A couple of days ago I shared a story on Twitter from Scientific American titled Women May Find Management Positions Less Desirable. I disagreed with the premise of the article, and I shared it with a couple of people I know who I thought might be interested in it.

leadership

One of the people who responded is Dr. Christine Allen of Insight Business Works, Inc. We started discussing the merits of the article, and I said my problem with it was that it singled out women instead of addressing the problem overall. When she asked me what I meant I shared an article I wrote a few years ago titled People Don’t Want To Be Leaders, which also has an attached video addressing the same topic.

In that particular article, I mentioned talking to a group of younger people, millennials if you will, when I was in Memphis years ago, asking them why none of them wanted to become leaders. They worried about two things: one, leaders lose their jobs more often and they didn’t want to deal with that; two, leaders have to deal with other people’s emotions and temperaments, and they didn’t want to deal with that either. This same type of thing was touched upon in an article on Digitalist Magazine titled Why Millennials Don’t Want To Lead – And How To Fix It, where they reported a survey that said only 6% of millennials want to be leaders; ouch!

After that, we talked about ways to maybe start encouraging more kids today to want to be leaders as adults. I threw out the idea of there being clubs starting in middle school where kids could learn leadership. However, Twitter is a hard place to be more precise on meaning, and I had to remove a lot of words so I could get that little bit in. I thought I’d explain myself better here and hope that those of you who might read this later will offer your own opinions on how to jump start the topic of leadership amongst the younger set.

When I wrote my first book Embrace The Lead, I’d come across a statistic that said around 85% of all people had never led anything before accepting a leadership position. My premise at that time was that it explained why there are so many people who are bad at it. I never thought back then to see how many people actually wanted to be leaders though.

I don’t think this is something that can be dealt with during the regular hours of school because there are so many other subjects that need to be considered. Leadership is important but so is personal finance, and if I had my druthers I’d rather schools teach kids how to handle money so they’d all have a better future.

I’m not sure if my use of “clubs” is imprecise or not; maybe I mean after school programs or organizations. My thinking is that there needs to be a pool of kids who need opportunities to actually be a leader on projects, taking turns with other kids and having oversight to teach guide them, whether they’re doing well or not.

CAST for Kids 2017 168
Creative Commons License Bureau of Reclamation via Compfight

For the record, in my opinion, sports doesn’t work to create true leaders… at least not across the board. Groups like the Boy and Girl Scouts can be good, but time has shown me that where many of these groups fail is that the people leading them don’t have true leadership skills to pass on.

The paradigm would have to change. You can’t have regular teachers running these groups, and not all volunteers would qualify. Instead, you need true business leaders, coaches, mentors, or consultants who are willing to give some of their time to help kids work their way through leadership processes while also learning how to follow the lead of others as necessary. You also need someone to do some vetting of this group of leaders to make sure the people kids will be entrusted to learn from are learning from the right people.

This begs the question of how to get kids into groups like this. Is there a committee that selects the kids? Does the school send notes out to parents asking them if they want to enroll their kids into these programs? Or does the school mention it like what happens in high school, and then sit back to see who decides to be a part of it?

I can’t answer this part because I have no real experience with it. I don’t have kids and know almost no millennials, or whatever the youngest group is being called now. I worry that groups like this could suffer like voting does in this country. Many groups clamored for the right to vote in the 20th century, but we barely got 55% of the populace to vote in the last presidential election. With the 6% number above, is it even worth the expense of schools to try putting something together like this?

I really don’t know. I could take some comfort in this Chicago Tribune story saying millennials want to lead, they just need a hand. I can only hope it’s true, but in any case it might be a conversation that needs to be had at some point.

Dr. Christine & I will have to meet for lunch; I don’t do coffee. πŸ™‚
 

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I don’t know how many people remember the original Star Trek series. For those who don’t, there was an episode where a guest character had created a super computer with the intention that it could run an entire starship on its own, such that it wouldn’t need a crew or a captain. As the computer was given the reins to the ship, a commodore from another starship called Captain James T. Kirk “Captain Dunsel”, a slang term used in the Federation Standard language to describe an item that was completely useless in Starfleet service.

thinking like a leader

I sometimes get the feeling that a lot of people in leadership positions are worried about being considered “dunsel”, even if they don’t know the term. My reasoning is that many of them not only don’t understand the concept of leading others, but they don’t understand the benefit of working hard to train others to be leaders in their own right.

Although I’ve never succumbed to the feeling, I know what some of these other leaders might be thinking. All we need to do is look at sports to see that no matter how great someone is, there’s often someone greater and younger right around the corner waiting to take the reins and soar to greater heights. Some people might think they’d be out of their mind to train someone to replace them when they don’t want to be replaced.

There are many article that address company founders whose brilliance at creating a product or service at some point end up having to give up their overall leadership position and hire a CEO to lead the company to greater heights. It’s always a tough transition because letting go of something they started is emotionally tough, but even Bill Gates gave up the CEO position when he realized his strength was elsewhere, not in continually growing his company.

With that said, I’ve found that savvy leaders who are confident in their abilities on a lower level not only rarely lose their position, but gain ultimate loyalty from their employees because they know that they’re going to be given a chance to learn how to be a leader, whether it’s at the organization they’re already working for or elsewhere.

The most pride I ever felt was seeing someone who worked for me and honed their skills, while showing that they could work independently and assume leadership when necessary, assume another job elsewhere by moving into a leadership position. I only wish I worked in a place where someone had the opportunity to become a leader I had an opportunity to work with; I would have been immensely proud of that feat.

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Elyasin Shaladi via Compfight

The main thing leaders who don’t train others to be independent thinkers and leaders miss is that the better people are trained and the most confidence they have in themselves gives the leader more time to pursue other actions and avenues that benefit the organization as well as the department. It’s the kind of shortsightedness that inhibits company growth, as well as the growth of the leader.

Since it’s my blog I’ll talk about my own experience, from my health care background.

Without working to make sure the employees who worked for me had all the tools they needed to succeed, and without giving those employees who wanted more responsibility the opportunity to prove themselves, I’d have never had the time to do and learn many of the things I did that helped me become more rounded.

My first independent leadership position was as a regional director for a physician billing company. I already understood billing, which is what got me the position, but by working with staff in 5 different locations I also had the opportunity to learn procedure coding for multiple specialties.

Once I left the job and took another at a hospital, I got to apply what I learned to help my new hospital increase its revenue, which in turn increased cash. When I went to another hospital years later, because I set out to get my current and new employees up to standard in billing proficiency. Then I worked on making them more than that, because I wanted them to be strong and independent so I could do other things.

Because my employees didn’t need me all the hours of the day, I had time to take on corporate compliance responsibilities. I got to work with a group on leadership training processes. I also got to have a lot of time to think about ways to keep improving the departments directly reporting to me, something many leaders don’t get to do, but should.

Without my own employees being able to think for themselves without me having to be there to do everything for them, I’d have never learned, nor had the opportunity, how to do everything I got to do. It also wouldn’t have given some of those employees leadership skills they got to take with them when our department was shut down years later. I also wouldn’t have been able to go into consulting and had the diverse types of contracts I was able to obtain.

Good leaders never become obsolete. Even if they get downsized, their skills will get them another position elsewhere. Never be afraid to help make others the best they can be, even if they supersede you later on. Trust me, it’s a better way to go than “dunseling” oneself. πŸ˜‰
 

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2017 Mitch  Mitchell

All of us have problems with organization. There’s just so much stuff and too little time to get to all of it. When we have to deal with our office space, the desk becomes the repository for all sorts of clutter. If you’re like me, sometimes the piles end up being taller than I am when I stand up.

storage bin

I know some of you are thinking “Hey, this isn’t about leadership or diversity.” Well, I sometimes talk about general business issues because I’ve been self employed for almost 16 years come June. As a matter of face, in case you missed it, I did a video on business tips for my 13th anniversary:


https://youtu.be/roOzb1sdqYA

Thus, I’ve set the precedent for going slightly off-topic from my norm. I’m one of the few consultants I know who is always willing to give someone new to self employment business advice; I’ve learned a lot over the years, both good and bad.

One of those things I’ve learned is how to organize my desk and the space around it. I’m not going to lie; my desk isn’t always perfect. But it’s in a much better place than it used to be in the first few years of self employment.

Here are 10 tips to help you better organize your desk and your office space:

1. Prepare for the organization.

The first step before anything else doesn’t involve the desk at all. You need to have some things handy because, when you start this process, you’re going to resolve to do a positive action with every single thing you touch.

Get your garbage can, your shredder, and at least 3 boxes the size of stationary boxes, the type where you can put things into it by removing the top. If you don’t have boxes, then you’re going to have to write up large labels for yourself and put them on the floor next to your desk. The title of each of these labels is “Immediate Response,” “Read,” and “File Away.”

You can do this another way also. Since I go through this process often I now have one large paper tray and a big plastic bin. Anything that’s immediate response I leave on the desk. This part is dicey if you’re cleaning your desk off the first time and it’s a royal mess, but you to have two sides to your desk. πŸ™‚

Read goes in the paper tray. File away goes into the bin. As long as you can have 3 separate places to put your items temporarily it’s all good.

2. Now it’s time to move all paper, books and magazines off your desk.

Literature Books
Creative Commons License Shane Gorski via Compfight

Start from either the right or the left side of your desk and work towards the other direction. Organize your items by the three categories you created above. Put all magazines in the box labeled “Read”. Stack your books in their own pile. Shred or throw away everything that’s trash. Make sure some of your trash aren’t business receipts.

The important thing at this stage is to not take any time digging deep into what each thing is. This should be a 10-30 second process at best for each item.

3. Next, look at all the remaining things on your desk.

You probably only need to do this once where it takes you some time to get through. Every single one of these things will involve an immediate action step, though some of them might take you up to a minute to decide what you want to do with it. You can throw it away, put it in a drawer, move it to another place or put it somewhere on the desk where you think it’s appropriate or entertaining.

For instance, if you have stress balls on your desk and you’re often stressed, you might want to push them far enough away so they’re not encumbering you, but not too far to reach easily. Maybe you have pictures of your family on your that you can push further yet still see them. Business cards, either put them in your desk drawer or put them in your “Immediate Response” box so you can log them when you’re done with your initial sorting.

Don’t have too many things left on your desk, even family pictures. It’s much more efficient to put pictures on the walls and other things in a drawer.

4. At this point, you should be left with a reasonably clean desk, but we’re obviously not done.

The next step is to do something with all your books. Either put them in a bookcase or remove them from the room. If you’re working on something and need one of those books, leave it next to your desk for the time being, but don’t put it back on the desk.

5. Time to address the items that you put in the “Read” area.


If you have a filing cabinet, or wherever you put files, put that stuff away. While you’re at it, you might as well do the same thing for the items you put in the “Read” box. If you have a lot of paper, it’s easier to keep up with if you have file folders which you can label for easy access.

Separate the magazines from the other paper, because magazines are always something you can take with you, put in the bathroom, or put in other rooms. If you have enough room in your file cabinet, put those items you want to read in their own area.

Here’s a reality point; most of the things you put in your “Read” area you’re never going to read. If something sits longer than 4 weeks, get rid of it, including magazines. A problem I used to have was to go through magazines and cut out the stuff I wanted to read; I rarely went back to read it. Even Einstein had a problem with this one, so we’re not alone.

6. It’s time to get to the “Immediate Response” items.

The plan now is to only touch these items once or twice. Once means you’re going to do something with it as soon as you look at it, so you can throw it away. Twice means it’s something like a bill, and you need to put it somewhere so you can pay it when it’s due.

This step could take you a while if you had a lot of items. For instance, if you have to make phone calls, I’d save those until you’ve gone through everything else first. Inputting data from your collected business cards might not be an easy process depending on what you use to store them. My advice with those is that, unless there’s a picture of the person on them, throw them all away once you’ve recorded the information.

7. Contrary to popular belief, an “Inbox” is not the place where you get something and put it there.

It’s a place where other people who deliver things to you put something so you’ll look at it. Therefore, unless you have someone bringing you things, get the inbox off your desk. Instead, put it behind you somewhere, or to the side of you; my paper tray is on the 2nd shelf of my external filing area next to me where I also store my bills.

a clean desk

The psychological thinking of this is that we tend to start ignoring those things that are directly in front of us, but if we have to make one more action step, such as turning around and putting something in a tray, we’ll think about it more.

This now becomes your new “Read” bin, because from this point on, except for bills, whenever anything comes in that needs an immediate response, you’re going to take care of it right then and there. If it doesn’t need an immediate response, it’s either “Read”, shred or trash.

I’ll admit that this isn’t something I don’t do every day. In the image above, some items sit in that tray for at least a week. A few are always there, since that’s where I keep my stamps and notepads.

8. To keep your desk free of clutter from things such as pens, paper clips and the like, buy a drawer organizer to keep all those things in.

If you have a small drawer that won’t support something like that, then buy one for your desk. People are always looking for those types of things, and because they’re small, they get all over.

The drawer on my desk is narrow and small, and my desk is older, thus I can’t find anything that will fit well in it. Instead I use an old plastic coffee cup for pens and pencils and a plastic pen holder for my sharpies.

9. Keep things like staplers and staple removers in the top or middle drawer, or stored on a cabinet.

These are things that in today’s world you’re probably not using all that often, so don’t give them a place of prominence like back in the day. This would go for portable calculators and any other items that used to be considered as office supplies like binder clips and rubber bands.

I keep my stapler on a shelf of my cabinet along with my tape dispenser, which is oversized and has to sit in the open. Near it I also keep my pencil sharpener since I don’t use them all that often, yet still have a need here and there. The idea behind this is to keep things close to you that you might need, yet remove it from your immediate area if it’s not something you use at least a couple of times a week.

10. Don’t just throw everything in your desk drawer without some kind of plan.

The main things most people lack are enough resources to put things in a place where they’re not cluttering up other spaces. If you have a deep drawer in your desk, don’t use it as the “pile everything in there” drawer.

If you need to, either buy other organizers that fit your needs and space or get rid of more stuff. Think of it this way; most of the things we tend to keep we’re not going to do anything with, or rarely touch. If it’s not something very important, move it.

At this point you not only have a clean desk, but a plan for keeping it that way. All it takes to keep a clean desk is a bit of organization and the dedication to take care of things when they come in. I tend to clean my desk weekly when my mind’s in the right place. Luckily, if I let it go longer than that, most of the time I’ve moved some of the stuff I used to pile on top already so it’s easier to clear my desk and keep my area clean.

It’s not always easy, but the good thing is you now also have a plan for getting out from under clutter the next time it looks like it’s coming back. Good luck!
 

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There’s many things I do that get accolades for that, sometimes, I start to think I can’t do anything wrong.


Usually that’s when reality kicks in. It can feel harsh or just disappointing but it’s the type of thing that brings me back to reality, even if I didn’t actually make any mistakes.

A friend of my wife’s once asked me to design some wedding invitations for her, which was a strange request since I’m not close to being a designer. Yet my mind said “you’ve seen wedding invitations; how hard could it be?”

I sat at my desk for a few hours putting something together that I thought was pretty nice. I showed it to my wife, and said she thought it was perfect. I figured that was that.

That is, until the following afternoon, when her friend came over. I showed her the design and she said “I hate it.” Plain and simple. I was stunned; I don’t hear that often. I asked her what she hated and she said the front design; she thought it was hokey. She loved what I wrote inside, but absolutely hated the cover.

The next hour was frustrating, as she tried to explain what it was she wanted and I kept trying to get it to her satisfaction. It’s hard to communicate well when neither party is familiar with the terms they’re using. Words like “dookickey” and “swirlies” just don’t translate well because they mean different things to each person.

We finally found a term we both liked, “pencil sketch”, and within minutes found something she felt would work for her. I finished the card, saved it, put it on a CD and off she went, happy as could be. Even though I was happy we finally got it right, I felt really frustrated with the whole thing, knowing I’d never try doing anything like that again.

I go through my life feeling like I’m a pretty good communicator, and I’ve had a lot of experiences that bring me to that belief. Yet I’d be lying if I said it’s always been perfect or that it’s always been easy.

I’ve started to realize that it’s not always about the words one uses that can impede communications. It often comes down to background, behavior, intent and education… on both sides.

For instance, there are terms that I used to use when I was in my teens that don’t have the same meaning as they did back then. I have no idea when they changed but obviously they did. I also hear words today that make no sense to me, and I find myself looking them up on search engines and not only being amazed at their meaning but wondering how and when they became words.


Sometimes that’s just how it works in the world, and it’s a pretty common event these days. There are many words in our lexicon, but sometimes there’s just no known or specific word at the time that everyone’s ready to understand at that particular moment. It can take time before two individuals can come to an understanding of what the other is trying to say; but how often are both parties willing and ready to take the time to communicate properly with each other?

Since I can’t solve the problems of the world, I’m going to go at this from a leadership perspective. I’m also going to come at it from four different directions. I’m also going to borrow something indirectly from a presentation I went to see conducted by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Someone in the audience asked him what could be done to help today’s scientists and teachers learn how to communicate their findings and what they’re trying to teach in language that’s not too difficult for their students and others to comprehend. His response was that it takes both the willingness to figure out simpler terms as well as the teachers and speakers being willing to take the time to learn how to do it.

When you’re in a leadership position you’re basically tasked with being able to communicate concepts and information to three distinct groups of people.

The first group are new employees that might not have any experience in what you have to try to teach them. This is the most complicated group you’re going to work with because you can only simplify things so much, especially if there are specific technical terms and processes you need them to understand. Over the years I learned that this was an assignment I had to give to supervisors to start with because I would overwhelm new employees, scaring some of them that they didn’t come back after lunch on day one. Hey, we all have limitations. πŸ™‚

teaching
Barbara Krawcowicz via Compfight

The second group are your actual employees; this is a group I excelled with. If you’re lucky you’ve trained them pretty well to the extent that most of what you have to do is tweak the information here and there. Of course you also have to be vigilant in making sure they always know what you’re talking about, but they’re easier to teach because they already understand the foundations.

The third group are your peers and, sometimes, upper management. This can be precarious because you need to work hard to be understood while sticking with industry and business terminology that you know they’re probably going to hear again. I did well with this group as well because I had the time to work with them to help them understand concepts I needed them to know so they could succeed in what they had to do that impacted what I had to do. When you have the time to work with people it makes everything easier, even if you have to find ways to make the time.

The fourth group, which not everyone has to deal with, are your customers or consumers. I excelled with this group as well because, unlike the other groups, they didn’t need to know all the technical terms so I could break it into easy to understand concepts that served their specific needs. What you find with customers is that they just want you to solve their problems without having a need to know every facet of the issue. If more customer service centers understood this concept there would be fewer angry consumers griping about them on Twitter.

My hope with the above examples is that I was able to communicate the four different sets of people in business that one might end up encountering from a leadership perspective by telling my own brief tales. Without a give and take with an audience I will only know for sure based on feedback that might come my way later on. This is a much different venture than engaging someone sitting right in front of you; how comfortable are you in working your way through what might not always be an easy conversation?

Every person deserves understanding. With patience and a little bit of determination, the results can be pleasing. As long as you realize when you can take the time and when it’s crucial to push a bit, you’ll end up having more success than failure in communicating with others.
 

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You know why I think I’m a good consultant? There’s actually more than one reason. First, I know I know my stuff when it comes to whatever I’m consulting on; otherwise I don’t accept the assignment. Second, I’m good with people I’m consulting with if they’re willing to work with me.

48/365
Jiuck via Compfight

Over my years as a consultant, and many years before that, I’ve found that almost every person finds that others aren’t always as proficient as they are, or think they are. That’s because often we’re not in a mental position to recognize what we’re not good at, or can’t see our faults through our perceptions. That’s just the way life is; none of us is perfect to begin with, but sometimes all of us forge that piece of the pie.

For those times when we’re right about someone else’s lack of proficiency and we’re the ones in charge, it’s up to us to teach or work with others, to try to make them better.

How one decides to approach someone is often more important than the actual act of teaching or correction. Come at them too strong, they may rebel or defend. If you’re not strong enough, you may not get their attention so that they’ll listen. There has to be a balance between how direct you are and how non-threatening you come across.

Let’s get this one out of the way. There are some leaders who feel that being blunt and direct is always the best way to talk to people. What I’ve found is that negative criticism rarely helps because more often than not those being criticized shuts down. I’ve also found that people who believe in the direct approach can’t take it from others, which of course makes them hypocrites. πŸ™‚

There’s always a better way to communicate with someone who you have to work with when there are errors being made or you realize there’s a lack of understanding of what should be occurring. For instance, it’s definitely better to say “I found errors in this report” than to say “You made some mistakes in this report”, but both might be perceived negatively.

I would tend to say “I believe there are errors in this report that we should look at and correct if needed”. It’s direct in its own way, but my way has turned a potential negative confrontation into a collaboration. I start from a position of there not being any blame because it’s always possible there isn’t any.

Albert Schweitzer
Andrew Becraft via Compfight

This works well when working with other leaders, whether they’re reporting to me or we’re peers at the time. It never pays to make someone in a leadership position look bad, especially in front of others, and it still gets the job done. I’ve found more leaders will work with me based on my approach than complain that I’m just another consultant coming in to try to tell them what to do.

There are times when you have to be more direct, especially if you’re doing job performance reviews. You don’t have to be mean about it but being wishy-washy sends the wrong message and makes you as the leader look incompetent.

If I needed to counsel someone whose work isn’t up to standard I might say something like “There are deficiencies in your job performance that we need to address” because it’s direct without being mean. Being more direct eliminates the hearsay aspect, and having it in writing is a must, but you’ll come across as a professional with nothing personal added to your critique.

Saying something like “If you could change a few things I think you’ll do just fine” is a bit too soft because you’ll either not be as convincing as you need in describing the issues an employee has or not actually tell the employee what they’re doing wrong. This is the “friend” approach, and unless you’ve been working with someone for a very long time I tend to believe that leaders and employees shouldn’t really be friends, although being friendly is good.

Saying something like “You need to get better or you’ll be looking for another job” is too direct, even if it’s true. In today’s world employers will be looking for new employees once a month because few millennials or anyone else is as scared of leaving their jobs as they were in the past. Good leaders won’t intentionally alienate employees, which the above statement does pretty well.

Making sure the message you’re trying to convey is understood is crucial, whether you’re talking to peers or employees. Striking the right balance in approach will determine how your message is accepted. Nothing’s ever 100% because people react differently to even minor confrontation, but if you can keep your message balanced and are normally even keeled on a daily basis you’ll end up having the most success long term.
 

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Just over 5 years ago I wrote an article on one of my other blogs that I titled 46 Ways To Reach Your Own Super Bowl. The article contained 46 motivational thoughts (since it was posted around the 46th Super Bowl) that I thought were pretty cool to share.


my motivational mantra

What I didn’t do was flesh any of those thoughts out. Thus, last year I started working on expanding both the number of messages and expounding on each one with either a little story or a recommendation of how to use that particular thought. It’s eventually going to be book #4 though, to be truthful, I haven’t touched it in months; I tend to do that with my books.

I can say I’m about 30% through it but I’m not sure how accurate that is. Instead I’ll say with certainty that I’ve expounded on the first 15 ideas, so in that regard I’m telling the truth. I’ve decided to share a taste of my progress by sharing 5 of those points with you.

Believe in yourself

Nothing starts without belief. Religions needed someone to believe in them. Smartphones needed someone to believe there was a market for them.

There’s nothing created by humans that didn’t start with a belief they could be accomplished. There’s also nothing created by humans that didn’t start with their belief in themselves. Every single person who’s created anything could have said “I’ll wait for someone else to do it”. Can you imagine what life would be like if everyone who thought that followed through on it?

You’re already special; heck, you were born! All you have to do now is believe in yourself, no matter what you want. If you want to achieve great things, have a wonderful and happy life, or anything in between, it all starts with believing in yourself and believing you deserve it.

Believe in a purpose

Purpose is an interesting concept. Without going to a dictionary, you can see purpose as trying to answer the question “Why am I here?” That seems pretty daunting on the surface so let’s explore it further.

Video Games
Ian Turk via Compfight

No matter what you’ve heard, your purpose should be something that suits you. Everyone wasn’t put on this earth to have to serve anyone else’s needs. If that’s what you wish to do then go for it. If not, then your purpose is something different. There’s nothing wrong with that; after all, our circumstances aren’t the same.

Purpose can take many different directions. You might feel your purpose is to play video games without knowing that there are people who actually make a lot of money playing them. You might feel your purpose is to watch TV without knowing that, at least in a few markets around the country, there are people who get paid to watch and rate potential new TV shows.

You might not even want to go that far; maybe you just want to enjoy life by doing these things and are willing to earn just enough money to live comfortably and be able to do that. If that’s the best you can see for yourself, I’m good with that.

However, I’ve found that almost everyone I’ve talked to in my life has bigger dreams and visions for themselves. What they lack is the passion to give it a shot even once.

That’s where purpose can come into play. I got into self employment because I had a passion for doing certain things that I wanted to share with others and with health care facilities. Over time the passion part left, something I hate admitting to. Yet, I still feel I have a purpose to write about these things, consult when I can, with the intention of trying to help people and hospitals be better than they are now.

Dream big

My wife and I were having a conversation on the phone when I said “You know, one of my dreams is to be able to call you and tell you to quit your job and come home because we just won the $100 million dollar lottery.”

Living Room [HDR]
Creative Commons License Paul David via Compfight

Over the next 5 minutes we talked to each other about the things we’d do with that kind of money: redesign the house, buy another house in a warmer climate, sponsor some scholarships and charities, buy new cars, travel… and of course save enough so that we’d never need to worry about money again.

The more we talked about it the sillier our thoughts got. Yet it produced bit smiles for both of us and helped us feel as though we could own the world.

That’s the thing about big dreams. Even if you never get there, just the belief that you can helps to make you feel better, and it’s something you can always go back to when you need a mental boost. Who knows; you just might get there someday.

Learn everything you can about your dream

Dreams are only dreams. To reach your goals, which might coincide with your dreams, it takes more than just belief. You need to research to find out what it’s going to take for you to get what you want.

It’s at this point that dreams and goals separate. Having a dream of hitting the lottery is sweet, but there’s nothing you can do to affect the outcome therefore it always remained a dream. Having a dream to make $1 million by being a professional speaker is something else because there are a lot of books on speaking, a lot of organizations that hire speakers and pay them, organizations like Toastmasters to help you refine your presentation skills if you need that, and lots of research material on whatever it is you want to speak about.

Once you think of all the things you need to do, at that point you can start planning how you’re going to proceed. Having a process that you can follow and stick to give you an opportunity to fulfill your goals and dreams. Even if it takes time, if you follow your progress and you notice it’s positive it will help you keep going even during those times when things seem to be more difficult. Never stop learning because information is powerful.

Research to make more informed decisions

research via books

Learning about your dream is one thing; doing the research so you can achieve it is another thing entirely. Let me explain.

If your dream is to be a professional singer, you would want to read about all types of singers, listen to their music, find yourself a vocal coach or band to sing with and then see how good you are. You’d figure out what style of music you wanted to sing and immerse yourself in that. You could then close your eyes and imagine it’s you up on the stage, singing in front of thousands of people on a stage or maybe millions on TV. Wouldn’t that be glorious?

The next step would be to research what the life of a professional singer might entail. This is the part that most people skip on the way to their dreams, so when things don’t go right or, in some circumstances goes way too well, they’re unprepared for it and things start to fall apart.

There’s a lot to learn about being a professional singer. It’s not only about singing. You have to learn about the financial aspects of it, the traveling aspects of it, contracts, possibly different languages… there’s a lot to know, but you want to be prepared for all of it because being successful is more than being famous. That part might be nice but you have people like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain who didn’t deal with it all that well.

Find likeminded people who also have a vision, whether it’s the same as yours or not

You know that thing that says you will only be as successful as the people you surround yourself with? That statement isn’t necessarily black and white, but it is a true statement.

If everybody you hang around with once to stay in the status quo, whether they like it or not, it’s going to be hard for you to break out of a stagnant cycle. If you don’t have friends or family who have better dreams for themselves or are able to offer you support, it helps to find other people who have dreams and goals of their own, even if it’s on a different path than yours.

This happens a lot when you’re in college. If you’re even moderately outgoing, you meet a lot of different people who have dreams and goals of their own, but they are inherently different than yours.

When I went to college, I started out wanting to be a sports broadcaster and then changed to wanting to be a songwriter. I had friends who wanted to be in weather, media, science, education and a lot of other things. Their visions were inspiring enough for me to keep reaching for my dream. All of us felt good being in each other’s company and urging the other to be the best they could be, even though our ultimate goals were different.

Just so you know, these aren’t the first 5 lessons, and some of them will probably be fleshed out a bit more before I’m through. For a blog post, though, I think it’s a nice start. Let me know your thoughts… I can take it. πŸ™‚
 

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Back in 1992, there were horrible riots in Los Angeles after an all-white jury acquitted 4 police officers of using excessive force against a man named Rodney King, even though there was extensive video footage of the beating, which also included a lot of other police officers standing around watching it happen. As is wont to happen, a bunch of people set up a quick press conference to get Mr. King’s thoughts on what was going on and we ended up with this now famous “misquoted” statement:

People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?

Los Angele's three day Shoot , Loot & Scoot 1992 (Rodney King beating)
ATOMIC Hot Links via Compfight

In the almost 25 years since that particular verdict came down (April 29, 1992), I feel it’s safe to say that what’s occurred everywhere in the country since then proves that no, we can’t all get along. Actually, we’ve never been able to get along, and now it feels like things have gotten worse.

The LA Riots and the vitriol from both sides after the O.J. Simpson verdict in 1995 got a lot of us thinking that it was all about race, and that was a pretty convenient narrative for discussions to start from. I’m big on diversity and fairness for all, so I spent a lot of time talking about this throughout the 2000’s and I still talk about the inequities even now.

Only… it turns out that the arguments, other than discussions, actually don’t have as much to do with race as I’d always believed. Yes, that’s still a big issue we all need to deal with, but these days it’s more about ideology, the belief that “we’re right and they’re wrong”, and the absolute dissipation of common sense, common values and the apparent belief that being nice means one is showing weakness.

The best place to observe this is in a strange place for it to be… that being the social media site LinkedIn. As bad as I thought things were getting before last year’s election, it seems like things have gotten worse, even though one would think that people would realize that everyone’s watching this bad behavior all the time… on a purported business site no less.

It doesn’t help that LinkedIn is trying to become Facebook, but it doesn’t excuse a lot of the behavior either. I see a lot of people posting things that actually happened to them at their place of work and at least 25 – 50% of the comments calling them “babies” and “malcontents”… only not using language that nice.

She cooks too!
Katie Spence via Compfight

I used to think that most people who were saying things like that were hiding behind fake names, which is something you see on a lot of social media sites and places like local online newspapers. What I’m realizing is that it doesn’t take a fake name for all people to show the worst side of themselves… at least not online. If people can forget themselves on a site that’s meant to help people generate business, and a site that makes people use their real names (for the most part since all social media sites can be gamed), then this sends a horrible message to the world that getting along isn’t close to being in the equation.

This sounds bad doesn’t it? We’re at a point where we almost shouldn’t even try to talk to anyone outside of our “friend” sphere of influence… and even there, we should take great care in how much we can trust some of those we haven’t known for all that long a period of time.

In last week’s post I gave 3 ways of trying to make conversations more productive so we could try to have more discussions instead of arguments. This week I’m going to offer 5 pieces of advice that we all need to consider before we post anything online. I’m dealing with online issues now because what I’ve found for the most part is that around 3/4th of the people who say hurtful things online don’t have the guts or the nerve to say it to someone in person… probably because in person consequences can be more severe is more ways that one… just sayin’…

1. Think about the pros and cons of whatever you’re about to post or say.

There’s almost no such thing as universal agreement on anything in this world. If you post pictures of puppies there are going to be cat fanatics who are going to be upset about it (I’m not lying here lol). If it can happen to relatively innocuous things, it can certainly happen when you post something a bit more serious.

2. Think about what those who might not agree with you might say and whether you’re ready to deal with it.

Something I also see often is that if someone posts a response to someone that feels out of line, a lot of people will come to the defense of the original poster and all heck breaks loose. Even on blogs it can happen if those writing the content aren’t careful in moderating comments to keep it all under control (I’m big on that). Disagreements are one thing; making sure people respect your space and what you have to say can be another.

3. Think about whether you care what someone else has to say or not.


The least popular posts from this blog are those I write on diversity issues, whether it’s about race or sex or something else. Yet, because I find it important to discuss and keep bringing up, it’s one of the few topics I’m never afraid to address or talk about, sometimes even being a little confrontational when I do.

Sometimes you may feel you have to take a stand and protect your convictions about a subject or about the protection of others. In those times, worrying about what someone else might think about it isn’t that important… at least it shouldn’t be. If you believe you can’t handle people coming back at you then don’t even think about putting yourself out there. Just remember this line from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr (for whom the 49th anniversary of his assassination was yesterday): “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

4. Never feed the trolls; let others do it for you if necessary.

Trolls are people whose only goal in life is to get a rise out of you online. Most of the time they don’t even care about the subject; they get their jollies just by seeing you respond to some stupidity they’ve uttered in your space.

Whether it’s intentional or someone else’s ill-gotten chosen words that may upset you, the best thing to do it… nothing. Don’t respond, don’t read it if you can help it, don’t let it get you down. If you’re able to, delete it, block them and move on. You can do it on your blogs, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter… maybe one day LinkedIn and Google Plus will catch on, since both want to be Facebook so bad.

5. Please, PLEASE, make sure your heart is in the right place.

I tend to believe that people get back what they put out, and that people who put out hate and negativity are actually hateful and negative people. I’m sure they wouldn’t see themselves that way, but if it walks like a duck…

If you can’t say something helpful when you disagree with someone you don’t know, it’s probably best not to say anything. If you’re putting out good vibes it’s possible you’ll get some negativity coming back your way, but you’ll probably get more good than bad.

One of my pet peeves is seeing so much non-business items (including things that might help promote their proficiency) being posted on LinkedIn, but instead of griping about it on someone’s post I leave it alone. I like to think most of those people’s hearts are in the right place when they put that stuff on there. I also hate seeing those same people getting a lot of mean comments from curmudgeonly types who have nothing better to do than espouse acridity that’s not deserved.

If your hearts in the right place, then whether or not I like it shouldn’t be your concern. The same applies to everyone else who might say something. If you’ve considered the first 3 points above and you’re still good to go… you do you Boo! πŸ™‚

By the way, in case you want a little bit more on trying to get along with others, check out this video of mine from 2014:


https://youtu.be/qBjo6eu6mZA

 

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