Attracting & Hiring Willing People – Season 2020, Episode 13

I officially entered the workforce when I was 16. Unofficially I had been working summers for at least 3 years prior. I’d hear managers and business owners complain about how hard it was to find “good people.” Initially, I understood “good people” to mean people who were reliable. That was about it. Would they show up when they were supposed to? Would they do their work reasonably well?

I never understood “good people” to mean people who’d perform at a very high level. It seemed to me they mostly just wanted people they could depend on.

Whenever the places I worked as a kid were looking for help they’d often ask the rest of us (employees), “Do you guys know anybody?” Most of us were afraid to suggest somebody for fear it’d reflect badly on us. So much for trusting our friends, huh? 😉 The problem was, we didn’t know our friends in the context of working. Sure, we could depend on them as friends. We had fun with them. But we couldn’t vouch for them showing up every single time when they were scheduled.

Such a low bar and still too high for many people to clear!

Ask any manager of a big-box retailer and they’ll likely tell you one of their daily challenges is the schedule. Daily they come to work wondering, “Who won’t show up? Or who will call in and say they can’t come in?” Having enough bodies show up to get the work done is a critical issue for every company. Never mind that the roster of employees may not be comprised of all A players. We just need enough players of any caliber.

I recall giving the name of a friend to a boss when I was in college and the only question the boss asked was, “Does he have reliable transportation?” There it is. THE major concern. Can he get to work? Can he get to work on time? Who cares if he can do much else?

I quickly learned that fogging a mirror and having reliable transportation were the top qualities every employer was searching for.

By the time I was in my mid-20’s running a company I got it. Somebody is better than nobody. So I thought. Me and just about everybody else.

For years I thought that was a retail thing. I mean when you’re running retail stores that are open for lots of hours and almost every day (or open every day), then it’s understandable. I mean look at your local Walmart store. All those hours and all that floor space, and all those check-out lanes. All those shelves need to be stocked. All those trucks need to be unloaded. All that inventory must be checked in. You get the idea. Somebody is better than nobody when you’ve got all that work needing to be done.

Seems very different if you’re running some hi-tech lab filled with folks who have highly technical skills. But it’s not.

By the time I was 30 I had figured out that we all have the same problem. Our rosters don’t look the same, but the hi-tech lab and the retail store both have the same problem. Having people available to do the work. Walmart doesn’t have many engineers or scientists on the roster ’cause that’s not who they need. The lab does. But engineers and scientists can be unreliable just like a retail clerk or stockroom person. So when you consider who we’re hiring – skill-wise – then you begin to figure out the real issue and why I grew up in the 70’s hearing bosses lament how they just needed dependable employees.

Some things never change.

I continue to hear managers and owners complain about how difficult it is to find “good people.” For years I’ve asked employers to more clearly define “good people.” Depending on the job opening I’ll almost always hear words like “integrity, honesty, dependability, trustworthiness.” The technical skills most often are just a given. It’s these other qualities that appear to be rarer. That’s always fascinated me. That such qualities could be the make or break difference in a career. But it’s been like that for as long as I’ve been working. I don’t see it changing.

I was no more than 2 years into my first big leadership role when I learned what I really needed in an employee. Thanks to older, wiser heads and putting in the work to figure it out…I learned one of the biggest leadership lessons ever before I hit 30. And I was thankful because it changed my life as an operator.

Technical prowess is a given. Depending on the business you’re in, you need certain skills and know-how. Those can be somewhat easy to assess. Does the person have the essential credentials? My son-in-law is a scientist. He’s up the food chain with the company. He has a master’s degree in chemistry. He has a verifiable work past in the industry. He has an undergraduate degree in chemistry with a math minor. The company where he now works – and where he’s worked for more than a decade – had plenty to check out before hiring him. I doubt they struggled to find out if he could handle the technical aspects of the work. They likely had a pool of people qualified, but they had to assess if some people had greater potential to perform at a high-level in these technical areas. They’re a big company and I’m certain they ran him through a series of tests and assessments. He’s proven to be a great hire. He’s been regularly promoted.

I don’t doubt his technical prowess, but I know business enough to know that he’s not been promoted for any genius he may bring. And I rather suspect he brings plenty of genius to the work. He’s a high-quality human being. He’s rock-solid dependable. He’s got the one quality everybody really needs. The one every employer is looking for above all else.

Willingness.

Early on in my career, I learned this is the ingredient for success. Sure, a person has to be competent for the task, but the most competent people often fail because they lack the willingness to do what needs to be done.

I stopped looking for the most brilliant people who I felt had the highest potential. Potential didn’t mean much I realized. Especially unrealized potential.

Finding people with a high degree of willingness can be tricky, but figuring it out after you hire them isn’t so tough. And I’m not talking about people willing to sacrifice their souls to work for you. I’m talking about reasonable demands required by the opening you have. I’m talking about our willingness to be candid and open with prospective hires on what need or what we think we need. Too often the willingness of the candidate is hampered because we’re often unwilling to be as candid as we need to be for fear our opening may not be attractive enough.

Show your willingness first.

Be willing to clearly define what makes for success in your company. Think like your potential hires.

If I were hired by your company I’d get busy inquiring, “What makes somebody in this company super successful? What’s the difference between them and everybody else?” I’d also be busy trying to figure out who those people are so I could learn from them.

Not everybody would do that. But you should assume they might. Go ahead and help them learn that BEFORE you think about hiring them.

At some appropriate point during the process have that conversation. Tell them what makes somebody in your company super successful. Tell them why people fail in your company. Tell them about your role in helping people reach higher performance. Be clear. Be candid. Don’t sugar coat it. If you don’t do much to help people, then don’t act as though you go to great lengths. Don’t oversell it. Far better to undersell it then have the new hire be appropriately dazzled to learn it’s better than you described.

Be a company where willing people want to work. That’s really the key to attracting and hiring willing people. You can’t fake it and succeed. Top people will quickly figure out you duped them and if they’re smart, they’ll quit. Sooner than later.

Let them show you their willingness.

By the time you hire somebody, you have a sense of what you think. You have a feeling about them. The key is to have a sense or feeling about the right things. The things that will foster success for them inside your company. I’m telling you the chief thing – once you’re figured out if they have the competence to do the work – is their willingness. If your gut questions their willingness, pass. If your gut feels like they’ve got a high degree of willingness, then advance the process.

Find ways to test their willingness. It can be something big or something subtle. It can be increasing the number of interviews. It can be asking them to do something. Put your creativity into it and figure it out. Think of it as a test to help you better figure out how willing they are to not just get the job, but to perform well at the job. Talk is cheap so make them perform something!

Let them continue to show willingness after you hire them.

From the time they’re hired – after you onboard them well (please do a great job of onboarding them) – be watchful on willingness. Encourage it. Reinforce it. Applaud it when you get it.

The moment you see it wane, confront it. Challenge it reminding them of how important it is to their success.

If unwillingness persists, end it. Quickly. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll correct it. Maybe you will, but not likely. Sure, you can take on a project if you’ve got the time and inclination. I wouldn’t, but you can do what you want. It’s your time. It’s your life. Experience has taught me that people who are unwilling only grow increasingly more unwilling. Don’t be tempted to think, “Man, if they’d just do this they could be great.” If they don’t want to “do this” then they’ll never do it. Dream on.

Willing people enjoy working with others who are also willing.

Think about yourself. Measure your own willingness. Now weigh it against the people with whom you’ve had to work in the past. Have you ever been frustrated because you’d do something while others watched? Or you’d be diligent while others were slacking off? Well, that’s how it rolls with your employees, too. So make sure you don’t tether your high achievers with unwilling, underachievers.

Be well. Do good. Grow great.

Randy

Speaking To Your Team For Higher Performance – Season 2020, Episode 12

“A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”
Winston S. Churchill

Sir Winston had a way with words. That’s for sure.

Many bosses and leaders regularly address their team. Most of the time, these presentations or speeches are delivered during rather informal meetings. Sometimes they’re more formal and include some slick slide deck. Sadly, we’re in a meeting intensive era where workplace meetings often consume more time than actually getting anything done. We’re often busier meeting about the work than we are doing the work. So it goes.

Constructing and delivering effective presentations or speeches to your team is a worthwhile study, but that’s not my point today. Today, I want to focus on how we speak to our team to foster higher performance and a more achievement-driven culture.

What we say matters.

How we say it also matters.

How long and how often we say it can matter, too.

If you don’t think so, just ask any successful professional sports team coach who has been fired?

People stop listening. Some may never start.

Jack Welch died a week or so ago. In spite of how you may feel about him as a corporate leader, this much is true – the man had the ability to quickly turn a 300,000 person behemoth. Nobody in corporate history had proven as effective as Welch in getting a message through to the troops, up and down the chain. His candor cut through the clutter and got into the hearts and minds of GE employees faster than companies many times smaller than GE. General Electric had no peers during Welch’s tenure. That’s why Wall Street loved him. The man delivered financial results, not just speeches.

How much time do you spend on your speaking ability? Are you growing and improving your ability to communicate so everybody understands…clearly?

Some leaders put the burden on others. “It’s their job to know and understand what I want,” says one CEO. That’s a foolish perspective. He’s the one doing the talking. They’re listening. Yet he wants to put the full burden on them while he hides behind the fact that he’s the boss.

I’ve worked with top-level leaders who struggled with all sorts of communication challenges. Some go to great lengths to avoid confrontation. Others struggle to stand in front of a sizeable crowd. Still, others find saying precisely what they want difficult. I even worked with one CEO who intentionally communicated with ambiguity in order to create what she called, “productive tension.” Being unfamiliar with that phrase I asked and was given this explanation. “People are left to wonder about it and that makes them work harder to please me.” Interesting. Horribly abusive in my opinion, but interesting. 😉

What are we trying to accomplish when we speak? Or write?

It’s important to know the answer before we communicate. Situations dictate different desired outcomes.

What you need to communicate can range from bad news to good news, from major problems to exciting opportunities, from stern warnings to enthusiastic encouragement. Public speakers learn to know the audience. Know who you’re speaking to. Top leaders know who they’re speaking to already – or they think they do. But context, the specific context of the people, matters. Not all the people in your organization are capable of hearing the exact same communication. That doesn’t mean they can’t get the same, or similar, message, but you’d better not deliver it identically to everybody.

So you have to figure out what you need to communicate – and that will determine what you say and how long you say it. It’ll also likely impact how long you want to spend saying it.

Dallas Stars’ hockey Stanley Cup-winning coach, Ken Hitchcock, used to talk about addressing his team after a loss. He’d say that most losses meant not even entering the dressing room after the game. He argued they knew they had failed. He didn’t feel any need to call their attention to the obvious. Besides, he felt the next day’s practice would provide a bit of time and distance where they could more critically view the videotape and their bad performance. Hitch understood what he was trying to accomplish.

How do want people to feel about what you say?

Yes, feelings matter. How people feel about what you say will have a direct impact on their performance. So yes, feelings matter a great deal.

“I don’t care how they feel. I just care about what they do,” says the tough-nosed CEO. The problem is he fails to understand that people are driven to do based on how they feel. So don’t be stupid. Or hardheaded.

When you’re delivering bad news you may be tempted to just want to get through it. Avoid that. Instead, concentrate on how you want people to feel when you’re finished. Do you want them to feel safe? Secure? Do you want them to feel panic and despair? (don’t say that)

It’s fine to consider what you want them to DO once you’re finished but work your way back to how they need to feel first. Do you want to help them elevate their performance? Then make them feel things necessary to help foster that.

Sure, it’s perfectly fine – and sometimes appropriate – to insert some “productive tension.” I don’t have a problem with that idea. I just have a problem with creating it by making sure you’re not being clear. I find that’s a foolish use of it. I’ve used it effectively when trying to coach higher performance but found a person – or a team – rather unresponsive. You could read people the riot act or you could insert some tension to let them know things are now more serious. It can give people a stronger sense of urgency and accountability.

Design your communication to spark whatever feelings best serve the situation.

What do you want people to do? What’s the call to action?

Here’s a big shock. It can’t be, “Live better, be better, do better!” Way too generic.

Learn to be specific. Learn to always be clear. Make sure everybody – I mean EVERYBODY – understands what you’re saying.

If people leave your presence and huddle in the hallway asking, “I wonder what he meant by that?” — then you failed. If people are wondering what you mean, then how do you expect them to perform anything at a high level?

Make it clear what you need people to do with the information you’ve passed on. Ask them. Tell them. In the clearest terms appropriate for the setting. For example, you’re going to relay information to your executive team differently than you will to your entire organization. Likewise, the calls to action are going to be different, too.

This is why I began with how you want people to feel. Once you make each group feel whatever will help them move forward, now you have to arm them with a plan – a strategy – to do that. Move forward. You must avoid leaving people wondering, “Now what do we do?” You have to answer that for them with a clearly defined plan so they can act with confidence.

Keep people updated. Don’t leave people hanging.

How do you feel when somebody tells you something important, then they go dark? Exactly. Don’t do that to the people under your leadership. Remember, there’s a big difference in being a leader and just being the boss. Any rube can be a boss, but it demands skill and talent to be a leader. And it takes work. First on yourself.

You’re constantly asking, urging, coaching and challenging people to grow and improve. It seems only fit that you ought to be first to answer that bell. So don’t neglect your own self-improvement. 

Keep people in the loop. Modern culture is in love with the word, “engaged.” Or “engagement.” Keep them engaged. That’s assuming you did a great job all along the way to get them engaged.

Don’t let the good work you did falter because you drop the ball.

You’d never allow a salesperson to fully captivate a prospect, deliver a killer presentation and have an intensely engaged potential client — only to neglect to ask them for the sale. Or to get the sale, then neglect to follow-up with the necessary actions required to dazzle the client. You’re no better than that if you have all your people engaged, but then you forget about them and assume they’ll keep up.

“If it is to be, it’s up to me.” Stop relying on the system, the culture or the machine to do your work for you. Your communication is critical up and down the line. People want to hear from you. They need to hear from you.

Let me leave you with a powerful truth my experiences have taught me.

People need a story. They need to know the role they’re playing in the story. As their leader, it’s up to you to give them the story that can ideally serve them to perform at their best. If you fail to do that, they’ll write their own story. And it will be awful. People who lack knowledge and understanding will always write a bad story. They’ll write a story based on their fears and paranoia. How do you suppose that’ll help the performance inside your organization? Then take command of crafting the story and make sure you tell it well.

Be well. Do good. Grow great!

Randy

P.S. I grew up being a fan of Edwin Newman, the famed newsman who was fanatical about clear communication. Here’s an interview I found to help foster more curiosity about him and his work. Enjoy!

Your Fears Don’t Care – Season 2020, Episode 11

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Age and experience have taught me that fear is ever-present. You never conquer it. It changes with time, but it never goes away. Fear is a constant in all of our lives.

Bravery ebbs and flows. The ironic thing about bravery is that without fear, there is no bravery. So if you’d like to be brave, you have to acknowledge and recognize fear.

Fears don’t care what you do. Be brave. Be cowardly. Fears don’t care either way.

“Don’t let your fears win.”

Most of us have heard that admonition. But here’s the thing. Fears aren’t motivated to win or lose. Fears have no expectation because fears are mostly irrational. Well, the ones that really stymie us seem that way.

“Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil.”
— Aristotle

Maybe I should more precisely define fear, at least as I’m using it for today’s show. I very much like the acronym – false evidence appearing real. That makes my usage of the word different than those real challenges you face. For instance, an annual medical checkup can reveal some serious health concerns. Your doctor sits down with you and lays out a course of treatment. Yes, you’re afraid, but your fear is based on real evidence of something that is very real. Your fear of the unknown is understandable. It takes the human mind some time to adapt and adjust to this news. That’s why your knees buckle at the news, but within days you’re back on your feet with greater resolve to battle through and do whatever you’re able to improve your condition. But that doesn’t happen immediately. The processing of this news takes time. Real fear. Real issues. Nothing fake or false happening here.

Maybe it’s splitting hairs, but I hope you get the difference.

And I hope you’re not having to endure something of that sort, but I suspect some of you are. You’re battling through some bad news. Some very real bad news that you simply must face as best you can. Some bad news that requires you to simply do your best in whatever decisions lay ahead.

“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

I don’t believe life is merely filled with imaginary monsters or boogeymen. There are some real ones.

I also believe terror is real and fueled by our panic and fear. For instance, the coronavirus is very real. It’s not imaginary, but the panic and fear partly are. As I record this there are about 84,000 cases worldwide. There are almost 2,900 deaths. Almost 37,000 have recovered. There are 60 cases reported in the US. But I have a buddy who was scheduled to travel from Dallas to Nashville to a conference. The conference was canceled due to fears of the spreading virus. I know a seminar company that has already capitalized on the fear by selling hi-end seminars to organizations panicked about what they might do if the virus strikes. The fear and the virus are both real. The level of fear is amplified though because we imagine this thing is far worse in scope and scale. In our minds, it’s like this worldwide plague spreading faster than we can even identify it. That’s not true.

What is true, we have questions about this thing. There are many things we don’t know. Those unknowns make us more afraid than we might otherwise be. It’s how fear works. The less we know the greater our fear.

Just look at the stock market’s reaction to the coronavirus. The stock market is proof that fear works.

Almost 3,300 people die every day worldwide in traffic accidents. It eclipses 1.25 million people. But we still buy 74 million automobiles in 2020. We’re not afraid of cars or driving cars. We’re comfortable with cars. We understand cars and driving them.

“What you don’t know can hurt you.”

We hear it and believe it. Even though it’s not necessarily true. Think about it and it fails to even make sense in many regards. I know about the dangers of smoking. I know about cancer. I know about heart disease. I know about gun accidents. There are many dangers that I’m completely aware of. They’re still very dangerous. My knowledge about them doesn’t make them any less dangerous except I can be on guard and do whatever I’m able to avoid them. Simply knowing doesn’t protect me though.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
– Dawson Church (Mind To Matter: The Astonishing Science of How Your Brain Creates Material Reality)

Here’s the fact: what you don’t know can scare you half to death.

Talking And Listening Our Way Toward The Truth

I’m sitting in the car with one of the grandsons. We’re having a perfectly fine conversation when suddenly he grows solemn. And I notice he begins to cry. Just slightly. I ask, “What’s wrong? What are you feeling?” No answer. He’s young. Command of emotions isn’t easy (or even possible) for a child. We weren’t talking about anything that would have prompted this reaction. At least nothing I could recognize.

For the next few minutes, I assure him he can tell me if he wants. I talk to him about people with whom he can be safe. I urge him to make sure he can talk with somebody, even if I’m not that person. Again, he’s young. We’ll keep helping him understand that the path forward will be much easier if he’ll talk and listen his way toward the truth. I have no idea what he was feeling or what prompted it. Over time he’ll learn that helping people understand such things can help him, provided the people he confides in are safe – which I told him means “they won’t ever use what you tell them against you.”

Enough business owners, CEOs and leaders have sat down with me and over the course of our conversation, they’ll make a confession. “This feels like therapy.”

It happens during many first time meetings. Years ago I was puzzled by it, but I’ve come to understand the reality. People – ALL PEOPLE – crave being heard and understood. We all want and need others who will listen to us and work to understand us. People need to be understood by somebody. Even those folks who seem to thrive on being mysterious have a yearning to be understood by somebody. It’s universal.

I speak with a CEO on the phone for the first time. People I’ve never met. Within minutes I ask them about challenges, problems, and hurdles. It’s extremely rare for me to face resistance to that inquiry. These top-level leaders are so hungry for somebody with whom they can feel safe – somebody they feel will not use what they say against them – they begin to talk about their biggest problems, concerns and fears. It’s my superpower. Active listening and asking good questions.

I’ve witnessed how meaningful talking and listening our way toward the truth can be. I’ve also seen how hard it can be for most people. For some, like my grandson, they simply can’t do it. They can’t find the words. They physically are unable to speak. I have family members wired that way so I’ve come to understand it. Sure, it begins in their head, but they just can’t bring themselves to speak. Not at that moment. Some can talk later, but not at that moment. It took me a long time to understand that because I’m not like that at all. I can readily and easily summon the verbiage needed to help you know what I’m thinking or feeling. For me, it’s less about my ability to talk and listen, but more about my selectivity in who I want to talk to…and who I want to listen to.

Here’s why this is important stuff — your fears don’t care, but somewhere there are people who do. Or who will.

People who will care enough to help you overcome fears (and problems).

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Great Eleanor, but how?

As much as I’d love to agree with her first statement I can’t. Because it’s not true. It sounds terrific, but you’ve looked fear in the face at times. Sometimes you’ve looked at it for a split second then run like a wild hyena the other way! Me too. No strength gained. No courage. No confidence increased. Just sheer panic.

There’ve been other times you looked fear in the face and didn’t run away, but it still kicked you to the ground and stomped all over you. Going through something doesn’t necessarily improve us. That’s mostly just a passive act of endurance. Not quite the same thing as enduring fear with a purpose or intent to conquer it. Conquering is a lot more than enduring.

Doing that thing you THINK you cannot…yes, agreed. But I have to emphasize the thing you THINK you can’t do. My little grandson doesn’t yet know how to express what he’s feeling when he’s embarrassed or upset. I hope to help him figure that out as he grows up. He’s convinced he can’t tell me what he’s feeling. And he’s right. He can’t. But I know a secret he hasn’t yet learned. Nothing is stopping him. It’s all in his head. Emotionally he struggles. Those emotions paralyze him physically from talking about it. It’s not fake. It’s real. That’s the power of fear. But we owe it to him as a family to help him learn that he’s got a bigger power – a power that can conquer that fear. He can decide for himself what he wants and be freed from that specific fear. My hope is that by learning how to conquer that fear he’ll better understand his ability to overcome just about any fear. It doesn’t mean he’ll never be afraid. He’ll be like us, always afraid of something. But it means he’ll feel powerful enough to look fear in the face and conquer it.

The good news is your fears don’t care. They come. They go. You embrace them and hold onto them. You let them go and conquer them. They just don’t care.

Because of that they just are.

Here’s what I hope to help you with – conquering yours. You are in control of the fears. I know it doesn’t feel that way, but it’s completely true. And I’m not downplaying your fears. I’m not saying they’re not real. I’m not even going to say they’re completely unwarranted. I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know – your fears can spur you onto growth and improvement or they can freeze you right where you stand (or sit).

Let me give you just a few key points that I’ve learned in facing my own fears and in helping others face theirs.

Giving fear more time helps fear grow.

Every time we dwell on our fears they expand. Whatever time or space we’ll give fear…fear will take it all. And then some. The key to first managing fears more effectively is to restrict time and space.

Look closely into the details of your fears.

The way to reduce the time and space is to closely examine the fear. When you look closely at the coronavirus you begin quickly see that the hysteria isn’t appropriate. It’s very disproportionate. So it likely will go with many or most of your fears.

Let me share with you one fear I’ve always had. Imposing on people. I hate imposing on people. That fear is manifested in my reluctance. Reluctance to sell me. Reluctance to contact prospects who may desperately need my help. Upon close examination, that fear is completely unfounded. Do you experience impositions? Of course, you do. Every single day. But what may be an imposition to some is going to be an opportunity for others. That’s the truth of it. My fears are ridiculous and without foundation. Besides, if I’m imposing on somebody don’t you suppose they’ll quickly blow me off – and who among us hasn’t been blown off. But we’re still here in spite of all the times people have said no to us, or in spite of the times people have ignored us. There are NO CONSEQUENCES to my fears. Whenever I ask, “What’s the worst thing that will happen?” I must answer, “The same thing would happen if I never made the effort. The outcome would be identical. I wouldn’t get the business.”

Act fast.

“In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The faster you get to the details, the better. The slower, the worse it gets. Your fears! Remember, they thrive on misinformation and time. Added together they’ll create panic. So you must dive into uncovering the real source of the fears. A few things can help.

  1. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Last week we talked about making something so easy you can’t resist doing it. Figure out one little step to take toward overcoming the fear. Just one. You’ll be tempted to think you’re not doing the right thing. Your self-talk will kick in and you’ll berate yourself for not doing enough. That’s fear just holding on because even though your fears don’t care they do want to remain alive as long as possible. They’ll cling onto any life you’re willing to give them. Job one is to suffocate them so they can die more quickly.
  2. Make sure to accurately identify the fear. It may not be what you say. Or what you think. My fear of prospecting isn’t so much the fear. My fear is imposing on people. But boil it down even further and my real fear is what people might think of me imposing on them. They may think less of me. Truth is, the people I prospect aren’t thinking of me at all. I’m not even on their radar. Then when I do get on their radar by reaching out to them I can be fearful of what they’ll think. A closer examination reveals my foolishness with this fear though. If they rebuff me, then they move on with their life and I move on with mine. No harm, no foul. If they engage then I get to know them better and they get to know me better. It’s a win any way you look at it.
  3. Take action. Right now. Don’t delay. Don’t talk yourself out of starting. Procrastination gives time and space to fear – the components fear needs to thrive.

It’s never over.

You can conquer fear, but remember…fear doesn’t care. It can come back. It will come back.

That’s okay. Fear will obey your commands. Command fear to go away and it will. Command fear stay…and it will.

Your battles with your fears is a battle you can begin to win right now. In this very instant.

You can’t stop battling. It’s best for you to take on the role of a warrior. For life.

Make up your mind to give every fear you have a fight. The good news is, you can win each one of those fights. Nothing prevents you from winning every single battle. The only question is whether or not you’ll figure out how to fight effectively.

Be well. Do good. Grow great!

Randy

True Confessions: A Conversation With Me – Season 2020, Episode 10

Earlier in the week, I had a conversation with somebody and I recorded my side of it because it felt like the conversation was going in a direction where I thought you could benefit. I edited it into some material that I hope encourages and inspires you. Enjoy this special Friday episode of the podcast.

Some points of this conversation:

• Podcasting’s role in my work
• Comparisonitis – it kills many people’s pursuits
• Success and Failure aren’t as binary as most of us think (we think we’re either one or the other)
• The pinnacle of success isn’t the only definition of success
• The positive power of doing what we enjoy
• “Get out of your comfort zone” is horrible advice
• Find your “element” (as defined by Sir Ken Robinson, it’s where your natural aptitude intersects with your passion)
• Podcasting is my element
• For selling, podcasting is a slow burn (it takes time)
• Facing what you’re not good at can help you face what you are good at
• It’s about what you love versus what you hate
• Solving the problem and devising the strategy doesn’t mean we can execute it
• Dallas Cowboy’s new coach Mike McCarthy isn’t in NFL shape, but he can coach. The players need to execute it.
• In our careers, businesses and lives – we have to find solutions that WE can execute
• Fixing other people’s car while our own car sits in disrepair
• Being hypocritical by trying to be something we’re not
• Spend time with yourself coming to terms with what really matters to you
• My personal (and easy) objective (and work/process) is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others
• Figuring out who and what you are so you can decide the business you need to be in
• Wasting time trying to be things we’re not
• The Universe is quick and effective to convince us of UNTRUTHS
• There are way more ways to be successful than most of us think
• Idealism fools us into thinking there’s a limited number of ways to do it
• Spend more time with yourself figuring out how YOU need to do it
• Outliers aren’t a good measuring stick for our success
• Success is personal to you and what you think it is
• My income goals would be considered an abject failure for wealthy folks
• Failure and success are relative to what we want (and what we think)
• Failure isn’t final, but neither is your current success (we aspire to grow and improve)
• The barrier to success is the brick wall that Randy Pausch talked about in The Last Lecture
• Doing what you love is a big part of the equation
• Get in touch with your comfort zone (where your natural aptitude intersects with what you love)
• Stop pushing water up the hill (doing what you hate)

I hope you find this conversation profitable.

Be well. Do good. Grow great!

Randy

Make It So Easy You Can’t Avoid Doing It – Season 2020, Episode 9

As much as I love the anonymous quote — “Everything is hard until it’s easy” — there’s a powerful way to move forward toward an accomplishment.

Make it so easy you can’t avoid doing it.

There’s lots of ancient wisdom about tackling a task by breaking it down into smaller tasks. Hence the idea expressed as a question.

Do you know how you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time. 

As simple as it sounds, I started wondering why we don’t do this as well as we could. You’d think such a tactic would prevent feeling overwhelmed. Then why are so many people overwhelmed as they march toward some goal?

There are likely many reasons. Having a cluttered mind. Over-thinking.

Then, there’s not thinking it through enough to break it down into smaller achievements.

It’s easy for us to do one or the other. Or both.

Fixating On The Big Goal, Is That The Way To Go?

People love talking about Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs). We’re shamed if we don’t have one. Or a bunch of them.

People want to do something great. Something BIG.

Question: What was the last BIG thing you accomplished?

I would hope that daily you’re able to accomplish some meaningful things. But it’s very likely none of those things fit the bill for being something really BIG.

Except for heroic acts during a crisis, most BIG things aren’t accomplished in a short period of time. Even feats of championship athletics contain thousands of hours or days before the accomplishment. In business (or school or a career) the big accomplishments of our time mostly don’t have some moment that defines the outcome. That is, rarely are we able to point to a specific moment and point to it as THE MOMENT when we accomplished our big, hairy audacious goal. More likely we crept toward it a little bit at a time, even if we didn’t plan it that way. It’s just how things go.

Taking More Time Than Necessary Because We Get In Our Own Way

Pogo was right. We have met the enemy and he is us.

Martin looks back now and realizes it took him years longer than necessary. With the history behind him, he’s able to see things more clearly.

“I could have easily shaved off half the time it took. Probably a lot more. All because I found it daunting. And I hated every minute of it.”

Martin was trying desperately to get a new enterprise off the ground. It was a period of career transition, but it wasn’t like he was going from one area to a completely different area. If you were to examine his resume you’d think, “Yeah, this makes complete sense. No problem.” But it was a problem. A big problem. Martin struggled to get traction. Not because he lacked expertise. Not because he wasn’t smart enough. Not because he wasn’t hard-working. Truth is, Martin didn’t have any really good excuses. In his mind, they were REASONS. Not excuses!

“Every day I woke up dreading the work. I hated every minute of it. No wonder I didn’t succeed,” says Martin.

At some point, Martin got so sick and tired of being sick and tired that he decided to take a close look in the mirror. “I had to figure out why I was struggling,” Martin said.

Martin had heard me – and others – talk about being who you really are. Martin said, “I heard you say, “If you’re not a fish, stop trying to climb trees.” That’s not original.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” That quote isn’t really a quote from anybody even though it’s attributed to Albert Einstein, who never did say or write it. You can go back to the 1800s and find references of animals born with specific skills, but unable to do other things beyond their innate abilities.

Martin put in the work to figure out who and what he was. Turns out he was doing what I regularly admonish people to stop doing – pushing water up a hill. That is, he was doing everything the hard way. In a way that wasn’t congruent with who he was. In short, he wasn’t leveraging his skills and resources. He was trying to climb a tree because he had convinced himself that climbing a tree was necessary to achieve his goals. The problem is, he was a fish. And fish can’t climb trees. It doesn’t matter how much time you give them.

Martin got up every day trying as hard as he could to climb trees. The failure nearly crippled him. He spent more hours than he can calculate berating himself. Talking to himself about how stupid he was. And how his plan would never happen.

“Then something clicked,” confesses Martin. “I realized it was time to stop doing what I’d been doing…because it wasn’t working. It was apparent to me that it would never work. Not my idea, but my methods. So I completely stopped doing what I’d been doing.”

Martin put in the hard work of figuring how what’s easy for him. Not that it’s easy as in it requires no effort, but easy in the sense that he could wake up each morning knowing he’d be doing work that he was ideally suited to do. He discovered the power of forming daily habits were so easy and comfortable – he couldn’t avoid doing them. They fit him so well he could easily perform the tasks that would eventually move him forward.

Martin reflects back on it all. “People talk about getting out of your comfort zone and I know there’s value in that in a certain context. But in another context, it’s dangerous and destructive. I was uncomfortable every day and working hard to push through it. I just never could.”

Stop Doing The Things That Don’t Work

Business is about leverage resources. It’s about deciding where we’re going to put our resources so we can maximize the return. Why then are you working feverishly in ways that aren’t bringing about the results you want? Talking yourself into it daily won’t work. Congrats for putting in the work, but you’re wasting your resources. Most of all, you’re wasting time!

Step 1 – Stop!

Stopping isn’t the same as quitting. Martin didn’t quit, but he did stop. He stopped doing the things he wasn’t good at – things he hated. Things that prevented him from gaining traction. Figure out what isn’t working and stop doing it. Don’t abandon your goal. You just need to figure out a better way. A way more congruent with who and what you are.

Step 2 – Accurately Identify Yourself

Are you a fish? A bird? What kind of creature are you? Figure out your natural identity.

I’m naturally introverted, but I can look like an extrovert. I’m not socially awkward, but going to events and putting myself out there in person isn’t easy. I can do it, but it’s exhausting. More so when it comes to marketing and sales. Performing the work is all about helping people. I can be with people all day long serving them and it charges my batteries. But I can be around people or engaged on the phone with people in marketing or sales efforts and it’s exhausting. Providing value is easy for me. Creating content and telling stories that might inspire and help people…that’s easy. So that’s what I do.

My son is just the opposite. When he started his business I didn’t encourage him to do what I do. Rather, I encouraged him to do just the opposite because it’s congruent with who and what he is.

Identify yourself. There’s no point in trying to rush forward until you answer this because this will determine the best actions you can take.

Step 3 – Figure Out The Actions That Are Easy For You

Creating and sharing content is easy for me. I love it. I’d do it no matter what. I don’t do it expecting to sell you anything. I do it in hopes it helps you. Along the way, I’m providing people the opportunity to better understand who I am and what I do. Sure, I hope I bring enough value that some – a very small percentage of my audience – will consider hiring me to serve to them. Some do. Some don’t. But the point is that I’m able to do this because it’s so easy for me – that doesn’t mean I don’t have to work hard – that I can’t avoid doing it. I don’t look for excuses to avoid doing it because I love doing it. That’s very different than getting up dreading to do something you THINK will move you forward.

Step 4 – Start Doing What You’re Good At (and what comes more easily to you)

Take those natural talents and start using them. Lean hard into the things you love doing. Do them with greater vigor and enthusiasm. When you remove as much of that dread as possible you’ll find higher excitement. That’s contagious. Lean into it and be even more excited. Do what’s natural for YOU.

Step 5 – Keep Doing It (it’ll work)

Be patient. Don’t expect overnight success. But expect to succeed. Keep doing the work because it’s what you do best. And it’s what you love.

That doesn’t mean you can’t adjust. I’ve adjusted things around here a lot. But the overall work has remained the same. I’m still working hard to provide real-world leadership stories and lessons to help you in your business and life. The basic foundation of what I do here has never changed. It’s still about creating the most meaningful content I can to encourage you to push forward. Growing great isn’t just some catchphrase. It’s an honest objective I have for everybody. It’s what I expect for YOU.

Be well. Do good. Grow great!

Randy

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