As I noted in my last blog, through my travels, I have been blessed to meet with people from all walks of life. Each of these encounters had served to reaffirm my belief that the key ingredients to success at all levels is your willingness to learn and the relationships with which you surround yourself. Over the next few months, I will be sharing a few memories from encounters that stand out in my life and lessons I have been blessed to learn along the way.
Let me frame this blog by saying that I have been blessed to meet and interact with people from all walks of life—from John Quinn, a talented and personable tufting machine operator with whom I worked with in 1988 during my early days in the Shaw sales training program, to Warren Buffet, who I was privileged to interview several times in order to glean his wisdom and share it with the members of the Shaw Flooring Network. As a frequent traveler who has logged over two million miles on one airline, I am sure I have forgotten more of these encounters than I remember.
Fear is debilitating, yet most of us struggle with it at various points in our life. Even CEOs, managers, and leaders are not exempt. I once heard that “98% of the things we worry about never happen." Of course I have also heard that 74.6% of all statistics are made up on the spot to justify our position, so I am not sure how accurate that statistic is. I can assure you that in my own life, I have found it to be very much on the mark. Though fear can be a motivator, more often than not it controls us, binds us, and holds us back.
I have just finished a second reading of the book 212 The Extra Degree by Sam Parker and Mac Anderson. In their book, the authors share the story of Jan Carlzon, who in 1981 was named the CEO of Scandinavian Airlines System. His company was in trouble. They had just been ranked by a consumer poll as the worst airline in the world. Last in service, last in dependability, and last in profits as a percentage of sales. (Hopefully there are no parallels between your company and Jan Carlzon’s situation).
It’s that time of year again – the time of year when we make resolutions to change our lives, relationships, and leadership for the better. Unfortunately, this time is often followed by the annual failure known as the “breaking of the resolution”. This yearly “rite of passage” likely causes you to ask a couple of very important questions:
Are New Years’ Resolutions really important?
If so, how can I break the trend and create change that lasts?
Recently I have become reacquainted with a story of amazing leadership. It is the story of Sir. Ernest Shackleton – a polar explorer from the early 1900s - a story of amazing challenges met by extraordinary leadership. It reminds me that during the good times, leadership is nice to have, but during times of crisis, strong leadership is essential for survival of the organization and its employees. Here is the kicker. As in the life of Shackleton, there is usually little to no warning that we are shifting from smooth sailing to stormy seas.
I love this time of year. I am a fan of the leaves turning, the heat fading, and the grass slowing its growth. But the thing I love most about the Fall is college football. I do have a team I pull for, but if I tell you who it is, half of you will tune me out - the other half already have tuned me out when they heard me talking about sports. But not so fast. My goal with this blog is to bring sports haters and lovers together. In order to do that I invite you to join me at the stadium as we evaluate what is happening.
At the end of your career and life, you will not be defined so much by your failures or achievements, but by the opportunities to fail that you were determined to turn into successes. Those who know me will not be surprised to find that I believe we are all endowed with an innate desire not only to survive, but to thrive. You may ask, “If that is the case, why doesn’t everyone succeed?” I believe the answer is found in our response to challenges. Common sense tells us that if success was easy, we would all achieve it. The truth is, success is hard, but well worth the effort.
Of all of the traits that leaders possess, I find the least understood and cultivated is the power of their influence. As a leader, it is imperative that you be aware of how your voice resonates, your actions motivate, and your dreams instigate change that challenges others to break from the status quo and stretch their boundaries. You may not have asked for this responsibility, but it comes with the position. Embracing this can produce long term positive benefits for you and those fortunate enough to fall under your scope of influence.
For a country boy from Chatsworth. GA, that is a big word. Heck, that is a big word no matter where you are from! After spending the week at one of the largest flooring shows in the world, I can tell you that the only thing bigger than the word itself, may be the challenge of living up to its definition.