The Best Juggler Wins – The Tale of Six Rocks 1

images (18)Forget about living a balanced lifestyle. I don’t believe there is such a thing. But you can keep your life in balance by learning to juggle. Pretend for a moment that you are juggling six rocks; health, wealth, relationships, volunteerism, brain and hobby. Each rock is important, some rocks may be more important than others at times,  but the secret to creating a balance in your life is to make sure you spend some of your time nurturing each rock. The key is not to spend too much time on one rock, at the expense of ignoring another, because that may put you out of balance. Sometimes too much of a good thing is not a good thing. We all have 168 hours in the course of a week – no more or no less. Your challenge is to schedule your time effectively and efficiently so that you spend some of your time on each rock. You don’t need to spend an equal amount of time on each, but you need to spread it around.

Worth Remembering … “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” – Thomas Merton 

The best juggler wins a life that is in balance and as close to perfect as you can get.

Health: You need to take care of yourself. You need to eat right, exercise right and sleep right. If you aren’t right – then what’s the point.
Wealth: Yes your career is important – it affords you the money you need to be able to live the kind of life you envisioned for yourself and your family. But don’t sacrifice one for the other. When the time comes to reap the benefits of your hard work, you’ll want someone to share it with.
Relationships: We are emotional beings. We need to “connect” with others. Reach out – when you show an interest in others, others will show and interest in you. People like to work with and do business with people they like.
Volunteerism: Give back. Paying it forward is a great way to  build up your self-esteem and self-esteem in others. It’s the law of attraction. You get back what you give out.
Brain: Never stop learning. The moment you think you have nothing else to learn is the moment you fall behind. Your brain is a muscle. It needs exercise.
Hobby: You need to schedule “Me” time. You need to be able to step back from your day-to-day activities and recharge your batteries. Find something you enjoy doing other than the work that you do, and spend some of your time doing it. Lighten up – have some fun.

Worth Remembering … “Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work everyday – some.” – Robert Fulgham 

How you manage your time is how you manage your life. Learn to juggle because the best juggler wins.

Copyright (c) 2014. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Brian is available for keynote speeches and facilitating workshops on a variety of soft-skills topics including: communication, time management, coping with stress, problem solving, dealing with difficult people and challenging situations better and developing the leader in you. To find out what he can do for you visit. http://briansmithpld.com

Checkmate – How to Become a Better Leader in Four Moves 2

Leadership Cycle Coloured 2Whether you are in a management position or play a leadership role in your organization, the challenges remain the same. New leadership skills are required for the workplace of today and for the forseeable future. Success in managing or leading others is no longer dependent on your technical abilities alone. Soft-skills, your ability to communicate and interact more effectively with others, build collaborative teams, problem solve, resolve conflict and deal with difficult people and challenging situations better, now plays a more pivotal role in your success and the overall success of your organization and your people.

I believe to be a really great manager or leader you need to master all four disciplines of my “Four Step Leadership Development Model” (c) . The work environment is changing and you need to adapt to keep pace with those changes. You must have exceptional people skills and be able to bring people together, communicate often, teach others what they’ll need to know and then learn to get out of their way and let them do it. Don’t get left behind – learn to manage and lead the 21st Century way.

Congregate: “To collect into a group or crowd; to come together into a group, crowd or assembly.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Your success and the overall success of your organization begins and ends with your ability to bring people together. If you can’t connect with others on an emotional level, then you stand little chance of assembling a cohesive team. You are only as good as the people around you. Each individual is a vital link in the chain. Get to know your people for more than the job that they do. People like to work with people they like. Successful managers and leaders know how to develop those all important relationships and build collaborative teams.

Communicate  “To convey knowledge of or information about; to cause to pass from one to another.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Communication isn’t just something – it’s everything! If you can’t communicate – you can’t manage or lead others. I can’t think of a more valuable skill set for managers and leaders to have, than the ability to communicate effectively up, down and across the organization. If you can’t send the message and have it received the way it was intended – then what you said means absolutely nothing. The words you choose and how you go about saying them can be the catalyst for action or inaction. 

Educate “To train by formal instruction and supervised practice especially in a skill, trade, or profession.” – Merriam Webster Dictionary. I don’t believe there is any such thing as common sense. The only thing common about common sense, is that it’s not very common. We should call it “Life Sense” because it seems the older we get, the smarter we get. We aren’t born knowing what we need to know, to be able to teach someone else what they need to know. I believe having the ability to teach someone else is a learned behavior. Successful managers and leaders are great teachers and coaches.

Delegate “To entrust to another; to appoint as one’s representative.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. If you fail to delegate you are robbing your people of their opportunity to grow. Successful managers and leaders understand that they aren’t the end all and be all. Successful managers and leaders understand that they must give up control to get control. Resist the urge to micro-manage others. Your ability and willingness to delegate effectively are essential to freeing up your time, so you can carry out your duties and responsibilities as a manager or leader.

Any time is a great time to start a new beginning. Which one of these four disciplines; congregate, communicate, educate or delegate will you need to improve upon to be a more effective manager or leader? Don’t get left behind – you can become a better leader in just four moves.

Copyright (c) 2014. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Excerpts from Brian’s soon-to-be-published workbook “Leadership Lessons from a Reformed Control Freak – The Art of Managing and Leading in the 21st Century(c)”. Brian is available for keynote speaking or facilitating training sessions on a variety of soft-skills topics including: communication, time management, problem solving, dealing with difficult people and challenging situations better and developing the leader in you. To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com

What’s Getting in the Way of You Leading? 5

images (36)If dolphins, lions and wolves can do it – why is it so difficult for humans to do it too? Why is it so difficult to put a group of people together and have them perform as a team? Teams, or at least the concept of teams, are the primary force of most organizations today but, without a strong leader, teams stand little chance of being successful. Team success or failure rests solely on the shoulders of the leader. If your team isn’t as successful as they could be or should be – it’s time to take stock of your leadership style and make some changes.

Worth Remembering … “It is not the individual but the team that is the instrument of sustained and enduring success in management.” – Anthony Jay 

You can increase your chances of leadership success by avoiding or maneuvering around these ten obstacles to building collaborative and productive teams. What’s getting in the way of you being a more effective leader? Are you guilty of committing any of these offences?

  1. Lack of a competent leader: Leaders aren’t expected to know everything. But, they are expected to know who to go to and find out.
  2. Lack of goals and goal alignment: Leaders need to be very clear on what it is they want to accomplish and have a general idea of how to go about accomplishing it.
  3. Individual focus on themselves and not their team: There can’t be any hidden personal agendas. There can only be one agenda – the team’s agenda. Everyone needs to understand that if the “team” wins – everyone wins – including the leader.
  4. Lack of understanding team members: What motivates you may not motivate them. Leaders need to take the time to find out what their people’s individual needs are. And then work very hard to make sure their needs are met.
  5. Lack of clarity on team roles: Everyone has a strength that they bring to the team. Leaders need to put people in positions where they will be able to play to their strengths.
  6. Lack of trust: If they can’t trust your word – they won’t trust you. Your word must be your bond. What ever you say you’re going to do – do it!
  7. Lack of accountability: You must hold yourself and others accountable. Standards aren’t open for debate. Standards must be met and maintained. However, how you go about accomplishing them can be.
  8. Lack of team focus: – Leaders must never lose sight of why you do what you do. Everything you do and say must be congruent with your purpose and vision, or you must not do it.
  9. Lack of spending time together: People want to feel important. They want to feel needed. Take the time to establish a relationship with the people you work with and interact with. People perform better for leaders they like and respect.
  10. Poor Communication: Leaders can`t communicate too much. People want to know what`s going on – good or bad. Especially if it`s going to impact them. If you can’t communicate – you can’t lead.

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Are you looking for a keynote speaker, planning a lunch-n-learn or training seminar? Brian will work with you to insure your event is an overwhelming success. To find out more about Brian visit http://briansmithpld.com

Leadership Lessons – Fluent in Friendliness? Apply Within

Fluent in Friendliness? Apply Within. Hats off to Lowe’s who posted that sign outside of their newest location under construction. I spent 30 years in the retail business both as a general manager and business owner –  so that sign naturally caught my attention. The one-on-one service that you provide to your customer is the only competitive advantage that you have. It’s not your product or service. It’s not your selection or price. The only competitive advantage that you have to set yourself apart from your competition is the level of customer service you provide.

Every time you come in contact with a perspective client it’s a moment of truth. Every time you come in contact with a perspective client they get to decide if they want to continue to do business with you or not. And most often that decision is based upon the way they feel they have been treated. When was the last time you had “Wow” customer service? When was the last time you got “So-So” customer service? I’ll bet the “So-So” out numbered the “Wow” ten to one. (Ten so-so to one wow)

You don’t need to like everyone you come in contact with – But if you want to get repeat business you need to learn how to get along with them. The same holds true with the people you work with.  You don’t have to like them or socialize with them – But you do need to learn how to interact and collaborate with them. If you’re the one who gets to pick who is on your team you need to make sure you’ve surrounded yourself with people who like being around people. Managers and business owners need  to make sure they hire people who like  helping people. You can’t afford to have someone on your team who is turned off and have tuned out. You need to be just like Lowe’s and hire people who are “Fluent in Friendliness” and get rid of the ones who aren’t.  🙂