Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Start Young and Keep Climbing Before It’s Too Late

One of the most inspirational people I have never met in person was Fred Smith. He was known to have mentored many well-known people such as Zig Ziglar. Before he passed I was able to talk with Fred on several occasions, and I still receive a weekly email from his organization on his wisdom and experience. Here is part of a great message from Fred:
      So many people settle for a lower, comfortable plateau than they could attain by maintaining a "tension forward" to a higher plateau. True achievement is not a straight line up, but in steps.  It is a process of taking one step and then plateauing for assimilation followed by another step and a plateau. This continues through a productive life.
     In the Christian life many of us settle for a lower level than we should.  One of my favorite theologians, Ray Stedman, said when I asked him "what are you going to teach Sunday?" replied, "I am going to tell my people to stop praying for what they already have." 
     In business I have seen the sad case of very talented individuals' not being discovered until too late. Some motivational speakers tell their audiences, "It's never too late."  The fact is - it can be too late.  Young people should be encouraged to start as early as possible on this climb to higher levels. The principle of compound interest makes it wise to pay now and play later.
How would you define a productive life for yourself?  Are you moving ahead or on a plateau?  Do you keep praying for what you already have?  Are you looking for talented people to help them develop more quickly? You might check Fred’s web site for thought provoking readings from time to time at

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Oops – Your Integrity in Getting a Job

Hard economic times try our courage and integrity. With so many looking for work and often in desperate straights to find a job, it is easy to find qualified people to fill a position, but when times get better, will you be able to keep them?
On the one hand, you need a job to pay your bills. On the other hand, turnover reduces the company stock price by an average of 38% - this is very expensive to employers. Both are looking for ways to survive. The candidate just needs a short-term job until something better can be found, the employer needs a productive long-term employee for the continuance and profitability of the company.
In the interview process, both put on their best face. Both want the process to work in their favor. As employer, if I hire the wrong people, then I have to deal with troubling factors such as their impact on the rest of the team who has to cover for them, with the loss of service to customers and prospects, plus all the time I have to spend managing this person who just does not fit. As candidate, what does it do to me to take a job to survive, knowing that I don’t plan to keep the job?
Self leadership tip: If you need a job, focus on the ones you would want to keep.
Question: Is it really ok for people to take a job to pay their bills when they know they will leave as soon as they find something better?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Best Is the Enemy of the Good -???

    I enjoy learning from a —variety— of reading sources. I came across this quote from General George S. Patton while reading Patton on Leadership: Strategic Lessons for Corporate Warfare, "The best is the enemy of the good." The idea is striking in its simplicity: if we wait until something is the best it can be, we might lose the opportunity to be/do/have it at all. If something is good, sure it can be better, and who can tell when the best is really the best it can be?
    For example, Apple used this concept in developing the Macintosh computer. The Mac was a good computer when they put it into production, and they knew it was not the best it could be. They also knew that no matter what they did, it could be better. The advantage they had was the ability to quickly respond to the marketplace and continuously adapt towards what the customers wanted. If they had waited until it was the best, they might have run out of the resources to bring it to market at all. 

   How often do we stop because we are good, but not the best? We look at others who we see as being a better athlete, musician, dancer, business person, widget maker or whatever, and we do not engage with the good we can contribute or enjoy. The best need not be the enemy of the good.

Self leadership tip - When something is good, acknowledge it is good and do not apologize for it not being the best.

Question: What are you good at but don't do because you're not good enough? —Like me playing banjo and singing