Leading Through Change

This may come as a surprise to some people but change is hard for most of us. It’s also hard to explain exactly why but for those of us who struggle with change we prefer “things” to stay as they are. At least things that affect us personally. 

I for one am not completely against all change, I know lots of people who I wish would change. Change how they talk, what they think, how they look…I mean who doesn’t think the world would be a better place if everyone was exactly like me…or maybe you. 🙂

Since that’s unlikely to ever happen it would benefit all of us if we were a bit more open to change and the differences that come with it. 

Leaders drive change…or at least they should. But many leaders don’t realize how difficult change can be for their people. The leader knows it is a good idea (primarily because it’s their idea) but their people’s initial reaction is frequently one of loss. 

Leaders need to understand that the majority of people feel a sense of loss whenever change happens in their lives. Even if something better is around the corner it’s human nature to focus on the familiar thing we won’t have anymore. People who can’t let go of the familiar, even to receive something better, limit their potential for growth. 

Leaders would do well to keep that in mind and be sure they aren’t just ordering change. They need to be selling change. Especially the benefit of the change. If you’re in a leadership position and you don’t think it’s your responsibility to sell change then you may be in a leadership position but you’re not leading.

If you’re in a leadership position and you can’t think of a benefit to the change then you shouldn’t be changing. And the reason for the change should never be “because I said so.” 

Winston Churchill said, “There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.” Changes made by an organization’s leadership team should be in the direction of the organization’s vision and mission. When it is then the change becomes much easier to sell. If it isn’t then please reread the previous paragraph. 

Authentic Leadership requires a leader to be aware of their team’s struggles with change and communicate the need for change with compassion and empathy. Anything less and the leader will potentially create followers who work to make sure the change isn’t in the right direction. 

On a another subject…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 perhaps 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.

Nothing Works Until You Do

I remember back in the days I was selling Dale Carnegie Training. It can be argued that the Dale Carnegie Organization provides the best training in the world. It is most often argued by those people and companies who sell a competing training program. It is seldom argued by people who have completed a Dale Carnegie Course. 

What can’t be argued is that Dale Carnegie is the oldest training company doing business today. They also have by far the most “graduates” around the world. Despite many companies trying, Carnegie classes have never been successfully duplicated by another company. 

Yet when I was working with Dale Carnegie I refused to guarantee that successful completion of a course would result in the desired outcome. That’s because even though I knew the training would work I had no idea if the participant would. 

Many people who participated in a Dale Carnegie course viewed it as a kind of “magic bullet.” They assumed merely completing the course would be sufficient to experience positive growth and change. 

I remember working with one person from a large window manufacturing company. He was fairly desperate to improve his public speaking skills and was considering the Dale Carnegie Course to help him in that area. He had a lot of questions about the course. Particularly about the requirement that participants give a short presentation during each session. He asked if we had a course that could help him learn to overcome his fear of public speaking without having to actually speak in front of a group. 

I sensed he really wanted to get over that fear but he wasn’t ready to put in the effort required to do it. He wanted the course to do it for him. I declined to sell him the course.

I still see lots of people like that guy. They are willing to invest money or time in training programs but not the effort required to make the training work. They want something to change in their lives without being willing to change anything about themselves.

To those people I would say stop wasting your time and money on training programs. The best trainers and the best content will not work unless you’re personally willing to also work. If you lack the commitment to improve yourself you’re simply not going to improve. You are the only person who can make a long-lasting change to your life or career circumstances. 

You can’t buy confidence. You can’t buy the ability to sell more, you can only buy a course to help you develop those skills on your own. 

There is not a professional or personal development program in the world that will work if you’re not willing to work yourself. Not one. If you find someone trying to sell you a program who says their program “does the work for you” then you should know they are taking advantage of your laziness and lack of commitment to self-improvement. 

If you want to get better at anything then FIRST commit to put in the effort. If you’re unwilling to do that then keep your tuition in your pocket, it’ll do you just as much good there.

On a another subject…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 perhaps 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.

Sticking With What Works

Ya know, there are “things” that just work. But some people insist on trying to make them work better. Why can’t they leave well enough alone?

I vaguely remember, at least I think I remember, seeing an old washing machine in the house where I grew up. Attached to the top of it were a couple of rollers. I don’t remember ever seeing it work but apparently when the washing machine was done you put the clothes through the rollers and it would squeeze all the water out of the clothes. I think those were around for a while so they must have worked at least okay.

Yet somebody decided they didn’t work well enough. So they made the washing machine “better” by adding a cycle where the tub spins around real fast and that somehow forces the water out of the clothes. As I have no experience with the old machines with the rollers I can’t say from experience if the new way is better or not. 

Now most of you are thinking at this point the it’s obvious that the new way of washing clothes is much better than the old way. But here’s my question for you.

If we were back in the day of the old fashioned washing machines how many of you would have taken the initiative to make it better? How many of you would have complained about it every time you washed clothes? How many of you would have said, “somebody ought to do something about this?”

How many of you have ever stopped long enough to realize you’re somebody?

The most successful people don’t ask why. They ask why not. They don’t say “somebody” ought to do it. They say, “I’m going to do it.” The most successful people act on their thoughts. 

Here’s an idea, the next time you see a problem don’t complain about it. Don’t hope “somebody” does something. Make the decision to do something about it yourself. Even if you see something that appears to be working well look a little deeper and ask yourself if it could work better. 

Then do something that most people won’t do…TAKE ACTION. 

Sticking with what works makes sense right up until somebody makes something that works better. Why not be that somebody today?

On a completely different subject…I’m trying something new out over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month people can follow a part of my Twitter steam that is for subscribers only. It features primarily short videos of me talking about the kind of things I tweet and blog about. But the best part is I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular followers. 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!”

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page. http://twitter.com/leadtoday (You may need to refresh the page to see the Super Follow Button) Give it a try if you’re so inclined, I can’t promise it will last for a long time but I can promise the content will be helpful as long as it does. 

Take Charge of Your Life

Almost everyone I talk to says they would like “things” to improve in 2022. When asked to be more specific many of the people say, “you know, just things in general.”

Well, generally speaking “things” don’t improve until somebody improves them. I guess that’s where the “somebody ought to do something” phrase comes from.

People want improvement and they want somebody else to give it to them.

That would be nice if it worked that way and I suppose every once in a while it does. But waiting for “somebody” to do “something” to make your life “better” is kinda like waiting to win the lottery when you haven’t even purchased a ticket.

If you want to be sure of improvement this year then you need to realize that if it’s going to happen then YOU need to take responsibility for making it happen. Don’t wait on anything or anyone. Don’t hope for something good to happen, make something good happen.

Make a plan for self-improvement and then implement the plan. It can be professional improvement or improvement in your personal life. Maybe both. Be aware that some improvement will require that you start doing something that you may not particularly like doing. Other improvement will require that you perhaps stop doing something you like.

Oftentimes what we stop doing has more positive impact on our lives than what we start doing.

There are many things in your life that you don’t control but if you really want a better life then you must control the things you can…and they are many too. The most successful people accept responsibility for their lives.

They accept responsibility for what they do and what they didn’t do that they should have.

Change will happen in the New Year, the question is, will change happen to you or because of you? Will you be in control of your life in 2022 or allow “somebody” else to determine your life’s trajectory?

It’s a simple choice but it’s a choice that only you can make.

If This, Then That, If That, Then This

The problem with making a plan is that the plan often fails. Some unforeseen “thing” happens and the whole plan falls apart.

That’s why I never make a plan. Instead, I make plans. My plans take on the look of a flow chart. It is full of one contingency after another. If this happens then I’ll do that. If that happens then I’ll do this…and on it goes. It is like having plans within your plans.

I review those plans on a regular basis and rewrite them as necessary at the beginning of each New Year. There is no better stress reducer than preparation and that has never been truer than in this particular year.

My “if this, then that” plans could never have foreseen what is happening in the world right now. But the combinations of my “if this, then that” plans do in fact account for nearly every single change and related consequences we’ve seen so far. And for me, as for many of you, some of those have been whoppers.

The whole “if this, then that” strategy comes from a single principle from a life changing book by Dale Carnegie. The title of that book is “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.” It is far from Mr. Carnegie’s most famous work. But people who have also read his legendary “How to Win Friends and Influence People” would give the edge to what Carnegie folks call “The Worry Book.”

The principle says to “Consider the worst that can happen. Accept the worst. Try to improve upon the worst.” I don’t suppose Mr. Carnegie realized it at the time but that translates pretty well into “if that happens I’ll do this, if this happens I’ll do that.

Knowing what you’ll do in difficult circumstances offers you great peace of mind when those circumstances arrive. Making big decisions before they need to be made allows you to make much better decisions.

I guess I’m supposed to be stressed out by all that’s going on around me but I’ve reviewed every single “if this, then that” in my plans. I can’t find a single one that says “be stressed” so there is no stress to be found.

There is no stress because my wife and I are implementing plans we made 25 years ago. Frankly we are a little farther into the “if this, then that” scenarios than we would like to be but that’s fine because we are in complete control of our futures. No one else gets to decide them for us.

You can have that same authority over your life IF you make plans that contemplate every possible outcome. This type of planning takes a pretty serious investment of time but the return on that investment is peace of mind and that my friends is priceless.

I may not get to decide all of my circumstances but I have complete control over how I respond to them. You too can have complete control over the circumstances of your life if you’re willing to make the effort before you need to.

As for me, I’ll just follow my plans because I know exactly where they lead.

Sudden Change

Change can come out of nowhere. As prepared as you think you may be for the unexpected when it arrives it’s still unexpected. But it’s vital that even in the swirl of unknowns you know this one irrefutable fact… you matter.

That means that you must embrace the unknowns and see the incredible world of opportunities before you. Even if at first glance it may look to others as if the rug has been pulled out from under you, always know that you can make the choice to use that rug as a flying carpet to your future.

All change brings with it a sense of loss. That’s perfectly normal. Grab on to that sense of loss, look at it from all directions, become good friends with it, get very very comfortable with it, and then discard it. There are just too many possibilities in the future for you to be concerned about what was in the past.

The world can be a very unfriendly place right now. So make certain that you remain kind. Kind to others of course but also kind to yourself. When sudden, unwanted change comes your way pay particular attention to how you’re talking to yourself. It is far easier to get past the hurtful things others say about you than it is to get over the hurtful things you say about yourself. So do not say them to begin with.

Be kind to yourself. Always.

Whatever you do don’t be mad at the change or the circumstances (or person) that thrust it upon you. Anger is an emotion that burns the precious energy you’ll need for whatever comes next. There is zero return on anger, it is an expensive emotion that no one can afford.

Make thoughtful decisions. Depending on the change you find yourself going through you may be tempted to make quick decisions. Quick does not mean rash. Be thoughtful in your decision making, the future is a long time so try to make your decisions for the long-term. Think things through, the better your decisions today the better all of your tomorrows will be.

Don’t blame others for the circumstances you’re in. Blaming others only slows down your transition to what will be. Change experts describe the time between what was and what will be as the transition phase of change. This is where the rubber meets the road. You will either slip into the past and risk living there or charge eagerly into the future, that choice is entirely yours.

The past presents the opportunity to wallow in a vast pity party. The future presents limitless opportunities for growth and prosperity. I would urge you to seek the future because your next success can only be found there, you’ll never find what’s next by looking behind you.

Many people won’t like to hear this but more than anything else, more than a person, more than circumstances, more then a deadly virus, it’s your past choices, good or bad, that put you in whatever situation you’re in at this very moment. It is the acceptance of that basic fact that will help you make sound choices for your future.

My Grandfather always told me that the most successful people find a way to make a good hand out of whatever cards they are dealt. Play the cards you have whether you like them or not because well, because they are the cards you have. Remember, a pair of threes can beat a pair of Aces if the person with the Aces is afraid to play them.

Now there are some of you who will say “all that’s easy for you to say.” To you I would say nope, not a single word of this is easy for me to say. I would also say listen to what I say but focus on YOU, focus on what YOU think and what YOU do. Remember how this post started…YOU matter.

Do what you need to do to take care of yourself because if you’re not taking care of yourself you can’t take care of anyone else. That reality will never change.

Forward to Normal

I sure have heard from lots of people who are waiting and hoping for things to get back to normal.

While I understand that sentiment there are two mistakes being made when we express it.

The first mistake is waiting. DON’T wait! If you’re waiting for what was normal to return I’m afraid you’re going to have a heck of a long wait. Some people and organizations will emerge from the current situation with the potential to be more successful than they were before. They are not going to create that success by waiting.

They are actively evaluating the events swirling around them to determine what they can control and exactly how they can control it. The key word in the previous sentence is “actively.” They are not ruminating over what is. They are creating what will be whenever “what is” is over.

Don’t wait, begin this very moment to determine your exit strategy from this pandemic. Determine what you do right now. Determine what you’ll do when the world reopens for business and how you will maintain that momentum when things start to feel a little more normal.

Speaking of normal…why would anyone want to go “back” to normal? You will not find your future success behind you. It is simply a waste of time and effort hoping for normal to return. It’s not coming back!

I have no better idea than anyone else what “normal” is going to look like a year from now. But I’d bet your next paycheck that it is not going to look like last year’s normal.

Instead of hoping to get “back to normal” you need to be looking forward to normal.

Normal will be different than normal used to be. We can’t fully go back to what was and that’s okay. Abraham Lincoln said “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” We have an incredible opportunity right now to create the next bit of our future. Don’t let that opportunity pass you by!

I know we all love normal. I’m not a bigger fan of change than anyone else but this much I know for sure….things are going to change. They only question we have to answer is this: Is change going to happen to you or is change going to happen because of you?

If I have to be on the change bus I’d much rather be driving. There are plenty of steering wheels to go around, will you join me in determining the future direction on your life?