Wednesday, May 31, 2017

leadership dot #1825: names

Today's dot is written by Erika Betz from Hilbert College's Leadership Applications class:
How many people truly know all their coworker’s names or a little bit about them? I know for me, remembering names is difficult.
Recently, I observed the owner of my workplace demonstrate a leadership skill by taking the extra time to remember the interactions he has throughout the day. With the company growing at a fast pace, there are always new hires joining our team, so I always wondered how the owner remembers all 300 employees, even when he does not interact with them everyday.
When I asked him, he shared his secret. To maintain close, long lasting relationships with his employees, customers, and anyone that has an impact on his day, he uses his Notes app on his iPhone. There he types the correct spelling of a person’s name and details about their last conversation (e.g. person’s characteristics, family news or personal interests) to refer back to for the future.
It reminded me of Dale Carnegie’s Principles for Enhancing Relationships, which principle #6 stated: “a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” He went to say that “respect and acceptance stem from simple acts, such as remembering a person’s name and using it whenever appropriate instead of the often-overused Hey!” Carnegie developed LIRA, his own secret to remember names, which represents Look and Listen, Impression, Repetition and Association.
Think about how you felt when someone remembered your name or a detailed part of your life that you did not think was important to others. Whether you take notes, use the LIRA strategy, or create your own name game, how can you strengthen the skill to remember the names of those you encounter? Doing so will surely enhance your relationships and make them more meaningful.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

leadership dot #1824: habits for success

Today's dot is written by Chase Harmon from Hilbert College's Leadership Applications class:
There are very few people in this world who can walk into any situation and come out on top without any sort of preparation. For example, there are some gifted athletes out there that can get tossed into any sport and be successful. For the rest of us, it takes years and years of practice and preparation to find that success. The same precedent applies for so many other situations besides sports.
After taking multiple courses on leadership, when I think of preparation, the first thing to come to mind is the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The simple seven habits, given to us by Dr. Stephen R. Covey, can be used in almost any context and can be the key for us less fortunate souls to find success.
My college lacrosse team uses these steps, without even realizing it. We start with Being Proactive, as our team collects film and creates a scouting report on our opponents. When we Begin with the End in Mind, everything we do in this preparation stage is to ensure that we have a chance to win the game. Then we Put First Things First. To perform this step we choose things we need to improve on during practice and determine how much time we spend on that aspect.
The next habit is Think Win-Win. As a team, we need to believe we can win the upcoming game; if we do not do this, there is no point to even play the game. Then we Seek First to Understand, then to Be Understood. I believe that this habit is directed towards the player listening to what the coaches have to say when they tell you that an aspect of your game needs to be changed or improved.
To Synergize, if we are going to win any of the games, we have to play as a team. One player is not going to make or break the game for us. We have to play together. Finally, we have to Sharpen the Saw. Once we use all of these steps and find a winning formula, we cannot stop practicing the habits. We have to continue going back to these habits so that we can put together a successful season, not just one game.
Think about how Covey's Seven Habits could apply to you and whatever you may be trying to accomplish. If you want to find success for yourself, or maybe the group you lead, you cannot just walk in and expect success to fall into your lap. It takes a lot of hard work. Everyone is capable of finding success; how much success depends on how much work you are willing to put in. No one wins championships overnight; it takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to eventually reach your peak of greatness.

Monday, May 29, 2017

leadership dot #1823: calling

Today's dot is written by Grace Adams from Hilbert College's Leadership Applications class: 
Hei Hei It’s Monday!
For those of you who haven’t yet seen Moana, here comes a spoiler alert! Moana is a Disney movie about a young teenage girl who seeks out the Demigod Maui to save her island and people. Throughout this movie, she faces many trials and comes to a heart-warming revelation at the end.
Moana’s animal sidekick is a chicken named Hei Hei. He’s stranded at sea with a teenage girl… you could say he is a little out of his element. In a scene where Moana realizes Hei Hei is on the boat with her, every time she removes the coconut from his head he screams when he sees his surroundings.
While some may think Hei Hei is an incompetent and simple minded chicken, I believe he is a metaphor for life. Often times we get in situations where we question ourselves: “What am I doing?” “Why am I so stubborn?” “Why can’t I get out of my own way?” “ What am I missing?”. In life, we find ourselves in these situations; we are out of our normal surroundings and our comfort zones and that can be frightening.
Throughout the entire movie, Moana is chasing what she believes to be her calling. What she doesn’t realize until later is that her ancestors, her people and her destiny are her calling. Hei Hei’s calling is to provide comic relief to Moana on this voyage to restore the heart of Te Fiti. He is a piece of her home while she is at sea and, while he might frustrate or worry her, on several occasions he gives the calmness of home.
So next time you are asking yourself questions like “What am I doing?” or “Why am I so stubborn?”, think about the bigger picture. What are you passionate about? Where do you feel at home? Since Moana was a child, the ocean was her calling and her mission in life was to save her people. What is calling you?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

leadership dot #1822: change

Today's dot is written by Benjamin Unverhau from Hilbert College's Leadership Applications class:
It is a common saying in Buffalo that you can experience all four seasons in one day. In one week week the city could have temperatures in the high forties with lots of sun, then rain, and then back to twenty-degree weather. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that Mother Nature has some cold feet about changing seasons.
In the same way, many individuals and organizations sometimes fail to embrace the changing of the world around them, just as Mother Nature does not seem to want to let go of one season and transition into another. This can have dire consequences to businesses, such as Blockbuster, who became obsolete after the rise of Netflix. A similar threat is now facing private colleges in New York, who are being seriously threatened by the proposal of making public colleges free for households that are under a certain income level.
Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law states that an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force. As a leader, we must often act as that outside force to push those who are under our responsibility to take the necessary steps to change. Change is rarely something that people look forward to, but it is often necessary for survival. If Blockbuster had made a move to enter the online market before it was too late, there may have been more than a handful of the stores left today.
The changing of the seasons is constant and unavoidable. Just like with the transitions in weather, we must accept that change is inevitable and learn to embrace it, or at the very least, not become obsolete by being set in our ways.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

leadership dot #1821: maintenance

Today's dot is written by Austin J. Good from Hilbert College's Leadership Applications class:
The act of maintaining something is defined as keeping something in an existing state, or preserving something from failure or decline. People maintain various things in their lives: their cars, homes and relationships, and some things are maintained by a service or company for the benefit of people. People maintain things because they frequently rely on them to accomplish tasks or receive support in their day-to-day lives. Without this regular maintenance, certain aspects of a person’s life may suffer or lead to decreased productivity and frustration.
I have been experiencing a serious lack of maintenance on certain websites recently and it has made being productive much more difficult. On certain websites, material fails to post when the deadline is quickly approaching; this leads to me scrambling to see if there is an issue on my end or on the website itself. I attempted to reach out to someone who may be able to help, but received no response prior to the deadline or after. Another website is restricting me from going beyond the log in screen and, more times than not, I cannot access material.
These websites should be aware that people require their service, and often pay for it, and need the sites to be working efficiently and correctly 24/7. Failure to do so leaves customers upset and wanting to find a different and more reliable option.
Maintaining a service, or anything else in life for that matter, is imperative to success. This is not only true for the people dependent on the service, but also the people providing it. If the service is well maintained, reliable and efficient, people will want to use it and may insist that other people check it out as well.
A leader must also maintain their organization to ensure success. Leaders must make sure all the parts are running smoothly and completing the task they should be. If this is done, success will not be far behind. What have you done to maintain your organization lately?

Friday, May 26, 2017

leadership dot #1820: Kaizen

Today's dot is written by Dalton Reynolds from Hilbert College's Leadership Applications class:
Recognized as an ancient Japanese philosophy, the word “Kaizen” promotes continual improvement everywhere. This can relate to work, life, school or relationships, but the key is to establish a goal, and grow daily in some aspect to achieve an objective. Introduced to the Japanese society following World War II, this philosophy allowed their community to rebuild through continual development.
The Kaizen mindset has been used for many years and it is apparent in many strategic planning methods. Toyota implemented this philosophy in order to grow into one of the BIG 3 car companies of Japan. In addition, their high quality and low cost reputation provided them with an opportunity to also compete in the United States. In another example, coaches implement the Kaizen philosophy in team training methods in order to decrease the likelihood of errors on the field and increase the success rate of quality appearances to produce wins.
When a group or team operates with the intent of achieving one goal, the opportunity to succeed increases tremendously. Implementing the philosophy of Kaizen into any organization allows every member to improve their skills and impact the company -- from the most basic manufacturing process to executing plays on the field. In all organizations and team sports, Kaizen can be applied.
The likelihood of success improves through continuous improvement. Which of your goals could benefit from the infusion of Kaizen?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

leadership dot #1819: sonder

Today's dot is written by Lauren Carlin from Hilbert College's Leadership Applications class:
Often as I am in my car sitting at a red light I find myself looking at the other people on the road or people next to me. I wonder who they are, where they are going, what their life is like, and what their story is. Have you ever thought about the amount of people and their intricate lives that you pass on the highway each day?
If so, you are experiencing a word called “sonder.” Sonder is the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. This is truly an amazing enlightenment when you contemplate it.
No two people have will have the same background, think the same or live the same future. I recently went on a mission trip to a poor area in the Dominican Republic. I was astounded by the amount of happiness the people possessed with the little they had. Despair to one person may be contentment to another. It all depends on each individual’s way of thinking. I believe life is 10% what happens to you, but 90% how you react. You may not be able to control the traffic or the weather; however, what you can control are your emotions, what you say and the actions you take.  
In a leadership position, being aware that each of your followers’ lives is just as complex as your own will strongly impact the way you lead. Suddenly, different opinions, ideas and views are shared and expressed. You will never always know what the people on your team have been through in their past or what they are currently going through. That sense of curiosity will always be the multifarious mystery of the human race. The only thing you can control is your personal response.
Treating your followers with respect and kindness when providing inspiring feedback will create a positive environment, and, in time, your team will grow intellectually stronger and more productive.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

leadership dot #1818: skill gap

Today's dot is written by Marisa Huffman from Hilbert College's Leadership Applications class:
For some people, skills just come naturally. A classmate of mine automatically understands every topic we study. A teammate of mine seems to dominate the field so effortlessly. There are some people that seem to be born with the skills that they obtain.
For others, practice is imperative. I must constantly study to maintain good grades. I put extra hours in on the field and in the weight room to be a better lacrosse player. People work hard at all kinds of things to better themselves and their skills.
Those of us who must work harder to compete with the naturally talented need not to get frustrated, jealous, or bitter. We must find what works best for us, stay dedicated, and push ourselves to be the best we can. We must practice relentlessly and commit ourselves if we want to succeed.
How hard are you willing to work to eliminate the skill gap between you and your competitors?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

leadership dot #1817: magical service

Today's dot is written by David Mellerski, Jr. from Hilbert College's Leadership Applications class:
During the Fall of 2013, I was given the opportunity to partake in the Disney College Program. I was one of 3,000 selected, through an interview of nearly 60,000 college students from all over the world. Over the next few months, Goofy, Woody, Prince Flynn Rider, and others became uniquely special friends of mine; I grew to embody their personalities and embrace the Disney culture.
Though I spent only a short time there, the experiences I had left lasting impressions on me. What made my program so incredible was witnessing every single cast member (Disney Employee) embracing the philosophy “Where dreams come true and magic comes to life,” and giving a blissful experience to co-workers and guests alike. It takes a true act of genius to synergize the reputation of an organization with the necessary policies and procedures of human resources, but somehow the Disney Company accomplished this and created a magical list, seen below.
Disney’s Seven Service Guidelines
  1. Be Happy…make eye contact and smile!
  2. Be like Sneezy…greet and welcome each and every guest. Spread the spirit of Hospitality…It’s contagious!
  3. Don’t be Bashful…seek out Guest contact.
  4. Be like Doc…provide immediate service recovery.
  5. Don’t be Grumpy…always display appropriate body language at all times.
  6. Be like Sleepy…create DREAMS and preserve the “MAGICAL” Guest experience.
  7. Don’t be Dopey…thank each and every Guest!
(For those who are not so savvy when it comes to Disney and its iconic characters, the italicized words above are all of Snow White’s Seven Dwarves)
What would it look like to personify the culture of your organization and impress that image on your clients and coworkers? – And, if for some reason, the image you are portraying isn’t all that appealing, what it is you’d like your company to represent, and how you can be that vision?
The little things we say and do can have profound impacts on those around us. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

leadership dot #1816: guests

A dear colleague of mine, Jim Sturm, teaches a leadership class at Hilbert College in New York. He assigned his class an assignment to write a thought paper in the format of a leadership dot, and asked me if I would read them. Not only did I do that, but I am going to share them with you.
For the next ten days, leadership dots will be presented by my guest authors from Hilbert's GS460 Leadership Applications class, the capstone to Hilbert's Leadership minor. These are juniors and seniors who have come to see the world (at least for this assignment) with "dot eyes" -- and it reinforced that concepts about leadership are everywhere. You'll read dots about Disney, website maintenance, Dale Carnegie, the skills gap and good news. I hope you enjoy them.
In addition, think about applications from this partnership for your own organization. Can you collaborate with someone -- even halfway across the country -- to do a project that is mutually beneficial for both of you? Is there a new format for reflection that you can use with those you lead? If YOU were going to write a leadership dot TODAY, what observation would you make that could form the basis of that lesson?
I hope you will follow the lead of the students and see the world from the perspective as if you were writing a dot of your own.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

leadership dot #1815: extras

A great coupon enticed me to drive through and try Popeye’s chicken. I ordered the snack pack: two pieces of chicken and a biscuit.
What I received was two pieces of chicken and a biscuit – AND grape jelly, strawberry jelly, two packets of ketchup, honey, butter, two packets of hot sauce, a fork and two napkins.
I am sure it is good practice to have all these condiments available, but it seems like a big waste to distribute them in every bag. Couldn’t they have first asked if I wanted any of them (just the napkins, please)?
From a cost perspective as well as an environmental one, sometimes more is too much. Bend over backwards to offer your customers what they want, and even prompt them to see if there is something they may not have considered. But to give without want is just wasteful.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

leadership dot #1814: let it go

At a recent garage sale, the women who were doing the selling decided that they would rather be in their boat on the river instead of at home conducting the sale. So they took a few items inside the house, left all the clothes outside, posted a sign -- and left.
The sign said: "Everything 25 cents. Pay the Bratman" (the guy selling brats at his sale next door).
Good for them! You need to decide what is important in your life and let the rest go. For them, being on the river superseded the desire to make money at home. 
Where in your life can you post an equivalent sign and let something go? 

Friday, May 19, 2017

leadership dot #1813: months ahead

Months ago, I put a date on the calendar to visit some dear friends in Texas. It was a trip coordinated with another friend to meet there – something we have been talking about doing for years, but finally did.
Also this month, I took a day to drive three hours to meet other friends for lunch. It, too, was something that we wanted to do for ages, but finally made it a reality with a specific date. This also was planned months ago.
If you asked me now whether I had time for either visit, I would have given you a resounding no. Had I not been in Texas, I wouldn’t have been home either. My trip overlaps with a work assignment where it would be much more helpful if I had been able to be elsewhere. My day-with-friends required several late nights of working to compensate for the lost time.
Yet I am so glad that I made time for both trips. They were of the “important, but not urgent” variety that Stephen Covey describes – things that are most often neglected in favor of the demands of the day.
If you have something really important that you want to do, make a specific date far into the future. Your calendar is likely to be freer, and the length of time you hold the date increases the difficulty in cancelling it. Make “someday” a specific day and enjoy the fruits your planning will bring.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

leadership dot #1812: stagger

I read a post on Facebook about a lesson that choir members follow. Lori Ahl Cartwright posted:
“Sometimes in band or choir, music requires players or singers to hold a note longer than they can actually hold a note. In those cases, we were taught to mindfully stagger when we took a breath so the sound appeared uninterrupted. Everyone got to breathe, and the music stayed strong and vibrant.”
 Cartwright went on to use this as an analogy for keeping up the political resistance and not becoming fatigued. She encouraged readers to take a breath and then rejoin so others can breath, allowing the group to sustain a song for a longer period.
While her advice is certainly applicable, the music analogy is not limited to political movements. Think about how your chorus needs to tend for each other to sustain the whole over long periods. Colleagues can relieve each other during a push on a major project. Families and family can tend to each other during periods of a new baby or extended illness. Teammates can relieve each other during games.
We don’t need to do everything alone. Let the choir back you up instead of insisting on being a soloist.
Lori Ahl Cartwright, February 10, 2017

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

leadership dot #1811: specialize

I was recently offered a free document: “30 Successful Online Business Ideas.” I accepted, thinking that I may glean some information that could help me with leadership dots. What I received was a listing of current online businesses, curated to show the wide variety of niches an independent person can establish to hang their virtual shingle.
Companies currently exist in these narrow fields:
> Training cats to use the toilet
> Reviews on high quality wristwatches
> Training parrots
> Gaining 20 pounds of muscle as a skinny guy
> Style advice for men
> Ex-pickup artist teaches how to connect better with women
It reminded me of an article I read many years ago about the importance of being a specialist rather than a generalist. Dale Dauten shared the story of a photographer who was hired by National Geographic because he was “getting really interested in cannibalistic butterflies.” It seems that everyone else came in with pretty pictures of animals and an interest to do anything outdoors. Nothing made them stand out.
Dauten concludes: “The exciting job doesn’t go to the person asking for something interesting, but to the person offering something interesting.”
Whether you are an entrepreneur, solopreneur or work for an organization – how can you offer something that makes you stand out?
How cannibalistic butterflies can eat up a job search by Dale Dauten, St. Louis Post Dispatch, February 23, 2008

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

leadership dot #1810: garnish

A menu item included a description of a salad: organic chicken, mixed greens, walnuts, dried cranberries, Gorgonzola cheese, sliced apples – and multigrain bread. It sounded delicious!
When it arrived, I laughed out loud because the “multigrain bread” was one oversized crouton, nothing more than a garnish. It would have been dwarfed by a pat of butter!
The salad, service and atmosphere were otherwise stellar. Why did they over promise on such a minor detail?
Think about the descriptions you provide of your products or services. Is there some aspect where you unintentionally exaggerate? Have your offerings evolved but your narrative hasn’t? Align your customer’s expectations with reality and leave the embellishments off the menu.

Monday, May 15, 2017

leadership dot #1809: over time

The residence hall experience is often overlooked in alumni tributes which tend to focus instead on sports achievements or academic accomplishments. But last week, I was at Bradley University where their fancy new alumni center contains a display about the evolving nature of residence halls rooms over the decades. Anyone who has ever lived on campus knows that students bring their personalities with them to college and that their rooms become a symbol of the times.
In miniature, Bradley captured these cultural statements and showed their progression from the 1940s to the present. Not only does the technology increase over time, but the amount of “stuff” multiplies as well. In 1940, there was not much more than beds and desks. Now, there are entertainment centers with giant HD televisions and X-boxes along with lofts, exercise balls, and Nutribullets for the morning smoothies.
In one wall, Bradley captures the school spirit and character of students over the course of nearly a century. It is a powerful visual that shows the subtlety of change from one decade to the next, but the enormity of it over the course of time.
Think about how your organization can capture one small element and illustrate its impact on a timeline. It can evoke great nostalgia, but also pride in what has become. Dorothy said: “ there’s place like home.” How nice when you can see “home” as you remember it at that moment in time and still feel like you’re at home in the present day.
The 1940s
The 1970s
Present day

Sunday, May 14, 2017

leadership dot #1808: Fr. Leopold

I thought I had seen Legos for everything, but then I went to my nephew’s First Communion. It was something that looked like it could have come from Spencer Gifts instead of the religious products store, but he received a Lego kit just for the occasion.
Father Leopold Celebrates Mass is an actual kit, not made by Legos but a generic version of the same thing. It comes with the appropriate bricks to make an altar, lectern, gift table and tabernacle. Fr. Leopold has an assortment of vestments in different colors, bottles of wine, a missal and even hosts.
Even more over-the-top is that you can also buy matching thank you notes. What could be better for an 8-year old First Communicant?
Someone with a creative mind put together Legos and First Communion and is making money on the idea. [They probably were wondering what to buy for a boy when the only thing ever on his wish list is Lego kits!]
Great ideas are often the combination of two ordinary things, paired together in a new way. How can you connect the dots differently today to make something new?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

leadership dot #1807: in a box

The ubiquitous way of serving food at our State Fair is “on a stick” with everything from salad to pork chops to fried Twinkies being offered in a portable format. It makes it much easier to grab ‘n go with little thought involved.
That same idea has evolved to packaging. Everything now seems to be available “in a box.” You can receive boxes of healthy snacks, pet treats, jewelry, clothing, ingredients to prepare a meal – all with items pre-selected for you and designed to open and go.
The latest incarnation of this that I came across offers an event-in-a-box. Campus activities program boards can order a kit with all the educational programming they need to “sponsor” an event. You open the box and it has instant materials for you, such as promoting sun awareness for a Fry Day. (see picture below)
Like with Legos and everything else, I lament the loss of creativity that is supplanted by all these kits. Where is the role for imagination when all you do is open and go? Where do young people learn resourcefulness to gather the necessary materials on their own? What happens when there is no one around to prepare a kit and they need to create their own fun?
There are times when having something pre-prepared is a handy time saver. Just think outside the box more than you reach for what’s in it.
Fry Day in a box
  • Friday, May 12, 2017

    leadership dot #1806: counting

    I guess Mormon pioneer William Clayton was bored as he crossed the Plains in a covered wagon in 1847. It was during his journey that he invented the odometer. It may not sound like a sexy invention, but "previous to this, mileage was calculated by counting the revolutions of a rag tied to the spoke of a wagon wheel."
    Think of the advantages the odometer had over the manual counting of a rag's rotations! The odometer allowed for standardization of units and use, greater accuracy in map-making and directions, measurements that ultimately lead to GPS and has become the universal mechanism for recording mileage in vehicles.
    I doubt Clayton thought of these implications 170 years ago today when he released his new tool, but his invention lives on and is in use in almost every vehicle on the road today. 
    What problem or inefficiency do you see that you could improve? What seemingly minor contribution can you make that could actually turn out to have far greater reach? How can you see something with new eyes? I'm counting on you to be like William Clayton and make a little piece of your world better today.
    * Source: Chase's Calendar of Events: Anniversary of Odometer Invented, May 12, 1847.

    Thursday, May 11, 2017

    leadership dot #1805: the Baroness

    Any resource on productivity will tell you that accountability is the key to success. If you know who is accountable for something, it is much more likely that it will be done. But a key ingredient in accountability is personal responsibility -- that elusive trait of taking ownership for your actions.
    An exercise that I acquired several decades ago has always stuck with me because it presents a scenario where six people have a role in the outcome. Individuals then groups need to rank: Who is most responsible for the death of the Baroness? I do this exercise often in my class, and it always generates lively discussion. You would think the responsibility would be obvious, but there is frequent disagreement not only about #1, but all of the rankings.
    Before you can have accountability, you need people to understand their role in the process. Maybe this Drawbridge Exercise can be a starting point for you to have some interesting conversations to bridge the knowledge gap in your circle.

    Wednesday, May 10, 2017

    leadership dot #1804: the end is near

    It is human nature to change your behavior when you know that you are approaching the end of something:
    > Students pack up their things toward the end of the period, and become much less interested as the end of the academic year approaches
    > Employees often become less invested when their departure or retirement date has been set
    > Politicians and other elected positions are referred to as lame ducks as their term comes to a close, leaving them with less influence and power
    > Couples respond to each other differently once the word "divorce" is spoken, focusing on separating lives and possessions rather than co-joining them.
    Keep this mental shift in mind -- for yourself and others who are affected -- to be conscious about your behaviors. If you know that your commitment level may wane, you can plan for it and not over-promise. If you know an impending deadline is approaching, you can gear up before the downslide. If you have any hope of saving a relationship, you can choose your language carefully. 
    "The end is near" may be a hyperbole when predicting world doom, but it is a legitimate word of caution about individual actions.

    Tuesday, May 9, 2017

    leadership dot #1803: intent

    On a recent road trip, I was listening to the audio book Made to Stick (by Chip Heath and Dan Heath). It's an oldie (2007) but goodie about how to make ideas "stick" to consciousness and create the desired impact. 
    While the book is full of many practical suggestions, the one that "stuck" with me in this round was the idea of creating a "Commander's Intent." The Heath brothers recount a story by Tom Kolditz, an Army Colonel, who intuitively knew that he could not list out precise instructions for all of his soldiers as the enemy maneuvers, current conditions and many other factors would make an explicit plan obsolete within minutes of hitting the battleground. What he could do, however, was to list out a "Commander's Intent" (CI) for each mission so that every soldier knew the ultimate aim and could work towards it in whatever way was available to him/her in that moment. 
    For example, the CI may say the goal is to prevent the enemy from ascending the ridge or to capture the peninsula. By forcing clarity upon himself to write the intent, the Colonel was able to spread that focus throughout his units and allow them to act appropriately without minute-by-minute instructions. 
    What can you do to provide an overarching statement of intent to your "troops?" There may be many goals you wish them to achieve, but by articulating one priority that supersedes the others, it can provide clarity and an understanding of in which direction they should head. If you help your "army" -- whether that be staff, volunteers or family members -- be clear about your wishes, they are more likely to make them come true, even when you aren't there at every moment.
    Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, 2007

    Monday, May 8, 2017

    leadership dot #1802: one day at a time

    While at a garage sale, I found a copy for sale of the One Day at Time in Al-Anon meditation book. This is a set of daily reflections and lessons for those in Al-Anon, "a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics."
    I wonder what the story is behind this book and what prompted its place at the garage sale. Did the owner give up on working with Al-Anon? Maybe the alcoholic is no longer in their life? Perhaps the book belonged to someone who is now unable to use it due to death, frailty, illness, etc.? Did they even want the book in the first place so as to give it a fair chance?
    We will never know the circumstances that prompted the book's purchase or disposal, but we can be confident that there is a story behind it. We don't know the owner's struggles, or the journey that most others around us are on, but we all share a common humanity that is full of challenges.
    Whether we are in Al-Anon or not, we could all benefit by taking some of their lessons to heart, such as these reminders:
    > Sharing experiences widens one's horizons and opens out new and better ways to deal with difficulties. There is no need to solve them alone. (January 4)> I will make this day a happy one, for I alone can determine what kind of day it will be. (March 19)
    > Things cannot always go as you want them to. Accept disappointment quietly; cultivate the gift of silence when speaking may aggravate the difficulty. (May 27)
    > God grant me the sense of proportion to judge the difference between an incident and a crisis. (October 19)
    > Let me observe, with new interest, even the commonplace things that happen in each new day. (December 10)
    Wishing you the fortitude to make life better for yourself and others, One Day At a Time.

    Sunday, May 7, 2017

    leadership dot #1801: not forever

    It was the city-wide garage sale this weekend and, of course, I made the rounds looking for treasures (aka buttons for my collection). I did not find too many of those, but what I did see for sale was Christmas trees. In my unscientific survey, artificial Christmas trees were the number one item being discarded this season. Truly, it was rare when a sale did not feature a box stuffed with the fake evergreen.
    When I started asking about this, I learned that many people "just didn't have time" to put up a tree the past few years. How sad that our lives have become so busy that a centuries-old tradition is being put to the curb (literally). If it's not fast and pre-packaged, it seems to be relegated to the wayside.
    Think about the traditions you wish to preserve in your organization or your family. You may find it hard to believe that future groups won't cherish and maintain that function forever, but if the iconic Christmas tree can be sold for a few bucks, it seems that nothing should be taken for granted. Even ever-green doesn't mean forever.

    Saturday, May 6, 2017

    leadership dot #1800: information

    At a recent garage sale, I saw a box of encyclopedias available for the taking. Back in the day, the good 'ole Brittanica was the font of all knowledge: everything you needed to know all bound in ten intimidating volumes. Since then, we have moved to the internet, of course, and Wikipedia can tell you more that the encyclopedia ever did.
    A new iteration general-information-all-in-one-place is now in development. Blippar is a software working to add visuals to the vast array of knowledge that is already gathered. You will be able to use your camera to access layers and layers and layers of information about the picture you have taken. An example was shared in Inc. magazine showing how it migrates from discovery to selection to information and then even to augmentation of data. I see vast amounts of time being expended as people surf deeper and deeper into a topic!
    As you teach students, your staff or your children the skills of life, one of the pressing needs is going to be how to prioritize and assess the limitless amount of information that they will encounter. It's no longer enough to learn how to spell C-A-T or to even identify one; now people need to know when enough is enough on any given topic. Tomorrow is going to make the encyclopedia look like Cliff Notes.
    Inc. March 2017

    Friday, May 5, 2017

    leadership dots #1799: fry day

    It's the first Friday in May -- and for many parts of the country it marks the beginning of the "sun season" where warmth is gratefully here to stay. There is great temptation to go outside and soak in all of the rays, but today is a reminder to avoid the serious downside of unprotected sunning.
    The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention (NCSCP) has designated a "Don't Fry Day" to encourage campuses, educators and parents to proactively create awareness about the hazards of sun exposure. Don't Fry Day encourages people not only to take preventative steps to guard against UV rays, but educates them on how to respond should a melanoma be detected. A host of free resources are available here.
    The NCSCP estimates that two million new cases of skin cancer will be detected this year. It is one of the most pervasive -- and one of the most preventable -- cancers in the United States. The official "Don't Fry Day" is May 26, but why wait until then to start habits that can last through the summer? 

    Thursday, May 4, 2017

    leadership dot #1798: happy place

    A recent ad for Carnival Cruise Lines touted: "Your Happy Place will be Jealous!"  It got me thinking about where my Happy Place would be and what characteristics earned that distinction.
    My answer is the same as I gave to the question that was asked as part of the Earth Day celebration in church: "tell us the body of water that is closest to your heart." For me, my Happy Place and water are often linked!
    I conjured up several images of Happy Places in my life: on the shores of Lake Michigan, in a hammock in my back yard reading a book or cozy on the couch with my dogs. Just articulating them made me more committed to intentionally include them in my life this summer.
    Think about what makes a place happy for you. Make a commitment to mark out time on your calendar so you are able to revel in the nourishment that it brings you. 

    Wednesday, May 3, 2017

    leadership dot #1797: yours

    As I was running into Macy’s to do a return, I was stunned to see the overflowing trash bin just outside the main door. I felt like I was going into an alley rather than a department store. And with so much garbage there already, I either had to carry the cup I was going to dispose, spend time smashing it into the receptacle or set it next to the can on the ground. None were appealing options.
    I suspect that responsibility for trash pick up falls with the owners of the mall rather than with Macy’s itself, but it makes no difference. In my mind, it was MACY’S that failed to provide the service and it is the entrance to their store that was off-putting.
    Think of any parallels in your organization. Do you serve terrible food at your function and blame the caterer? If your payments arrive late, do you blame the processor? Is your sidewalk a hazard but you claim it is the responsibility of the landlord?
    At the end of the day, your organization is YOUR responsibility, not the building manager’s or the contractor’s. It doesn’t matter who should be doing it; it matters that you ensure it is done. YOUR name is on the door.

    Tuesday, May 2, 2017

    leadership dot #1796: doggone good idea

    The word "free" is a powerful motivator, so when I heard that a local photographer was offering free sittings for pet photos if you made a $20 donation to the local pet rescue shelter, I jumped on the opportunity to get pictures. I was hoping I would like one of the shots. Instead, I had a hard time deciding which of the many excellent photographs to buy!
    I spent a lot more than "free" on this project, and 10% of my print ordering also went to the rescue shelter, someplace that I had never donated to in the past. In addition, the best shot from each of the animals (as determined by Facebook voting, of course) will be featured on a calendar and sold to benefit the shelter.
    This was a win-win partnership all around. I got awesome photos of my girls. The photographer made money on my print order, got her name out widely through the Facebook campaign and had people bragging about her photos. The rescue facility received awareness and a substantial donation through the multiple means of directing funding to them -- and without doing any of the work!
    How can you emulate this collaboration in a fund raising or community project of your own? Note that there are many roles people can play in the process -- the purchaser, the one who donates and the recipient. Even if your organization doesn't receive donations, perhaps you can be the one to give them or to buy from someone who is.

    Vote for these beautiful dogs here.
    Abigail & Iris
    Abigail & Iris

    Monday, May 1, 2017

    leadership dot #1795: sitting

    A teleclass I attended featured a speaker from New Zealand. Before she began about her topic, she shared some of the pride she has for her homeland, including their love of sport. The tidbit that was most fascinating to me was that the New Zealanders intentionally chose sports where the athlete was sitting down -- and found that they had the most success in them!
    The country's great athletes have come in kayaking, crew, equestrian and sailing...all "sitting" sports.
    I have never classified sports in that way, but someone somewhere in New Zealand decided that this small country could not be great at everything, so they had to find a niche -- or more accurately, create one -- then pursue excellence in their narrowly chosen piece of the athletic pie.
    Consider the arena in which you play. Can you rethink the whole to claim a new piece for yourself? Is there a way for you to focus on one small specialty rather than being a generalist? (like the photographer in tomorrow's dot!) Or is it a matter of reframing what you are already doing to highlight the niche you have chosen?
    Use today's dot as motivation to find your equivalent of pursuing only "sitting" sports with zeal.
    Extreme You teleclass by Sarah Robb O'Hagan. Massachusetts Conference for Women, April 25, 2017