#333 shade

I wrote yesterday about my “smile file” and the importance of keeping mementos that you receive.  Today I urge you to remember the impact you are having that never becomes tangible enough to make it to paper.  Don’t forget all the thank yous that are due you from people you have never met.

Many people work in fields that make difference in the lives of people you don’t see, or that make a difference many years down the road.  The social worker may not know the happiness of the children of the child they place in a loving home.  Those in education may not ever hear the thank you from the student they taught.  A builder may not ever realize the joy that the home he built brought to the next generation.  A banker may not know the impact of a loan.  The admissions counselor may not know the career success of the students they recruit.

We do our jobs in a way that impacts lives that we will never know.   Warren Buffet wrote: “someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

Be that someone who plants trees — creating shade for those to come far down the road — whether you ever meet them or not.

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


#332 keeping track

In addition to being a good sender of the kind of love notes I described yesterday, I would recommend a strategy for when you are the recipient.  What do you do with those notes that you receive?  Instead of tossing them, you should create a file for yourself.

My folder contains cards, post-it notes, handwritten scribbles and a host of things to remind me that I am making a difference to someone.  If I get a great email, I print it out and stick it in the “smile file.”  When I am having a really rotten day or wondering if my work matters, I drag it out and within a few moments I again become centered.

I also keep a file of the snarkiest emails and things that just set me on edge.  I don’t read it as often, but somehow the passage of time makes even the worst things seem not so bad.  It keeps perspective for me — if there really are only a few things in that file, I know it will be ok and that my feelings are colored by a few bad things that have happened recently.  If the file gets too big, then maybe it is a sign that it’s time to dust off the old resume.

As a supervisor, I keep notes to remind me of my employees’ ups and downs during the year.  It helps to develop a system that allows me to make the same assessment about myself.

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


#331 chain of joy

I have written before about how notes of appreciation that take five minutes to write can have impact far beyond the time it took to write them.*  


Here is another example: I sent a birthday present to my sister which included a gift to the non-profit agency that she runs.  She, in turn, called a colleague to share her joy in receiving it.  Her dear colleague extended the love-fest by writing me a note saying:  “The joy you bring into Amelia’s life overflows into mine.”  

What a beautiful sentiment.  We sometimes forget that small acts which make others happy have a ripple effect beyond the original recipient.  Making someone’s day tends to make more-than-one-someone’s day as the happy person spreads joy to others.

What small act can you perform that gives someone a smile?  Try to be the start of a joy reaction today.

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


*See #14, June 15, 2012

#330 you’re welcome

Have you ever had one of those things that you didn’t notice at all — until someone pointed it out to you — and then it was everywhere.

Such a situation happened to me when a colleague commented on how the customer is normally the one to say “thank you” to service employees instead of the other way around. Shouldn’t the clerks be saying “thank you” to the customer who just gave them business?  What is the customer thanking the employee for — handing back the remaining portion of the customer’s own money?  Processing a transaction that it is their business to do?  When you think about it, it does seem odd.

I am all for pleasantries and politeness.  But doesn’t “have a nice day” seem more befitting of the occasion from the customer and “thank you” from the employee?  Somehow the common dialogue occurs in reverse.

Pay attention to this phenomenon.  Customers say “thank you” and clerks say something like “have a nice day.”  It is a little thing, but can you adopt a stronger service mentality for your organization?  Train your employees who interact with clients to say a genuine “thank you” at the conclusion of their transaction.  I think that it can go a long way in setting yourself apart and making those who should be your focus feel appreciated.

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




#329 feeding your brain

So much emphasis is given to output that we often fail to take the time to think about input.   What portion of your time today/this week/this month did you spend putting new ideas into your brain?  How many new experiences or conversations did you use to learn instead of do?


Hopefully the two minutes you spend each day reading “leadership dots” helps populate your mind with some new thoughts and ideas.  I also hope that you replicate the thinking  process behind these blogs in your own life.  

This week I wrote about an observation at the grocery store, from the newspaper, at a movie and from a speech I attended.  Only the latter would be considered traditional input, but the other three experiences also generated new thought.  I believe this is thanks to a reflection component infused into my life — trying to step back and think about the implications and meaning of things.  

I’ll admit that my sense of attention has significantly heightened since I need to find a daily topic for this blog, but I think it was a skill that I had developed long before Blogger and I became acquainted.  I would challenge you to monitor your inputs for a week.  Have you taken the time to read?  Do you spend a few moments each evening reflecting on the lessons that day has brought?  Do you do evaluations and process events after the fact so you can learn from them?

Inputs and making meaning are just as important as a quantity of output.  Remember the old computer programming adage of GIGO — garbage in = garbage out.  Give your cerebral cortex a gift today!

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

#328 supervisor education

Over the weekend, I attended the keynote by noted educator Rafe Esquith.  He has won a host of awards for how he manages his 5th grade classroom at a public school in Los Angeles.  His students voluntarily come to class at 6:30am and stay until 5pm, and during this time learn skills that are helping them be successful as students and in life.

I attended to support our education department at their conference, but came away with many lessons that I can apply as a supervisor.  I think the classroom environment has many parallels to an employee/supervisor relationship.  Here are some examples from Esquith’s speech:

> You have to be the person you want your kids [substitute: employees] to be.  If you want them to be nice, you have to be nice, even when you want to throw them out the window.  If you want them to work hard, you have to be the first to arrive and last to leave.  Your [employees] watch you constantly and will mimic you.

> Their #1 fear is to be laughed at, so they don’t ask questions for fear of looking stupid.  You need to create an environment where no one laughs at each other so people ask and learn.

> Lessons must be relevant.  Before each new assignment, share why you are doing this and how it will help them [and the organization].

> Remain true to yourself.  Esquith has three loves:  baseball, Shakespeare and rock ‘n roll, so he infuses these into his curriculum as a basis for life lessons.  

> Travel on a journey to reach what he calls “level 6” where people build a personal code of behavior because of who they are (not because of rewards, rules or someone else).   People at level 6 work hard because of who they are, not because of you.  

Doesn’t that sound a lot like a list of tips for good supervision:  Set expectations high through modeling, foster internal motivation, infuse yourself in your work and make the task relevant.  If Esquith can do it with a group of inner-city 5th graders, surely you are smart enough to adopt his principles for your own “class.”

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

See hobartshakespeareans.org





#327 a heritage

Over the weekend, I saw the movie “42” about Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in professional team sports.  Afterwards, a friend who saw it with me asked: “What was your favorite scene?”  I was hard-pressed to come up with just one.

Most people know the essential story of the movie: Jackie was the first African American to play major league baseball, and he did it in an era where restrooms and many public spaces were still segregated for “whites” and “colored”.  I can’t imagine the abuse that he endured.

The story that I never considered before was the boldness of the Dodgers president who brought Jackie to the majors in the first place.  Branch Rickey was a man ahead of his time.  In 1947, when he first selected Robinson, no one else in the league was willing to do what he did.  Rickey was wise enough to select a player with both the game credentials and the personal fortitude to handle the hatred that would be thrown his way.

It is one thing to do something bold.  It is another to own it and see it through to success. In addition to Rickey’s vision, he had the will and clarity to execute it.  He hired an attendant to take care of Robinson on the road, found Negro families to host the player when hotels would not accommodate him, allowed Robinson’s wife to travel to spring training for moral support, and was willing to trade players who were uncomfortable with Robinson on the team.  Rickey left no gray areas with his managers and coaches; they were told directly and frequently to make Robinson a full part of the team.  

Years before, Rickey had witnessed other instances of discrimination, and felt that he had not done enough about it.  He vowed that when he could, he would act.  At the time Rickey signed Robinson, Rickey had been a major league executive for over 30 years.  He had built up some chits and had the power that comes after a long period of successes.  Rickey could have rested on his laurels as he concluded his career, but instead chose to lay it all down in full support of the cause that he left unaddressed many years before.

Sometimes leaders go to their grave or leave their positions still trying to earn power instead of capitalizing on it.  If you find yourself in a senior role, utilize the latitude that comes with that position to do something others in your organization are unable to do.  You don’t have to be facing retirement to be in a secure position where you have earned power that can be expended towards a meaningful change.

A monument to Branch Rickey carries this inscription:  “It is not the honor that you take with you but the heritage you leave behind.”  

You owe it to yourself and your organization to be like Rickey and take those risks when you are in a position to do so.

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