#637 overcoming hurdles

What can you do with a degree in economics and a minor in Spanish?  Apparently compete in the Olympics! 

That is what Lolo Jones has done with her degree, and not just once, but twice. Jones is one of the few athletes who competed in both Winter and Summer Olympics — hurdles in London and now the bobsled in Sochi.

In Sochi, there were only 2850 athletes participating.  In London, there were approximately 10,500.  Think about what it takes to be among the best in the world at one sport, let alone two distinctly different ones.

We put so much pressure on young people to select a major in college, yet except for a few specialized professions, the specific degree doesn’t matter so much. The collegiate educational experience has value because it teaches students persistence, tenacity, critical thinking, time management, prioritization, group dynamics and a host of other skills beyond the facts.  Often, it also helps people find their passion — or passions — and gives them the drive to pursue them.  

Kudos to Lolo for getting the degree and the Olympic rings.  Think about her when you don’t believe you have the time to go to the gym!

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

#636 balls and bulls

One of our sociology professors shared information about a study that sung the praises of female athletes and those in FHA or 4-H type organizations.  What do these two groups of students have in common?  

The research suggests that people involved in these pursuits have high levels of internal motivation and need very little external praise.  They put in tremendous amounts of work in pursuit of their goals, yet rarely have an audience to see the results of their efforts.  Few people attend women’s sporting events or agricultural judging, so those involved do most of the work for their own satisfaction and pleasure. 

Our professor suggested that if we had candidates with women’s sports or 4-H as a background, they should be given serious consideration for employment, especially in jobs  that involve a lot of independent time and self-motivation (like admissions counselor).

Since hiring the right people is so important to an organization, maybe this variable can help you find your next blue ribbon employee.

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

#635 just in case

I was at a gathering yesterday with several baseball coaches and former players.  The conversation turned to superstitions and the quirky things they did in conjunction with the game.  One pays attention to the color ink in the pen he uses to fill out the lineup card.  Another wore a cut-off sock on his pitching arm.  One spits into his glove after every pitch.  They knew of players who wore the same socks all season (without washing them!).  And on it went.  It seemed that everyone did something on the off chance it would matter.

Then someone wondered what it would be like if we had superstitious rituals in every profession as there seem to be in baseball.  The teacher would tap the marker on the white board three times before writing with it.  The office worker could rub their mouse before turning on the computer.  A nurse could stand with her feet in a specified position before drawing blood.  We had a lot of fun with the possibilities.

Maybe you can do something with this idea:  use it as an icebreaker at your next party, develop a superstition of your own to help you get in the right frame of mind to start your work day or have everyone do it in your group to create some good laughs and team bonding?

If you were to develop the equivalent of a baseball player ritual for yourself, what would it be? 

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

#634 doing

There are days when I need to do things at work that I really don’t want to do, or I need to write a blog on an evening when I would much rather play, or I have a chore at home that I would prefer to do “tomorrow” instead of now.  I think everyone feels this way at some point.

Often when I am approaching procrastination, I am reminded of a quote by Thomas Huxley that I heard while in college.  It has stuck with me over the years:

Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the things you have to do when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.  It is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson he learns thoroughly.

I believe that Huxley was spot-on.  It’s part of why a college degree is so valuable, regardless of the chosen major or to some extent even what school it is from.  It’s why a doctorate (like my friend Wendy just earned!) is even more rare — because no one is standing over you telling you to go to class or do your dissertation.  You have to do the things you have to do because you are motivated to do them.

Think about these words of wisdom next time your brain is saying “I don’t wanna ____.” Often, it is the doing, not the wanting to do that is important.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com

@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com




#633 strong suite

When we conduct analysis regarding our enrollment situation (or about any problem), the true strategy decision isn’t in deciding what tactic to use.  The toughest question to answer is whether we are going to try to capitalize on our strengths or attempt to address our weaknesses.  (e.g.:  If our applications are ahead in a certain territory, do we put more effort there or do we do extra mailings to the places we are behind?)  

Focusing on where we are ahead is contrary to what usually occurs.  Inertia and history certainly beckon to fix the problem.  If a child brings home a report card with all Bs and a D, it is likely that the parents will focus on the D.  If an athlete is great at passing, but consistently misses free throws, it is likely she will spend some extra practice time at the line.  If you are a talented artist but overweight, you’re just as apt to join Weight Watchers as an arts society. 

It is a scary thing to focus on your strengths, knowing that others are more likely to call you on your weaknesses rather than sing your praises.  But as Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great, “managing your problems can only make you good, whereas building your opportunities is the only way to become great.”

— beth triplett

leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Source:  Good to Great by Jim Collins, p. 59

#632 seeing clearly

For most people, buying a car is one of the largest investments that they make.  People spend tens of thousands of dollars to buy one, and another hefty sum to maintain it and keep it road-worthy over the years.

One of the basic features of a car that is often overlooked is the windshield.  ABC News reports that approximately 11 million windshield replacements are done per year.  That figure surprised me, since the only one I have had replaced in my decades of driving has been the one smashed in by the bat of hoodlum one evening.  Put apparently others are not so fortunate.

What is equivalent to a windshield in your line of work?  Are the sidewalks in front of your store so icy that people have a difficult time getting to your place of business? Does a brilliant doctor lose patients because of his scheduling practices?  Does a dirty restroom in a restaurant repel the customers?  Does a loose button on a new garment color the impression of the whole brand?

People make judgments about the whole based on experiences with the parts.  Can you see clearly out the windshield of your organization or is there a crack that needs repair?

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


#631 frozen

When is the last day you didn’t talk about the weather?  Someone asked that question to our lunch table, and no one could remember that far back; it seems we have been complaining for weeks now.

In reality, there is nothing we can do to alter what Mother Nature sends our way.  The only thing we have control of is how we respond to the weather — complaining about it, ignoring it or even embracing it.  

Lots of people who live in Northern states love the winter (or at least they did before this year’s Polar Vortex).  In a previous blog, I described the infrastructure cities have to handle large amounts of snow.  Similarly, people who embrace the snow have prepared themselves for recreational activities like skating and cross country skiing; they own snowmobiles, go ice fishing, play hockey and, in general, relish the sports that can only occur in the tundra.

Another place that has welcomed Mother Nature is Breckenridge, Colorado.  As if their skiing wasn’t enough of an attraction, they host an annual Snow Sculpting Contest.  The artists who worked on these creations clearly have learned to make the most of the season:

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=brekenridge+snow+scuplture&qpvt=brekenridge+snow+scuplture&FORM=IGRE 

You can fight the weather and fall into that winter funk, or you can celebrate all the things it allows you to do.  On that matter, you do have control.

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