Why yes it is my 12th anniversary of blogging; thanks for noticing! Although I always highlight the post I write from the previous anniversary year, I rarely go back and share the post that started it all. It was a humble beginning that, because of circumstances, I had to do a second time. I explained the meaning of that when I celebrated my 1,000th post here, which you can check out if you’re interested in knowing a bit of the backstory.
Here’s an interesting blogging reality. In 2009, the New York Times stated that over 95% of blogs were abandoned; it’s expected that numbers grown as more people have started and quit blogs during that time. I’ve known a lot of people who’ve blogged over the years, and there are only a few who have kept blogging since I started in 2005. No, blogging isn’t easy, and writing on a niche like leadership can also be challenging.
How challenging? Well, I made a list of best leadership blogs of 2017, and there were maybe 50 of us listed. Out of those 50, only 4 of them have been writing longer than me, and out of the other 46 only one started in the same year as mine. At least all of those folk are still blogging; check out that link to see some of the big name people I’m associated with. 🙂
Here’s the thing about my 12 years and leadership. Even though I’ll take on a controversial subject here and there, for the most part I try to be nice when I write these posts. Most of the stories I tell are pretty nice stories with happy endings; who doesn’t love a happy ending?
I tend to believe that the best leaders are nice people. Some may argue that tough leaders are pretty good and my response to that is that only works in professions where someone could get killed or kill someone else. I want my military leaders to be tough. I want those training physicians to be tough. Everyone else, including police… nice please!
With that said, I’m taking a different direction this year than I usually do. Instead of listing my favorite posts over a specific time period, which is getting harder to do with the number of posts I have now, I decided to talk about 12 ways leaders and others can be nice to people. The thing with being nice is that, when appreciated, both sides end up feeling good. It’s nice being nice, and it’s nice having others be nice to us; who’s going to disagree with that?
We’re certainly not going to get 100% compliance 24/7/365, but if all of us try our best to be nice most of the time, the world would be a better place and we’d feel better.
Are you with me? If so let’s go:
Is it really so hard to say “hello” to people? If so, what about the people you work with, or people you encounter often? I’ve known leaders who never try to be courteous to anyone, including customers, because they don’t take the time to learn the difference between them. I’ve known other leaders who have a good word for everyone, to the point that it doesn’t matter if they initially know one from the other because, for them, everyone’s a customer and is worthy of attention.
I’m someone who greets people all the time while walking around stores and throughout the mall. If I make eye contact, I’m probably going to say hello. I don’t get reciprocated all that often but when I do, I get kind of a smile on my face and an extra lift in my step. If I’m not making someone’s day they’re certainly making mine. How much effort could it possibly take to project a sense of proper decorum?
Say thank you
I’m always thanking people for something, even if they should be thanking me. I thank people for holding doors. I thank people who serve my food in restaurants. I thank the people at the checkout counter in stores. I get way more smiles from people I thank than people I greet.
I’ve always thanked people in the workplace for talking to me. I thank them for a job well done. I thank them for putting up with me. I thank them for a lot of things. In today’s world, more young people want to be shown that you appreciate the work they’re doing for you. What’s simpler and stronger than a good thank you?
Ask about someone’s health and listen
This isn’t one that you’re probably going to do on a daily basis unless you’re pressing the flesh a lot, but it’s pretty important if you’re paying attention, and as a leader you should be.
You’ll notice that people aren’t always putting out happy vibes. Sometimes they’re angry; there’s little you can do about that unless it’s your fault.
If it’s not anger then it’s some kind of distress, either physical or mental. Don’t ever be scared to ask someone how they’re feeling. If they’re willing to share, all you normally have to do is listen; is that so hard? I’ve always made it my rule to never give advice on things that I’m not 100% sure about, but I will be consoling and I can offer other options when possible.
This shows that you care about people and is one of the nicest things you can do for others. At least consider it if you have the time to put into it.
Ask people if you can help them
This is probably the scariest thing on my list, even moreso than the point above. This step means you’re ready to commit to something if the person you’re talking to accepts your offer.
The thing about this one is that you have to be earnest while understanding your limitations. For instance, I’ve never volunteered to help anyone move things because I’ve had back issues since I was in high school, which I remember most of the time. I have volunteered to drive people places because that’s something I can do easily enough and I’m willing to give a time commitment to it.
In the workplace, before I was a consultant, I would always ask people throughout the hospital if I could help them with something. I knew not to ask about medical stuff because that’s not my forte, but I always knew there were other areas where I could be of assistance. It not only helped them but it helped the organization, and it was always appreciated whether it was accepted or not.
With almost 1,350 articles on this blog, 1,750 on another, and over 5,000 articles, 3 books and other products, one could say I offer lots of information. With that said, I’m always available to offer a lot more free information than I charge for… which is a bad talent for consulting. lol
I’m the guy on Facebook that lets people know if the information they’re sharing is wrong. I’m the one who’ll research something without asking so that everyone knows the answers to things. I’m the guy who usually has a solution to a problem if I have enough information about it.
I’m also the guy willing to share whatever I know with others. I’ve had lunch with a lot of people locally who’ve asked if they could pick my brain about something. I’ve answered a lot of questions for free online or over the phone, even with people in my industry who could be considered a competitor. I have a limit though; after all, I do have to make money sometime. lol
Still, unless it’s a major project or someone wanting an in depth response, I’m usually giving away a lot of information freely. I always hope people appreciate it but I know it always makes me feel pretty good.
Motivate someone to greatness
At the beginning of January, on another blog of mine, I decided I was going to write a blog post a day for 31 days. When I announced it at the beginning of the project, I asked if anyone wanted to join in on the fun. Only one person decided to take up the challenge, though she started about two weeks behind me. Most of her posts are short since she’s a beginner, but I think this one about email organization is probably the best of the batch.
I talk a lot about motivation because not only do I believe that the best leaders motivate their employees to greatness, but because the best leaders are also extremely motivated.
The best reason for motivation is to inspire people to do their best, and if their best is so good that they are able to supersede you, frankly I don’t find anything wrong with that. All great leaders are fearless when it comes to this, not because they want to be surpassed but because they know if it happens they had a hand in it. I recently wrote a post where I mentioned that helping an employee become a leader, even if it’s in another company, is one of the most satisfying things I can think of in my life, and I’ve had the pleasure to make that happen a number of times.
If you’re afraid to motivate people towards being great then that’s an issue you should explore.
Share something with someone that you know they’ll like
I do a lot of online marketing for business. I also try to get to know a lot of the people I’m connected to. This gives me an opportunity to share things I come across that I know some of these folks will like or be interested in with them.
I’ve always done that when I’ve had the opportunity. Sometimes it’s been things I also liked, but many times it’s things I’m not overly interested in that I share. It’s not always easy to remember everything about someone, but if you care enough to remember at least one or two things, be willing to give of yourself to make someone else feel good.
Share something of someone else’s and let them know you did
If you’re in the workplace and someone has a great idea, always make sure you let others know whose idea it was, even if you had to pt some effort into to make it work. Never take credit for the work or knowledge of others.
A bit part of my Twitter marketing strategy is to share things other people have created rather than just talking about myself all day long. When they’ve given the information, I’ll also add their Twitter handle so that they’ll know I shared it with other people. It’s amazing how many people appreciate the effort, because only 1/4th of the people know how to add their Twitter handle to their share buttons, and people who write on sites that accept articles from multiple writers never put their handles into those buttons.
Sharing is caring; at least that’s what I’ve heard. 🙂
I’m not the biggest giver to all charities because I tend to believe that my efforts work best by giving more to a few than a little to a lot. My wife and I donate a lot of stuff such as clothes and appliances to the Rescue Mission because it’s our way to help others who might need some pretty good stuff to help them get by.
I’ve also donated some of my time to non-for-profit organizations. I was a board member of an organization called Arise Inc, which works with disabled people to allow them to live independent and productive lives and show the rest of the world their talents. I was with them for 13 years before leaving at the beginning of 2016. I’m not the type to do soup kitchens or call a lot of people up asking for money, but I shared my expertise and time in helping to promote the group and helped to oversee the financial progress of the organization in my 4 years as chairman of the finance committee.
It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive or time consuming. It can be as small as deciding to buy dinner for a hungry person, which I’ve also done. It doesn’t even have to be an everyday thing; just think about helping someone every now and then.
Say something nice to a stranger
Carol Burnett used to say that if she noticed someone was having a bad day or was in a bad mood that she’d find something about them and compliment them about it. She said it almost always produced a smile and got people out of their melancholy or distress.
I’ve found this to be true, although I don’t wait for people to be in a bad mood. I’ve been known to compliment people on what they’re wearing, how they’ve styled their hair, and the sound of their voice. The thing is, I’m not doing it to change their mood as much as I do it because I’m impressed by a lot of things that I either can’t do or never thought about doing.
For instance, I’m never getting a tattoo; just ain’t happening! Yet, there are some tattoos I’ve seen on people that are just outstanding. Being me, I’ve walked up to people and commented on their tats, and then asked them stories about them. People love talking about themselves and it’s a rare occasion where someone laments getting their tattoo.
It might be hard to believe but I’m a bit of an introvert. I don’t walk up to people all that often and just start talking. However, when I come upon opportunities to say something nice to someone, especially when they’re not expecting it, I’m there.
Do something nice for yourself
Like what they say on airplanes about putting your own mask on before helping someone else, it stands to reason that you can’t take care of others very well without taking care of yourself as well. Few things make us always feel better than doing something nice for ourselves.
It doesn’t have to be big things. The quickest way for me to feel better is to get something sweet (yeah, I hear all the bad things about sugar; phooey!), preferably chocolate. A quick Reese’s peanut butter cup and I’m one of the happiest people you’ve ever met.
It’s nice to reward yourself as often as possible but it doesn’t have to be seen as a reward. I don’t really know how to relax, so when I figure out a way to take 30 minutes for myself it’s one of the most precious things I can ever think of, and most of the time it doesn’t cost a thing.
Be the best person you can be
This should be simple, but it turns out not to be reality for a majority of people. The world beats us down to the point where many of us end up going through the emotions. We forget the dreams we once had and we don’t even think of trying to live current dreams and wishes.
Some people fear the unknown of success. When I was working in Memphis years ago, I was surprised to run into so many people who never wanted to be in leadership. Their response was that leaders get fired more than regular working people and they’d rather always have a job than try to be anything more.
What I had to tell myself is that everyone isn’t meant for leadership… at least not officially. My dad only wanted to be a master sargeant instead of an officer. My friend Scott could probably run the company he works for but he likes being the IT guy. It doesn’t mean that neither of these folks could be the best they could be; both were actually the best they wanted to be.
Being the best person you can be extends beyond proficiency. Being the best person you can be means not intentionally hurting others. It means trying to make your corner of the world better. It means helping other people be and feel better while bettering yourself.
If you’re going to lay bricks, be the best bricklayer in the world. If you’re going to be a teacher be the best. If you’re going to go out to dinner every night be the best patron you can be. Be your version of a leader and a nice person. The best people have a lot of both in them.
Welcome to my anniversary; let’s see how easily the road leads to year #13.