leadership dot #3387: who luck

When most people think about being lucky, what comes to mind is an event or situation that proves to be beneficial. But in his book BE 2.0, master teacher Jim Collins describes another phenomenon that can have a greater impact on your outcomes — that of “who luck.” Collins describes this as finding that key person in your life whether it be a mentor, partner, colleague, boss, or friend — someone who alters your life by crossing your path.

Collins believes that his life is shaped more by the “whos” than the “whats” that brought him good fortune, and if you reflect on your own circumstances the same is probably true. The right people can bring us success at our joint pursuits, open up opportunities, or simply make our lives fun.

Think about the people who have been “who luck” for you. I know my former boss/now friend is on the top of the list, and as a result of his greatness, I have a host of colleagues who joined in working for him and creating most of my professional highlights. Earlier bosses served as mentors and changed the trajectory of my career. I also had “who luck” to land with the best bunch of siblings.

Take a moment to reflect on — and appreciate — those with whom you have been lucky to cross paths, and attempt to be the one who provides “who luck” to others who cross yours. It is the people that make the magic, not the events.

Source: BE 2.0 Turning your business into an enduring great company by Jim Collins and Bill Lazier, 2020

Keith Lovin — the best of the best. Everyone who ever met him had “Who Luck”

leadership dot #3386: clasp

I have written before (dot 2202 and dot 2672) about my pearl analogy — how small strengths, initiatives, or programs can be strung together to form a “necklace” or cohesive whole. The string that serves as the through-line is a critical element — if you aren’t sure what you’re trying to achieve, it’s hard to know which “pearls” should be included and which are distractions.

But I think the most important part of the necklace is the clasp. The clasp is the element that not only holds it together in the short term, it also ensures viability over time. The connector keeps the pearls from entropy — falling off when people are no longer paying attention to assembling them. In a project, the metaphorical “clasp” is often overlooked — people are so excited to have all the pearls strung that they rejoice in the moment and fail to take those extra steps to strengthen the work for the future.

A string with a bunch of pearls is not a necklace without a clasp. Don’t stop short of making that final connection that allows the work to be useful for years to come.

leadership dot #3385: no fanfare

A friend was sharing about his earlier years which included being a smoker. He recounted how he tried numerous methods to kick the habit: declaring his intentions publicly, tossing his supply, and giving himself incentives but none of them lasted. When I asked how he finally stopped, he said: “I ran out of cigarettes and just didn’t buy anymore.” He didn’t proclaim that he was quitting; he just made the choice and honored it.

What is the parallel action in your life where you can make an internal declaration without fanfare and stick to it? Maybe you start walking or running every day. You elect to make one healthy choice at every meal. Perhaps you give up soda. Do meditation each morning. Save $X from each paycheck. Publish a blog.

Sometimes the buildup or dread is worse than the action itself. If something is important for you to start or stop, make that your next move instead of all the ancillary acts around it. As Nike reminds us, “Just Do It.” Without a fuss.

leadership dot #3384: cannot

I’ve been having some trouble with one of my ears and the first time I went to the otolaryngologist, he recommended a steroid shot into my inner ear. I said “N.O. way.” We tried some other treatments but they had no results, so, very reluctantly, I conceded to have the shot. Not just one, but three over the course of three weeks.

While the shots did not yield the impact I had hoped for, I did live through them. I will even admit that with the initial numbing medicine, they weren’t as bad as I imagined in my mind. And I need to remind myself that if I had done them in the first place, I could have avoided the terrible side effects from the first treatment that was far worse than the shots.

Eleanor Roosevelt said: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” She was right. We can do that thing. We can get the injections. We can fire the star performer if there are ethics violations. We can rebuild after tragedy. We can grunt through one more task to finish that project.

Your mind may scream “no” but if your gut knows it’s what you should be doing, let your mouth say “yes.”

leadership dot #3372: too fast

I was whizzing through a Solitaire game last night, quickly putting many of the cards onto their respective Aces.

And then I got stuck.

It seems that I put too many of the cards there instead of leaving them in the rows where they could serve as connections to the other cards I needed to play. By putting some of the cards from the Aces back into the game, I was able to complete the round as a winner.

It reminded me of change efforts and the downside of trying to go too fast. Sometimes, we zip along on our own and make lots of progress — but fail in the end because we have not spent the time to make the bridges necessary for ultimate success. We then need to backtrack which, of course, takes more time in the end.

Play both Solitaire and the game of life with enough intentionality to value connection over speed.

leadership dot #3360: responsibility

I was working with a client who lamented that her boss was all task-focused in their 1:1 meetings and he was not providing her with any professional development or coaching. I asked her what she was doing to bring growth topics into the meeting: putting specific questions on their agenda, asking to read an article or book together, requesting that occasional meetings be development-only focused, or explicitly sharing her concerns and asking for what she needed. While the supervisor usually takes the lead in this area, if they don’t there is a better course of action than just accepting the void.

We could all do more to take responsibility for ourselves.

If you want a new assignment, take the initiative to create one. Learn new software or skills via YouTube. Take advantage of the free professional development courses on the web. Seek out your own mentor.

The same principle holds true in your personal life. You don’t need a mask mandate to decide to wear one if you believe it will help keep you well. You can make decisions to eat in a healthy manner regardless of what is served. You shouldn’t rely on your partner for birth control.

Instead of expecting someone else to meet your needs, take ownership for meeting them yourself.

leadership dot #3350: solved

I started my car and was greeted by a warning indicator: “Emission system problem.” That is never good. The service advisor checked the warning codes and asked me if I had been anywhere particularly dusty lately. (Yes!) He then put my car through their carwash and viola — the problem was fixed!

Oftentimes, simple solutions are the most effective. How many times have you rebooted your phone or computer and it has corrected the problem? A nap or few hours of sleep can be restorative to your mood and your health. Walking can provide as beneficial exercise as a fancy gym.

The next time something isn’t going right for you, attempt to first address it in the least complicated way possible. The easiest answer is often the best solution.

leadership dot #3348: fun-draiser

Taped to the community mailbox were flyers advertising a kickball tournament to benefit cancer. These were obviously handmade and promoted the “Fun-draiser” to Kick Cancer.

I was impressed with the overall initiative and the detail that went into their planning. Flyers were up weeks ahead. It listed details such as when to be there and reminded people to bring chairs. Work went into writing out all the information and drawing the pink ribbons.

It reminded me that good deeds don’t need to be lofty. Some neighborhood kids had the idea, got out a pencil and highlighter, and created a fundraiser. How can you use your resources to do something good today?

leadership dot #3345: grazing field

If you’ve ever been to a petting zoo, you know the goats jump all over you, either to eat the food you purchased or to nibble on whatever else you may have with you. Mostly, they are obnoxious. But when I was on the goat trek where the animals were free to roam in the woods, they acted more like docile dogs. If I could have taken one home as a pet, I would have welcomed it.

My experience reminded me of the quote from Zen Master ShunryĆ« Suzuki: “The best way to control cow and sheep is to give them a big grazing field.”

It works for people as well. If you feel constrained, whether from too little time or autonomy, too little money, or any other factor, things begin to close in on you, and the constraint becomes an additional negative factor to contend with. You feel the original pressure and now the weight of being under the gun. Under stress, you often (metaphorically) jump all over people.

We do our best work when we have the equivalent of a “big grazing field.” Intentionally try to create one for yourself and your staff. Allow ample time to complete projects. Build in buffers. Be conservative in setting deadlines and delivery expectations. Create free time in your personal schedule to recharge and reduce some of the pressures. Don’t overschedule weekends and vacations.

Creating space may feel like a luxury but in reality, it provides the freedom to be your best self.

leadership dot #3328: riding

While I was out shopping, a mom was pushing her cart with two children hanging on to the outside of the basket. The children decided that they would rather walk and asked permission to get off. “I’m not stopping until we get to the school supply aisle,” she said firmly. “You wanted to ride, now you have to live with your choice.”

Bravo! Her children’s future teachers and employers will thank her for teaching the lesson of consequences. Too often, people are allowed to change their decisions and behavior without rationale or regard to the implications. Stopping the cart is minor but these types of small, cumulative lessons may teach her kids to pause before committing to something if they know they are expected to actually fulfill their intentions.

Pay attention to your own behaviors and check yourself on how well you follow through on your declarations. Your word should be solid — both to others as well as to yourself.