leveraging connection & collaboration for improved performance
Undercover Boss is a CBS TV show. The storyline is always the same. A senior executive (CEO, COO, etc.) goes undercover inside their own company with a disguise. For a week they pretend to be contestants in a reality TV show where they’re competing for a job. Each day they do a different job in the company. For example, last week the CEO of The Larry H. Miller Group Of Companies, owners of the Utah Jazz NBA team, Greg Miller (his dad was Larry H.) went undercover. He helped put down the basketball flooring in the arena, he worked the concession stands, he worked as part of the half-time dunk team and he also worked in the crowd with the folks who help give fans in the upper deck a great fan experience. That’s the sort of thing that happens in each episode.
Along the way, the boss interacts up close and personal with whoever is training him and showing him the ropes. These workers share their insights about the work, the company and their own personal lives. The bosses all quickly discover that by being in the trenches they see things that need improvement. They also find employees who are battling adversity at work and at home. It’s part human interest story, part business lesson and part entertainment.
In the end, the undercover boss reveals his true identity and rewards the employees with recognition and some personal help (last week, Greg Miller paid off some medical bills, a car loan and gave some money to employees for college funds). I find every episode heart warming as you hear the stories of courage, commitment and dedication – and as you see the boss connect with front line people in a very meaningful way!
Do you have to put on a disguise and fool your employees in order to become a better boss? Maybe it helps get some firsthand stories and information, but there are other things every boss can do to learn the same things we see the Undercover Boss learn.
1. Become a student, not a teacher.
The first thing you see every Undercover Boss do is take on a job they don’t know how to do. They introduce themselves (as their alias) to an employee, usually a relatively low level person doing the actual job, not a supervisor. The employee shows them the work, teaches them, then lets them give it a try. Almost always the boss stumbles. Sometimes they stumble badly.
Over the course of doing this lower level work the boss always comes to understand the job is much tougher than they thought. By doing this work they have a new appreciation for the commitment of the employees doing thankless work. The benefit of the disguise is that it forces the boss to remain incognito. That forces the boss to be a student and stay a student without pulling the “boss card.”
As a boss, can you devote yourself to being a student of lower level employees? Can you commit yourself to “stay in character” as a student? Well, the more you can do that…and the longer you can sustain it without thinking you’re too good for this, the better. You’ll quickly learn to appreciate the work and the worker! Additionally, you’ll be in a position to serve better because you’ll be armed with better information to remove the constraints that may be hindering improved performance. That’s the beauty of the boss doing this tough work – the boss has the authority to affect real change!
Lower yourself. Be willing to go to the factory floor, the sales floor, the accounting clerk’s cubicle, or any other place where the work is happening. No job is too low. Or too high (obviously). Become the student and behave like a student. Lose yourself in the moment and stay there for as long as it takes to learn all you can.
2. Get personal by being personable.
In the course of being vulnerable enough to become a student, the Undercover Boss always finds out more about the person teaching them. If not during the work, then on a break, the boss will ask about the employee’s family. It’s during these conversations that the human element of the work comes to the forefront. Employees often talk of family medical woes, children who need special attention, a recent death or some other challenge that burdens them away from work. Naturally, the employee, not knowing it’s the big cheese sitting across from them, will ask the Undercover Boss about their family, too. It’s what we all do if we have an ounce of empathy, we reciprocate.
These are often the conversations that hit the boss the hardest. Hearing these stories of hardship seem to always make the boss realize how exceptional many employees are because they’re often very good as masking their problems. For example, a young lady at the Utah Jazz basketball games is all smiles and bubbly with fans during the game. Privately, the Undercover Boss finds out her heart is heavy because her mom is under tremendous financial strain as the result of unpaid medical bills. Had the boss not asked about her personal life, he couldn’t have possibly known because she was so good at her job of making sure fans had a great time!
As you’re being taught, be interested in the person teaching you. Engage them just the way any peer would. Ask about their family. Get to really know them. Avoid making it a one-way street. Be vulnerable by sharing your story with them. I don’t mean your corporate accolades, but your family struggles. Don’t make it a one-upsmanship contest, but make them feel like they know you better in the same way you’re trying to get to know them better.
3. Thank and recognize employees for their work.
The Undercover Boss eventually reveals himself to the employees one at a time. Right away, the boss compliments the employee with personal recognition. “I was so impressed with how you went about doing your job of making sure the fans were having a great time. Your energy and personality are a true gift to our fans and I appreciate your work very much.” Any employee’s heart would soar if a boss told them that.
So why don’t more bosses do that?
Why don’t YOU thank and recognize employees and their work more (and better)?
I’m thinking of all the times we’ve seen professional athletes perform well in the face of great adversity. As I record this episode we’re in the throws of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the National Hockey League. The New York Rangers are currently doing battle against the Montreal Canadiens. The Rangers began their playoff run in pretty lackluster fashion until some adversity struck their locker room. Martin St. Louis, a player who just entered their locker room at the trade deadline mere months ago, lost his mom just days before Mother’s Day. Her death was unexpected and naturally his teammates felt badly for him. After spending a brief time with his family, he returned the team because he said it’s what his mom would have wanted. He played in the very next game refusing to leave his teammates. It had a profound impact on the locker room. His teammates pulled together like never before. The team went on a winning spree and advanced to the next round. During the break between rounds, his mother’s funeral was attended by the entire team and coaching staff. Martin St. Louis played extremely well during all of this. We applaud such valiant effort…when we see it in athletes.
But we don’t do that at work. Why not?
Mostly because we haven’t a clue what adversity others are facing. And we don’t care. We tell ourselves that it’s none of our business. We convince ourselves that work is work and the work must be done.
It’s a mistake that leaders make every single day. Drive your employees hard. Demand high performance. But you’ve got to take the time – make the time – to thank and recognize employees for their work.
Let me appeal to your business sensibilities.
How much does thanks and recognition cost? NOTHING other than a bit of time. NOTHING other a bit of awareness and effort on your part. The capital investment is NOTHING. Well, it can be nothing. Sure, you can give people awards or rewards. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, just remain focused on thanking and recognizing.
What’s the ROI on thanks and recognition? IMMEASURABLE. Maybe somebody smarter than me can quantify it, but in all my years of leading people and managing processes I’ve never been able to. However, I do know it’s a bit like those MasterCard commercials. It’s priceless. How can you measure the power of feeling good…or having high morale?
Athletes talk about being “in the zone.” It can happen with your employees, too. As the boss you can impact helping people find the zone. The most effective way you can do that is by thanking them and recognizing them for the work they do.
If you want your sales team to sell more, thank and recognize them. Then sit back and watch them sell more.
If you want your accounting staff to process paperwork more efficiently, thank and recognize them. Then stand back and watch them find ways to be more efficient.
If you want your engineering staff to solve problems faster, thank them and recognize them. Then sit back and watch them find a faster gear.
Every boss I’ve ever worked with knows and understands that you get what you reward, but few of them make that part of their daily work habit. Most bosses are given to the stick and carrot business model except they gravitate toward using the stick and forgetting about the carrot. If employees never get to taste the carrot, but they’re constantly being beaten with the stick…in time they’ll quickly learn the carrot is fictional. Nothing will move them toward higher performance. Eventually, you’ll leave your people beaten to death by the side of the road. And it’s YOUR fault as the boss.
Catch people doing good work. Look for it. Search it out. Do that every day. Do it every hour.
Make it your business to lead the cheers to celebrate victories by merely thanking people and letting them know how genuinely appreciative you are of their work. Will it take effort? Yes, especially if you’ve never been used to doing it (and that includes far too many bosses). But keep doing it. Make it a trademark of your leadership and you’ll be rewarded more than you ever imagined by people who will run through a wall for you – because we all want to be recognized and feel special. It’s your job as the boss to make employees feel special. Don’t neglect it.
4. Reward good work with a gift.
The Undercover Boss will dole out rewards to the employees at the end of each show. It may be a contribution to a father for his children’s college fund. Maybe it’s a paid trip to Disneyland. This past week the owner of the Utah Jazz paid off the car loan of an employee and bought him a second car because he and his wife both worked 2 jobs each, all with one car between them.
I’m not saying you’ve got to buy new cars or give away expensive trips, but I am saying you can’t neglect investing rewards in your employees. Yes, that means spending some money. How much? That’s up to you.
Don’t be fooled into the stupid idea that because you can’t do it for everybody, then you won’t do it for anybody. Rewards are democratic. Nor are they always systematic or automatic. In fact, the kind of rewards I’m talking about have nothing to do with compensation. So don’t think about commissions or bonuses here because that’s not what I’m talking about. The Undercover Boss doesn’t dole out extra commissions or bonuses. The boss recognizes the work and the employee and gives them a gift.
Husbands, do you give your wife a gift on your wedding anniversary? Why do you do that?
Moms, do you give your kids a gift on their birthday? Why?
Just because another year has passed? That warrants a gift?
No, it’s not merely the passing of another year. It’s the fact that this person is important to you. You love them. You want to show them. The gift is an expression (not the only expression) of that love and concern.
When you – the boss – give an employee a gift as a reward and recognition for good work you’re letting them know how important they are to you and the organization. The difference between these gifts and those anniversary or birthday gifts is they’re completely random based on the extraordinary work of an employee. On Undercover Boss the employees never expect what the boss does for them. That’s how it should be in your organization. Your gifts of recognition shouldn’t be expected. Employees expect commissions and bonuses, provided they know the rules going in and they’ve met the standard. That’s not the same thing. That’s compensation, not a gift.
A gift is surprise that says, “I appreciate all you do.” Don’t ruin it by making it some standard, systematized practice. Keep it random. Keep it fresh and surprising.
Be gracious. These are gifts and they can be whatever you want, given however you want. Don’t sweat keeping score. Don’t try to make things equal. If once a year you want to give an employee an all expenses paid trip to Disneyland, do it. Don’t avoid it because you can’t give that to every employee. If six times a year you want to give an employee an Apple iPad or some other cool toy, do it. Remember, make it unexpected and surprising. Make it genuine and show employees that you’re doing it because you know how hard they work, how well they work and that they make a difference in your company!
Today is Memorial Day in America. It’s a day when our country celebrates the ultimate sacrifice made by members of the armed forces throughout history. Many people are off work today. Families spend time outside together enjoying a day off – a 3-day weekend. If you’re a boss, do yourself a favor. Take a bit of time to consider all the benefits of becoming a better boss by embracing the strategies of Undercover Boss. Make the lives of your employees memorable by showing them how important they are to your success as a leader, and how meaningful they are to the work of your organization. You want your employees to be better, don’t you? Then why don’t you show them how determined you are to show them how willing you are to be better, too?
Have a safe, happy Memorial Day. Then tomorrow, get busy making this week memorable for your employees.
Today’s “quick hit” is 10:49 minutes long.
A student ends up competing with the teacher. The teacher is sore about it, but he shouldn’t be.
Consider the real estate business. A rookie agent goes to work for a broker. Fresh from getting her license she’s got to hang her shingle somewhere to get started. She finds a broker who agrees to take her on, give her a home base from which to operate and some ongoing learning in a hands on environment. Both the agent and the broker are thrilled…at the beginning.
During the first year Susan earned her stripes. She hustled and put forth extraordinary effort. It was clear she was in it for the long haul. Unlike so many other rookies who quit within the first year, she was determined that her career in real estate will be successful right now, and in the future, too.
Lots of hustling on her part and some terrific tutoring from the broker result in first year commissions in excess of $150,000. Yes, it was a year of 7 day work weeks without taking a single day off except when she got the flu for about 3 days. Sundays, weekends, evenings – all hot times for real estate showings meant devotion to her career over her personal life. But that was okay because she knew what she’d have to do to soar as high as possible in year one. The broker, her boss, was very impressed.
She sustained this for the next year and ended up topping out commissions for year two at just over $200,000. Not bad considering that the median income for real estate agents is just over $39,000. In her first two years she figured she had put in almost 6,500 hours (a full time job is 2080 hours a year and includes 2 weeks of vacation). Her 2-year total didn’t include the time she spent reading, studying and doing her best to jump the learning curve.
As she enters year three she’s given a killer opportunity with another broker who specializes in higher end properties. It’s a great opportunity brought about because her hustle has become well known in real estate circles. There’s a reason this other broker is wanting to add her to his team. She decides to make the leap and who could blame her?
Her first boss, that’s who!
He’s so angry he can’t see straight. Like too many bosses he takes it as a personal insult, even though he’d be doing the very same thing if he were in her shoes. But he’s not. He’s in his own shoes and he’s a self-centered, arrogant bully. After she has told him of her decision – which she did face to face in the most respectful way she could – he blew up at her by reminding her of how he took her in when she was a rookie. It was during that rant that he said what too many bosses have said to an employee, “I taught you everything you know!”
For starters, it’s not true. She learned by working her tail off. He taught her so she could earn him the broker’s portion of the commission. She became a rainmaker and earned him lots of money. More money than any other rookie in year one. And more than any other second year agent. Well, to be fair to her work – she earned him more than all the other rookie agents combined because more than half of them didn’t make it a full year before they quit. In year two, she blew away the remaining agents who started when she did. Her boss got his cut. She earned her keep, but he’s working hard to lay as much guilt on her as possible.
It works. She leaves torn up, feeling like a traitor. It wasn’t personal for her, it was simply a professional opportunity she wasn’t going to get by staying put. For her boss, he made it personal and viewed it as a betrayal.
Fortunately, her new boss isn’t like her old one. He’s a terrific mentor with a thriving agency that caters to the rich and famous. He assures her that his relationship with her is professional and that her hard work is why he’s bringing her into his firm. Without saying a word about her old boss, he tells her how excited he is to have her start because he knows she’ll excel. She leaves his office feeling much better. She’s no longer feeling like a traitor, now she’s angry at her old boss because she knows he’s a bully. She also knows he’s wrong.
He didn’t teach her everything. He did teach her some things, but he was also rewarded by her productivity. He only began to teach her some things after she stood head and shoulders above her rookie peers. Her performance caught his attention and garnered more tutoring. Bully or no, he was smart enough to know where he needed to invest some teaching and training.
It’s the classic case of an executive arguing with another executive about the training budget for employees.
Executive 1: “What happens if we invest more in developing our people and then they leave us?”
Executive 2: “What happens if we don’t invest more in developing our people and they stay?”
As they say in New Orleans, “True dat!”
If you’re a boss, or any kind of authority figure, do not be insulted when people leave. You must avoid taking it or making it personal. It’s immature, childish and unprofessional.
If you’re not the boss and you find yourself confronted with this type of reaction…well, let’s back up a bit. First, make sure you handle your departure with professionalism and grace. That means you don’t just walk away. Give an appropriate notice. I don’t know your situation, but you know what’s right. Maybe it’s 2 weeks. Maybe it’s longer. Don’t make it shorter. Be aware that you may be asked to leave immediately. Be prepared for that. Financially and emotionally.
Okay, you’ve done the right thing by giving proper notice. Now, the bully hits you with “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me!” Perhaps followed by, “I taught you everything you know.”
Don’t respond with a defensive posture. It won’t help. Zig during the bully’s zag. The more animated and angry he/she gets, the calmer and cooler you should be.
Thank your boss for the opportunity. Don’t be bullied into revealing more than you’d like. Part of the bully tactic may be to find out all they can about where you’re going, especially if you’re staying in the same industry. Resist and pretend you’re a prisoner of war who refuses to give any sensitive information to the enemy. Remain politically correct (it irks me to even write that, but it’s the wise course). Repeat your thanks for the opportunity and express, if you’d like, how disappointed you are that they see this as a personal betrayal because it’s not. It’s simply a professional decision that better suits you right now.
Leave on the best terms possible. Be gracious in your exit. The hard part is protecting your feelings. Don’t be hurt by the bully’s harshness. It’s likely he’d be just as harsh with anybody else sitting there. He takes everything personally when he’s on the receiving end. However, when he’s on the delivering end – perhaps firing an employee – it’s strictly business. Trust me when I tell you, he’s self-centered and has no concerns for you. He’s only thinking of himself in all matters. It’s how he’s made up his mind he’s going to view the world and you’re not going to change that. Do not try!
Walk away as peacefully and quietly as possible. Avoid getting sucked into long, laborious dialogue with the bully. He’ll likely go for that, especially if he doesn’t want you to leave. His goal will be to guilt you into staying, or guilt you into feeling horrible. Keep the conversation brief, on point and cordial (at least on your part).
Be firm that your decision is made (if indeed it is). Be clear that it’s not a ploy to gain any advantage from him. Thank him for the opportunity (do this more than once, but don’t over do it). If you’re allowed to remain throughout the notice period, assure him you’re going to do everything in your power to tie up whatever loose ends remain because you want to leave on the highest note possible.
Then, move on with your life and excel in your new position. Don’t look back. Remember Lot’s wife (she turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back – Gen. 19:26).
It’s been years since you studied the parts of speech.
Verbs express actions. That’s why great business leaders love verbs. Like the Ben Franklin quote, they put the emphasis and value on action. By the way, I agree with Ben’s quote, but only partly. I think how we say things matters. It matters for two fundamental reasons: a) it conveys the proper mission to our team members and b) it conveys our intentions toward our customers.
Most of us lean toward using the terms and phrases we regularly hear. It’s why business speak is so common place. Sit in a conversation with a group of business executives and you’ll be hard pressed to distinguish between them because they’ll all tend to sound the same. No wonder…they all have a similar vocabulary.
A few verbs have always driven me nuts. For instance, walk into any retail store and you’ll be greeted with, “Can I help you?”
Somebody, somewhere came up with that and very few companies devote themselves to coming up with something better. Truth is, just about anything would be better because it would at least make you unique if you didn’t follow the herd. No creativity. No effort. Just blindly uttering the same thing time after time, day after day. Never thinking about how negatively it’s impacting their business.
A classic case of this insanity is told by Jeffrey Gitomer, famed sales trainer. For more than 20 years I’ve been a Gitomer fan and customer. I’ve given away more copies of his book, “Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty Is Priceless” than any other book. Hands down!
He tells of a time when he checked into a hotel after traveling all day, with boxes of books and materials for his presentation the next day. It was raining and it had been a long day. He stood in line to check in and the desk clerk never looked up, but said, “Next.” Jeffrey stepped to the counter and was greeted with the ever creative question, “Checking in?”
In his usual snarky way (which is likely why I’m a fan), he’s telling the audience this story to prove the point. “No, I’m here for my hair transplant.” He goes on to say, “Wouldn’t we all just drop dead if we were greeted with something far better like, ‘You look like you could use a room and I’ve got just the thing?'” Indeed we would. And he correctly argues that the same time and effort it took to use the boring greeting could have easily given way to a far better one if only people (and companies) would pre-think with some creativity.
But they don’t!
I’m a fan of words because I’m a communicator. Words convey our thoughts, feelings and ideas. We should give them more attention.
I’ll give you a short list of the words I love (and have used for years):
That’ll give you an idea. Just look at my happiness guarantee on the Hire Me page and you’ll get an even better glimpse. I never want a client to be satisfied. That’s not good enough. I want them to be happy! Elated, even.
Sit down today and examine how you answer the phones, how you greet prospects, how you talk with customers and all the other moments of truth that exist in your organization. Rework them. Get creative. Be unique. Stand apart from the crowd by using words that properly (you can’t say one thing and do something different) convey how you strive to serve people.
The other day I heard a man talk about how his great grandfather had his own business. His grandfather and his father also had their own businesses. Now, he had his own business. Four generations of business owners, including the current generation!
You’re thinking, “What a great family tradition. I wish I had entrepreneurship in my DNA like that.” Wait a minute though. Tap the brakes.
He went on to say that none of them, including him, had experienced financial success. He summed it up by saying, “We’ve all struggled and never broken through.”
Four generations of business ownership seems impressive until you get that last little truth.
In 2012 the median income in America was $51,017. The great grandson figures he’s made more money in a single year – in hard dollars – than his father or grandfather. It was under $50,000. He’s not been able to crack the median income. Struggling with failure is a daily feeling for him. “How can you feel like you’ve broken through simply because you work for yourself?” he asks. Everybody thinks working for yourself is the road to financial and lifestyle freedom.
And it can be, but it’s not an automatic outcome.
We’ve all heard that. Define all. Does “all” mean your family? Your wife? Your kids? Does “all” mean your health? Does “all” mean your convictions and beliefs? Business pundits who tell us how to achieve success may back pedal at these questions, but if ALL doesn’t include these things, then how many other things are excluded? Sounds to me like all doesn’t mean all, or even nearly all. Or does it?
Sacrifice Means Giving Up Some Things So You Can Claim More Valuable Things
I’m not telling you that success – even financial success, if we want to limit our discussion to money – hinges on risking everything. I don’t believe it. For every person who claims to have put everything at risk to make it financially I can show you others who will admit they didn’t risk much at all. Life just isn’t so cut and dried or simple. It’s very complex with more variables than I’m able to quantify.
Here’s what I do know to be true – you must be willing to sacrifice some things if you’re going to have some things of higher value. Fitness is going to require you sacrifice morning donuts, mid-afternoon soft drinks and late night pizza gorge-fests. A successful marriage is going to require self-sacrifice, not hanging with your buddies too much, not spending 80 hours a week working and tons of other sacrifices. Raising children, if you’re going to succeed, is going to demand lots of sacrifices. All kinds.
“Yes, I want all those things…and I want to be rich, too.” I’m not saying that’s impossible, but I am saying it’s improbable. It’s foolish to think you’ll buck the odds and it can happen for you. It might, but you’re likely going to be very disappointed.
Yes, making money is important. Yes, having a great marriage is important. Yes, raising good, well-behaved children is important. They’re all important.
Okay, then let me give you a scenario and you tell me how you’re going to handle it.
You’re youngest son is 8. He’s got a school program tonight. It’s been on your calendar for almost 2 weeks. Your wife’s family have come to town to attend. They’ve arrived in town yesterday. Your wife has made plans to go to a restaurant 2 hours before the event. That’s been on your calendar, too. The school program is at 7pm. The restaurant reservation, with the family and in-laws, is set for 5pm. At 3:45pm you get a phone call. A prospect is in town and wants to know if you’re free tonight to discuss your newest products. He knows it’s last minute and hates to impose, but he’s flying out late tonight and would love to talk about your products. He’s potentially a big customer.
What are you gonna do? Which of these is important? I know they all are, but you have to sacrifice something.
These are real world scenarios that many of us face.
In business, if you selected 1 and 2, then congratulations – you’re on the road to financial success. Maybe. There’s no guarantee.
The prospect may spend the evening listening to you, asking you questions and flying home only to have second thoughts and deny you the purchase order. Or, he may go home and write you a million dollar order. Can you risk that?
One dinner missed. One school function missed. That’s not going to wreck anybody’s home. True enough, but we both know it’s not just this one time. It’s priorities and it’s vexing to have to wrestle with these, but it’s how our real lives work. And many of us make a choice one time, then a different choice the next time and we end up wrecked all the way around.
We all know of too many people – maybe it’s US – who tried to have it all only to realize they couldn’t have any of it. Lost their family. Lost their kids. Lost their business or financial success.
Well rounded people aren’t at the top of the hill in financial success. So don’t start shouting that you want to be well-rounded unless you really mean it.
We love to focus on outliers. We also love to think we’ll be one of them. It’s just highly unlikely. Just look at the barometer of money, income. Only 3.9% of American’s earn $200,000 a year or more. That means 96.1% of the American population is earning less than that. 80% of Americans earn less than $100,000 a year. Do you still think anybody – or everybody – can make $200,000 a year? They can’t. They won’t. And there’s tons of reasons or explanations on why. The numbers don’t lie. We do. To ourselves.
Can a person be wealthy, have a successful marriage and raise good kids? Of course they can. But again, the odds aren’t favorable. As I type this up we’re experiencing severe weather in Dallas. Some homes have been destroyed. Power is out in some major parts of the city. We’ve had tornado warnings. Tornados are like success in some ways. They’re random. Yes, the atmosphere can produce conditions that enhance the possibility, but that doesn’t mean we’ll get a tornado. Just like financial success, there are no guarantees.
We want guarantees. At least we want a guarantee that there’s a chance. And we’d like it to be a good chance! We want a formula to follow like a cookie recipe. Insert these ingredients, at these quantities, during this point in the process and presto! Success. But there are no formulas or recipes. And there are no rules.
I’m not saying we roam the earth subject 100% to random chance. I’m not saying we shouldn’t assume responsibility for our outcomes. Fact is, I’m fond of the saying I first heard from Jack Welch during his days running GE, “Control your own destiny or somebody else will.” I believe in doing all you can to give yourself the best opportunity, but that doesn’t mean you’ll ever break through. You still may fail. But it beats the alternative to just sit around hoping lightning will strike.
Here’s the reason we can’t make success a formula, recipe or secret. It’s individual. It’s based on our own exploration and discovery. It’s based on our own values, ambitions, skills, talents, connections, choices and behaviors. You have to find your own way. I hope to just supply you a bit of help along the way.
I had shoulder surgery on Monday so this week I’m a bit out of commission. I’m sure you understand. This podcast is from the vault of Leaning Toward Wisdom, dated March 28, 2014. Leaning Toward Wisdom is another podcast I produce. This episode, FTV (from the vault) is the first of these episodes I’m going to share here. This show is about resilience. I hope you enjoy it.
Denton was a US Navy flyer shot down in July 1965. The North Vietnamese army captured him. He suffered as a POW under horrible conditions, including the famed “Hanoi Hilton.” He was held captive for 7-1/2 years! In his book, When Hell Was In Session, he wrote…
In the early morning hours, I prayed that I could keep my sanity until they released me. I couldn’t even give in to their demands, because there were none. It was pure revenge.”
Denton suffered torture. In 1966 his captors taped a propaganda interview with him. During the interview he used Morse code to blink the word T-O-R-T-U-R-E. That alerted the U.S. intelligence community that American soldiers weren’t being held under the conventional rules governing POW’s.
As if being in imprisoned wasn’t enough, he was also isolated in solitary confinement for 4 of those years. Daily beatings. Horrid conditions. Now, isolated.
How does a person survive such treatment without giving up? It’s too trite to say, “You gotta do what you gotta do.” But I don’t have a good explanation because I don’t fully understand the difference in people. We vary in our ability to withstand pain and difficulties. We vary in our tolerance for pain, too.
We are too soft!
We sometimes let the smallest bumps in the road throw us into the ditch. Worse yet, we sometimes can’t find our ways out of ditch…all because of one little bump.
Question: Are you committed to failure?
That may explain why your pain level is so low…too low to achieve success.