The When, Why and How to use 360 assessments as a Leader.
The problem with millennials. They are too this or too that. Just mention the word, millennial, to a bunch of 50 and 60 somethings in a workplace setting and you'll get chuckles, nods of agreement and universal disapproval. They will share stories and joke about how they never answer the phone, or how they never show up to the office, or how they are always whining about something or glued to their iPhone. It seems like one of the baby boomer's favorite topics of conversation. The funny thing is that this way of relating to the younger generation is nothing new. It's the same old collegial agreement that's given people of a similar age something to agree on and banter about for ages, how younger, less experienced people just don't get "it."
The generation that preceded the baby boomers leveled similar complaints about the baby boomer generation
The problem, especially as a business leader, isn't with the millennials.
The problem with millennials is that those in the boomer generation typically start from that place, that there is a problem with them. From their assumption, it's assumed that there is a problem with the millennial generation because they aren't doing what they think they should, or the way they think they should.
I can't stand all of the judgments and caterwauling over millennials.
As a business leader, it's never really the appropriate question to be asking:
The question: What's wrong with them? Why are they acting that way?
As a leader, the question is, what's great about this person, or this team and how do I call that forth. How can I improve to create the results or get the best out of them.
The irony is that, in the 1960's and 1970's, when boomers were growing up and entering the workforce, decades that can be characterized as a mass evolution in the consciousness and intelligence of the United States, the boomer's parents generation were making similar judgments. While the boomer's catalyzed a mass evolution of the country, the boomer's parents were standing in judgment asking, what's their problem, what is this about their own rules, new ideas and lack of principles?
What they should have been asking is, what can we learn from them? What are they seeing and experiencing that I am not?
It's the same question that boomers need to be asking of millennials today. Instead of standing in judgment about what's different, you might seek to understand their perspective.
Boomers might learn something. And, if the boomer lets down the judgment, they just might have an opening to impart that incredible wisdom that us millennials so yearn for.
And, by the way, Millennials are forcing change in every area of life. They are the drivers behind innovation in everything from automobiles, to banking, to dating, to family systems, to social issues. They won't stand for doing work that sucks, they watched their parents do that their whole life. While admirable, I'm sure that if you give your child one gift, it would be to find work they love. Is that such a radical idea?
The most common complaint I here is about millennials lack of commitment and hard work on the job. It's true, some young people are naive about what it takes to succeed in the "real world," but that's been true since the beginning of human beings. Just check the story of "Adam and Eve."
As a leader to millennials (or any other human being on the planet), you will get no where as long as you stand in judgment of how they are.
Your job is to understand how to reach them, challenge them, mentor them.
But that starts, like it always has with human beings, by relating to them as their greatness, relating to them as what makes them special, not placing them in a "basket of deplorables."
My daughter, Gabriella Mary Ann, was born October 2nd, 2016. I turn 35 on October 23rd, 2016. I'm entering that middle phase of my life. The part of life where my potential is now. The part of life where it's truly my turn. I am in that sweet, yet somewhat pressured spot, where I'm about to live my life.
It's the time where the real action of my career is going to happen. The gift for me is knowing that it's game time. It's time for me to actualize all that I've accumulated, learned and absorbed in the first phase of my life.
I think there are three phases of a great life and it's really important to know which phase you are in, so you can make the most of it, the most of who you are and what you are here for.
I'm in the second phase, I'd call it the execution phase which starts somewhere after the first quarter of your life, say 28-40. The first phase is the learning and growing phase, starting with birth and ending between 28-40, which prepares you step into the execution phase. The third phase is about wisdom, sharing it, spreading it and enjoying the things that really matter, thanks to your wisdom.
I love this framework for life, because it allows us the opportunity to settle into the natural rhythms of the human experience:
Could also be coined:
I encourage you to allow yourself to embrace the phase that you are in. For years, while I was in my learning phase, I was always anxious that I wasn't doing enough, hadn't accomplished enough. So much so, that I didn't get to enjoy the learning phase.
As I step into the execution phase, it's a huge gift to know, NOW IS THE TIME. The future is NOW. My potential is NOW
When it's time to step into the wisdom phase, I pray that I will let myself and the things I have done be enough, so that I can work to share that wisdom with others, delight in the precious life I've created and allow love to be the ruler of my days.
For those that don't know him, he is the absolute best pitcher on the planet. And, that is not an opinion. At age 28, he has won three Cy Young awards, given to the best pitcher in each league, leads the league in strikeouts, era, complete games. Basically, he is the best of the best.
So often in life we admire leaders and high performers and think, wow, they are just so talented. It must be in their genes. It's not our fault, after all, we didn't notice Clayton Kershaw when he was 16 years old, eating, sleeping and drinking baseball. We didn't notice Steve Jobs when he was sitting in his parent's garage in Palo Alto, California trying to make something.
We noticed them after they arrived and after they put in their 10,000 hours.
The thing that is fascinating about Clayton Kershaw, and that is most important to learn from his example, is that the best of the best, don't just rely on talent and charisma once they get there.
We see Clayton Kershaw pitch every fifth day, for 4 months in the summer, what we don't see is that he has planned out every other aspect of time he is not pitching. His entire life is oriented around being an excellent pitcher for two hours, every fifth day. To see some of the insanity of his routine, check out this article from ESPN.com.
The learning is, in Baseball or in Business, it's not an accident that you show up and perform well. Great business leaders and high performing athletes, have created a habit of giving themselves exactly what they need in order to show up at their highest and best self to perform their job.
For some people, like Clayton Kershaw, it's a strict 5 day cycle of routine when he's pitching down to the shorts he wears on game day. For Steve Jobs, it's things like wearing the same black turtleneck and blue jeans so he no longer had to spend energy on deciding what to wear.
For me, it's often getting my favorite coffee in the morning, walking my dog and listening to an inspiring podcast.
What is it for you? What are the habits or routines that would have you showing up at peak purpose and effectiveness when it matters?
Watching baseball in October is a ritual amongst me, my brothers and good friends. Typically it's watching my St Louis Cardinals in October. This year, they aren't in, so I'm left rooting very passionately against the Cubs and writing about baseball. While baseball is on the mind, it reminds me of some of the great metaphors and analogies that we can use from baseball to apply to business. Stay posted for some more Baseball vignettes throughout October.
The Professional Hitter's Approach
What makes a professional hitter is their ability to maintain a consistent, habitual approach to hitting. The best hitters are excellent at bringing the same disciplined approach day in, and day out, regardless of the slump they might be in, regardless of how they feel, the sleep they got, the weather, or the umpire.
The amateur hitter reacts too soon and too wildly, pitch to pitch, at-bat to at-bat, game to game, week to week.
The very best of the best in the big leagues, keep the same approach, but also learn to make minor adjustments. They aren't rigid, but they also don't sway wildly. They respond to their environment in a measured way, anchored in their approach in order to continue the success they are committed to.
Business leaders should approach their craft in the same fashion, with a steady, disciplined approach, not swaying too wildly in reaction to their fears, negative news or short term challenges.
Yep, I said it. It's true. Your boss is an asshole. He's always micro-managing you, never gives you positive reinforcement, only points out what you did wrong. You do a million great things and the one thing that you miss, that isn't even a big deal, your boss is all over you.
He can't even leave you alone when you're on vacation, or worse, he makes you feel guilty for even taking any time off.
She's always setting impossible standards that you can never attain. It seems like no matter what you do, it will never be good enough.
Your Boss is an Asshole!
Now, I'm not talking about your boss in the classic sense, like your supervisor or senior leader or investors.
I'm talking about YOU and what kind of boss you are to yourself.
How ever bad your boss is, you are at least ten times meaner, harsher, more critical and demanding than he or she could ever be. If you were your actual boss, you would be fired or put in jail for workplace abuse.
In fact, the level to which you hate your actual boss, is most likely a reflection of the misdirected anger and hatred you have toward yourself.
So, I invite you to ask yourself:
What kind of boss am I to myself?
And in today's age, we are all our own boss.
I remember the day I realized how much of an asshole of a boss I was to myself. It was December 21st, 2012, 1:30 in the afternoon at my home office in St Louis. This was the last day before a little Christmas holiday and I sat there at my desk, frustrated and scared, staring blankly at my computer screen.
I was burnt out, tired and beating the absolute shit out of myself, trying to make myself do something productive. I would not let myself quit working until I got to some arbitrary time of the day where I felt like I had suffered the appropriate amount of time.
When I'm in that state, frustrated, hopeless, exhausted; there is virtually nothing productive that is going to come out of it. Especially for someone in business of people and leadership.
I realized for the first time, that I was my own boss, and my boss was forcing me to sit there and suffer when most people were taking Friday afternoon off to start the holiday early. Did I quit my job for this? Did I become my own boss, just to be a worse, more demanding, more insensitive boss? Heck No!
I decided in that moment to step away from the computer. A good boss would tell me to take the afternoon off, give yourself a break today and get started on your holiday break.
I went and did something completely frivolous with my time: I went to an afternoon movie, which I never do. I watched Lincoln at the Chase Park Plaza in the Central West End of St Louis, sitting behind a group of nuns at the movie theatre.
It was awesome and generous and empowering to myself. I took that new way of being with myself into the new year and my business began to take off. The better boss I've been to myself, the more results I've produced and the happier I become. The better boss I am, the better friend, husband and father I am.
So, let me ask you this.
What kind of boss are you to yourself? If you were being that kind of boss to someone else, how do you think they would perform? How long before they would quit that kind of boss?
This isn't some touchy feely idea about being a teddy bear to yourself. It's absolutely critical that you learn to be a great boss for yourself in order to produce the results you want in life and business.
Start with this.
- List out 10-20 qualities you admire in your most favorite leaders or bosses.
- List out 10-20 ways that your favorite leaders or bosses demonstrated those qualities.
- Create a list of 10-20 actions or habits you will institute with yourself to practice being a better boss to yourself.
One last caveat for business leaders. People that follow you, learn way more from your example than from what you say. If you are being a jerk to yourself or setting impossible standards for yourself with no reward, they will think that is what you want them to do to be successful.
And that has a shelf life. They will leave the team, mail it in with their effort, or, at best, give you a roller coaster of effort, then quit.
Please, for your success and theirs, stop being an asshole to yourself.
Work/Life Balance is one of the biggest buzz words in the human resources and leadership circles these days, and one that I most often causes me severe cringing when I hear the words. Why do I cringe? Because so often the conversation is so surface level, it doesn't address the systemic root of the problem. And by not addressing the root of the issue, it often leaves people dismissing the very idea of "Work/Life Balance" as some kind of woo-woo, out of touch concept with real leaders, who are up to real things.
Here's what Work/Life Balance is not about. It's not about spending equal times at work and at home. It's not about only working 9-5 and never working on weekends or after hours. It's not about out of office responders or vacation days or holidays.
What it is about, is learning to create a balanced experience of life where your actions at work and at home are driven by your commitment and intentions.
So often, people are driven by their fears at work and at home, rather than honoring who they intend to be at work and in life.
At work, people are constantly living in fear that they haven't done enough. They fear that if they haven't done enough, they will lose their job or lose favor. In order to combat that fear and guilt, they work harder and harder. The deeper the fear, the harder they work, the less balance.
Living with the idea that whatever they do, it is never good enough, there is no amount of working that will be enough. This creates an imbalance at work where the drive for action at work isn't getting the job done, it's about combating the feeling that one isn't doing enough. This creates an endless and exhausting cycle.
At home, similar feelings come up. There is basically no amount of being enough. I've seen this so often with parents who work full time. Of course they are committed to being great parents, but typically, they create perfect ideals about who they would be if they were a perfect parent; And then measure themselves by this unrealistic perfect standard.
The result is that people feel like they aren't good enough at work or at home. They feel like they are losing on both fronts. The best it gets is feeling successful in one area and poor in another area. And, it all ends up feeling like a big juggling act, where the balls could all drop the moment you let your focus and attention slip.
Creating real work/life balance is essential to being a great leader and building winning organizations. However, it's not about surface level issues of time off and email hours, although those can help.
What it's really about is learning to trust yourself and to work at creating a loving and empowering relationship to yourself. Work/Life Balance is about creating a sense of trust and confidence in yourself, focusing on the big picture commitments and letting go of the constant sense of doubt, fears and guilt that you aren't enough.
I sat down with Pete Saunders, host of Braveheart Radio and a fellow fatherless son on August 13thto discuss Father Absence issues.
In the interview, I share some of my personal story and how I have worked to overcome the impacts of growing up with an absent father.
We also discuss what defines an absent father, the top 3 impacts of growing up with an absent father and some steps to take if you are dealing with some of those impacts.
I hope this helps you or someone you know.
Click the link below to access the link to the show.
In 1990, at age 11, I sold 106 items in a school fundraiser to win a Super Nintendo.
In 1998, at age 17, I joined the Army, at 19, I had been promoted 4 times and by 21 I became one of the youngest in the entire United States Army to be promoted to the rank of E6, Staff Sergeant. Less than four years later, I became one of the youngest drill sergeants in the Army and innovated training methods that one prestigious awards.
Between the ages of 18-27, I ran nine 26.2 mile marathons.
In 2004, I completed a bachelors degree in business and in 2013 I graduate with an MBA.
In 2008, at age 27, I made over a $100,000.
In 2011, I married my best friend and soul mate in a beautiful wedding in Mexico and we bought a beautiful home.
In 2012, I successfully launched my own full time coaching business and have successfully operated for three years.
You might say I have achieved an incredible amount in my life so far, and yet, after all those achievements the pervasive feeling in my life is this:
I AM NOT ENOUGH.
I could point to every single one of those accomplishments and give you ten reasons why it wasn’t good enough and how I could have done better. I bet you could do the same for yourself.
The toxic and persistent thoughts in my head tell me if I just achieve that next thing, make a little bit more money, do a little bit better, then finally I will be enough.
When I'm enough, I'll be able to relax and enjoy myself.
The only problem of course is that each time I achieve enough in a day or accomplish the next thing, I'm inherently left with the same pervasive feeling:
I AM NOT ENOUGH.
So, if it's not about achieving more, what is it about?
How do you find a sense of peace, calm and satisfaction
It starts with repairing the mistaken belief that our value, our worthiness and our lovability comes from what we do.
That may sound lofty, but I am proof that you can reinvent your relationship to yourself and build a foundation of self-love and respect in order to unlock your own personal joy and contentment.
As four year olds, we didn't obsess over what we did each day, we didn't take a daily accounting of how productive we were in order to determine how we felt about ourselves. We played, we slept, we pooped and we cried. Moment to moment, we didn't question our lovability or our worth and neither did I parents or any other sane human being.
At some point this relationship to ourselves changed, we came to believe that we were fundamentally not good enough and we needed to prove that we were each day by doing enough to earn our value, worthiness or lovability.
You know how this goes on a daily basis. You wake up, start thinking about your day and the things you need to do. You check your email right away and start replying so you can get a quick does of feeling good enough and ahead of the game. You get stressed out when you meet with a client because you want to make sure you did good enough, you try hard before and during and then agonize over what you said or didn't say. You do this at work, you do this with your spouse, you do this with your friends and potential friends.
It's maddening. The best it gets is moments of feeling good usually when you are satisfactorily exhausted and get some good feedback Then you spend the rest of your days chasing that same elusive sense of feeling good.
Your challenge now is to relearn to see yourself the way you see others. The way your four year old self would see you.
Practice loving yourself for who you are not what you do.
It’s an easy concept to say, but certainly much harder to master in my experience.
The most important thing I’ve done for myself and for my business over the last few years it to learn to see myself the way others do. To learn to value myself, my ideas, my insights and my gifts.
The degree to which I can value myself is the degree to which I can make a difference in the world.
Here are three actions you can take to build a better relationship with yourself which I guarantee will impact your ability to achieve your goals and live the life you want.
- Celebrate your successes, small and large. Even if it feels like you are faking it, go and celebrate yourself when you accomplish something. Some ideas: Take yourself to a great dinner. Buy yourself that cool new toy you’ve been dreaming about. Do your touchdown dance in your living room.
- As a daily practice, practice caring for yourself the way you would care for sick child or puppy you were responsible for. Make sure you get adequate food, water, play and rest.
- Write a list of your best accomplishments, one for every year you have been alive. Then, I want you to share that list with the you that was half your current age. For example, if you’re 50 years old, I want you to list out 50 of your best accomplishments and then I want you to share it with the 25 year old version of you. What would that 25 year old say to you about the things you have accomplished? Write this down and post it somewhere you can see on a daily basis. Practice relating to yourself everyday the way this younger self would relate to you.
I consider this principle the absolute key to creating fulfilling careers and relationships. As a direct result of practicing these things, I now lead a life where I get to enjoy my work and trust that I'm enough. I perform better because I'm encouraging and empowering to myself. And, I've found true balance with my work and life, because I'm no longer trying to find my worth and value by over working.
Many of you have seen me posting cool surfing videos on my facebook page. A year ago I moved to San Francisco and started surfing. I had always wanted to be a surfer. Something about the waves, and the board and the culture had always called me to surfing. Here's one in case you haven't seen them from July 18, 2015 in San Francisco.
This post is about finding your stoke in life. The thing that you want so bad you would do anything to get it. Yes, you do have one. Your stoke exists inside of you and it's the key to unlocking your power and creating the life of your dreams. Read the story below to begin uncovering your stoke.
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I arrived to San Francisco in May of 2014 and was out learning to surf by June of that year. For those that aren’t familiar with the Pacific Ocean in Northern California, it’s not exactly known for easy surfing. Not only is the ocean frigid cold (50-60 degrees), it is teaming with great white sharks and has some wicked currents that produce lots of rip tides and dangerous conditions. It also produces some great waves including world class big surfing wave: Mavericks.
If you have ever tried to surf, you will know that there is a whole lot of paddling, falling hard and underwater oxygen-deprived tumbling, especially as a beginner.
After several weeks of getting beat up in my attempts to learn to surf I wasn’t feeling very excited about my goal of becoming a surfer. My surf sessions didn’t really involve much surfing. They looked more like a few hours of paddling upstream until my arms felt like they were going to fall off and then placing myself in a giant cold water washing machine on spin cycle. And if that wasn’t enough punishment, when I got close to catching a wave, I’d lose my balance and slam into the water as the force of the wave held me under water as long as it wanted, over and over and over and over. I'm talking like a 100 times.
I was talking to a good friend, Dave and sharing my turmoils in the water. Dave loves surfing and has been surfing for several years in Chicago on Lake Michigan. Yes there are decent surfing waves in Chicago on Lake Michigan, albeit mostly in the middle of winter, but there are good waves.
Here's him surfing in the winter of 2014-2015 in Chicago:
I was sharing with him some of the frustration of trying to get up on the surfboard and actually surf, when he said something that completely changed the way I approached surfing.
He said: “Dude, You’ve got to find your stoke. The rest will take care of itself.”
Stoke (def): To supply with fuel, to feed abundantly
What he meant was, that I needed to stop worrying about how to surf, how I would get there, how to be good or do the right things. Rather, he said to put my attention on finding the stoke, catching that one magical wave and from there I would be so hooked, so committed that I would have the fuel to keep surfing, thus becoming a surfer.
Up to that point, I had been trying to figure out how to do surfing right, trying really hard, hoping I would figure it out. It wasn’t much fun.
After that conversation, I packed up my board and my wetsuit and headed down to Linda Mar Beach 15 minutes south of San Francisco. Rather than focusing on how much I sucked at surfing, I focused on finding my stoke.
I fell a ton that day and I paddled out to the break so many times that I thought my arms were going to fall off. Just when I was about to quit, I caught my first real wave and rode it all the way to the shore.
There are no words to describe the experience of standing on top of the ocean as you and a wave commune for it’s last 15 seconds of life. That feeling is intense accomplishment, intense presence, timeless joy, ecstacy, inspiring, FREE.
Ever since that day, I’ve been chasing that experience. The call to the experience that was so incredible keeps me going back over and over.
A year later, I can call myself a surfer. I’m catching bigger waves, learning to go left and go right and then back again. I’m in excellent shape from surfing and find it to be one of my greatest joys and coolest accomplishments in life.
There are so many metaphors for life that surfing offers, but I believe this whole part about “finding your stoke” is the best one. And, it perfectly aligns with my philosophy on achieving goals and living a fulfilling life.
As a life coach, I help people get from where they are to where they want to go. For most people, they come to me with goals like: making more money, losing weight, getting married.
While all of these goals sound good in theory, when you think about what it will take to get there, you likely aren’t that excited about going after the goal. When you aren’t excited about going after something, how powerful do you think you will be in achieving it. However, when you are totally stoked about what you are going after, the future you are living into, how powerful will you be in going after that?
In fact, I bet if you look at the major things you’ve accomplished, there was something that drew you very powerfully toward the outcome. Something that got you stoked. On the contrary when you think about traditional goals, they typically conjure up images that aren’t so appetizing.
- When you think making more money, you think more work, more discipline and less joy.
- When you think losing weight, you think early morning exercise, starving yourself and giving up foods that you love.
- When you think marriage, you think loss of freedom, fear of failing and any other past fears from relationships.
These aren’t the things you actually want, just like me becoming a surfer wasn’t what I actually wanted. What I actually wanted was to experience joy, intense presence and to feel alive. Surfing happened to be the thing that provided that opportunity.
Find your stoke by looking at the experience you are hoping those goals will provide.
- How will you feel when you lose weight?
- What’s the experience making more money will provide you?
- What are you yearning to feel in your heart with your lifelong romantic partner?
These are the stokes of our lives. When you connect to the thing you really, really want (the stoke) you are more than halfway to where you want to go. Your stoke calls you forward, it makes the uncomfortable parts tolerable because you know they are in service of something greater. Finding your stoke gives you the power to push through those times when you get scared, when you get bored and when you’ve lost your motivation.
Everyone has an experience they want to have in their career, romantic relationship and with themselves… Your job is to uncover it and go after the stoke.
Here’s where I suggest you start in finding your stoke:
Write down the experience you are yearning to have in the these major areas of leading a fulfilling life: Career, Romantic Relationship, Well Being.
Here are some suggestions to get started:
- Write down a few of your dream jobs or positions? If you are a business owner, write down where you would like to have your business a year from today, how much money, time off, etc.?
- Now, ask yourself the question: If you got that job or created that in your business, what would you be experiencing? How would you feel? What would you be inspired by?
- Most people start with: I want to be married, engaged or dating someone, or if you are in a relationship I want to improve my marriage, less fighting, etc. None of these are what you actually want. You want the experience you think this will provide.
- Instead, ask yourself: What is the experience I want to have of myself and with another person in a romantic relationship? You can answer this question whether you are in a relationship or not.
- Likely you will start with: I want to lose weight, or get in shape, or lost this spare tire. This isn’t what you want, what you really want is the experience you think this will provide.
- Ask yourself: What’s the experience that I want to have in my relationship to myself? How do I want to see myself? Who am I committed to being for myself in realtionship?
Once you have done this, use the experience you want to create and think about what kind of goals you could set to help you realize that vision.
If you get stuck, reach out to me for a free individual workshop. I would love to help you uncover your stoke.