Archive for December, 2006

Fly high attitude for the holidays

1. “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – Coach John Wooden
2. “Your attitude determines your altitude.” – John Maxwell

Random Thoughts – As we hurry through the demands of the Holiday season our attitude often falls victim to the strain. For the past 11 months we have looked forward to Christmas in anticipation, now we look forward to its end. Determine this Christmas season that you’ll fly high by keeping your attitude on a positive course. The only way anyone can acheive this is by keeping your spirits above your problems. Look down instead of up at your problems and you’ll see them from a view of a victor and not a victim. And the easiest and most simplest of ways to accomplish this is to center our attention on the needs of others and not ourselves.

Power of believing in someone

When I come across someone doing the extraordinary it is personally inspiring which is the very reason I can’t wait to share these people and their stories with you. One such person is Patrick Lawler of Memphis, Tennessee.
Patrick is the head of an organization that runs youth treatment center in six states. As CEO of Youth Villages, the nationally recognized nonprofit for emotionally and behaviorally challenged children, Lawler and staff accepts the kids nobody wants. The majority of the kids they receive have been physically or sexually abused; arrive with problems ranging from eating disorders to severe developmental delays.
Amazingly, 80 percent of children who receive treatment from Youth Villages are still living at home, going to school and doing well even two years after discharge. Government programs report 70 percent of children nationwide who have received treatment though their programs wind up returning to government care within one year of release.
A perfect example of what Lawler’s program can and has achieved is the story of Melanie Jackson. Melanie was a foster child who entered Youth Villages at the age of 12. Melanie now has a master’s degree in public administration, paid for by Youth Villages, and is helping troubled children today. As Melanie puts it, “People think that with so many odds against you, you will fall into the category of negative outcomes. Lawler looked at me as more than a foster child-as a young person who could have a bright future ahead of herself. For him to believe in me, it just kind of blew me away.”
Check out more information about Youth Villages and Patrick Lawler at www.youthvillages.org

MacArthur’s Principles of Leadership

Douglas MacArthur was a famous American general who played a prominent role in leading the U.S. military and allied forces the Pacific theater of World War II. He was poised to command the invasion of Japan in November 1945 but was instead instructed to accept their surrender on September 2, 1945. MacArthur oversaw the occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1951 and is credited for making far-ranging democratic changes in that country. He led United Nations forces defending South Korea in 1950-51 against North Korea’s invasion.
MacArthur fought in three major wars (World War I, World War II, Korean War) and rose to the rank of General of the Army. MacArthur remains one of the most controversial figures in American history. While greatly admired by many for what they consider his strategic and tactical brilliance, MacArthur was also considered by some to have had questionable military judgment, and is criticized by many for his actions in command, and especially his challenge to US President Truman in 1951.
While MacArthur’s military and political decisions can and should be debated, his ability to lead thousands of young men during fierce combat while facing every obstacle imaginable is truly remarkable. Below I’ve listed the principles of leadership General MacArthur lived by. As I’m sure you’ll find, these principles will work in the battlefields of American business just as they did in the Pacific theater.

MacArthur’s Principles of Leadership
*Do I heckle my subordinates or strengthen and encourage them?
*Do I use moral courage in getting rid of subordinates who have proven themselves beyond doubt to be unfit?
*Have I done all in my power by encouragement, incentive and spur to salvage the weak and erring?
*Do I know by NAME and CHARACTER a maximum number of subordinates for whom I am responsible? Do I know them intimately?
*Am I thoroughly familiar with the technique, necessities, objectives and administration of my job?
*Do I lose my temper at individuals?
*Do I act in such a way as to make my subordinates WANT to follow me?
*Do I delegate tasks that should be mine?
*Do I arrogate everything to myself and delegate nothing?
*Do I develop my subordinates by placing on each one as much responsibility as he can stand?
*Am I interested in the personal welfare of each of my subordinates, as if he were a member of my family?
*Have I the calmness of voice and manner to inspire confidence, or am I inclined to irascibility and excitability?
*Am I a constant example to my subordinates in character, dress, deportment and courtesy?
*Am I inclined to be nice to my superiors and mean to my subordinates?
*Is my door open to my subordinates?
*Do I think more of POSITION than JOB?
*Do I correct a subordinate in front of others?

Holiday tips

During the holiday season most of us find ourselves joining family, friends and work associates to celebrate at a local restaurant. A few days ago I met some friends,who were coming through town, for a nice meal and conversation. Unusual for the time of day, the restaurant was full of patrons which meant we had to wait for a table. Once we were seated the waitress apologized for our wait and explained how tired she was from the increased work caused by excess customers. Trying to encourage her I said, “Look at it this way, you make more tips when you have more customers.” Much to my surprise she responded with, “Not during Christmas. Apparently people are trying to save money for gifts or something else, but our tips take a nose dive in December.”

The waitress’ explanation reminded me of a story I once heard about a little boy who went to the local shop for some ice cream. It was back in the day when an ice cream sundae cost much less than it does today. The little boy entered the shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him and the little boy asked, “How much is an ice cream sundae?” “Fifty cents”, replied the waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it. “Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” By this time more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. “Thirty-five cents” she snapped. The little boy recounts his coins and says, “I’ll have the plain ice cream.” The waitress brought the ice cream, placed the bill in front of the little boy and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies. You see, he couldn’t have the sundae he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

Christmas is the time for giving. When you give you plant the seeds of prosperity in your own life. Don’t be a person who holds on to a dollar or two for the sake of themselves. Be like the little boy and order based on what you can tip.

You have to love to lead

To be an effective leader you must have a heart that is filled with unconditional love. We may not like some of the ways those under our direction go about their tasks but we must never stop loving them. When I think of unconditional love I’m always reminded of the following story.

A soldier who was finally coming home after having fought in Vietnam called his parents from San Francisco.
“Mom and Dad, I’m coming home, but I’ve a favor to ask. I have a friend I’d like to bring home with me.”
“Sure,” they replied, “we’d love to meet him.”
“There’s something you should know the son continued, “he was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a land mind and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere else to go, and I want him to come live with us.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, son. Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live.”
“No, Mom and Dad, I want him to live with us.”
“Son,” said the father, “you don’t know what you’re asking. Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden on us. We have our own lives to live, and we can’t let something like this interfere with our lives. I think you should just come home and forget about this guy. He’ll find a way to live on his own.”
At that point, the son hung up the phone. The parents heard nothing more from him. A few days later, however, they received a call from the San Francisco police. Their son had died after falling from a building, they were told. The police believed it was suicide. The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city morgue to identify the body of their son. They recognized him, but to their horror they also discovered something they didn’t know, their son had only one arm and one leg.

The parents in this story are like many of us. We find it easy to love those who are good-looking or fun to have around, but we don’t like people who inconvenience us or make us feel uncomfortable. We would rather stay away from people who aren’t as healthy, beautiful, or smart as we are.

As leaders we must love everyone under our direction despite how they look, how they work or how they respond to us. You should never underestimate the dire consequences of not loving those you lead.

Play to the whistle

It’s a phrase etched in the memories of anyone that has played the game of American football, “play to the whistle.” In American football the down or play is not completed until the referee sounds a whistle. The sound of the whistle is very important for the defense who is trying to stop the offense from scoring. If the defense stops before the whistle is sounded there is a good chance the offense could scamper down the field for a score. Probably the most important fundamental of American football is to play to the whistle.

Each and every one of us has had a day when we strolled in to the workplace all excited to begin a new day when out of no where we received some bad news. Maybe a client had backed out on an order. Maybe a boss was unhappy with our work. Or maybe, executives had made one of those “life changing” decisions of shifting corporate structure. Whatever the case, what started out as a beautiful day has turned to doom and gloom.

Some of us, me included, allow the negative news of morning control our entire day. We fail to realize that the day is still new. We have not made it to lunch, yet we already feel defeated. It shows in our work ethic as we decide today is a disaster and is best if we hold on until tomorrow to start a new.

Leaders and those who achieve to be treat each minute, hour and circumstance if it were one play of many that make up a complete game. If one play is unsuccessful and they feel defeated the get up, dust themselves off, and line up for another play. To successfully make it through the rigors of any given day we must adapt the mindset that allows us to view each moment and circumstance of our lives as a single play that makes up a complete game. We must realize that our chances of having a rewarding day are not over until we hear the whistle blow. Make it your goal today to go out and “Play to the Whistle.”

What does it take to be a leader?

Some self-described leadership guru’s opine that leaders are born not developed. Their case, somehow a genetic gem is created within the womb that enables a person to be born a leader. Where they get the basis for their theory is unknown, however I can tell you the idea that leaders are born is entirely false. A look at some of the most heralded leader’s in history shows they were not born with the ability to lead but their abilities were developed. Abraham Lincoln, before he was elected president his girlfriend died, he lost his business, he had a nervous breakdown, in all he lost seven political races before being elected president. Doesn’t sound like a born leader does it? Yet, Abraham Lincoln is considered to be one of the best leaders in United States history. Under his leadership the Civil War was ended and the Emancipation Proclamation was penned, bringing an end to slavery.

Abraham Lincoln, natural born leader?
There are thousands of stories like that of Abraham Lincoln. Despite what the politically correct would like you to believe, many leaders did not come from an affluent childhood or born with the ability to lead. Most developed their abilities through what Walt Disney called “stick-to-it-tivity.” So, what does it take to be a leader? A pulse. If you’re breathing, you have the ability to be a leader. No matter where you are on the depth chart, organization structure or classroom.

If you have influence on others then you are a leader. If you have a pulse then you have influence.

In the next few blogs I will share some thoughts on steps we can all take to becoming the leaders we aspire. Until then, begin the transformation today to develop the leader within you. Here are a few things that have helped me along the way…thanks to John Maxwell for sharing these “Daily Dozens” in his book Today Matters.

Think the right kinds of thoughts. (Positive: don’t dive into the pool of self-pity.)
Say the right kinds of words. (Words heal or hurt, build or tear down.)
Set specific goals. (daily, weekly, monthly, long term and a plan for achieving goals.)
Take responsibility for your actions. (10% of life is made of what happens to you, 90% has to do with what you’re dealt.)
Turn failures into strengths. (Failure is inevitable, learn from mistakes.)
Go the extra mile. (Do more than is expected.)
Never give up. (Stick-to-it-tivity)
Choose right kind of friends (friends help you pass or fail, bring out your best or worst)
Character counts (commitment, honor, attitude, respect, truthfulness, morals)
Live by faith. (Faith is the currency of God’s economy; you want to be rich, live by faith.)
Generosity (be generous to someone who cannot repay your generosity)
Growth (spend at least an hour per day thinking, reading, listening for ways to improve yourself.)