Inspiring Others – 3 Tips to Set a Great Example
All leaders hope they're inspiring others to go do great things, but how do we know? I remind myself of these three tips every day to set a good example.

Inspiring Others – 3 Tips to Set a Great Example

All leaders hope they’re inspiring others to go do great things, but how do we know? When I was in the Air Force, I was always fascinated by leaders who inspired us to do great things. These leaders weren’t inspiring just because they had great words to say or were great speakers. They were leaders who took action and set a great example for everyone around them. My personal leadership style is based on these leaders and the example they set. I always hope that I’m setting a good example for others. I remind myself of these three tips every day to set a good example.

Inspiring Others Tip #1 – Remember People Are Watching

Tip number one for setting a good example is to remember that people are always watching. No matter what we say or what we do there’s almost always someone there to observe it. Unless you live in a cave all by yourself, people are always looking at your words and actions. As young ROTC cadets, our leaders told us, “If you don’t want to it to show up on the front page of the New York Times, don’t do it or say it”. That’s still good advice today. You could cross out “New York Times” and replace it with social media. Remember there’s always someone watching and deciding if you’re setting a good example that they want to emulate.

Inspiring Others Tip #2 – Make Sure Words and Actions Match

One of the best pieces of advice for inspiring others is to make sure that your words and actions match. People watch to see if you do what you say you’re going to do. Do you follow through and take action on the things you say you will do? It’s not just about doing the things you say you’re going to do. It’s also about the example you set with your team. If tolerance and respecting others are important to you, do you set the example? Do you interrupt people or let them finish their thoughts? Are you open to others’ ideas or do you dismiss every idea that comes from someone else? When our words and actions match we set a good example for everyone around us.

Inspiring Others Tip #3 – Share Failures and Mistakes

None of us are perfect and we won’t set a great example by pretending we are. We can try to hide our failures, however, people see through it very quickly. It’s  important to share your mistakes and your failures and what you learned from them. This is key to setting an example that it’s ok to make mistakes and learn from them. We always learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. If you want to inspire others, gather stories where you didn’t do such a great job but learned from it. Share how you turned that failure into success and see how your team responds.

I hope these tips help you inspire your team. They sound simple but take a bit of conscious thought and effort. Remind yourself of these tips every day and see if that makes a difference in inspiring your team to go above and beyond.

As we grow as leaders we start to set goals for ourselves and our team. These tips will get you smashing through goals so you can go on to bigger things.

Smashing Through Goals – 4 Tips to Achieve Yours

As we grow as leaders we start to set goals for ourselves and for our team. This can be a bit of a learning experience. Once we start setting the goals, we don’t have anyone checking up on us to follow through. After several years in the Air Force, I gained more responsibility and had more people working for me. I was the one setting the goals but no one was really chasing me to achieve them. When I was starting my own business, I had a goal to write a business plan. No one else was looking for it, was just something I thought was a good idea. I had to figure out a way to get that business plan done without anyone else following up with me. These tips will get you smashing through goals so you can go on to bigger things.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #1 – Well Written Goals

This is a bit of a review, but you need well-written goals. When I talk with people about setting their goals, I make sure they are clear, measurable and achievable. I won’t go into all the details of what that means. I’ve got another post on setting goals where you can more information on what clear, measurable and achievable are all about. There are other methods for writing goals like SMART, but I like the idea of clear, measurable and achievable. It’s simple and easy to remember. With this method, you’ll quickly build tools and systems to track your goals which are critical to achieving them.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #2 – Build Tools & Systems

Tools and systems are key to sticking to the actions you need to take to achieve your goal. When I was writing my business plan, it never would have gotten done without a system.  I made a contract with myself that each night after dinner I would work for an hour on it. Using that system, I actually knocked it out in just a couple of weeks just working an hour a night. There were a lot of nights that I would say “I’m really onto something here. I’m going to work for a little longer.” That was a system that worked great for me. You need to figure out what works for you. If you’ve tried a system for a couple of weeks and it’s not working, don’t be afraid to reevaluate. Maybe throw that system out and try something new to help you get to your goals.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #3 – Track Your Progress

Everyone talks about this, everyone hears about it, we all know we need to do it. It’s one of the things that often doesn’t get done. Tracking your goals doesn’t need to be elaborate. It just needs to be appropriate for what you’re trying to do. In the video, I show you how I’m tracking my social media audience goals this year. You want to make tracking easy. If you can find there’s a data out there already, like social media platform analytics, use it. I’m just bringing that data together to create a snapshot to see how I’m doing. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel if someone’s already collecting the data. When using other people’s data, it probably will not answer your questions directly. You may have to pull in different sources of data and make some assumptions to apply it to your goals.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #4 – Assess and Adjust

Tracking your progress is useless unless you use the data and conclusions to assess your progress and adjust. Each month I assess if I achieved my social media goals. If I didn’t, I’ll decide what changes to make to meet those goals next month. When it comes to adjusting, you may decide you need to adjust your goal because it was too lofty. That’s a reasonable approach, but consider adjusting your actions in the future to reach that goal. That can be a little bit of an iterative process. As you continue to assess, take some different actions or increase the intensity on your actions.

So there are your four tips for smashing through goals. Remember it’s important to make sure that your goals are well written, that clear, measurable and achievable. Build tools and systems that help you follow through on those goals. Track your progress to see if the tools and systems you’ve built are working. Look for trends the data, assess and adjust. Instead of changing or throwing out your goal, adjust where you’re putting your effort instead of making radical changes to your goals or your life plan.

So many of us are hoping for that opportunity that will supercharge our lives and careers, but business opportunities aren’t usually just handed to us.

Business Opportunities – 4 Tips to Make Them Happen for You

So many of us are hoping for that opportunity that will supercharge our lives and careers. If we can just get one shot, we’ll be able to achieve our goals. That’s not how opportunities really work though. Business opportunities or opportunities in other aspects of our lives aren’t usually just handed to us. We often have to recognize opportunities in their infancy and grow them before we can take advantage of them. Taking small steps to pursue an opportunity gives far better results than waiting for something to fall into our lap.

Business Opportunities Tip #1 – Keep Your Eyes Open

Maybe the biggest challenge with taking advantage of opportunities is recognizing that they’re out there. Opportunities are happening every day but they might be passing right by us because we’re not looking. Most really great opportunities start out as a tiny observation of something that could be done a little better. They start to grow inside us until we recognize that there’s something great there. One of the big challenges with opportunities is that they don’t always look like a benefit at first. That new job in a new city or 6-month overseas trip can be a little intimidating. That nervousness is a good sign that seizing the day can bring fulfillment and satisfaction.

Business Opportunities Tip #2 – Do the Homework

Before jumping in, do some research. Find out about the fundamentals of the industry if you don’t already know them. Identify who this opportunity benefits and who you might be in competition with. Who are the decision makers and influencers? Who might be willing to help you because they think you have a great idea, but they just don’t have the time to do it themselves? If you’re going to a new place, research the layout, history, and culture. If you’re taking a job in a new field, brush up on the basics that go along with it.

Business Opportunities Tip #3 – Follow Through

This is probably where most of us will miss out on an opportunity. We don’t always follow through on the actions we need to take. We might not call that person or submit the application for the program that would improve our skills. There have been times where I didn’t do the follow through and missed an opportunity. Most of the time, this is because we are afraid. The future that may come from the new opportunity might be scary. It might force us to step outside of our comfort zone. While these are very real feelings, we need to recognize that fear is what keeps us in the status quo. If we give into this fear, we can miss out on those opportunities that we worked so hard to create. Taking small steps to follow through is critical once we see a new opportunity.

Business Opportunities Tip #4 – Enjoy the Ride

By now we all know that nothing ever goes exactly how we plan. It’s frustrating, but it also lets the world surprise us in ways we never thought possible. Opportunities morph and change and almost never turn out to be what we thought they would be in the beginning. Trying to control an opportunity and force it into what we think it should be leads to limited results. We get better results by flowing with the opportunity and appreciating the new ideas and skills we are learning. Appreciating the journey that comes from a new opportunity will be far more satisfying and fulfilling than the outcome itself.

If you’re waiting for that great opportunity to come your way, try these four tips to see if you can make your own. Keep your eyes open for those tiny little chances to solve a problem or take on a new role. Once you see that tiny spark, fan it into a flame by doing some research and following up. Most importantly, enjoy the experience as you try something new. Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly as you hoped, chances are this one opportunity will open several other doors for you to take a chance on too!

We all like to feel safe. Sometimes that desire keeps us where we’re comfortable. Often, we need to get out of our comfort zone to achieve our goals.

Comfort Zone – 4 Tips to Step Out of Yours

We all like to feel safe. Sometimes that desire to feel safe keeps us where we’re comfortable. Often, we need to get out of our comfort zone to achieve our goals. Sometimes I take a long time to get push past what is comfortable for me. Whenever I start a new job or activity I spend much more time watching and listening than participating. It really frustrates me sometimes.

When I was in my early twenties, I read some of the Clive Cussler books and wanted to scuba dive. I wanted to explore shipwrecks, take pictures and see the world in a new way, but was cautious moving forward. I realize now that scuba diving was out of my comfort zone. The good news is, I found ways to get past it. Now I love diving, even though I don’t do it as much as I would like to.

Comfort Zone Tip #1 – Ask Yourself “Why?”

If you find yourself not doing something you know you want to do, ask yourself why? Some of it is just basic human nature, whether it’s part of our natural personality or learned behavior. In ancient times, taking risks could result in injury or death. Even in the modern world, proposing a new idea could subject us to criticism or other social consequences.

So ask yourself, is there real life-and-limb danger and are there ways I can mitigate it? There are many exciting pastimes like skydiving, rock climbing, scuba diving that people do every day successfully. They find ways to manage the risk in those activities. So what are the real risks and how can you reduce them to make it safe and fun?

What about social consequences.? You may not think that there would be social consequences to scuba diving, but what if your family doesn’t approve? Someone you care about might feel it’s too dangerous. Even if you’ve done your homework, you may have to alleviate their fears. Share with them the research you’ve done to mitigate the risk.

If a new idea or activity excites you, but you’re holding back, ask yourself why? Address those reasons rationally and objectively. Not convinced to step out of your comfort zone yet? That’s what our other tips are for.

Comfort Zone Tip #2 – Take Just One Step

Next, take just one step forward, even if it’s a small one. I’ll stick with my scuba diving example. At this time in my life, my family came to California to visit me. One day we went to Catalina Island. For some reason, while they were looking in a shop I stepped into the dive shop next door. I started looking at some of the equipment and got to chat with one of the guys in the shop. He shared a lot of information and told me about the material in scuba certification courses. The internet was still pretty new back in these days so there wasn’t a lot you could search for then. I took a couple more trips to dive shops before I signed up, but that step helped me out of my comfort zone.

Comfort Zone Tip #3 – Build a Team

Don’t try to get out of your comfort zone alone. Find friends interested in the same activities. Build a team to help encourage each other to step out of your comfort zones. You can support each other, learn from each other and talk about what makes you nervous. Working as a team and supporting each other’s goals is one of the best ways to get over that fear that keeps you from getting out of your comfort zone.

Comfort Zone Tip #4 – Try It Someone Else’s Way

The last tip is to just try things someone else’s way, just once, and see how it goes. The people who really care about us are always giving us advice because to help us succeed. We may not want that advice. We may not think it’s the right thing to do, but sometimes it’s best to just give it a try. This is helpful if we’re not making progress on a goal and don’t realize we’re stuck in our comfort zone. I know how hard it is to follow through on this one. I catch myself all the time not taking other people’s advice so don’t feel bad if you experience some resistance to this one. Testing out the advice that other people give us, just once, can help us realize we have been holding back and can open new doors that we didn’t even know were there.

So now you’ve got 4 new tools to use when you feel like you’re not moving forward on something and not sure why. Whether you’re looking into scuba diving, or not making progress on your career like you envisioned, it could be because you’re stuck in your comfort zone and don’t even know it. Give these tips a try this week when you’re making decisions and see if they help you step out of your comfort zone!

We all made it through another year! The upcoming holidays are a great time for looking back at our successes and the lessons we learned in 2016. It’s also a great time to think about the new adventures we want to embark on in 2017. In this month’s challenge we’ll get you looking back at the past in a positive way. We'll also get you looking to the future in a way that will help you take action.

Looking Back & Looking Forward

We all made it through another year! The upcoming holidays are a great time for looking back at our successes and the lessons we learned in 2016. It’s also a great time to think about the new adventures we want to embark on in 2017. In this month’s challenge we’ll get you looking back at the past in a positive way. We’ll also get you looking to the future in a way that will help you take action.

Looking Back – December Challenge Part 1

Are you ready for this month’s challenge? Of course you are! Part 1 is about looking back over the course of the past year. Our goal with this part is to look back in a reflective way, but not get trapped in the past. We don’t want to dwell on the negative things that happened. Rather we want to focus on what we achieved and what we learned in 2016.

First, we’re going to make a list of the things we achieved this year. They don’t have to be big things, just things that you’re proud of yourself for accomplishing. I’m proud of finishing a good part of my MBA program and of strategic partnerships that I’ve made. I’m also really proud of the workshops I’ve done and the people we’ve helped all year-long. Big or small, it’s important to acknowledge ourselves for the progress we’ve made over the course of the year.

Next, let’s make a list of the things we’ve learned this year. These can be lessons about business, other people in our lives or even about ourselves. I learned how some of the things I do affect my relationships. I also learned that I can’t be afraid to ask for things, whether that is help for a project or bringing in a new client. Again, these don’t need to be life-altering revelations. We just want a list of what we’ve learned and how those lessons can serve us in the future.

Looking Forward – December Challenge Part 2

Now, let’s look at what you’d like to take a shot at in 2017! Part 2 of our challenge is to make a list of the things we’d like to achieve in 2017. They don’t need to be grand ideas or anything that’s going to change the world in a major way. We’re want to get excited about what we’d like to achieve next year. One of my goals is to get more involved in the community here in Las Vegas and meet more entrepreneurs.

Now that you’ve got your list of things to do in 2017, there is one more extra credit challenge for you. A lot of people make New Year’s Resolutions this time of year, but they can be hard to stick to. Challenge yourself to start on one item your list. Come up with at least three action steps you can take starting today to get you closer to that goal. If you start right away, you’ll be that much closer to achieving it when 2017 gets here.

It’s been a great year so far! We should all look forward to spending some downtime with friends and family for the upcoming holidays. This is a great time for looking back at the positive things that happened in 2016 and looking forward to the ways we want to challenge ourselves in 2017. Starting on those challenges today will bring the benefits to us even sooner!

We all face resistance from our ego to some degree. We know we should take actions in our best interest, but we find ways to put them off or avoid them.

Resistance: 3 Ways to Move Through It

We’ve been spending November talking about how we can get to know ourselves better. One of the more difficult aspects of knowing ourselves is understanding why we don’t do the things we should do in order to achieve our goals. We all face resistance like this to some degree. We know we should take actions in our best interest, but we find ways to put them off or avoid them.

The main reason we resist doing the things that we know will improve our lives is that our ego gets in the way. Our ego likes when we do things that are safe and when we stay in our comfort zone. When we experience resistance, that’s our ego trying to protect us from the scary things that are out there in the unknown. There are times when that serves us well, but there are also times when it holds us back.

Recognizing Resistance

Last month we talked about our fears and how we can understand and embrace that fear to take action. Recognizing resistance works much the same way, except that many times we don’t even know that we are resisting. We may make excuses that we don’t have time to do the things that we know will benefit us. Or we may convince ourselves that it’s not that important. Sometimes we tell ourselves that we’re thinking it through so that we can do it the best way possible.  When we find ourselves making excuses and avoiding action, it’s a sign that we might be resisting.

Resistance: Action Steps

Once we realize we are resisting taking an important step, we can take action to move through it. First, some self-reflection can help us find the source of our resistance. Find a quiet place to sit, close your eyes and ask yourself “what is it that I’m resisting?” It’s important not to try to answer that question with our minds. Our minds and our egos are the parts of us that have been preventing us from taking action. We need to listen to what our bodies, our hearts and the universe are trying to tell us. And it’s okay if an answer doesn’t come to us immediately. Doing this exercise regularly can help those answers come to us later on.

Recognizing what we’re resisting is an important first step, but that alone won’t motivate us to take decisive action. Our ego will take steps to keep us from stepping out of our comfort zone. To make our ego feel more at ease with taking action, we can start by taking very small steps. This will help build a sense of familiarity. Our ego will gradually get used to these new steps and will become more comfortable with each one. If you find yourself ready to take a big step and are excited to take action, it sounds like you’re moving in the right direction through resistance. If the feeling of resistance ever comes back, try taking smaller steps again to keep moving forward.

One thing we can be sure of is that as we move through resistance we will make some mistakes.   Our egos will use this to push back and tell us “I told you we shouldn’t try this.” Whenever we try something new, we need to approach it with the concept of “Beginner’s Mind”. Everyone who is truly great at something had to start at the beginning and had failures along the way. We shouldn’t think of ourselves any differently. When we have a setback, we can remind ourselves that we are still learning.

Resistance: Next Steps

Resistance is a natural part of our lives as human beings. Our egos are always trying to protect us from the unknown and keep us from taking risks. Ego isn’t great at telling the difference between unnecessary risks and calculated risks that can bring us great rewards. Deliberate self-reflection can help us cut through the excuses our ego makes and really understand what we are resisting. We can make our ego feel better by taking small steps and accepting that we’ll make mistakes. No matter what you may be resisting, remember you’re not alone and that we all feel resistance sometimes.

Lately we’ve heard a lot about how practicing gratitude can benefit our lives as well as those around us. I know from personal experience that being grateful for the things we have can be difficult. It’s hard to focus on gratitude when we’re overwhelmed with everything that life throws at us. That’s why it’s important to bring gratitude to the front of our mind with a daily practice. Making time for this practice and will help us develop a strong habit until it's second nature to us.

Practicing Gratitude

Thanksgiving is coming up this week and we all have a lot to be thankful for. Personally I’m thankful for my family, my friends, the great people I get to partner with on business ventures, and the nice life I have here in Las Vegas. Lately we’ve heard a lot about how practicing gratitude can benefit our lives as well as those around us. I know from personal experience that being grateful for the things we have can be difficult. It’s hard to focus on gratitude when we’re overwhelmed with everything that life throws at us. That’s why it’s important to bring gratitude to the front of our mind with a daily practice. Making time for this practice and will help us develop a strong habit until it’s second nature to us.

Practicing Gratitude: The Benefits

There are a lot of benefits to practicing gratitude. It makes us feel better about ourselves and it improves our relationships with other people. Amy Morin wrote in Psychology Today about 7 ways that gratitude benefits us:

  • Gratitude opens the door to more relationships

    Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners, but showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. So whether you thank a stranger for holding the door or send a thank-you note to that colleague who helped you with a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities.

  • Gratitude improves physical health

    Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.

  • Gratitude improves psychological health

  • Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
  • Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression

    Grateful people are more likely to behave in a pro-social manner, even when others behave less kindly, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge.

  • Grateful people sleep better

    Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.

  • Gratitude improves self-esteem

    A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs—a major factor in reduced self-esteem—grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.

  • Gratitude increases mental strength 

    For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11. Recognizing all that you have to be thankful for —even during the worst times—fosters resilience.

Practicing Gratitude: One Method

Now that you know the benefits of gratitude it’s time to develop your own daily gratitude practice. What works for someone else, may not work for you. It’s important to set yourself up for success by choosing a routine that works for you. Rather than just provide a list, I’ll tell you about my daily practice. You can generate your own ideas from there.

My daily gratitude practice starts just about as soon as I wake up. After I take the dog out to play for a few minutes. I meditate in my favorite chair to get myself in a calm and open frame of mind. As soon as I’m done, before I even get up from the chair, I open my journal. I write down three things that I’m grateful for. Sometimes I’m grateful for the people in my life. It could be something I’ve learned, an experience, or that it’s a really nice day out. I follow-up what I’m grateful for with writing out some personal goals that would make today a really great day. After that I close my journal and start my day!

At the end of the day, write down three things that happened that were really amazing. Since I’m not perfect, I also write down at least one thing that I could have improved upon. I’ve been doing this for about two years now. It really helps me focus on what’s important instead of dwelling on little things that frustrate or annoy me.

Practicing Gratitude: Tips for Building Your Practice

Now that you have an example to work on, it’s time to go build your own gratitude practice. There’s a reason we call it practicing gratitude. It doesn’t happen automatically. Just like an athlete or musician who practices every day, we need to commit to our practice as well.

There are a few things to keep in mind whenever embarking on a new journey like this one. First, research tells us it takes most of us 45 to 60 days to build a habit. To experience the benefits of practicing gratitude, commit to practice through the new year until it becomes second nature. Also, a practice like this works best if we do it every day. If that seems overwhelming to you or hard to commit to, try starting with 3 days a week. Keep adding a day each week until you’re up to every day. Finally, building a habit also works best if we do our practice at the same time every day. If your schedule is highly variable, blocking out time each day can help build the habit too.

Practicing gratitude is a great way to find more peace and build stronger relationships with the people in our lives. It’s challenging develop a daily practice, but there are techniques we can use to set ourselves up for success. Even though practicing gratitude isn’t always easy, the benefits that come from putting the time in are worth the effort.

Doing our homework is indispensable to becoming great leaders. There’s no substitute for taking the time to learn as much as we can about the situation and the people involved before we make a decision.

Homework – 3 Assignments All Great Leaders Do!

All of our lives we were told how important it is to do our homework. Sometimes it was unpleasant, sometimes there was too much of it and almost always we wanted to be doing something else. What we didn’t realize at the time is that all of those teachers, parents and other people were trying to help us develop a valuable skill in life. Nothing shows you care more than helping people you care about become successful!

Doing our homework is indispensable to becoming great leaders. There’s no substitute for taking the time to learn as much as we can about the situation and the people involved before we make a decision. Often though, we face urgent situations where we don’t have the time to do all of the research we would like to. That’s why it pays to do our homework ahead of time. Today we’ll talk about 3 ways you can prepare ahead of time so that you don’t get caught without the knowledge you need.

Homework Assignment #1 – Get to Know People

First, get to know the people you work with and those who work for you. Also, get to know your boss and the other people you work for. Who are they are as people? What do they enjoy? What stresses them out? How do they communicate with others? What’s the best way to reach them if you have to communicate with them? Also learn what are they responsible for and how it contributes to the mission of the team. How does it fit in with what you do? What are the challenges they face in the workplace? Are there ways you can help them overcome those challenges?

Homework Assignment #2 – Build a Reading List

The second thing you can do is start a reading list. A lot of research has been performed on leadership, management and relationships in the workplace. Find a few topics you’re interested in and make a list of books on those subjects. Try to branch out away from books that are specific about your industry, business, or leadership methods. Take the opportunity to learn about some of the great leaders throughout history. The specific challenges these leaders faced may not be directly applicable today, but many of their leadership lessons are timeless. Also, make some time for books you enjoy. Reading a great novel may not give us solutions to the problems we face in the workplace, but we can relax our brains and foster some creative thought.

Homework Assignment #3 – Stay Current

Finally, we should keep up with the trends in our industries. Understanding ideas that others in our business are pursuing shows where our industry is headed.  This leads to innovative ideas that make our company or team more competitive. Reading trade publications, attending conferences and trade shows or even just networking with others can give us insight into what the future holds. It takes a long time to develop the experience and judgment that help us decipher trends, so the sooner we start paying attention to them, the more useful that information will be to us.

Homework isn’t just for school. To be the kind of truly great leaders we want to be, we need to do our homework every day. Study and preparation helps us understand the people around us. We also benefit from the timeless lessons that great leaders from the past have taught us and understand the direction the world is headed in. Doing these “homework assignments” regularly helps us make informed, educated decisions that provide great outcomes for our teams and our businesses!

Leaders are paid to make decisions, but many leaders avoid decisions through Analysis Paralysis. The leader says, “we don’t have enough information” or “we need to study it more." Often the leader doesn’t like the choices available and waits until a better option presents itself. Sometimes this isn’t a big deal, but often indecision slows progress.

Analysis Paralysis – How to Avoid It!

Leaders are paid to make decisions, but many leaders avoid decisions through Analysis Paralysis. The leader says, “we don’t have enough information” or “we need to study it more.” Often the leader doesn’t like the choices available and waits until a better option presents itself. Sometimes this isn’t a big deal, but often indecision slows progress.

We all want perfect information when we make a decision, but sometimes that’s just not possible. When I was in the Air Force we often wanted to predict an adversary’s reaction if the United States took a specific action. We never knew for 100% certain what the reaction would be, but we still had to take action. Sometimes it made sense to wait, but often if we didn’t make a decision, we would miss an important opportunity.

This same thing occurs in the civilian world, although the impacts of the lack of decision are usually less severe. None of us want to make a bad decision. It’s a very real fear that many of us have at times, but we can’t overcome that fear by avoiding a decision. We face that fear by making the educated decisions through managing risk because we can never expect to be perfect. Here are a few questions we can ask ourselves to see if we’re really being prudent in holding off on making a decision, or if we may be a victim of analysis paralysis:

Questions to Help Avoid Analysis Paralysis

  • Is there a time-critical aspect to this decision?
  • Will we miss an important opportunity or face a penalty for not making a decision?
  • Do we have all of the AVAILABLE information?
  • While more info might be nice, is it really possible for us to know the answers we’d like to have?
  • Has the analysis been completed thoroughly and in a logical manner?
  • Are the assumptions, methods, data and conclusions of the study solid?
  • Is there really more analysis that should be done, or do we just not like the answers we have found?

Answering these questions honestly can help us get past the fear of making a bad decision. We can prove to ourself that we’ve done our due diligence in this matter. It’s okay if we decide to wait because we’ve forced ourselves to consider if we really need more information or analysis, or if we’re just paralyzed.

We should always make decisions deliberately and with the appropriate information. Sometimes we reach a point where we’ve done all of the analysis we can do and it is time to make a decision. That decision may be difficult or unpleasant, but as leaders, we are expected to make decisions and use good judgment. We can miss key opportunities to accomplish our mission when we kick the can down the road.

In honor of 4th of July, we're going to talk about all kinds of ways we can tackle winning our independence. Not just our independence in terms of being able to do what we want to do when we want to do it; but winning our independence from tasks that don't help us accomplish our mission. As leaders, we should strive to gain the freedom to make independent decisions that help our team reach the best possible outcomes, as well as, becoming independent thinkers who are not afraid to challenge the status quo when it is appropriate.

Winning Our Independence – July Challenge

In honor of 4th of July, we’re going to talk about all kinds of ways we can tackle winning our independence. Not just our independence in terms of being able to do what we want to do when we want to do it; but winning our independence from tasks that don’t help us accomplish our mission. As leaders, we should strive to gain the freedom to make independent decisions that help our team reach the best possible outcomes, as well as, becoming independent thinkers who are not afraid to challenge the status quo when it is appropriate.

Take the July Challenge – Winning Our Independence!

The first step to winning our independence is to challenge ourselves to critically assess our team and our current processes. Our challenge this month is to find one process or practice that we can let go of or update. When we cling to practices that have become outdated, we reduce their effectiveness and hold them back. If all of our processes are rock solid and don’t need improvement, another way to complete this challenge is to let go of some of our own responsibilities and empower others. By delegating to members of our team, we are winning our independence from the tasks that keep us from focusing on the big picture. A great advantage of empowering others is that it helps develop their critical thinking and leadership skills as they learn how to navigate their new responsibilities.

Tell us in the comments what you decide to let go of as part of winning your independence. It doesn’t matter what you choose to let go of, it can be a big task or just a small item. You could lead your team through transforming old business practices, or develop your team members skills by empowering with some of your key responsibilities. Whatever you choose, think it through before implementing to be sure it will give you and your team additional freedom!

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