#152 trick or treat

It’s only due to tradition that kids will say “trick or treat” at your door tonight; what they really mean is “I’m here for my treat”.  The distribution of treats is nearly 100% guaranteed from every home that has their light on.

Don’t you wish that your service was as reliable?  That every time a customer came to your door, they were guaranteed to receive a “treat” instead of a “trick”, and that you could throw in the equivalent of a full-sized bar to really get a “wow” response. 

What can you do to make your customer experience as fool-proof as the children will experience tonight?  Use Halloween as your image — even though your customers are everything from princesses to pirates, you greet them all with smiles and treats.  You wouldn’t think of giving that witch a growl and a prune — even though she is asking for something for free.

Every time your customers initiate a transaction, they are essentially saying “trick or treat”.  Take steps to ensure that what lands in their bag is as reliable as you will be tonight.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


#151 reflection

Yesterday’s blog entry referenced life skills, including the ability to know who you are.  When we began talking about how a student (person) could develop this attribute, it led to a discussion about being reflective.  It reminded me of a quote from educator Susan Komives: 
The ability to calmly reflect may be one of the most underdeveloped of professional sills.  Reflection helps us work smarter; reflection helps bring our values into our actions; reflection brings our private self into our professional self; reflection helps us gain perspective on our priorities.

I don’t think we spend nearly enough time to ponder about what we have learned from our life experiences.  We evaluate our projects at work or the return rate of our portfolios, but it is rare when we try to take stock of ourselves.

Instead, try to carve out some time to hit pause on the day-to-day of life in order to reflect about who you are and what you’re up to.  Start a blog (it forces you to see events differently and consider what they mean for you). Use the employee evaluation process as an opportunity to reflect on what you have learned and where you need to grow, not just assessing the work that you have done. Grab a cozy blanket and cup of tea and curl up in a chair to ponder the question for awhile. 

It’s good to look back every once and awhile and see how much smarter you have become!

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


#150 life skills

I recently participated in a discussion where a group of people was charged with articulating the desired life skills of a college graduate.  As you can imagine, we filled pages with the typical “critical thinking, communication skills, ability to problem solve” attributes.

What struck me was when someone added to the list “the ability to know who you are, not just what you know — and the courage to present that and be yourself in an interview.”  I think the person was absolutely correct and we don’t place enough value on being comfortable in your own skin. 

There were other interesting entries to the discussion:
> ability to commit to long-term friendships
> capacity to intentionally call forth the gifts in others
> flexibility to approach the problems that life throws at you
> ability to move and make yourself at home in a new community

Think about the life skills that you wish younger adults would learn.  What would be on your list?

Then commit today to finding a way to model them and/or mentor someone directly.  Those well beyond the college age have learned some of the lessons of life.  Make one thing that you have learned is the importance of teaching, and passing your wisdom forward.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


#149 kind truth

Someone asked me for advice on how to politely decline a request to be a job reference for someone who hadn’t performed up to par.  I suggested that she be honest and say “I don’t think I would be the best reference for you.”

The person asking took my advice one step further and delivered not only that line, but also a few words of explanation as to why.  She received a very positive response back from the person, who maturely acknowledged that her performance had not lived up to her potential.  My friend believes that a mentoring opportunity may result from this.

It reminded me of a quote that I have had on my desk literally for my entire career.  Entitled Guidelines for Working With Students, one of the points is “Be honest with yourself and others.  It does no good to tell students what you think they want to hear.”  I have kept David Ambler’s advice visible for all these years because I think you can substitute “people” for “students” and have a mantra for how to treat everyone. 

We often fail to have the sincere conversations that can truly help people grow.  Instead, we should treat the honest delivery of feedback as a gift that can help others reflect on the impact of their experience.  Our silence or evasive white lies may seem kinder, but in the end it robs the other person from the ability to grow.

Delivering the respectful truth — one that can actually be heard — is a skill worth cultivating.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


Thanks to Chris for this inspiration

#148 a penny

I use an exercise where I ask participants to draw (from memory) what is on the front and back side of a penny.  It is amazingly hard for most people to do.  They don’t remember where the wording is located, which way Lincoln is facing or what image is on the back.  (Try it before peeking!)

It is a quick way to capture the attention of people who are attending something that is “mandatory” or on a topic which they believe they are experts (or at least not in need of more training).  It illustrates that just because you think you know something, you may not.  It also illustrates how easy it is to take something for granted.  

Profound lessons don’t need to be lofty.  This one is worth far more than its face value!

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


#147 a margin

When I took driver’s ed, the teacher advocated that we “leave a margin” — keeping space between us and the car ahead to buy us some reaction time should something out of the ordinary happen.  As the theory goes, if we followed too closely we were more apt to be involved in an accident if someone had to brake suddenly or if an unforeseen obstacle occurred.

I think that the mantra applies to time management as well.  I find myself always trying to “leave a margin” so that I am not rushing or doing tasks at the very last minute.  The taxes aren’t being postmarked at midnight; the license doesn’t need to be renewed today or face penalties, and I’m not paying for overnight delivery so I get the gift on time.  In fact, there is little that I have to do in a crisis state — which allows me time to actually think about things; to do things when I am alert enough to do them and usually do them better than if I was attempting a harried effort to finish something.

I know that people develop a personal comfort level with their margins.  Some people have such large margins that I wonder if they will ever take action on anything.  But when I am with people who leave little margin in their personal scheduling, I feel the same tension as when I am riding with someone who, in my opinion, is driving too close.  

Try to manage your affairs so that you leave yourself some margin to handle the curves life throws at you.  With time, as with driving, you’re less likely to crash if you do.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com




#146 self-awareness

I once read that a sign of incompetence is the inability to recognize your own incompetence.  People who can see that they are lagging or struggling in an area inherently have the capacity to acknowledge the situation, which is often the first step in rectifying it.

I wonder if it is true on the other end of the spectrum —
if you don’t believe the hype about you, will you continually work harder to improve so the hype may come true?

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com