Connecting Requires Energy

In my course on employee engagement, I talk about “12 transformational dynamics of engagement.” Those 12 are listed under two types of activities, Challenge and Connection. The idea is that leaders who engage their people have a good balance between challenging them and connecting with them.  John Maxwell wrote a book called Everyone Communicates Few Connect in which he makes the point that connecting will increase your influence in every situation. That’s saying a lot because he makes the argument throughout his teaching that “leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” So, connecting increases your leadership ability.

Over the next four posts, I plan to focus on two principles of connecting and then two practices of connecting. Today, the principle is that Connecting with People Requires Energy. If you type “connect meaning” into your browser, you’ll see that the definitions given start with the phrases, “bring together,” “join together,” and “link.” Those are very active phrases and action requires energy. Here are 4 ways to invest that energy in order to connect.

Initiative – Go First

If energy is involved, then someone is taking action. Connectors go first. I’ve read that inside the Walmart headquarters there hang many signs with inspiring and/or challenging statements. Here’s one that is particularly relevant.

“From this day forward, I solemnly promise and declare that every time a customer comes within ten feet of me, I will smile, look him in the eye, and greet him.”  —Sam Walton

That’s going first. I once worked with a healthcare system that had what they called the “10 – 5 rule.” If a member or guest came within 10 feet of you, you were to smile at them. If they came within 5 feet you should step back because of social distancing–I’m kidding. You should greet them verbally. It’s kind of fun to watch people’s faces when you do that. Most of the time their entire countenance transforms into a smile simply because you said, “Hello.”

Patience – Slow Down

You can’t connect if you’re in a hurry. When you are hurrying, you are pulling away. Someone has said that for emotional and spiritual health you should ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. Here is an African proverb that reminds us of the power inherent in connection.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”

Henry David Thoreau reminds us that the power of connection requires patience.

“The man who goes alone can start today. But he who travels  with another must wait until the other is ready.”

If you want to go far and not be alone, then slow down. Slowing down requires the energy called intentionality.

Selflessness – Give

Connectors are givers. They readily give of their time, their energy, their knowledge, their skill, their talent, their presence. True givers give expecting nothing in return, they give for the sole benefit of the other person. Can you imagine a scenario where someone who readily gives of them-self doesn’t create connection?

Those definitions I shared at the beginning, bring together, join together, and link, almost imply that the parts that are connected become part of each other. Giving, then, would be a prerequisite.

Stamina – Recharge

Constant outflow of energy will lead to depletion if you have no way to recharge. As a person of faith, I look to Jesus as the greatest example of a connector in all history. Jesus regularly connected. Jesus regularly recharged. He often went to a solitary place to pray or pulled his disciples aside from the work to rest.

I like hanging out with my wife, having dinner with friends, spending time reading, driving alone with no radio. These are a few ways I recharge. How do you do it?

Leadership is Influence. Connecting expands your influence. Connecting doesn’t just happen because you show up. It requires constantly renewed energy. Go first, slow down, give, and recharge. The impact of that energy on you and the people you connect with will be an incredible multiplication of that energy.

“I Know My Rights!”

Whether shouted from the streets or from the political platform, we hear a lot about rights these days. Rights are important. We know we have certain inalienable rights such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (Declaration of Independence). We have the right to free speech, freedom of religion and peaceful assembly (1st amendment). We have the right to bear arms (2nd amendment). In addition to the rest of the Bill of Rights we specify human rights, civil rights, women’s rights, etc.

Rights

A right in this context is defined as “a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.” Rights are a pillar of our Liberty. There’s another word that needs to be defined

Liberty (Freedom) – “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint, the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.”

Our Freedom is one of the things we cherish most as Americans. It’s what we’re known for around the world, it’s why people from all over the globe are “Coming to America” in the words of the Neil Diamond song. It’s what our men and women in uniform have fought and died to preserve. It’s our way of life.

Our way of life is in danger. Our Freedom is threatened every day. I’m not talking about ISIS or North Korea. I’m not even talking about one political opponent or another. I’m talking about something much more close to home. “Freedom never lasts,” says Os Guinness, “because the greatest enemy to freedom is freedom.” Think about it. When everyone in society is free to act, speak, or think as they want, eventually one person’s “want” and another person’s “want” will come into conflict. That’s why we have laws. I’m free to do as I want, unless that freedom harms someone else. Then I am arrested for breaking the law (by the way, that’s when I have the right to remain silent). Wait a minute! That sounds like a limitation on my freedom. You can see how this begins to spiral.

This is why Benjamin Franklin said,

“Only a virtuous people are capable of Freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

Our Rights, we have said, are a pillar of our Freedom. But they are not the only one. Like legs of a stool, there are three “Rs” that support and stabilize our Freedom. We’ve already mentioned Rights. There is also Responsibility (more on this in a moment) and Respect.

Respect

“Show some Respect!” “We demand Respect!” “I don’t get no respect!” Have you heard any of those? Let’s take a moment to define this one as well.

Respect – “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”

By this definition, Respect is not something one can demand from another. You can earn it by developing abilities, exhibiting qualities, or achieving something. But, it is not an entitlement or right as defined above. In fairness, Respect is used in a slightly different way in society these days. It seems to mean something like “behavior that acknowledges the value and worth of each person as endowed by our creator.” By even this definition, Respect cannot be demanded. It can be given. That’s the funny thing about Respect. We all want it, but you can’t get it unless you give it. It’s like a seed in the law of sowing and reaping which states, “You always reap what you sow, more than you sow, and in a different season than you sow.” So, there are two ways to get Respect. You can earn it or you can give it but you’ll not get it any other way. And, by the way, Fear is not the same as Respect.

Responsibility

Now to the third “R” – Responsibility

Let’s define this one, too.

Responsibility – “a duty or task that you are required or expected to do: something that you should do because it is morally right, legally required, etc.”

What are our responsibilities? That could become a very long list. So, let’s not think of it in terms of tasks. Let’s think of it like this. It is our Responsibility to become the kind of people Benjamin Franklin said are the only ones capable of a free society, a virtuous people. What does that mean? Here are a few suggested character qualities that might apply:

  • Loving – a people who genuinely care about the well-being of others.
  • Joyful – a people who find the silver lining in any dark cloud
  • Peaceable – a people who are both peace-loving and peace-making
  • Patient – a people who are willing and able to wait for those seeds of respect to grow
  • Kind – a people who go out of their way to “pay it forward.”
  • Good – a people who search for and act on ways to improve someone else’s situation
  • Faithful – a people who stick to their commitments even if it becomes inconvenient
  • Gentle – a people who are tender with the young, the old, the sick, etc.
  • Self-Controlled – a people who can keep themselves from doing what’s wrong and make themselves do what’s right.

These character qualities are collectively referred to as “the fruit of the Spirit” by the Apostle Paul. Interestingly, he goes on to say that when people have these characteristics there is no need for laws. (Galatians 5:22-23)

John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

We are in a dire situation. The stool of Freedom is teetering on one leg. As individuals, as families, as houses of worship, as communities, as a nation, we are overly focused on Rights, our own rights. It’s time for us to return our focus to Respect and Responsibility while at the same time defending each other’s rights. Our Freedom is at stake.

The Art of Pausing

We almost never watch live TV anymore. It’s liberating to watch if you want, what you want, when you want. Another liberating feature of modern TV is, whether your watching from a DVR or a streaming service, you can press “Pause” until the kids quiet down or while you take a snack (or potty) break or answer the phone. When sports come back, that’s one thing we’ll watch live, and you can even “pause” live TV like a game. Of course, one great thing about that is you can catch up by fast forwarding through the ads. I’ve even been known to fast forward between plays of a football game.

The “Pause” button obviously has many benefits when enjoying recorded or even live media. Less obvious, perhaps, but very important, are the benefits of pressing “Pause” to personal growth. Learning to pause allows growth to catch up with you. In other words, it’s in the pause that most growth happens. Leadership teacher, John Maxwell, has said, “Experience is not the best teacher, evaluated experience is the best teacher.” If experience alone made one better, then everyone who has been in the same job longer would be better than their “less experienced” colleagues. We know that’s not always the case. That’s because you need to evaluate and learn from your experience in order to grow, and you have to pause in order to evaluate.

The Power of the Pause

To “evaluate” means literally “to find the value.” Pausing provides the opportunity to reflect which means “to think deeply or carefully about.” If we take the time to think deeply and carefully about our experiences in order to find the value in them, that process is what turns experience into insight. Insight is the wisdom we gain from evaluating our experience and that wisdom is what guides us into a better future. That’s growth.

Pausing is essential to personal growth. But, when should I pause? I would recommend pausing at least at these times:

  1. The beginning of each day to go over the most important things in the day and your growth plan.
  2. At the end of each day to replay the crucial events of the day and evaluate them.
  3. At one point during the weekend to do the same for each week as you do daily
  4. Monthly as you change over your calendar, the exercise is the same for each frequency, you are just evaluating a larger arc of your experience
  5. An annual week or weekend to review and plan the whole year. My wife always chooses a word or short phrase for the coming year during the holidays. She lets us know that this is the year of …
  6. Finally, pause as immediately as you can after significant experiences.

Our society seems to get more and more frenetic by the year. Pausing can seem almost counter-intuitive. But, the more you do it, the more opportunity you give yourself to learn and grow.

Use your “I’s” When You Pause

Here are four approaches to your Pause time that may be helpful.

  1. Investigate – interrogate yourself and your experience to explore it’s value
  2. Incubate – I also call it percolating or marinating. The idea is to let thoughts and experiences grow to their full potential. You may want to lift the lid on that crockpot from time to time to see how their doing.
  3. Illuminate – here you actively place a value score on your experiences. Scoring them helps you seek out more of the higher value growth opportunities. Note: some of the highest value experiences can be painful ones which I do not recommend seeking out but value them highly.
  4. Illustrate – turn your evaluated experiences into lessons which you can share with others to help them grow. See #2 under “How to Re-set Your Value” from last week.

We have all had a life full of experiences. Some of those experiences have been good and some have been bad. Those of us who have grown and learned from our experiences are the ones who have taken the time to pause and reflect on them. Set an alarm on your phone for this evening that says, “Pause.” When it goes off, stop what you’re doing and take 5 minutes to reflect on one specific experience from today.

The Power of Connection – Part 1

During this COVID-19 “stay at home” directive our oldest daughter has been doing jigsaw puzzles. She’s done 3 or 4 1,000 piece puzzles. She gets the hard ones and dives right in. Pieces spread out over the dining room table she starts by hunting down the edge pieces and connects the border. Then she color coordinates piles of pieces and compares them to the picture on the box to find out where they belong. If you’ve ever done a puzzle like that, you know the thrill of finding where that piece belongs and connecting it.

The thrill of making connections is in more than just puzzles. It’s also there in relationships. You’ve heard someone say, “I think we made a real connection,” when talking about someone they’ve met, right? That comment is usually made with some positive emotion, isn’t it? Connection is an emotional level bond. The word “Connect” comes from Latin con – “with” and nectere – “to bind” leading to many definitions. One of those `is “to form a relationship or feel an affinity”

During this month I’d like to discuss connecting with people as an important part of our ability to lead. Communication is very important. Getting the right information to the right people at the right time is critical to getting things done. Bu there’s more to it.

I was at a senior leader meeting in Jackson Hole Wyoming several years ago. It was an annual event set up by the CEO of that company designed for strategic planning. At one of the sessions during this particular event, the CEO let the team know some people had been talking to him about buying the company. He shared from his heart about what the company meant to him personally (he had founded it) and why he wasn’t interested in selling.

That level of communication was a little out of character for him but he really connected with us in that moment. After that session I told the CEO that when he connected with us like that, we would walk through walls for him. There was a very different atmosphere on the team from that session on. We found more synergy and purpose and accomplished far more than had been expected for that retreat.

Principles of Connection

We are emotional beings at the core so sharing a common mind (which is what happens in communication) is more likely when we make a heart connection with people. You’ve heard the quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt,

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

That’s true. And that leads to the first principle of connection. Connection begins with others. It begins with having the maturity to see and act on behalf of others. Immaturity is seeing and acting on behalf of myself alone. But, in the words of John Holmes, “It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.” It’s foolish then, isn’t it, to think that the universe should revolve around me.

When people meet with you they have the same questions of you that you have of them, namely:

  1. Do you care for me? (or, What do you think of me?)
  2. Can you help me?
  3. Can I trust you?

That first one may seem a bit odd. But question #5 on the Gallup Organization’s Employee Engagement survey asks, “Does your supervisor, or someone at work seem to care about you as a person?” The very presence of that question on a 12 question survey signals how important this is. When people feel valued, they connect. When they don’t feel valued they remain disengaged.

So, the first principle of connection is to value others and to let them know you value them. What can you do today to let someone know you value them?

Celebrating 100!

This is the 100th post for Engager Dynamics! Whoo Whoo … celebrate good times, c’mon!” I love that song! Anyway, it’s the 100th post since I’ve been numbering them like I currently do. I write my posts in Evernote then copy and paste them into my website engagerdynamics.com with wordpress. WordPress automatically posts them to LinkedIn and I paste the link into my facebook profile manually since facebook stopped allowing automatic postings awhile ago. I recently created a facebook business page for Engager Dynamics and am working on improving that. I said “at least since I’ve been numbering them the way I do” because WordPress tells me I’ve actually posted 107 times. That’s because I posted a few extras in the middle of the week that I numbered with an “a” after the main post number.

What’s It All About?

I’ve been providing contracted services to clients in multiple industries for over 20 years. In some of those engagements we provided staff who were supervised by the client’s leadership team. It was particularly clear in those situations how strongly lack of engagement negatively impacted the business. I’ve observed that same negative impact within organizations I’ve worked for as well as within partner organizations. Those who really engage are rare and that bothers me. So, I decided to add value by sharing some important truths I’ve learned along the way and that’s what got me started with this blog.

I normally post every Monday morning before 6 AM on the west coast. In my second post, nearly two years ago, I defined what I mean by Engager Dynamics. In short, this blog is about the things we can do to connect or engage with people at work in ways that improve relationships and organizational outcomes. The posts fall into four main categories;

  1. Engager Dynamics (the core actions that lead to engagement)
  2. Leadership (topics a little more broadly about leadership)
  3. Habit Formation (how to make a habit of doing the good stuff)
  4.  Listening (a skill so critical it deserves its own category)

You can find the last 15 posts in each category listed on my “Posts by Category” page. Some of them overlap and there is another category on that page called “Words.” I call myself a word nerd, and this category captures posts where I share a specific word definition or two regardless of the main topic.

What’s Next?

Over the last few years I’ve developed a training that has been well received by several clients. The training focuses on the specific actions leaders can take to engage with their people. I’ve been refining the training lately and recently did an informal poll of readers to see which title would be more interesting. I had two choices 1. “Best.Boss.Ever. – How to Be the Best Boss Your People Will Ever Have” or 2. “The 12 Transformational Laws of Engagement.” Just over 70% preferred number 2.

The next question is delivery method. In addition to offering the training in person, I’d like to make it available more widely. I wonder how people might prefer to receive it. I could present it in an e-book, or as an audio file series, or as a series of videos. What do you think? If you were interested in a teaching on “The 12 Transformational Laws of Engagement,” how would you prefer to receive it? Thanks in advance for letting me know.

God’s Indescribable Gift

There was a problem with the audio on Sunday so they won’t be posting the video of the talk. With my apologies, here’s the gist of what I spoke about.

Have you ever received a gift that left you speechless? It was so extravagant, or so unexpected, or so personal, or so … that you didn’t have words.

Suzi and I were childless for the first six years of our marriage and had more than one miscarriage. God gave us a family through the miracle of adoption. That’s how we felt each time we looked into the face of one of our adopted children for the first time.

That’s also how I felt that night on December 7, 1979 under the lightly falling snow on the corner of Dearborn and Chestnut Streets in Chicago when I asked Suzi to marry me and she said, “Yes”.

Paul had that reaction in 2CO 9:15. He is writing about financial assistance to those in need. That leads him to talk about how God supplies and he ends with the exclamation “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift”. The gift he’s talking about is called in another translation “unspeakable.” It’s unutterable, it’s inexpressible, it’s incomprehensible, it’s extraordinary because it’s paradoxical. Let me show you what I mean. Here are four Paradoxes of God’s Indescribable Gift …

This gift is given to everyone but only a few receive it

You could say It has been delivered to every front porch (or version thereof) on the planet – in fact it’s said to be knocking at the door, but many people don’t receive it, Why?

  • Some reject it – they mark it “Return to sender” because they don’t trust the giver or they’re angry with him for something that happened to them. They don’t realize God is not the author of bad things and is the one waiting to help
  • Some don’t know about it – someone needs to tell them what that knocking is at the front door.
  • Some don’t “need” it – what do you give the person who has everything?
  • Some ignore it – they have no time, or no interest

In John 1:12 the disciple John says that to all who do receive this gift, God gave the right to become children of God. When you adopt a child, you appear in court and the judge asks you if you are willingly receiving this child into your family with all the rights, privileges, and access of a fully legal member of the family including being heir to your estate. The answer, of course, is YES! John is saying that those who receive his gift have the full rights, privileges and access to God as a fully legal child including being heirs to the throne of heaven!

This gift is absolutely free, but it will cost you everything

You can’t buy it – this offer is not available in stores (or online for that matter) You can’t get it at Amazon, there is no auction on e-Bay, Wal-Mart doesn’t carry it. You won’t find it at Nordstrom. Even Neiman Marcus doesn’t carry it. The price is too high. You couldn’t afford it. No one but God could afford to pay for it.

You can’t earn it. In Luke 18 a young man came to Jesus and asked, “What must I do to [earn the gift]?” Jesus gave him an answer not to say, “Do this and you’ll earn it,” but to demonstrate how impossible it is to earn the gift.

You can’t bargain for it – You’ve heard of foxhole conversions, “God, if you get me out of this, I’ll start going to church (or whatever the promise might be)!” That doesn’t work. Neither does God say, ‘ll give you this gift if you do that for me. It’s not a quid pro quo transaction.

When you receive it, and you have to actively receive this gift. You have to sign for it at the door. There is no auto deposit. When you receive this gift, it changes you. This is not a gift you can just stick in your back pocket, or hang around your neck, or put up in the closet. When you take hold of this gift, it takes hold of you. It gets inside your head. It gets inside your heart and begins to change you from the inside out. In one place, the bible says just looking at this gift transforms you. The word “transform” is metamorphosis. Just like a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, this gift begins to transform your character.

You could say this gift will cost you who you are today to become who you were meant to be. That will Cost you time. It will cost you energy. It will cost you money. It may cost you friends. It has cost many their lives. Read Hebrews 11 in the New Testament, or Foxe’s book of Martyrs. Many of you know the story of Jim Elliott.

When you receive this gift, it also changes your trajectory. People who do not receive it are on a trajectory away from God. But this gift

  • Redeems your life from bondage
  • Restores your soul
  • Remakes your brokenness
  • Resurrects you from spiritual deadness, and
  • Returns you to the one who gave it forever

This gift is given to you, but it is not for you

You’re supposed to re-gift this gift. The words from a song that plays at Christmas are, “Last Christmas I gave you my heart. The very next day, you gave it away.” In the song that’s a bad thing, but God says “Yes! Give it away the very next day, and the day after that, and the day after that.

None of God’s gits is intended to flow into you like a reservoir, they’re all intended to flow through you like a river to benefit others. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

One of the ironies of this gift is that it grows in value as you give it away. You reap all the benefits of the gift and as you give it away, you get more of it. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving.

This gift is not a what It’s a whom

This gift is not a thing. Some treat it like an insurance policy, or like a certificate of membership is some club.

This is God’s gift of Jesus and all he is and does and has and brings when he is received. In the Bible names are significant. They speak of character and position and resources. Jesus is called by many names in the Bible. At this time of year we think especially of “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” I love the title King; King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In the front of my journal I’ve written, “I serve at the pleasure of the King.”

In 1981, Suzi and I were in our first year of marriage. It was my senior year at Moody Bible Institute. In February of that year, Suzi and I attended Moody’s Founder’s week, a week long Bible conference. During one of the sessions we attended, S.M. Lockridge spoke. His message was entitled, “Amen.” During that message he delivered this now famous description of the indescribable Jesus! It’s been memorialized as a modernized video here

During that video, pastor Lockridge asked several times, “Do you know him?” At this Christmas time I wonder, too, have you opened the door and signed for the gift God has delivered to you? There would be no better time than now.

The Attitude of Gratitude

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking to a group of new friends at Grace Community Church in Lathrop, CA. This is Thanksgiving week so I shared about Thanksgiving. It wasn’t about turkey and pilgrims, though. It was about the Attitude of Thanksgiving. Anyone who knows me at all, knows I’m a word nerd so here you go, the definition of Attitude is – “a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.” I called it the Attitude of Gratitude. We explored two questions about the Attitude of Gratitude, Why? and How?

Why Be Grateful?

There are more reasons to be grateful then there is space to write about, but I shared four in particular:

First, The attitude of gratitude is good for you. Studies have shown that consistent gratitude is good for your mental health and physical well-being. Grateful people are better looking! Think about the most ungrateful person you know. Picture their face. Now picture a consistently grateful person. Who looks better? Grateful people have more friends because gratitude is attractive of positive relationships. Grateful people get more stuff because it’s way more fun to give to a grateful person.

Second, the attitude of gratitude is aligned with reality. The more we align our thinking and living with reality (some call it truth), the better our lives will be. This reality is that everything you have is a gift. I know you’ve all worked hard and earned your way. But, think of this question, how hard did you work to start your heart in your mother’s womb? Or, think of this question, how hard did you work to make sure your parents met? With everything that had to happen, the fact that any of us is even here is a miracle. Our lives are a gift, gratitude is the appropriate response to a gift. Your mama taught you that.

Third, the attitude of gratitude is the antidote to entitlement. We are living in a culture of entitlement (word nerd alert): “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” Entitlement is like a poison that withers people and cultures. It hollows them out and makes them weak. Entitlement is the epitome of ingratitude. Developing gratitude is the antidote. For the sake of ourselves, our children and our culture, we need to become a grateful people.

Fourth, the attitude of gratitude is a mark of obedience. The apostle Paul writes in two places in the New Testament of the Bible: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be Thankful.” Colossians 3:15. And, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. God’s commands always have a practical “why.” See the first three reasons for the attitude of gratitude for examples

How Can We Be Grateful?

I approached this question from three angles.

First, how can I have gratitude when bad stuff is happening to me? This is where the rubber meets the road for most of us. We all know about bad stuff happening in our lives. “Feel the burn” is a way of looking at the physical suffering of exercise as a positive thing. It means that our endurance is increasing. The physical suffering of exercise produces endurance that proves itself on the field or court when you perform. Seeing that progress of endurance and improved performance makes you feel good about the result like, “maybe there’s hope for me after all!” The same is true with character (check out Romans 5:1-5 in the New Testament, google it).

Second, how can I develop gratitude? Simply put, train your brain. Experts say we have 50K – 80K thoughts per day. Wow! fortunately our brains filter those thoughts so that we are often aware of only a fraction of them. The filter you have is either developed by your circumstances or you can adjust it yourself by what you think about. Your life gravitates in the direction of your most dominant thoughts like a flower grows toward the sun. We become what we think most about. You have the ability to choose what to think about. As the apostle Paul said, again, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” Try keeping a daily journal of what went well today and what you are thankful for. Study that journal on a weekly basis. That will help train your brain and adjust your filter.

Finally, how can I express gratitude? Use your words. Say “please” and “thank you” often. Use your gifts. When you use the gifts you’ve been given (physical or spiritual) it honors the giver. Finally, use your body. You had to be there yesterday to get the experience, but suffice it to say we practice expressing our gratitude to God for his goodness in the same way we express our excitement over our sports teams.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Trust But/And/Or Verify?

During the time leading up to the signing of the INF Treaty in December of 1987, President Ronald Reagan learned a Russian proverb, Doveryai, no proveryai meaning, “Trust but Verify.” He learned it because he knew the Russians liked referring to proverbs and he said it at every nuclear disarmament meeting with the Soviet leader. When he said it again on December 8, 1987 at the signing ceremony, Gorbachev said, “You repeat that at every meeting.” Reagan answered, “I like it.” Mr. Gorbachev had a quote of his own. He quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, who had been popular in the USSR when Gorbachev was in college, saying “The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.”

Which is it? Trust or Verify?

You can’t do both. Think about the definitions of each word and you’ll see they are mutually exclusive. “Trust” means “to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” On the other hand, “Verify” means “to prove or ascertain the truth or correctness of, as by examination, research, or comparison.” When you trust someone you act on your faith in their reliability, truthfulness, ability or strength. When you verify, your action is to check on the reliability, truthfulness, ability or strength of that person. Trust builds relationships, verification assures outcomes. That’s the heart of the matter. Verifying can be interpreted as “Micro-managing” and can destroy trust.

There are some times and some industries where the outcomes are too critical not to verify. Some of those industries include Healthcare, Aviation, Utilities, etc. You can see how verification in these industries would be essential. In settings where verification is just part of the work, it doesn’t have a negative effect on relationships. On the other hand, most of us don’t work in those types of industries.

What Difference Does Trust Make?

“If every business learned to create a profound sense of trust through everything they do, not only would their bottom line improve but it would create a culture that attracts great talent and opportunities. Consciously creating trust is good for business, good for people and good for the world.” Masami Sato, Founder, B1G1

That quote comes from an online endorsement for a book titled Trust is the New Currency, by Sheila Holt and Fredrick Sandvall. According to the title of Stepen M.R. Covey’s book trust matters, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything. Then there’s Nan Russell’s book, Trust, Inc. How to Create a Business Culture that will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation.

One of John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is “The Law of Solid Ground.” It says that leadership is built on the foundation of trust. In fact, he says, trust is necessary in all good relationships.

Trust is very important. We trust airlines and surgeons because they verify. We trust our bosses because they trust us. One of the ways trust is built is by giving it. When you are the boss and the outcomes are not life threatening, try giving trust to your people.  You will find they usually become even more trustworthy.

When Winning Can Be Losing

It’s been said that public speaking is the number one fear among Americans. It outranks death (#5) and loneliness (#7) by quite a bit. I saw evidence of that recently when I was at a conference in Orlando where everyone at the conference was required to give a 5 minute speech. There were over 3,000 people at that conference. We only had to give the speech to the eight people at our table but you would have thought it was to the whole conference when you heard people talk about how nervous they were before the speech session.

One of the conference instructors got up in front of the whole group and, knowing how nervous people were, gave some good advice about the speech. “Get over yourself,” he said. He pointed out that we were nervous about what people were going to think of us, whether we would do a good job, whether we might make a mistake or run short or too long. He went on to say that we should focus on what value our words would bring to the others at the table. If that were the focus of our speech (or the purpose of our life), it re-frames everything. My speech ran 20 seconds short, by the way.

Get Over Yourself

That advice brings to mind a couple of quotes. John Holmes said, “It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.” Wow! Think on that for a minute. That quote puts this one by Eleanor Roosevelt into a new perspective. “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”

It’s fair to say that with 7.7 billion people on the planet, it’s no all about me. Let me narrow it down. With 7 people in my family, it’s not all about me. If that’s true (which it is), then we could also say that with X number of people in my organization or Y number of people in my department or on my team, it’s not all about me. Yet, so often with think and behave as though we believe it is all about us. Think about this. What’s the first thing we do when we look at a group picture we’re in? We look for ourselves and say, “That’s a great shot”, if we look good no matter if Uncle Harry has his eyes closed. Right?

I ran across the John Holmes quote in a book by John Maxwell called Intentional Living. The book is about living a life of significance on purpose. Significance, as Maxwell defines it, comes in adding value to others. In a recent post about “selfies” I wrote about how being selfish or self-centered can ruin your team. Success alone can be hollow. Significance never is.

A Pyrrhic Victory

A Pyrrhic victory is one where the cost of winning the battle could lose you the war and it’s the main reason I wanted to write this post. Over the years I’ve run across the wreckage of many who have won battles only to lose in the end. Most often what’s lost is relationships. What was won? Usually an argument, someone had to be right and prove it at literally any cost.

The common theme I hear when I talk to people who have lost because they won is regret. Usually what they lost turns out to have been more valuable to them than what they won.  By the time they’ve realized it, it’s too late. I’m writing to encourage all of us to “get over ourselves” and focus on what we can do to build others up. That’s the real win.