Don’t Tickle My Ears

Tickle my ears with valid sounding excuses about why one of our best clients decided to leave us in favor of a competitor.

Tickle my ears and rationalize why the rising star employee for which we had great hope, decided to give up on our company and leave for other opportunities.

Tickle my ears and tell me its okay that we are just surviving, after all everyone is just getting by these days.

Tickle my ears and tell me what I want to hear, tell me words of comfort and console me because if you told me the truth, I would have to face the brutal reality.  And that’s just not very pleasant.

If what you have been doing has not worked – then making excuses or ignoring the reality robs you of the opportunity to learn.  The value in experiencing difficult times is not just enduring it; the value comes from learning and making changes based on your experience.

Don’t tickle my ears, tell me truth – I truly want life more abundantly!


The Battle to Achieve Progress

The goals are well thought out, check.

The goals are clearly in the best interest of the organization, check.

If we achieve these goals, we will be a stronger organization as a result, check.

These are ethically-sound decisions, in line with the values of the organization and my own ethics, check.

And yet…I will guarantee that if you have developed your plan, and consistently and precisely execute your plan, you are going to have someone or many ones that will not be happy with your decisions along the way.

But honestly, that’s okay.

The goal is not to please everyone; that’s just a fool’s game.  Trying to please everyone will lead to no progress and failure as a leader.

That’s because some goals are going to require that people move outside of their comfort zone; this will likely be met with resistance and excuses.

Some goals are going to require that you invest time and money and you will face battles to spend either.

Some goals, well let’s face it – that’s just not how we do business here…

Being a leader isn’t about making easy decisions or popular decisions. When your decisions are well reasoned, well counseled, ethical & fair – designed to help your organization move toward the goal that you must meet – then go forward with confidence.

Lucky, right?

How is it that their business is doing so good, don’t they know this economy stinks?!

Maybe they…

  • Have a plan – and they had the audacity to implement their plan
  • Insisted on getting in front of their clients face-to-face routinely – instead of hiding behind emails
  • Are not afraid to try new ideas – and delved into social media even though they had no idea…
  • Are not afraid to face their fears – and they accepted that public speaking engagement
  • Asked older associates to share their wisdom… and asked younger associates to be part of the team

Maybe they refused to give up, give in, or hold a pity party and are determined to make a way.

Or maybe they’re just lucky.

Need Help?

What do you do when someone offers help? Do you allow them to help? Or…

Do you prefer to be a martyr?  “Oh, no I can do it myself,” and everyone knows that for the next several hours/days/weeks, everyone will hear how busy you were and how much you had to do… “But I don’t mind, really…”


Are you a control freak?  You can’t accept help because no one else can do it the right way – but you. It’s never said, but always understood.

If someone offers help – unless you can find a really good reason to reply otherwise – make the answer, “Sure, thanks.”

If you can accept help, really accept help, you can become more efficient, you can do what you do best, and allow others to use their talents.

Practice accepting help

Addressing the “Issues” in Life

We had to confront him, he had a drinking problem and his life was spiraling out of control.

She had a drug problem, if we had not intervened, who knows what would have happened.

They “got it,” they had to address their addictions, their problems, their issues, or else…


What about issues of anger?

What about dealing with insecurity and pride?

How about the chronically unreliable?

How unfulfilled is a life that is unwilling to confront these “issues”?

Drugs and alcohol are obvious, they’re killers. 

But maybe we need to confront colleagues and friends, who have within them a world of potential, but you dare not correct them, they are too insecure and their pride won’t allow you to critique them.  Maybe you would ask them to be a part of your project team…if it wasn’t for the anger issues.  And when it comes to making recommendations for that promotion; well, if they were more reliable, you would love to give them your endorsement.

It’s easy to say, we’re not perfect, but are we willing to listen to trusted colleagues and friends and make that needed course correction?

What’s the alternative?


Choose Your Battles

Choose your battles

As a young lad of 16-years, with long hair and a loud car – I was a natural target for the police officer.  Driving by, minding my own business and breaking no laws, the State Police Trooper nonetheless pulled me over.  After going through my license, registration, and finding no violations he said, “your mufflers are too loud-replace them!”  To which I responded, “They are legal, cherry bomb mufflers, I just put them on my car.”  He paused for a moment and said, “I said they are too loud and replace them!” “Yes sir, I’ll take care of that right away,” was my Eddie Haskell response.

This was a silly argument for me to engage and it could have only caused me problems.  This officer pulled me over and come hell or high water, he was going to come up with something with which he could slap my hands.  Why argue with him?  What did I have to gain? There are arguments or disagreements that don’t amount to a hill of beans, yet we pursue them as if our lives depended on them.  When pride gets in the way it can ultimately end up sabotaging the harmony of the office, the projects on which you are working, and your relationships with your clients.

For example, on a few occasions I have shown up for an appointment with a client or a prospect only to find that they were not there.  When I follow up with them, I typically will say, “I must have written the wrong time in my planner.”

Now, I can honestly say that maybe once in my many years in meeting with clients has it ever been my fault.  But do I want to get in to an argument over this?  Of course not, I’ll take the heat and reschedule.  Ultimately, the purpose of this is to establish or further the relationship.  Usually, the client is very apologetic and very accommodating in rescheduling the meeting because they typically know that they dropped the ball even if they choose to defer the blame my way.

The same principle applies in the office.  Why cause a big argument over small issues that don’t affect either the quality or timeliness of the product?  A pretty good litmus test is this: Are you standing up for the integrity of your work product or are you trying to show someone how right you are and how wrong they are?

I never did replace those mufflers; in fact, they were on the car when I sold it a few years later.  I was right and the officer was wrong, but to argue the point would have been foolish and would not help me achieve my goal, which was to get out of there without a ticket – keep your goal in mind before you engage in a verbal battle.

Get a “Big Dog Attitude”

One evening I was in my family room and heard a commotion in my back yard, so walked outside and stood on my deck to see what the fuss was.  I looked in my neighbor’s yard and saw a little “hot dog-dog” barking at my neighbor’s house, there was no one there; he was just barking at the house, odd behavior from the funny little mutt.

Then the little dog ran across my yard – right in front of me, within a couple feet of me – still barking mind you, and started towards my other neighbor’s house.  I then yelled at the dog to hush up and would you believe this little near-sighted dog that was no bigger than a loaf of bread, made a bee line toward me in an attempt to stake his territory?

I stared at the dog with amazement.  His brazen attitude defied his limited stature.  He didn’t care one iota about how much bigger I was than him, he was serving notice, “I’m here, stand up and take notice!”

While this little dog got on my nerves and I wanted to give him “what for,” I had to admire his confidence. This dog’s attitude was not that of 12 pound dog, it was that of a Big Dog. There are times, especially if you are the underdog or part of a smaller company that a Big Dog attitude is exactly what you need.

I’m not suggesting that you go around barking in the neighborhood…

…but passively sitting by while the competition, whose  only selling point is, “We’re really big!” cleans your proverbial clock or runs rough shod over you, well, that just ain’t right.  This is the time to get your hackles up, show your teeth, and assume the Big Dog stance.

Throughout my career, I have spent nearly all my time with smaller companies.  These companies though smaller, were (are) well-respected and in many cases leaders in their respective fields.  On more than one occasion, my colleagues and I have gone head-to-head with much larger companies.  These firms love to taut the size of their company – ignoring the issue, notably; can you solve the client’s pain?  We can. And we’re not afraid to say as much.

Just because you are not the biggest company or you don’t have offices throughout the solar system, don’t back down and don’t be intimidated!  Be confident in your knowledge, your experience, and the support of the colleagues in your office.

You know your business and you know that you are part of a great team, don’t act sheepish (or sheep dogish), don’t back down; hell, get an attitude, a big dog attitude!

Advice for Dancing Angels

Price of this car with these features…got it

Mutual funds that invest in precious metals…yep, right here

Copies of the most recent requirement for permitting this process…all three volumes are downloaded

Ask a question, find an answer.   When you want to find the name of the girl who played Zuzu in “It’s a Wonderful Life” (it was Karolyn Grimes), you have it in seconds.  Is it cement or concrete? (cement is actually an ingredient of concrete) “What am I supposed to do with all this Paella?” (It’s fine reheated).

We are swimming in a sea of information. We are bombarded by “news,” and if you like data, you can find data…lots of data!

But information and data are not advice.

Telling me that the regulation requires me to do something isn’t advice; it’s information.  Showing me the data or test results are meaningless, what does it mean to me?

Valuable providers of advice don’t regurgitate, they assimilate the information and consider you, your company, your goals, what you are trying to achieve and then advise you.

You might be able to find out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin – but the real question is, should they consider this endeavor in the first place?

Distinguish yourself – be an advisor.

Leader, Humble Thyself

In his book “Good to Great,” Jim Collins talks about Level 5 Leaders as those who are able to build “enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.”  Collins also points out that Level 5 leaders’ ambition is first and foremost for the institution, and not themselves.

Humble, self effacing leaders don’t seek the spotlight, they seek results.  They have their eye on the goal, not the mirror.

The leader shouting for respect – demanding recognition, is likely to get neither.   A genuine leader does not seek recognition and is likely to brush off praise and give credit to the team.  More importantly, the genuine leader will not linger over success or failure.  As Collins says, their ambition is on the institution and resting on your laurels or sulking over your losses are not productive traits.

Know what you know, know what you don’t know, remain determined, and remain humble.