Thursday, June 25, 2009

What's Really Important?

We have a crazy guy in North Korea that wants to "test" ballistic missiles aimed at Hawaii. Another crazy dude in Iran who insists that the elections were fair and wants the President of the United States to butt the hell out.

Not to mention the trillions of dollars being proposed to cover everything from healthcare to corporate bailouts.

And what are we concerned with. Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died. I'm sympathetic. I grew up with both of them. I even had posters. But seriously folks...

Does our news really need to be consumed with "pop stars"? Isn't there anything more important going on?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What are You Going to do Today

What's your goal for today? Say it to yourself. Ready? One, two, three, go!

Now, if you had a goal for yourself today, that would have been easy. If you didn't, you probably sat there stammering like an idiot. And that's not a good thing! Unless you're Lee, in which case your goal is to stammer like an idiot.

Mr. Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and guests.

Today, I am going to tell you the secret to not just having goals but to actually achieve them. If you start applying what I introduce to you today, you can start seeing changes in your life immediately.

In order to be able to set a goal, you have to have a vision. You have to know where you're going.

An expedition was underway in a dense forest. The manager of the expedition had everything in place. He had crews set up to blaze a trail, keep the machetes sharpened, allow time to eat and rest, and then rotated the crews through each phase. They were blazing away! And they kept blazing away hour after hour, day after day. They were making phenomenal progress. Finally, the manager stopped the expedition and had one of his people climb to the top of the tallest tree to see where they were. As he got to the top of the tree and surveyed the massive canopy in front of him, he called back down to the manager, "Wrong forest!!!"

If you're in the wrong forest you'll just keep spinning your wheels. You may achieve some goals, but they won't be doing anything for you. You have to know where you're going.

Once you have that vision, now you can set goals to get you there. But you can't just make a statement and call it a goal. How many of you have ever set a weight loss goal? Did it sound something like this, "I'm going to lose 20 pounds?" And how did you do? Still have the same goal, don't you?

You have to set SMART goals. Specific-Measurable-Attainable-Relevant-Time Bound

They have to be specific. "I need to lose weight," is vague and general. "I need to lose 20 pounds," is specific.

They need to be measurable. I can get on a scale and measure my weight loss.

The goal must be attainable. This one can be tricky. You need to make sure it's something you can accomplish, but not so easy as to offer you no challenge. In either case, you'll have no motivation to actually attempt to reach the goal.

Is the goal relevant? Does it help you achieve your vision?

And it needs to be time-bound. When will you accomplish this goal?

Being SMART, let's rewrite that weight loss goal. "I will lose 20 pounds in the next 3 months." Specific, measurable, attainable (2 lbs/week, 12 weeks), it's relevant to my vision, and it's time-bound, I have 3 months.

Once you have that SMART goal, write it down. I did. That weight loss goal was exactly what my goal was not too long ago. And I wrote it down. I put it on the bathroom mirror. I put it on the dashboard of my car. I even put it on my computer monitor so that I was reminded of my goal all day long. And do you know what the result was after those 3 months? I gained 3 pounds.

You see, I missed the most important part of setting goals. And this is the key to being able to achieve all of your goals. You have to set a goal for yourself everyday that focuses on the behavior you need to change in order to realize your goal.

Those SMART goals we set for ourselves are outcome based. While they are important, I contend that they tell us nothing about how to achieve them. I think most of us are probably pretty good at setting outcome based goals. We set SMART goals and we think that's enough. I'm sorry, but that's only the beginning.

If you really want to achieve your goals, you need to focus on your behaviors every day! Who's in sales? Do you have sales goals? Do those goals tell you anything about how to be a better salesperson in order to achieve those targets?

Focus on behaviors that will make you a better salesperson every day. "My goal today is to call 5 new leads." "My goal today is to make follow-up calls to these 3 customers." "My goal today is to send a Thank You note to my last 10 customers."

We heard a speech a couple of weeks ago called "One Foot in Front of Another." In that speech, Laura encouraged us to get off of the couch and start running. The part of that speech that stuck with me the most is when she told us not to think about how many miles we're running, just get out and run for a certain amount of time. What's the difference between running 3 miles and running for 30 minutes? Three miles focuses on an outcome. 30-minutes focuses on a behavior.

My vision is to be a great public speaker. My goal is to achieve my Competent Communicator award by the end of the year. But, most importantly, my goal today was to rehearse my speech 2 more times this morning, out loud. And to come to this meeting today and deliver the best speech I possibly could. That's what my goal today was.

What's your goal for today? Ready? 1, 2, 3 Go!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lead the Way!


How do you become a leader? Is it the fancy office and the title? No, having an office and a title no more makes you a leader as standing in the garage calling yourself a Chevrolet makes you a car. Best you get with that is "Manager". Many organizations confuse those two terms and definitely confuse the concept. Then what is being a leader?

Simply put a leader is someone that people choose to follow. Why do organizations continue to try and give people a title and expect them to be leaders? Because that's the way it's always been done! Ugh!

Mr Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and guests.

What, then, makes a good leader?

Leaders face the same problems everyone else faces; but rather than get paralyzed by their problems, leaders immediately commit themselves to finding a solution. Leaders know where they want to go. They may not know how to get there, put they have a vision and they share that vision. They find other people that believe in that vision and can help them achieve it.

My son is a boy scout. We talked the other night about his new Senior Patrol Leader. (Another boy in the troop that is voted on by the other boys to be in charge of the troop.) I asked my son what he thought about his new leader and, based on how he led, what is the leader's job? He said it was to tell people what to do. While there are plenty of "leaders" that behave that way, a good leader doesn't have to tell people what to do. He inspires them to take the initiative and do what needs to be done to achieve the vision.

The job of leaders is not to create more followers, it is to create more leaders. True leaders aren't afraid to hire people that are better than they are. In fact, the best leaders aren't the people that were best in their field. Only in business do we promote the best performer to the role of leadership. The best sales person to the head of sales, the best accountant to the head of accounting, the best trainer to the head of the training department. The person that should be promoted in every case is the person that is the best at leading.

Being a leader doesn't mean you have all the answers.

If you don't know the game, don't know the rulebook, don't even know the field you're on, then in the immortal words of my father, "Don't just stand there, do something."

I know, it's cliché. But what it means is that when you have no idea what's going on, stop thinking, it won't do you any good. Try something and see what happens.

You can never be satisfied with the way things are. In fact, you should be downright mad about it.

Leaders are angry! Completely dissatisfied with the status quo and want to do something about it RIGHT NOW!

Never promote unangry people to positions of leadership. In fact, the ideal job candidate is the person that walks in, looks you in the eye and says, "I can't believe how screwed up this place is. But I'm willing to take a chance as long as I think I have a good chance at changing it."

How do you change it?

Leaders know it's all sales all the time. Don't think so, ask George W. Bush. Ask Barak Obama. Ask the project manager of the 6 person project team that completely overhauled your company's collaboration systems.

If you don't like sales, find a different job. Leadership isn't for you.

Good leaders have to make decisions.

A CIA Director once commented that if a terrorist walked into his office and tossed a grenade in, every person in there would jump on that grenade and sacrifice themselves for their fellow agents. If someone ran in and shouted, "I need a decision and I need it right now. If it's wrong it could mean the end of your career, but right or wrong, I need a decision now!" Everyone would be running for the door.

As Theodore Roosevelt said, "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."

Good leaders want to do stuff that matters. What are people going to say about you when you've gone? Leaders care about that legacy.

Good leaders are open and dedicated to lifelong learning. They seek to continually improve their organizations and themselves. They ask "why?" They ask it about everything. Even the most trivial aspects. Why? Why do we have this process or that procedure? "Hey, because that's the way it's always been done." -- And I think you all know what I think about that.