One year, by pure happenstance, I had a dental hygienist appointment on Halloween. I left the office with sparkling, clean teeth and did not really have the desire to spoil that feeling right away. As a result, I consumed a lot fewer calories and was able to pass on the inevitable treats in the office that day.
I stuck with the October 31 appointment for many years. It was a simple way for me to garner some extra willpower to avert temptation. While I don’t do it any more, today I find myself wishing that I did.
Think about the events or situations where you need a little extra fortitude to get through. Is there something as simple as scheduling an annual appointment to help boost you? Buying the Halloween or Easter candy that is your least favorite so you aren’t apt to eat any leftovers? Making the item for the potluck that others find delicious, but you could easily pass up?
In the office, you could schedule your toughest meetings at 11am to give people an incentive to wrap up for lunch. Maybe you bring a treat to the meeting to give everyone an unexpected smile (and glucose boost!) before you begin. Or you review a proposal with a colleague before the meeting so you know you are going in with an ally.
There are many very small steps you can take to give yourself a pill of confidence. Think of it as a vitamin that you are intentional and consistent in taking daily.
— beth triplett
Before I moved to Iowa, I lived in St. Louis for seven years. During that time I became a huge Cardinals fan and have remained so today. My sister has lived in Boston for the last decade and even though she wasn’t a sports fan when she moved there, she has somehow gained an affinity to the BoSox.
When we learned that both of our teams would be competing for the World Series, we began listing out a series of wagers that would be appropriate spoils to the victor. When the Cardinals pull off a miracle and win this Series, my sister is going to be the guest author of a blog for me. (We settled on a fancy pedicure for her, not that it matters!)
As a result of the extra incentive, there has been a rash of texts back and forth after every game. You can imagine what a field day (no pun intended) she had with the obstruction call. Yesterday I was getting texts about how her toes were getting excited. It has all been in good fun.
We are not alone in our enthusiasm; even symphony orchestras can get into the trash talking (watch the fun, three-minute video at the beginning):
The World Series will be over Thursday night, but there are always more sporting events or other occasions to engender a little ribbing. This type of friendly competition is good for morale and spirit in the office setting too. Pick a side, any side, and put some gusto into supporting “your” team. Even if you win nothing beyond bragging rights, it makes the journey to get there a whole lot more fun.
— beth triplett
Over the weekend, I spent some time outside cutting all the hostas and trimming back all the bushes in front of my house. In anticipation of our city’s Free Waste Day, we filled five lawn and garden bags with all the remnants of summer. If I look just at the yard, the bareness makes me question my motives. But if I look in the bags, I see the dead leaves and branches that were best removed.
Often with gardening, the focus is on planting and growing, but pruning plays an equally as important role. Cutting things back often allows new plants to emerge with vigor. Come springtime everything will be fresh and able to bloom with much more space and intentionality. There is room for the new with the old out of the way.
I think this analogy applies in organizations as well. Often we focus on adding and tending to what we have planted without regard to cutting back some of the initiatives. Maybe you would be well served to have a metaphorical Free Waste Day in your organization and see what you can toss into the bag. Maybe it is cleaning out a storeroom, purging old files, re-evaluating a program or revisiting an out-of-date process. Surely there is something that warrants some pruning.
— beth triplett
If you’re following baseball at all, you know that the Cardinals won Game 3 of the World Series on an obstruction call which allowed the winning run to score in the bottom of the 9th inning. The Boston Red Sox third baseman was on his stomach on the field as the Cardinals runner was trying to get by. Whether he intentionally was in the runner’s way or not was of no consequence and the umpire ruled it an obstruction, allowing the runner to advance.
As you can imagine, such an obscure call at such a crucial point in the World Series caused a flurry of debate and doubt, but the call stands amidst the protests. The call overshadowed the brilliant catch to start the sequence of events and throw out the first runner at the plate, and if the Cardinals win the series it will live in infamy as the play that cost the Sox the title.
It is unlikely that your organization has an umpire to make the calls and enforce the rules. But if you did, would you have received an obstruction call for how you have played parts of the game? Just as with the World Series call, intent does not factor into the decision. Even if it is an unfortunate circumstance, your actions can impede the ability of others to do their work as intended and that is defined as an obstruction.
That leaves it to you and your people to play with integrity and make your work as fair as it can be. Be your own umpire and call yourself for obstruction if it’s warranted — even in the bottom of the 9th inning of the World Series.
— beth triplett
MLB rule 7.06 explains the obstruction call in Game 3 of the 2013 World Series — MLB News/Fox Sports on MSN
On Friday, we had 14 prospective student visitors in our office. That’s a lot for us in a day — each one requiring our visit coordinator to set up a tour guide, individual appointment with faculty in their major, a meeting with the coach if the student is a possible athlete and time with an admissions counselor. With 14 in one day, it involves a lot of juggling and logistics.
About 2pm, a family walked in with a student and her friend — and no appointment. They were in town and happened upon our campus and thought they would stop in. Within 10 minutes, Viv had rounded up a tour guide and while they were seeing campus she set up appointments with a faculty member, someone from athletics and admissions. She made it all look effortless to the family, but it involved some scheduling heroics.
And it also represented a true sense of our campus to those students. Even though it was late on a Friday afternoon and they dropped in unannounced, we made them feel special. We learned their needs and met them. We were genuinely glad that they stopped in.
Not that I would wish more walk ins on our visit coordinator, but it is a great way for a family to peek behind the curtain and see what an organization is really like.
How can you create an out-of-the-norm situation to test the mettle of a decision that is important to you? How would your service measure up in a similar situation?
Anyone can put on a show. The real authenticity shines when you need something outside of the script.
— beth triplett
See Saturday’s Blog #512.
I wasn’t kidding that some people have taken Halloween over the top!!!
When did Halloween become such a big deal? I feel like I am the only one in the neighborhood who hasn’t “decorated” for Halloween. Houses have giant blow up decorations that used to be reserved for Christmas but now feature black cats, pumpkins and vampires. Roof lines and windows are framed with black, orange and purple strings of light. There are decorations in the yards, windows, driveways and porches. Our town even had a Halloween parade.
Forbes estimates that Americans will spend $6.9 billion on Halloween costumes, decorations and candy this year! It is the fourth largest holiday in terms of spending. Adult costumes contribute $1.22 billion in sales, children’s costumes $1.04 billion and the poor, poor pets are subjected to $330 million in costumes. Candy contributes another $2 billion and nearly that amount is spent on decorations.
The amount I will spend on my costume: $2 (I found some cute little pumpkin earrings). Add in about $6 for candy, $8 for two pumpkins and I am done. Is there a Halloween equivalent for Scrooge?
As you do your errands this weekend, don’t get caught up in the frenzy. Use your creativity and make your own costume. Buy a modest amount of candy. Carve a real pumpkin. Let Mother Nature add the color for you. Bob for some apples at home. Just because a holiday for kids has gone commercial, doesn’t mean you need to be bitten by the Halloween spending vampire as well.
— beth triplett
Source: Halloween Spending by the Numbers by Steve Cooper, Forbes.com, 10/22/13
Some of my staff and I did a presentation to our board of trustees yesterday to explain the “genesis and strategic opportunities” of our marketing efforts. In preparation, we ended up taking a trip down memory lane to dig all the old publications and ads out of archives. It was striking to see how much clarity we have developed over the past five years as we came face to face with the way our presentation and story have evolved.
While it was a nostalgic exercise for those of us who have been on board for the duration, I think it was more valuable and informative for those on the team who are new. After sitting through the presentation they have a greater appreciation about how the look evolved and an understanding of the rationale behind it. I also hope that this project motivated everyone to keep evolving so that in five years we will warrant time on another board agenda.
Whether you are presenting to your trustees or just for your own perspective check, it may be a good use of time to do a retrospective of your organization. How have you changed in the last X years? Can you see a noticeable difference in your marketing, reporting, programming or some other aspect of your work? It’s one thing to mentally know that you’re improving, but another thing to see the before and after side by side. The contrast should be striking — or a lack of change should startle you into action. Either way, a physical review may be a valuable exercise for you and the people in your organization.
— beth triplett
I was in Chicagoland over the weekend and was astonished to see a sign along the side of the road advertising soccer classes — for kids 18 months to 5 years old! We had hardly gone a mile when we saw another sign for a soccer league — for 3-6 year olds! I guess after two years of practice, the toddlers need a league of their own!?
Two thoughts came to mind upon seeing these signs:
1. Soccer continues to grow in popularity in the States. If there is enough interest for classes and leagues at this age, the sport will be firmly ingrained in the psyche of everyone by the time the kids are of independent fan age. Before too long, the World Cup may cause a frenzy in the United States.
2. Regardless of the sport, I believe this is way too young to have actual classes and leagues. Kids are becoming so dependent on structure — and other people creating their fun activities — that they are missing out on the development of an important aspect of independence. In college, we hear students lament the lack of “things to do”, meaning the things someone else planned and hand held the students to take them there. Let the kids learn how to create their own fun — at least until they are the ripe old age of 7 or so!!
Think about those signs and what lessons they hold for you. Is there an emerging trend that you can see and capitalize on in your organization? Is there a way for you to encourage kids to enjoy the unstructured time that should accompany childhood? What can you do to create a structure-free zone for your employees so they can model it for their children?
Adding stress, competition and organized play for tots will have implications down the road. Do what you can now to let kids be kids, not little adults.
— beth triplett
Our consultant arrived into town early on Sunday and so I offered to take him to lunch. I chose a restaurant located along the bluffs of the Mississippi River so that he could see the beautiful Fall colors on the hillside. He recounted his recent trip to Vermont to take in the changing leaves and splendor.
Fall is Mother Nature’s special showcase. If we had the golds, reds and oranges all year they would be taken for granted, no matter how spectacular they were. No one would go for drives just to see the trees if they looked that way all year.
What lessons can you take from nature? Is there something that you should hold back and only bring out at certain times of the year so that it is more appreciated? Could you provide a service or something special at only one point instead of offering it consistently?
Lots of companies do this now: garden tours in the spring, holiday window displays just in the winter, pumpkin spice flavors in the fall, outdoor dining in the summer and so on. But what could your organization do? Think about how to capitalize on the seasons.
— beth triplett