Technology: Friend or Foe?

   As an avid business / self-help reader I have come across several of Brian Tracy’s books and articles. Most are quick reads and get directly to the point. The most recent I read was his book, “Eat That Frog,” which is stated to provide 21 ways to stop procrastinating. I see the book as brief highlights of many of the topics that have been covered over and over again, and which I have personally incorporated into my life and personal processes over time. Speaking to many people and a generally much younger and tech-savvy generation, I feel that two chapters may not completely fit my earlier statement. The chapters are titled “Technology is a terrible master,” followed by “Technology is a wonderful servant.”  With so many younger people growing up without ever not knowing knowing a moment without technology, and my generation seeing technology making such profound changes, it is very easy for both age groups to think that building a better business today or “better mouse trap” will be based on better technology.  This is misleading as most successful ventures are based on fundamentals that have nothing to do with technology. Technology definitely has its place as long as you use it to support your core ideas or mission and not become a servant to it. Well enough about me. Here is something different for you to enjoy; a YouTube clip with a brief introduction to the book and concept, to encourage you to buy the book. Enjoy the watch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0W7GB5Fh2XM

Falling Down is Part of the Process

Besides being an avid but less-than-average hockey player who only learned to skate in my adult years, I was drawn to this article for several reasons.  There are a lot terms used today that I am not familiar with, like helicopter parents, millennials (not used in the most flattering way), and others.  I am a big proponent of using self-talk very carefully; if you call yourself a failure you will be a failure. If you fail as an engineer, don’t call yourself a failure.  There are no failures only results and the results may not always be what you want or what you expect them to be–but learn from the results. 

In business, we never look to not succeed in our ventures, but many times that’s what happens. The most successful people in sports, in most cases, don’t succeed as often as they would like to. The best batters in baseball hit in the mid .300 batting average, which means they are unsuccessful over 60% of the time. But they are still considered elite. In hockey, the best players of all time are successful scoring goals on 20% of their shots, which means they fail 80% of the time and yet they are the best.

I don’t advocate that we in business or on our professional career paths should strive not to succeed, but we do need to remember that there are valuable lessons to be learned by falling, so avoiding it may not be the best choice.

Getting back to playing hockey as an adult, if I tried to avoid falling I would have missed one of the most enjoyable activities in my life, which I have been “playing” for over 30 years. I hope you enjoy the read.

Read the article.

Self-Review: Mastering the Art of Consistency

In this article there are two points that stand out to me. One, that consistency without disruption becomes routine. This can be taken in different ways. In business it could be for non-core activities, such as billing, or other tasks we strive for that are routine. Where we need to watch out is when routine settles into the core competencies of our business. When this happens, we run the risk of losing the edge or uniqueness of our offering. Many employees feel we shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken, but from time to time it’s a good idea to shake it up.

The second point, or activity that I find useful as a regular practice,e is a 90 day self-review. Whwereas a recession is defined as two consecutive quarters with negative growth, I would say that two2 consecutive 90-day review periods without change or movement should be alarming.  Enjoy the read…. https://www.success.com/mastering-the-art-of-consistency/

RAISING THE BAR

   As a business person or business professional, we rarely train as they do in the military or like professional athletes, but we are expected to perform at high levels daily. I have used some of the suggestions Chad Storlie makes in this post and wanted to share it with you. I hope you enjoy the read.  

https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/growth-strategies/2018/04/5-ways-you-can-start-your-day-off-right-like-u-s.html

LEARNING FROM OUR MISTAKES

In our technologically advanced world, learning from mistakes is becoming rare. Most of the young workforce has grown up with a computer in their hand. Debating an issue with friends or arguing with family members about how to do a task or who they recall won a game are things of the past. Now, the answers are all on their phones, or they can look at videos of someone who has already done it. As great as all this sounds, I believe it comes at a great expense.

   People no longer make decisions because they are afraid they will make the wrong one. Back in the 1980’s, when I was learning my craft, if I didn’t know what decision to make and needed to ask my boss, I might be able to “beep”  him on his pager and maybe, if I was lucky, get a return call in an hour or so. If we were on deadline or a customer was standing in front of me and I couldn’t wait, then I had to make a decision, even if it turned out to be the wrong decision. Due to the circumstances, I just couldn’t wait. Needless to say, I learned some very valuable lessons making the wrong decisions. With today’s cell phones younger workers don’t have to make a decision. All it takes is a phone call, text or e-mail to their boss and that decision is made for them.  This may sound good to owners or supervisors, but if you want to develop talent or grow your people, I would ask you to resist the temptation of making all the decisions yourselves. Everybody needs to dive into the deep-end for the first time.

    I hope you enjoy this read.

THE FEAR OF SUCCESS

Fear comes in many flavors and situations. In business, the fear of failure is very obvious in most situations. But the fear of success is usually buried in our psyche. We all have had to push through the obvious fears, like asking someone on a date or possibly the fear of making a mistake when pricing a type of job we’ve never done before. The discomfort that is obvious in these situations is very easy to label.

  The fear of success is, in most cases, masked as many other things. I think Harvey Mackay in this post makes the point that when he states that many fears stem from “the desire for approval from other people.” Success, and especially continued success, is often resented rather than supported and celebrated by sometimes even friends and family. The fear of success may be rooted in thoughts of being pushed out of a circle of friends or being thought of differently by the people you care about, which is much harder to label as fear. Having recently celebrated Independence Day, think of the fear our country’s founding fathers must have feltas they put everything including their lives and their family’s lives on the line in order to create a world they had never seen before. The naysayers are very strong today, so I can only imagine how strong they were at that time. Enjoy the read.

What it Takes to Be a Great Employee

This article was forwarded to me by one of my managers that attended a seminar on performance. There are times when it is very hard to explain to an employee how and why another employee may be a better performer.  This is a particular problem when the employee is doing what you ask them to do, but it seems like they are performing at a bare minimum, compared to the high performer being asked to do the same or similar work. If you don’t have a high performer as described in this “parable,” it might be a good idea to begin thinking of ways to find them. Either way I feel this is a good read for both owners and employees alike. Enjoy the read.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyanderson/2016/05/22/what-it-takes-to-be-a-great-employee-the-parable-of-the-oranges/#10c49cae4599

LISTEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE

This article speaks to what we all do but rarely analyze, which is “self-talk.” We all have that inner voice that we reason with as we make decisions or evaluate situations. The recognition of how important the way we talk to ourselves impacts our life overall is worth much more time than the time we dedicate to it. I have regular conversations with co-workers as we talk our way through frustrations they are experiencing in their position or with a vendor or supplier. I also have these discussion regularly with my kids as they describe to me their interpretation of an issue or concern. My regular questions are focused on them reflecting on how they describe the issue and is it really as bad as they think, is there a positive that they can see, is the of anger the right choice or would positive focus and determination to fix the issue be a better choice?  Positive self-talk is 100% your choice. It’s a learned habit that takes practice and self-awareness. Reflect and choose the words you use to describe things to yourself carefully, because  the impact these words have are far reaching in a positive or negative way than you think. Enjoy the read.

REACHING YOUR GOAL

Remembering the need to recognize and even celebrate small steps and successes increases your chances of reaching your ultimate goal exponentially. Admittedly not being one of the most physically fit individuals, and while nursing a major knee injury, I was encouraged to begin to cycle. I chose a several mile loop to begin my cycling venture and part of the route contained a mile long gradual uphill ride. I struggled with this section, unable to make it without stopping several times. I was envisioning the right hand turn at the top of the seemingly never-ending hill each morning as I attempted the climb.  My frustration built for weeks as I struggled with this section until I began to look at all the mail boxes. My goal switched, I no longer thought of the top of the hill, my focus became simply making it to the next mailbox without putting my feet down. With each mailbox I made I internally celebrated, before focusing  on the next one. This simple change in focus allowed me to make it up that seemingly unbeatable hill without stopping. After reflecting on this change and my successful conquering of the hill, I realized this is a business principal that I have been exposed to endlessly but neglect to regularly practice. Well, enough about my lack of physical endurance and on to the article. Enjoy the read and don’t forget to celebrate the small successes that lead to the ultimate success.