A Dog, A Parachute and a Kick in the Butt

Betty Feng and her dog Bing once he retired

Betty Feng and her dog Bing once he retired

In my last post, I talk about dogs that parachuted into war. Bing was a dog that was given to the army by 6 year old Betty Fetch and her family. They could no longer afford to keep him because of food rationing. He was trained with other dogs and on one of his early missions over Normandy on June 6th, 1944 heavy anti-aircraft rained on the plane. Bing became was so afraid of jumping out of the plane on that they pushed him out with an encouraging boot.

Upon parachuting out of the plane, he landed in a tree, had to be cut down and was later wounded in action. He recovered and went on to have many missions and save many people.
He saved countless Allied lives. During a second jump into Germany, Bing was sent on a dangerous mission to look in a house. As he approached the house, he realized that there were enemy troops and sounded the alarm. His human teammates surrounded the house, took the Nazis prisoner and Bing became a hero. He received the highest military honor an animal can win in the UK for his bravery. After his death in 1955, he was buried in a special cemetery in London. If you visit Duxford, you can see a life-size statue of Bing, complete with a parachute.

How does this dog’s story relate to us today?

We each have unlimited potential. Some of us need a good kick in the butt to get us going, but once we choose to believe in ourselves we can do great things! We are trained to do great things, but when the time comes, we cower in the corner. We forget how great we are. I am thankful to the people in my life that push me to be more. The world is waiting on your greatness. Bing was just a dog that someone had to surrender because they could not feed him. No matter what your past story was, your future can be great. Live it! Be brave! If you are a leader, encourage those around you to live to their potential. If you are growing into a leader, listen to what those around you are saying. Understand that they are pushing you for a greater purpose!!

There is a great page with photos of these dogs here: parachuting dog photos

Personal Responsibility

200171399-001Well, I am ashamed to say that life has gotten the best of me.  I have not posted to this blog since October.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  Lots of good things have been happening, I just haven’t taken the time to write them here.  But today I came across something so good that I felt I had to share.  It was on personal responsibility.

Kody Bateman, the president of Send Out Cards wrote a great blog. Personal Responsibility, it spoke to me.  So many times in life we blame others when things don’t go our way.  Surely we could not be responsible for doing something stupid.  But so many times we are, aren’t we?  Great leaders don’t blame others for life’s dissapointments.  They take them as they come and learn from them.

 

Is Your World Spinning? sTOP!!

Stop spinning!

Some of you might think I made a mistake in my title, but I didn’t.  I wanted to focus on the word TOP.  As a child, (or an adult) have you played with a top?  It spins and spins but does not really go anywhere.  Sometimes our lives can become like a top.  We spin and spin and look really busy, but in reality, we are not going anywhere.  So what do we need to do?  STOP!!!

It seems that especially this time of year, we are very busy!  We need to pick out the perfect presents and prepare the perfect meal.  We need to lose weight and look great for the holiday party.  We have to make cookies for the exchange and we must attend everything we are invited too.  Don’t forget the added pressure from work, getting things buttoned up for the end of the year.

There is one way to stop spinning. Just stop.  You may have some dizzy after effects but I promise you, it is worth it.  Look at what you need to do.  Prioritize it. You may need to cut some items.  No one knows everything that is going on in your life.  You don’t have to say yes to everything.  Saying yes to everything is a sure way to end up stressed out.  When you are stressed out, you are not as effective (or as kind) as you can be.

There is hope.  You are in control.  Just believe it.

Breaking Through the Boredom Beast

Break through Boredom and Lead!

Even the best self-starter can lose focus, coast and become bored.  We are getting things done but it has become mundane.  Even when we are still producing good results we can be experiencing boredom.  So what can we do to get out of this rut?

Work Like You are Being Watched

Some of us work out of our home.  It is very easy to coast at home.  Others of us have a manager that trusts us to get our work done.  While we may be performing what is asked of us, how can we do more, become more and produce more??  Is there a way that we can innovate and create more efficiency?  If we knew our job depended on producing more faster, what would we change?  Make the change and make it happen.

Use technology tools

There are all kinds of technology performance tools that can motivate you.  A whole segment of the market has been devoted to this.  Some are as simple as using a timer and breaking your work into timed episodes while others involve intense meters and logging.

Surround yourself with people who inspire you

Nothing is more motivating than hearing from someone who inspires you.  Whether the person is a friend or a famous speaker, take the time to listen.  Their words can cause you to be more creative and achieve more.

Breaking through the boredom barrier has to be done if you are going to be successful.  Other people will leave you in the dust and reach the top first if you remain apathetic and satisfied with the status quo.  Don’t be left behind, LEAD!!

Trusting Your Leader

I was leaving the church parking lot and it was raining.  In front of me was a car headed towards me and a man in wheelchair (with a parka).  There was not enough room for all three of us go at the same time.  There was also a car behind me.  As I sat waiting for the man in the wheelchair to cross the street, the car behind me jutted out, as if to pass me.  At that point, he saw the situation as it was.   He was now in incoming traffic and he could see I was waiting for a man in a wheelchair to pass.  He quickly ducked back into place.

Leaders can sometimes be impatient.  I think it is just our nature.  We want action and we want it now!!  Good leadership is not always about leading though.  A lot of times it is about following.

A Better View

The car behind me did not have the same view I had.  I was leading him in the correct manner but he did not know me well enough to trust that I was doing what was best.  As a leader, we must garner the trust of those around us.As a follower,we must trust those that have a better view.

Trust Your Leader

Ernest Hemingway wrote “the best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them.”

Many people with “type-A” personalities struggle with trust.    It is not as hard as it seems.  I am not saying that you should sign over your “baby” to someone you just met, instead work through the process.   Let them hold your “baby”, then maybe next time they can hold him a little longer while you walk away for a few minutes.   Trust is a muscle that must be built in every organization for it to thrive.

Trust What You Know

In World War II, there were a lot of pilots in the air.  This led to a lot of plane crashes.  When the plane crashes were investigated they found no visible reason for many of the crashes.  They were not shot down and there was no mechanical failure.  After a lot of searching, they discovered the issue, vertigo.  As the pilots were flying through the air they got confused and instead of trusting their instruments, they trusted their feelings.  Their feelings led them straight into the ground.

Trust What You Know

When your life begins to spiral out of control, go back to what you know.  I was recently helping a friend who had gone through a serious mental battle.  We took a very simple approach.  When her  mind started  spinning, she needed to go back to what she knew.  In her case, it was her name, the names of her children, her husband and her faith; this allowed her to begin to feel grounded again.

The same is true in business.  When you are having a bad day, your boss is mad and the clients and customers want your head on a platter, take a few minutes, breathe and go back to what you know.

Feelings are extremely valuable.  They make us human.  They allow us to laugh and love and enjoy life.  They  can also allow us to spin dangerously out of control and crash and burn.  This hurts us and those around us.

When you begin to feel your world spinning, hold on tight and go back to the basics.  If you follow your gauges, you can guide that plane to a safe landing!!!  (Then you can jump out, kiss the ground and cry)

Stagnant Leadership

 

Share what you know

If you spend much time around children, you have probably heard the phrase, “they are like a sponge.”  It is an American statement that means children willingly accept and soak up whatever is around them.  Typically, it is a positive statement and refers to learning. As adults, hopefully we continue on that trend and remain sponges throughout our life, but we have to make sure that there is a direct correlation between what goes in and what comes out.  Have you ever used a sponge in the kitchen and forgot to wring it out?  A sponge can become saturated and if it sits, it will sour.

As leaders we have to make sure we are constantly learning and sharing.  We can become caught up in the fact that we are not confident enough or competent enough to share what we know so we sit and soak.  The longer we sit, the more we soak.  Eventually, we will sour.

As you learn things, share it with others.  Try it out, talk about it.  You might get questions but that should fuel you to learn more!

Never become stagnant.  If you do, you will no longer be leading.  As Baudjuin said,

“No matter how hard you work for success if your thought is saturated with the fear of failure, it will kill your efforts, neutralize your endeavors and make success impossible.”

How a Leader Handles a Flat Tire

I travel the interstate a lot and have had my share of flat tires as well as being surrounded by others who have had flats.  There are different kinds of flat tires; the slow leak, tread shred, and the full tire fall-out.  Below, I will address flats and how to handle those as a leader.

First, let’s address the slow leak. Within an organization, the slow leak is the hardest to detect.  Typically, it is the person on your team who is slowly withdrawing into themselves and is no longer engaged. The leader must be actively aware of everyone in their organization.  Truckers and Airlines inspect their vehicles every trip looking for leaks and damage.  As leaders, we must do the same. If we forget and get busy with our daily activities, the slow leak can turn into a flat that hurts our organization very quickly.

Second, tread shred is a major problem.  Drive any interstate system in America and will see pieces of tire on the side of the road.  An outer layer of tread has fallen off the vehicle but the good news is there is still another layer. Unfortunately, if you are behind this vehicle, you are going to get hit with tread.   I relate this to the teammate who unloads on you.  You are minding your business and going through your day and Ka-boom!  You are hit with tread shred.   As a leader how you handle this problem, sets the tone for your entire organization.  My suggestion is to pull the person aside and speak with them privately.   Sometimes, people don’t even know they unloaded on someone.  We all have bad days.   Try to figure out what caused the problem (are there issues at home, is work too stressful) and get them patched up and back on the road.  You might have to address the person who got hit as well.  Tread shred is tough, but if everyone is open, you will be able to move on rather quickly.

Full tire fall out is a tough one.  About six months ago, I was driving down the interstate and a tire came completely off the vehicle in front of me, bounced, hit my hood and rolled over the top of my vehicle.  Clearly, this situation caused lots of swerving and an immediate stop.  (Thankfully in my situation, no one was hurt).  This is the most dangerous type of tire failure for a vehicle and your organization.  This is not an issue with the tire but with the components that make the tire move.  There are times, when situations outside of your area will cause a slow down or even a stop.  No one wants to bring their project to a halt but these areas must be addressed.  Again, I think it goes back to being vigilant and watching for clues.  If we are paying attention, we notice the bumps, the squeaks and the hints that things are not going well.  If we address issues early on, we are able to circumvent serious issues that will derail our projects and plans.

A leader handles flat tires (in all their many forms) by being alert, constantly and consciously checking the known systems and being on the lookout for impending danger.  Following these suggestions won’t always lead to an easy drive to success, but will guide you there faster and safer than if you ignore them.

How Clean is Your Window?

Driving down the road the other day, I cleaned my windshield and I was shocked at how much better I could see.  I was not aware that my windshield was that dirty!!  Then, someone sent me this story.

 A young couple moves into a new neighborhood.

The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside.

“That laundry is not very clean”, she said.

“She doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.”

Her husband looked on, but remained silent.

Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, The young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see clean wash on the line and said to her husband:

“Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her how?”

The husband said, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”

 

It is easy for us to look at people and judge the way they do things.  In business, as well as our personal lives, we must make sure that our looking glass is clean.  Perhaps there is something that is clouding our vision.

As Alexander Pope said, “The greatest magnifying glasses in the world are a man’s own eyes when they look upon his own person.”

As with all things in life, there is a balance.  Some people use a 1000X magnifier on themselves, while others barely use one!  Be careful not to judge yourself or others harshly.  We are all on this journey together.

Moments of Greatness

George W Bush (courtesy of Mike Magolnick)

Have you ever spoken to someone, or heard a speaker and just been enamored by what they had to say? You wished they would just keep talking? At the recent DSA Annual meeting I had that happen twice.

I love older people. My grandparents were very special to me and I loved to sit and listen to their stories. It seems as people get older, they just tell it how it is, they don’t care about your opinions or what is politically correct. It is about how they see the world. My grandfather had dementia and got to the point where all he talked about were “the old times.” He would tell me stories of his travels and adventures. I loved those times, even when he could not remember my name.

At the DSA annual meeting this year we had the privilege of listening to two great men, George W Bush and Rich Devos Sr. Mr. Bush was our 43rd President and Rich Devos Sr. founded Amway along with Jay Van Andel. These men both spoke so candidly and conversationally, it was hard not to just want to give them a big hug. (Secret Service would have none of that!!). No matter what your personal thoughts are about politics or business, both of these men care deeply about America and about empowering small business. It was easy to be drawn into their thought processes. They believe in what I call “the real America.” They care about empowering individuals to create small businesses.

Rich Devos said, if we have only built a company for us and for the money, we have done the wrong thing. He went on to talk about empowering and helping people experience Freedom.

Former President Bush said, “Culture cannot be created around individuals; it has to be created around principles.” He also said, “You don’t know who you’re going to influence, so make your decisions wisely.” He pointed out that if he had planned to be President, he sure would have behaved better in college!

Each of us are given time here on this Earth to create a life for ourselves. Once we become of age, we can choose our path. We can use what is given to us and learn. It is our honor to listen to those wiser than us. It is our duty to pass on the knowledge and experiences we have to others.

Each of us has a job to do and I am afraid that many of us underestimate the importance of our daily jobs. Whatever your job, you can be assured that your attitude and your knowledge can change a person’s day and outlook.

You are influencing someone today, make the right choice.