate but the reality is that sometimes it’s true. 

You won’t find many leaders who like rumors floating around their organizations. Still some of those leaders withhold information from their people. That demonstrates a complete lack of understanding on where rumors come from. 

Rumors come from a lack of information. People need and want information about the organizations that employ them. When they lack that information it’s like it leaves an empty spot inside of them. If the emptiness persists too long they find information to fill it. Some of that information may be accurate, some may not. Much of it comes from the rumor mill. Rumors cause people to disengage from their organization. Rumors are poison to productivity. Information is the medicine that stops rumors in their tracks. 

Yet still, many supposed leaders do not share information. Information that would help their people remained engaged and productive. 

Effective leaders know that in most cases information doesn’t become truly powerful until it is shared with people who can use it to take action. The action might be to create something new. Improve something that was thought to be working well. Or perhaps change something in a direction previously thought impossible. 

That why I encourage leaders to share as much information with their teams as possible. 

Even understanding the first absolute rule for success, I still encourage leaders to provide their people with as much information as possible. 

So, what is the first absolute rule for success? Here it is…Never tell anyone everything you know. I agree with that rule because there is stuff that each of us know that provides no benefit to anyone else. If it doesn’t help someone then why tell them? 

So, you’re now probably wondering about the second absolute rule for success. Well, I’d love to tell you but the first rule says….

People Believe What They Want to Believe

Current research says that between 27 and 33% of Americans believe the moon landing was a hoax. My dad is a member of the NASA Hall of Fame. He worked on the Apollo program. I got to meet a few of the Astronauts. I sat in the Lunar Excursion Module. Tranquility Base and the Eagle are every bit as real today as they were in 1969. 

And yet there is nothing that can be said or done to convince almost a third of Americans that their country landed men on the moon and returned them home safely. 

People believe what they want to believe. 

Unfortunately, the moon landing isn’t the only thing people don’t believe. They don’t believe in themselves either. They don’t believe in their own unique talents and skills. They don’t believe that they have the ability, built within themselves, to be as successful as any person who has ever lived. 

They live a life punctuated with self-doubt and hesitation so strong that it is virtually paralyzing. 

Successful people are not free of self-doubt but they do find ways to overcome it and believe in themselves. 

First, they remember their past successes. They don’t dwell in the past but they have the ability to remind themselves that they have overcome obstacles before and can very likely do it again. They recall that feeling of uncertainty and that even though they may have had some setbacks on their way to success they DID in fact succeed in the end. The belief that they can succeed again is born from their past successes. 

Highly successful people do not compare their success to others. They know that comparison is the thief of joy. They reject the paralyzing feeling that comes from the fear of not accomplishing as much as someone else. They stay on their own path, striving to achieve their own goals, regardless of what somebody else does or thinks. 

They are very mindful of the thoughts they allow into their head. They shun negative inputs. They feed their brains with positive motivation and just smile when negative people tell them they aren’t being “realistic.” Successful people know that the most realistic thing they can possible do is believe in themselves, in both good times and bad. 

People who believe in themselves can readily identify their Core Values. They know what drives them. They know what, and who, matter in their lives. The life they live is solidly aligned with those values and that makes criticism from others far less detrimental. Those Core Values guide them in the direction of their goals and erases self-doubt when it pops up. 

Successful people make mistakes but mistakes don’t define them. They are defined by their belief that their attitude and efforts will result in a life well lived, whether anyone else thinks it was well lived or not. 

Believe in yourself. Believe in the value you bring to this world. Believe that you are special. Believe that you matter. Believe that you can make a difference. Believe it all because every word of it is true, whether you’re on planet earth or the moon. 

On a different subject… Everyone can use a “nudge” towards success. I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

You Control the Effort You Put Forth

When I say I’ve worked my whole life that’s a little exaggeration. I actually didn’t get my first paying job until I was 5 years old. 

We lived very near the fairgrounds of the Minnesota State Fair. My older brother, who was 7, lined up some work for us painting tractor tires in an area of the fair known as Machinery Hill. We were paid 5 cents for each large rear tire we painted. 

I wasn’t very good at it, in fact I don’t think I actually finished even one tire, but I did succeed in covering myself almost head to toe in cheap whitewash. At the end of the day the guy who hired us paid me a full 25 cents. I don’t recall why but I’m sure it must have had something to do with the superior effort I put forth even if my results were somewhat lacking. 

Anyway, I had a quarter and I was euphoric. 

My euphoria didn’t last very long because my big brother “forgot” to tell our mom where we were going all day. Since the fair was starting in a few days and my brothers had “disappeared” there in previous years she had a good idea where we were so she wasn’t terribly concerned. (Remember those days when that kinda thing was still safe?)

But she also made clear that the fairgrounds were no place for a 5 year old and my painting career was finished. 

I liked the quarter but what I  really liked was getting more money than my brother even though he painted more tires than me. Maybe that’s why I, to this day, try to give a superior effort. It’s something I can control. 

You can control it as well. You have complete control over the amount of effort you put forth in accomplishing anything. You may not have all the skills someone else has. They may have better tools, better training and more experience. You can’t control any of that. That however should never be an excuse for not controlling what you can. Your level of effort is completely within your control. 

You may not get a whole quarter for your effort but if you consistently give 100% effort you will eventually reap the rewards. You will be recognized. You will be rewarded. But only if you keep putting forth that effort whether the rewards and recognition happen overnight or not.

People who are persistent earn success. People who are consistently persistent keep it. 

Are you willing to put forth the effort to be consistently successful? 

On a another subject…Donald Trump and Joe Biden both say they “never miss a video from LeadToday on Twitter!” Well… they would say that if they had ever heard of me, or if one of them hadn’t been kicked off Twitter. The videos they aren’t talking about are something new I’m trying on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.