The Struggle is real (and everywhere)

I can’t believe he said that.

Wait.  We seriously have to have a meeting before the meeting to finalize the Power Point, before the call?

They don’t do anything over there.

She’s like, so rude…

Sweet.  Another new process which won’t get executed properly and will change again, six times, before next week.

I may actually be in this same role until I’m seventy-eight years old. They’ll never promote me.

I feel so suffocated and micromanaged and belittled and…well…I’m just so over it.

 

Sound familiar? Sound like where you work?

If not, congratulations on being the 1% of the 1% who don’t have blame, gossip, controlling ‘managers’ as opposed to dynamic, compassionate leaders, (did I mention gossip?), collaboration overload, doubt, and fear running wild in your organization, group, team, company, or community.

I don’t have actual, empirical PhD-level research to prove my “1% of the 1%” statement. However, I’m fairly certain we all face the adversities, misfortunes, and annoying corporate corporateness listed above, regardless of our rank, role, title, business, occupation, or industry.

How can I be so sure?

It turns out, that while I can’t prove the whole “1% of 1%” thing, I can confidently say that 100% of the people reading this post, working in your company, or living in your home or community are HUMAN BEINGS. As in, they are human…not perfect.

After much denial, self-deliberation, and struggling with it for years, somewhere along the way I realized I’m not perfect either; far from it. I still have to catch myself, and remind that fella in the mirror that while I strive for excellence, expecting perfection from myself, my team, or my company is just a FastPass to new realms of frustration and disappointment. Am I the only one? Or do you feel me? Same for you, I bet…

So what do we do about it?

First off, realize that you’re not alone in those annoyed/mad/scared feelings you have, where you work.

Not only are people on your own team and in your own company feeling those same things, guess what? People in the company on the other side of the road, in that other industry, across the country in that state where we think it would be so much better, yeah they’re feeling it too.

So while it’s always a good look to stay hip to opportunities for growth, more money, more balance, more responsibility, and more of what life has to offer; it’s short sighted to think that all the many issues, frustrations, worries, doubts, and fears won’t be waiting for us when we get to that next job, city, company, or magical place where the grass is greener.

We have a choice.

We can jump into the warm, comfortable waters of commiseration with everyone else at the office.

Or…

We can decide to not only make a difference, we can actually be the difference.

All it takes is a quick mindset shift.

Simple shifts like:

• Being grateful for what we do have vs. pining after what we don’t have.  When we’re grateful, it’s physically impossible to be negative.

• Focusing a little more on relationships as well as those ever-important-earth-shattering-life-altering results we’re asked to produce.

• Unleashing compassion as opposed to holding grudges

• Engaging in meaningful, interested conversation with “those people” at work instead of avoiding them at all costs

 

 

The struggle is real. It’s so, very real.  But it’s real everywhere.  That’s life.  We all face it. And we all have a choice as to how we go about navigating it.

Choose wisely, and live happily ever after.

Most of the time “how” we get there is more important than actually getting there.  As my grandfather, Bill Scott, used to say about certain misfortunes or happenings, “…well, that’s the way it bounces, ball-wise…”  And then he’d go right on, living life, enjoying the blessings around him, and making the best out of every situation.

Not a bad strategy.

Have a great day (wherever you are).

Taylor

 

For more ideas on how to turn your menial job into meaningful work, you may like my newly released book, Ballgames To Boardrooms: Leadership, Business, and Life Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed is now available on Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com – eBook, Paperback, and Hardcover!

Order your copy by clicking HERE.

Or visit the #Books section of BallgamesToBoardrooms.com

See you there…

Artists, Generosity, and Gratefulness

Photo Credit: Jenna Joseph Photography (a talented #artist)

Artists

Art of any kind – music, writing, design, or theater – touches us in different ways at different times, but the arts usually spark something inside us. Sometimes it’s inspiration, other encounters motivate us, and occasionally art leaves us in a state of deeper, introspective thought than we were before.

So, art moves people. Before beautiful, inspiring, motivating, and moving art of any kind makes its impact, first an artist must create. Artists are skillful, crafty, educated, and knowledgeable about the work they do and the art they create.

Artists are careful, deliberate, purposeful, creative, and they’re generous. They’re never in a hurry. Quick maybe, but they’re never in too big of a hurry; because the process is meaningful, purposeful, and maybe most of all, intentional. The intent is to deliver inspiration, motivation, introspection, and moving experiences for people.

Generosity

Think about the time artists put into their craft. Paintings take months to materialize on a blank canvas. Musicals take years to orchestrate. (Lin-Manuel Miranda spent seven years writing the 22,000 words in Hamilton – An American Musical.) Design projects take months to sketch schematics, and years to go from inception to completion.

Artists, the creators, spend their time, devoted to inspiring, motivating, and moving people. They literally give away their time with friends, family, or even to themselves, to think, analyze, ponder, and architect the art we get to enjoy.

Not only are artists purposeful and intentional, they’re incredibly giving. They give away their time, talents, and sometimes even the things they treasure the most, so they can create for us.

Artists often give more than they receive. And usually they’re okay with that. Generously giving their gifts fills their cup.

Gratefulness

We’re the recipients and benefactors of their work. We get to enjoy the art they create. Because of their work, we’re inspired, motivated, encouraged, and moved to either feel a certain way, do a new thing, or maybe to simply reflect on how grateful we are to have what we have.

Though, we’re grateful for their work, artists are even more grateful for the opportunity to have not only created but also delivered a little magic for us in the first place.

 

Leaders Should Be Like Artists

  • Leaders should be intentional, purposeful, careful, and deliberate in creating art for their teams, Guests, Customers, and Clients.

  • Leaders should set out to move people like artists move people.

  • Leaders should spend time thinking, analyzing, preparing, pondering, and architect-ing environments and cultures, which give way to inspiration, motivation, and encouragement for their teams.

  • Leaders should be generous with their time, talents, and even their treasures so that people in their midst are moved to move

  • Leaders should be grateful, just like artists. When leaders are grateful, it’s impossible for them to become negative. And when leaders aren’t negative, their teams aren’t either.

Leaders should be artists. The great ones are artists who create and generously give of themselves to others.

 

This post is dedicated to my dear friend, former roommate throughout most of our twenties, a groomsman in my wedding, and true artist, Steve Barkofski.  

Photo Cred: Jenna Joseph Photography

About a year ago, I called Steve with a little idea for a logo for the Ballgames To Boardrooms brand. He was in the middle of multiple projects, designing for his clients, who include several divisions of the Walt Disney Company, among many other corporations, but he took my call.

Steve put his own work to the side, and devoted intentional, purposeful thought to create the logo you now see on the cover my newly released book, Ballgames To Boardrooms: Leadership, Business, and Life Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed.

Steve, a true artist, was not only more creative than ever, but also incredibly generous with his time and talent. Throughout the process, as grateful and inspired as I still am from Steve’s work, he was even more grateful for the opportunity to contribute.

Thank you, Stevo. You’ve been one of my best friends since May 11th, 1999, the very day we met. I’m proud to be your longtime friend, and I’m inspired by your passion, creativity, and ability to inspire, motivate, and move people with your art.

Leaders should be like artists.

Leaders should be like Steve Barkofski.

Have a great day.

Taylor

My newly released book, Ballgames To Boardrooms: Leadership, Business, and Life Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed is now available on Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com – eBook, Paperback, and Hardcover!

Order your copy by clicking HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Training and Leadership

Leaders in any industry, business, sport, or even in communities can learn from friendly neighborhood Personal Trainers.

Personal Trainers are not only a wealth of fitness knowledge, but they also give us almost a perfect blueprint for how to be an effective, impactful leader.

A Quick Fitness Trainer Story

Last week, during my workout, our trainer dropped a dead lift into the circuit training session. Nothing crazy. Moderate weight. Two sets of 10. I was on rep number three when our Personal Trainer, Ben, came up next to me as I set the bar down on the floor.

Keep your chest high, back straight, and push those hips back…use your glutes and hamstrings as you go straight back up…

I finished the set, making the movements exactly how Ben explained and demonstrated.

It had been a minute since I’d routinely knocked out sets of dead lifts, so I needed that coaching. When it came time for the second set, he came up next to me again. This time, as he watched, he gave me a, “there it is…nice.” I rattled off ten straight reps, with the form he was looking for – chest high, hips back, etc.

I’m now more confident in my ability to execute that exercise correctly, and I’m even more confident that my desired results will follow. The bonus – I respect and appreciate Ben because of his genuine, intentional coaching in helping me achieve my goals.  All it took was a slight tweak, and all I needed was a little coaching.

 Think About Your Role Today, as a Leader of Your Team

How is your team executing the most important “exercises” in your business this week, or this month?  Are they delivering the results you or your senior executives are expecting?  If not, maybe they need a slight tweak to their execution.  They may need a coach.

You’re that coach.

Coaching, at it’s core

Every leader, at any level, and in any industry should take note of how consistently a Personal Trainer executes their day-to-day activities with their clients. At its core, their process is precisely what every leader should be thinking about, and most importantly doing, as often as possible with “their own clients”, which are the people on their teams.

Think about the approach of a Personal Trainer or a Fitness Coach:

  • First, Personal Trainers EXPLAIN, in detail, the exercise they’re about to give you, and they also explain how to do it; the great ones go one more step, and tell you why the exercise is important.

 

  • Next, Trainers almost always physically DEMONSTRATE exactly how the exercise should be executed. They literally get on the machine, floor, treadmill, or TRX and demonstrate how it should be done.

 

  • Then, Personal Trainers and Fitness Coaches OBSERVE their clients doing the exercise. It’s undoubtedly hard to do sometimes, especially if their clients are doing it really bad, awfully wrong! However, they keep their hands off, just long enough to observe and assess where and how they need to coach for improvement or course correction. (Just like Ben did with my dead lift form.)

 

  • Finally, then and only then, once they’ve clearly explained the exercise, physically demonstrated it, and observed the client, they do the most important part, which often comes so naturally to them. They COACH. They give very specific coaching which aligns with the why they shared in the explanation and the form they taught us when they demonstrated it.

                                    …and btw Personal Trainers HAVE FUN…Leaders should do the same…

If you’re a leader of people, a leader among your peers, or simply looking for ways to lead, inspire, or motivate more effectively, just model the process of a Personal Trainer or Fitness Coach. After all, their role is to help and coach their clients toward achieving specific goals or results.

And isn’t that the role of a leader?

That’s what all leaders can learn from Personal Trainers and Fitness Coaches.

Explain.

Demonstrate.

Observe.

Coach.

Have a great day.

Taylor

A Quick Conversation For the Road…

Results are important, it’s true.  No doubt the Personal Trainer process and approach to leadership outlined above will drive results, for any individual, on any team, in any business or industry.

But here’s the thing.  Human beings work in companies.  Human beings, with feelings, worries, doubts, anxieties, and fears make up all the teams we lead.  So results are important, but so are relationships.

Relationships take time to grow.  They’re just like a garden.  We can plant a new leader in the captain’s chair, and we can hire everyone to fully staff our departments, “planting a bunch of humans among one another” in order to go meet the goals and drive those ever-important results. We can’t stop there.  That’s only the beginning.

Just like a garden needs water, sunlight, and the right soil to grow into a beautiful, flourishing thing of beauty, people need good, ol’ fashioned conversations with each other in order for valued, meaningful relationships to grow into a thing of beauty as well.

So, sure leaders should emulate Personal Trainers, and explain, demonstrate, observe, and especially coach all day long.  To be great, and to make the kind of impact people go home and tell their spouses, friends, families, and even their bar tenders and waitresses about, leaders should take every opportunity to engage in genuine dialogue with the individuals on their teams.

They’re not “headcount, staffing levels, or bodies”.  They’re people.  They’re human beings, just like you and me.  (…and so are our Guests, Customers, Clients, and Members…)

Results are great.  But the combination of Results AND lasting, meaningful Relationships fostered along the way is what people really want.  It’s also what corporate America needs.

 

Send this post to a Leader, Coach, Personal Trainer, or an Executive who does it the right way, making the RELATIONSHIPS as important as the RESULTS.  One without the other leaves every company, every team member, and every Guest, Customer, or Client unfulfilled.

Speaking of fulfillment.  For ideas, stories, and perspective on how to turn your menial job into the meaningful leadership journey you had in mind, you may like my new book, launching AUGUST 15th. 

Available for PRE-ORDER on Amazon.com HERE.

 

It’s In There. Tap Into It.

I recently participated in the first spin class of my life, at the Renaissance ClubSport, in Aliso Viejo, CA. It was awesome.

Great music, while burning over 1,000 calories, and every article of clothing was soaked! The class instructor, about midway through the first sprint block, encouraged us as we kicked it up a notch.

She was great. She said, “…it’s in there…tap into it!

For the rest of the class, I couldn’t stop thinking about that simple yet profound statement.

Sometimes when life gets tedious and we’re not feeling the magic, it’s easy to get down. We think we’ll never quite measure up. We think we’re not good enough. We even think this just may be as far as we can go, or maybe we feel like this is as good as we can or will ever be.

We’re all human beings. Jeepers. It’s ok. It happens.

But, hold up. Not so fast.

Sometimes when we find ourselves in a valley, all we need is a quick jolt. Often times, in order to get that jolt, we have to do something outside our comfort zones. That’s when we’re forced to dig deep, and we find out who we really are.

Think about it.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re an adult who’s lived a pretty full and active life thus far. You’ve no doubt had some really bad awful seasons, but you’ve likely had just as many (if not more) absolutely fantastic seasons. You’ve come up short a time or two, but you’ve also overcome adversity with your faith, your character, and drive.

Whatever hill you’re climbing at the moment, and whatever is getting you down, remember there’s something in you, deep down, that can get you over the hump. It did before, and it will again.

It’s in there. Tap into it.

If you’re having a hard time tapping into it, here’s a quick Fast Pass – Draw Up a New Play for yourself. Do something out of the ordinary, completely outside your comfort zone.

You just need a jolt, and perhaps just one more step into the uncomfortable unknown.  That’s when and where you’ll find it; almost automatically.  Because you won’t quit, and you won’t let yourself fall short.  You’ll come out on the other side of this season better than you were before it.

It’s in there. Tap into it.

That’s why I wrote a book about all the lessons from our coaches we never knew we needed way back then. We all played something, participated in something, or we had coaches along the way who taught us so many pearls of wisdom. Ballgames To Boardrooms is all about tapping into what we already have in us, what we’ve already been taught but may have forgotten.

When we dig deep, and apply today what our coaches taught us back then, it’s amazing how menial tasks become meaningful work, relationships flourish rather than flounder, and we start seeing and feeling ourselves becoming more successful and more fulfilled in the process.

August 15th is the day Ballgames To Boardrooms: Leadership, Business, and Life Lessons From Our Coaches launches.

Amazon.com already gave us some shelf space here!

If you’re having a brutal week, month, or season, it’s in there…tap into it.

If someone you know is in the midst of one of those days, weeks, or months, share this with them, and let them know.

It’s in there…tap into it.

Have a great day.

Taylor

A Simple Step to Experience Freedom at Work

In 1776, Coach Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. After a fashion, the events of the American Revolution transpired, and this week Americans celebrate our independence…our freedom.

We’ve all grown up with this tradition, and it happens to be my favorite holiday. Something about summertime, being poolside, and celebrating with friends and family makes us happy, gets our minds right, and reminds us what life is all about.

Freedom for America is a sentiment we’ve all lived and experienced since we were born. Our founding fathers laid the groundwork, and our men and women in the United States Armed Forces keep us safe and free, every single day. Our public servants, on both sides of the aisle, in D.C. and in every state in the Union, devote their lives to keep America free.   Thank you, for your service!

The Irony

America is free, but in Corporate America, so many feel the opposite of free. I hear it, and you hear it, almost daily. You and I also experience it.

Corporate Corporateness is a total ‘thing’. Blame, finger-pointing, grandstanding, power moves, and passive aggressiveness come out because of fear, insecurity, and doubt.

And so despite the bosses constantly calling for “results, results, and more results”, employees, managers, directors, and even vice presidents feel trapped inside a box with all four walls closing in on them. With every email, phone call, or text message from a “boss”, digging, digging, and digging, those walls close in further and further.

The actual “result”…the opposite of freedom!

Breaking Free From Corporate Corporateness

Freedom from it all is possible. It’s simple, but not always easy. It is possible to break free from the corporate corporateness of it all.

Ironically, the best way to break free is to let go of the very thing that we feel looming over us, and that is control.

We feel controlled by it all, and therefore we feel trapped; as if we can’t possibly be who we want to be or do what we know we need to do. We feel as if they have control over us.

Let go of control.

Some of the best advice I ever received was the following, “part of becoming a great leader is realizing organizational realities.”

Understanding and being able to decipher that which you can and cannot control has a way of setting us free – mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Take the simple, but sometimes not very easy, step of letting go of control of what you cannot control, and I will do the same.

Then call me or message me later this week or next month, and we’ll continue celebrating our freedom!  (…and in the process we’ll be reminded of what life is all about…and it’s not impressing the bosses.)

How do you break through the corporate corporateness where you work? 

I welcome your comments, as we continue to build and share with each other in the Ballgames To Boardrooms community.

 

One For the Road

I’ve been thinking about this all week and weekend.

The reason I wrote a book is to help people, myself included, experience this “freedom” at work. This post merely cracks the surface, but letting go of control is more than a crack…it’s a huge breakthrough to experiencing more meaning, happiness, and fulfillment at work.  I share this principle and about 26 other simple, yet not very easy, principles in the chapters of Ballgames To Boardrooms. 

I am so excited to share Ballgames To Boardrooms: Leadership, Business, and Life Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed with you.  After nearly 20 years, working in various line of business and levels of management, my purpose of the book was to compile about 184 pages, in 26 chapters, of what has worked and what hasn’t worked.

The goal is to simply help others become all they can and will be, while experiencing as much joy, meaning, and fulfillment as possible.  My belief is that all we need to do in order to achieve this is to simply do what our coaches always taught us!

August 15th is the official launch date, on Amazon.com. You can pre-buy the eBook version today for only 99 cents, which you’ll be able to download on August 15th.

Happy Fourth!

Taylor

Grace, Power, and Money in the Race to Make An Impact

Grace comes in first.

Power usually benefits, first and foremost, those who have it. Sure, their span of influence may be great big and wide, but their true, positive impact is usually limited to a select few who they deem worthy of receiving it. And that impact usually comes at a cost, as leaders obsessed with power (specifically their own power) have requirements for those looking to gain their favor.

Money has its benefits, and with it we can buy stuff. For all the things money can buy, there are a few important things money cannot buy, like true love, quality time, and pure, unadulterated happiness. Focusing on the money, all the money, and nothing but the money results in missing out on some of the best times, the deepest loves, and that elusive place where happiness really lives. It’s somewhere between Contentment and Patience, on the corner of Selflessness and Compassion.

But What About Grace?

Grace is synonymous with words like kindness, courtesy, elegance, poise, finesse, nimbleness, and attractiveness, among many, many other qualities. These are the qualities of a Leader worthy of following.

Grace not only comes in first, in the “race for making the most impact”, it also comes in the first place.

For example, before people in power or those with money were granted said power or money, the grace of someone else came first; and it was that grace which helped usher them into power and/or allowed them to have money.

The best part about grace is by definition, it’s free. When extended to others, the way it’s meant to be extended, there is no charge. It costs nothing, but grace always adds something – value, in one way, shape, form, or fashion – as it’s received on the other end.

Power and Money, they’re not always bad. It just depends on what Leaders choose to do with the power and/or money they accrue.

The Refreshing Leader, Rare but Beautiful

For example, isn’t it refreshing when Leaders use their power and money FOR THE BENEFIT OF OTHER PEOPLE, as opposed to using people for their own power and money accumulation?

It’s rare, but when it happens, it’s a beautiful thing, and those are the people we follow, because their grace is far more attractive than their power, money, and all that tends to come along with it.

Who would you rather follow – Leaders obsessed with their own power or money? Or Leaders who make it about you? – your growth, your success, your forgiveness, and your feelings.

Better yet, who do you want to be?

Easy choice. Grace wins every time.

Share your comments and thoughts, as we continue to form this Ballgames To Boardrooms community. We’d be interested to hear about illustrations and examples of great leadership in your lives, and most importantly, what makes those great leaders GREAT.

               We’re LIVE on Amazon.com!

Ballgames To Boardrooms: The Community is Growing, thanks to you!  Thank you!

Also, please share this post and this website to your friends, family, colleagues, and even your own leaders if you find it valuable.  I’ve added a new email subscription on the home page of BallgamesToBoardrooms.com, for anyone interested in receiving these posts, conveniently via email! 

Stop by the home page here, to subscribe.  I look forward to connecting!

Pre-Buy the eBook, Ballgames To Boardrooms: Leadership, Business, and Life Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed here! 

It’s LIVE on Amazon.com

You’ll be able to pre-order the print version on Amazon later this summer.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Watching, Learning From, and Loving My Best Man

The easiest decision I ever made was to ask my wife to marry me.

The second easiest decision I ever made was to ask my Dad to be my Best Man.

I’ve watched him all my life, and learned most of what I know to this day from my observations.

I love it all.

Among so many little nuggets, tid bits, and pearls of “Dad wisdom”, probably the most important things I’ve learned are:

  • Work Hard, but get home in time for dinner

  • Have Fun

  • Listen!

  • Love God and Love People

Dad sets out (always has) to crush it at his job, in his career, and in the community back home, in Grayson, KY. But he’s always home in time for dinner (and always was growing up.) Even if he went back to the office late at night to read, prepare, or do whatever lawyers do, he never missed quality time at home at the kitchen table with us, and he sure never missed our basketball games.

As hard as he works (and has worked), he has no shortage of FUN. Growing up I always took note of Dad’s ability to make people laugh, add levity to even the most dramatic and “serious situations”, and make sure people around him had FUN. He also values and appreciates time away with family and friends – i.e. – VACATION, TRAVELING, and all-things-SUMMER! Perhaps this is why I love pretty much all of the above, to this day, as an adult.

He has to do his fair share of consulting and sharing advice, as an attorney, but his entire life he’s had to listen to people – his clients, his friends, and his family (throughout my progression from adolescence into adulthood, many, many hours spent listening to me go on and on and on and on about fill-in-the-blank topic – work, career, or how I could coach the Kentucky Wildcats better than Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith, or Coach Cal…and most certainly better than Billy Gillespie…)

Every Sunday morning, growing up, I watched my Dad at church. Whether it was rolling in his Sunday best, passing the offering plate to each aisle, and/or giving the prayer before communion, I watched, listened, and loved every minute of my Dad’s faith in God as well as his love and compassion for people.

Always loved watching him become a great lawyer, but I never wanted to be one!

I’ve messed up so many times in my life – personally and professionally. I used to spend (or waste) so much time, energy, and mental capacity obsessed with being perfect – making straight A’s, not turning the ball over as the Point Guard (um…big fail there…), and ultimately nailing it in every job, every life circumstance, or opportunity.

However, Dad told me once, “perfect is the enemy of ‘best’…if you’re always trying to be perfect, you’ll never do your best…

That took the pressure off then, and still reminds me to relax and enjoy the ride, today.

My Dad is not only my best man, but the principles by which he lives, loves, and ultimately teaches others are some of the best pieces of advice any leader, in any industry, could apply to their day to day lives at work and at home.

For leaders or those aspiring for leadership roles, perhaps the most important questions to ask ourselves are:

If people are watching us, what are they learning?

Do they love what they see?

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads, especially my Dad, the best man I know!

Taylor

Related Post:

I Wanted To Be Like Him

 

 

Make The Extra Pass – Worth A Look Back to A Classic, 20 Years Ago

Twenty years ago, almost to the day, we got more than a highlight.  It was both an instant classic and continues to be a constant reminder of a timeless classic, the ability and presence of mind to make the extra pass.

Setting The Stage

It was Game 6 in the 1997 NBA Championship Series. The Chicago Bulls were up three games to two on the Utah Jazz. The Bulls had won the championship in 1991, 1992, and 1993, of course. The Houston Rockets won it in 1994 and 1995, in large part, because Michael Jordan retired for the first time during those two years. The Bulls won it all in 1996, Michael’s first full year back from retirement. Now, here they were on the world’s biggest basketball stage in early June with a chance to win it all for the fifth time in seven seasons.

Tie game, 86 to 86, coming out of a timeout, everybody on the planet knew who was getting the ball.  MJ.  Michael Jordan, for a game winner.  This was it.  This was yet another NBA Finals moment for the history books.

 

An excerpt from my forthcoming book, Ballgames To Boardrooms: Leadership, Business, and Life Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed:

You Don’t Have To Do It All

Michael makes his move, takes a couple dribbles around his defender, and we’re just waiting for His Airness to launch, take flight, and do something magical. He had that look in his eyes, and in a split second, we got our instant classic.

But it wasn’t Michael Jordan who took the shot.

Multiple Utah Jazz players collapsed on Michael’s first few dribble moves toward the basket. Though he probably could have gone up with a dipsy do, up-and-under, double clutch shot, which only MJ could pull off, he didn’t.

He made the extra pass.

Coming out of the huddle, teammate, Steve Kerr, had told Michael, “If they leave me and double team you, I’ll be ready.” Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

With five seconds on the clock, and with his patented leap into the air, Michael saw Steve Kerr out of the corner of his eye at the top of the key. Rather than taking the shot, he kicked it to Kerr who caught it in rhythm from fifteen feet, and knocked down maybe the most beautiful jump shot in NBA history.

It was money. Literally “nothing but net.”

Boom.

The Bulls won their fifth championship, once again, in storybook fashion. Steve Kerr would go down in history as the one who made the game-winner. Not Michael Jordan.

            In the middle of the pressure to perform for our bosses, Guests, customers, and clients, or even for your family and friends, it’s easy to think it all rests on your shoulders. Once again, here comes the need to control, and we instinctively go into protective mode. We not only try to “protect and defend” our stances on issues or the moves we make, but we also tend to become consumed with, well, ourselves. We think we must be “the Michael Jordan” of the moment, “the man” or “the woman”, to make everything happen on our own.

We think if it’s going to get done, we must be the ones to make every single move. This is also a trap. Don’t give into it. Guard against thinking it’s all on you, all the time.

Whether you work on a team or as an individual contributor, remember you never look bad making somebody else look good.

If Michael Jordan, in all his “Airness” and awesomeness, can make the extra pass, so can you and I.

Especially for leaders or those who aspire to become leaders, it’s less about what you can do, and all about how well you can inspire and motivate others to achieve a goal, an objective, or simply reach their full potential.

 

To Have More Fun At Work, Become A Student Of The Game

It’s true in sports, and it’s true at work.  If you want to be great, become the cream of the crop, and rise to the top of your peer group, ultimately getting that promotion or bump in pay, be a student of the game.

Even if you’re not interested in that bump, promotion, or being known for your expertise, but long for a little more fun where you work, becoming a student of the game, in your own business, trade, or craft will absolutely, positively result in having MORE FUN, over time.

I used to watch and listen to my coaches breaking down offenses, defenses, techniques, and the effectiveness of this drill or that one.

Later in life, I found myself sitting at lunch with a Vice President, a mentor of mine, when he said, “You have to have a never-ending thirst for knowledge of your business; dive into as much data as you can get your hands on, and learn as much as you can…”

I don’t think it resonated back then, but it’s crystal clear to me now.

Watch Lebron, Kyrie, Steph, KD, and Draymond over this next week or so.  Better yet, watch the role players who are as important and as integral in their team’s success, like David West and Shaun Livingston from the Golden State Warriors or Tristan Thompson and Richard Jefferson from the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Their “Basketball IQ”  is well above average, and that’s the reason these two teams are the last men standing in what has already been one of the greatest NBA Finals in the history of the league.

When we watch the way Lebron effortlessly takes a dribble and a half, off yet another rebounded missed shot, and whips it 90 feet over the heads of three Warrior players, dropping it perfectly into Kyrie’s hands, in-stride, for a layup, it’s remarkable.

When Steph starts out with a few bricks, missing a handful of jump shots, but craftily finds his way in and out and in between and slithering and slashing through (albeit poor defensive efforts outta) the Cavs, ultimately getting to the free-throw line where he was a perfect 14 for 14; we can tell he didn’t spend his childhood, teenage, and even his college and professional years chill’n on the couch. (He ended up with 32 points (7-17 FG, 4-11 3Pt, 14-14 FT) to go along with 11 assists, 10 rebounds and one steal across 36 minutes during Sunday’s 132-113 victory over the Cavaliers. The kids call that, “video game numbers”.)

We could go on and on about their wizardry on the court and their stats.  The point is it didn’t happen overnight, and they didn’t get this good by accident.  It took hard work, effort, dedication, and countless hours of practice to develop their skills and talent.

They also took a very cerebral approach, to learn and master their craft.

In Ballgames To Boardrooms: Leadership, Business, and Life Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed, I talk about the idea of becoming a student of the game as a sure fire way to ultimately have more fun at work

Usually when we’re not having any fun, it’s because we’re anxious, worried, scared, or uncomfortable with a particular situation.

Back in the Day, Playing Sports

We might have been uncomfortable in certain situations when we were younger, playing sports, whatever your sport may have been.  Remember?  On the playground or that time in a game when you and your team were outmatched?  The other team had that one player who was a step ahead of you, all over the court or field.  Gross.  Embarrassing.  No fun.

Present Day, at Work, Today

How about today, at your job.  Remember when you first started your role, wherever you work or used to work?  Remember how everyone else knew every little thing about every little thing going on with the business or in the operation.  Maybe this was even last week!  Or today!  How annoying and how uncomfortable are those meetings when people are dissecting spreadsheets, equations, and using all the buzzwords – all of them – and you’re like, “wait, what…can we back up?”

Little to no fun.

Contrast that with other situations in which you’re up to speed, comfortable, fully understand the questions, challenges, and dialogue.  You feel smarter, you’re more confident, you add more value, and my guess is, you have more fun.  The difference is usually the level of effort or amount of time you’ve spent mastering the skill, the role, or the craft.

Watch Steph, KD, Draymond, and Lebron, Kyrie, and K. Love for the rest of these NBA Finals.  We should add a new, relevant stat to the mix – QUANTITY OF SMILES – giving us somewhat of a FUN-O-METER.  I think Steph and KD both would have had a Quadruple-Double on Sunday, with double-figure SMILES as a stat.

They have more fun, because they’ve clearly mastered their craft.

We can do the same thing, in our careers, and have more fun at work.  No, really, we can.  It just takes a little time, learning the game

Here’s an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Ballgames To Boardrooms: Leadership, Business, and Life Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed, which I hope helps you on your path to HAVING MORE FUN AT WORK:

 

What does “learning the game and your role in the show” look like? Here’s a quick snapshot. True students of their craft do the following things without fail, every chance they get:

  • Ask questions and when they ask, they listen intently.

  • Observe others – high performers, low performers, and mediocre performers, taking note of what they do well, what they could do better, and what makes them great, terrible, or just average.

  • They try new things, fail fast, course correct on their own, and try again, and again, and again until they’re the Lebron of their craft.

  • Seek feedback from people in various aspects of their lives – their own leaders, leaders of others, their peers, their friends, family, and even strangers.

  • Apply the feedback, making changes where necessary in a constant pursuit of excellence.

  • Flat out execute, every single day, with no excuses.

  • Become self-aware with personality tests such as Myers Briggs, DISC, True Colors, or through old-fashioned conversations with others, learning how their personality traits reveal themselves in specific situations.

  • Once aware of their personality traits, they’re intentional about managing their emotions, tempering what comes out of their mouths, while remaining focused on what they can control.

  • Finally, they know their core competencies, their strengths, and they leverage them as much as possible, leaving others to focus on areas in which they’re not as strong.

Whatever your role and whatever your industry, craft, or trade, become a true student of it. Gain knowledge giving you the confidence to gain the credibility necessary to navigate easily through your day-to-day. You’ll worry less, smile more, and with 100% certainty, HAVE MORE FUN along the way.  (…that may have rhymed…somebody call Lin Manuel-Miranda, and see if he needs another collaborator.  I’m in.)

 

Enjoy the rest of the NBA Finals, watching true students of the game.

Taylor

The Transferable Truth of Love

Photo credit: Jenna Joseph Photography - www.JennaPhoto.com

Truth is transferable.

One of the first things I learned from Mark Sanborn, bestselling author of The Fred Factor, You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader, The Encore Effect, and a number of inspirational books on leadership and personal growth is that truth is certainly transferable.

By this I mean that what’s true at work is also true at home, and vice versa.

Five years ago, today, I went to see about a girl.  (Yep.  I love Good Will Hunting.)

I was living in Las Vegas, and she lived in Seattle.  Our paths had crossed only a couple of times before – first in Orlando and a second time in Las Vegas – and we’d learned just enough about one another to know we wanted to learn more about one another.  So picture it – an “away game” second date, with a girl I’d only talked to in-person two maybe three times, and via text message and phone calls…okay several of those.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I will highlight the impossible possibility of love.

You see, in June of 2012 I lived in Las Vegas, and Jenna lived in Seattle.  We had zero clue how we could possibly fight through the distance, the miles, the separation, and the tediousness of a long-distance relationship.  We had no crystal ball which told us how it would all work out, or not work out.  We just fantasized and talked about how cool it would be, in our ideal fairy tale scenario, that we end up together, somewhere along the California coast.  Far fetched.  A dream, at best.

She was scared, but strong and faithful.  I was…um…yeah, freaking out.

Who should move where?  And when?  And how?  And is it smart, and would it make sense?

Don’t know.  Not sure.  No clue.  And, yeah, probably…definitely maybe, were the answers to those questions.

First date in Seattle – June 2012. And now, June 2017, we’re husband and wife. #LoveCan

The real answer then remains the real answer now.  And that was (and is) to let go and let true love take over.  I know…mushy and corny.  But hear me out.  I’m talking, legitimately letting go and letting the love of a higher power take over.

Jenna and I started out five years ago, living in two different towns, five states away from one another, in a long-distance relationship for just over a year, but each of us had our eyes fixed on the true love of our Heavenly Father, first and foremost.  We took our cues from Him on how to love and why to love and when and where to go, do, think, and feel.

I just have to take this moment to share that love can literally do things we, mere mortals, cannot.  The fact that I was living in Las Vegas and Jenna was living in Seattle, and we dreamed about one day being together in the same city, let alone married, living in California, is on the surface impossible.  But we had the impossible possibility of love on our side.

And so do you.

Switch gears.  Think about your daily grind at work.  Similar stuff.  Not the mushy stuff, but the fear of the unknown, the seemingly insurmountable expectations, initiatives, and ‘long distance relationships’ between coworkers, or even with your boss.

On the surface, it seems impossible.  As you sit and think about it, stew about it, and no doubt, over analyze it, you may be overwhelmed with doubt, anxiety, and fear.  It’s a fight we all share, in corporate America.  Yet the idea of loving people, the act of loving people, and the feeling which comes over us when we lead with love completely changes the game.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

An excerpt from my forthcoming book, Ballgames To Boardrooms: Leadership, Business, and Life Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed:

Your Secret Weapon to Fight the Corporate Fight

This truth is transferable to the corporate grind when all too often the tasks, initiatives, people, bosses, and the deliverables are nothing less than impossible. When incorporating all the strategies and tactics on the pages of Ballgames to Boardrooms sounds like an overwhelming task. Not so fast. Remember to lead with love, your secret weapon.

Leaders and future leaders who lead with love as opposed to leading through fear or intimidation, not only have stronger, more successful teams, they also achieve more meaning, fulfillment, and happiness along their journey. I’ve tried it both ways. Maybe you’ve tried it a few different ways and you’ve experienced a few different styles of your own leaders and coaches along the way.

Love is the only way. In the throes of corporate America including the pressure, the numbers, the initiatives, the group work on steroids, the dissension, the gossip, the blaming, finger-pointing, victimizing, posturing, grandstanding, and the occasional good day which keeps you going back the next – love is our only hope.

Love in Action

What does leading with love look like?

…I’ll share more in the full book!  See you there very soon!

The eBook version of Ballgames To Boardrooms: Leadership, Business, and Life Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed is coming soon – in a matter of weeks. 

Stay tuned.

 

Speaking of love…

Jenna, thank you for teaching me and showing me what it means to love. (and for finally saying “yes” to both our first and second dates and eventually the ‘big question’ 2 years ago, when I asked you to be my wife.)  I love you.

And to those staring in the ‘featured image’ above, our dear friends for so many years, Jenna and I love you all so much.  Thanks for the miles, and thanks for the love…

Photo Credit: Jenna Joseph Photography – www.JennaPhoto.com (we love you too)