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

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)

America’s First Boy Band Found a Way to Compromise

Thank you to America’s Founding Fathers for not only laying the groundwork for the land of the free, but also teaching us that even if we don’t always agree, finding a way to compromise is always possible – if and when we decide to do the work.

It’s the season for remembering, and with Memorial Day Weekend around the corner, here’s an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Ballgames To Boardrooms: Leadership, Business, and Life Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed:

Consider how dictionary.com defines the word compromise.

Noun:

  1. A settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands.
  2. The result of such a settlement.
  3. Something intermediate between different things

Compromise is such an important concept, but it’s so much more. It’s almost a prerequisite for any relationship to blossom, thrive, and become meaningful. Compromise is also an action. Without compromise, collections of talented or even not-so-talented individuals very seldom completely transform into fully functioning groups or high-performing teams. In other words, compromise allows for any partnership, group, team, or even nations to realize their full potential.

America’s First Boy Band Found a Way to Compromise

For example, the very reason Americans today can proudly stand and sing our national anthem, “…the land of the free, and the home of the brave…” is because our founding fathers, who by all accounts were constantly at odds, disagreeing on issues, ultimately found a way to compromise. The most famous and perhaps most significant compromise of all time is The Constitution of the United States.

Consider America’s first boy band. Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. History teaches us, the boys certainly didn’t agree with each other 100 percent of the time. In fact, they didn’t even like each other much. This probably sounds all too familiar to your situation at work or in your company, in the political mess that is corporate America. But as Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton – An American Musical portrays, “…Two Virginians and an immigrant (Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton), walk into a room, diametrically opposed, foes…”

They emerge from the “room where it happened” with a compromise in which both sides gave up something so our young nation would and could eventually have things like, um, a beautiful capitol called Washington D.C., and a financial system which has allowed the United States to not only survive but thrive for over 240 years. It never would have happened without compromise.

Think of it as “Compro-My’s.” What we often forget about relationships, at work or otherwise, is a thriving relationship takes real work to achieve.

Compro-My’s and Work

Sound familiar?

  • It’s a waste of my time.
  • This is a waste of my money.
  • I hope this doesn’t ruin my chances.
  • How is this possibly good for my career?
  • I shouldn’t have to share any of my stuff.

Without compromise, relationships at the office and in our personal lives are impossible, and won’t work. This means giving up something of our own; our time, our money, our stuff, or our own interests for something or someone beyond ourselves. It sounds magical enough, but we’d all agree it’s often difficult to do.

They fought, screamed, argued, complained, and obsessed, but they found a way to compromise…

The reality is, it takes real work.

We’re born selfish. From the time you first learned to walk and talk, it was all about you. It was all about mine, mine, mine. That’s okay because we’re all human. However, as an adult, if you wake up each day, thinking only about the person you see in the mirror, you’ll soon be left with only that same person in the mirror in your life.

I’ve been there, and, maybe you’ve been there as well. It’s cool for a while, but soon the lunch, dinner, movie, and/or chips on the sofa, “Party of One” gets really old, really fast.

Here’s where the work comes in: The difference between selfishness and selflessness is often the gap preventing two sides of any type of relationship, romantic, business, or otherwise from prospering.

All it takes is a little effort. That conscientious effort is waiting for you, in the gap between selfishness and selflessness. Fill in this all too familiar gap with compassion and compromise. In a sea of sameness in corporate America, you’ll stand out as a person who’ll listen, share, care, and as the one willing to do the hard work essential to connect and collaborate. You’ll be known as one who cares more about the team’s or the organization’s accomplishments than your own personal achievements.

 

This weekend, when we remember all the selfless individuals who have died serving, protecting, and defending our country, perhaps we gain a little perspective of our “corporate fights and squabbles” to “be right” and “win the argument”.  Maybe they aren’t so life and death after all.

Compassion and compromise win every time

Have a great day.

Taylor

Missing Free Throws and “Guarding the Point”

Once late in my senior year of high school hoops, I missed a couple key free throws in the final seconds of a game. We were up two or three – I can’t remember exactly – on the road, and I went to the line for two. All I had to do was make a couple free throws, put us up four (making it impossible for the other team to tie it up), and get out with a dubya.

I missed em both.

Not only that, but their Point Guard came down, immediately following my awesome misses, did a stutter step dribble move, with me guarding him, backed me up on my heels, pulled up and drained a 3-pointer at the top of the key to tie up the game at the buzzer! Forced overtime. Fabulous. Batting 1,000…

We lost in OT.

Sweet.

I remember that game like it was yesterday, but it was 20 years ago. 1997. On the treadmill this morning, for some reason – maybe since I’ve watched about 17,000 hours of basketball since early February – NCAA, NBA, etc. – I thought about that game.

Of course I remember, all too well, missing those two easy free throws. However, my mind quickly moved beyond those “misses”, because other memories of that night came to mind.

I remember feeling so connected and in sync with each of my teammates and my coaches…even the fans, refs, and the people working the scorer’s table! Every shot, every play, every call, and every trip jogging back down the court after we scored; I looked over at Coach Baker, my head coach. We knew each other’s ‘looks’. I knew when he was pleased, and unfortunately I knew when he wasn’t pleased with the team or me. That night, seemingly every single time we locked eyes; I just knew he was pleased. I was too!

We executed our game plan on both ends of the floor. Guys stepped up, made shots, hustled, and I was facilitating as the Point Guard just as Coach drew it up. Now, I wasn’t like the “Steph” or “Lebron” of 1997 Kentucky High School Basketball or anything, but I mean, well, I wasn’t the worst player ever to grace the court! That night I think I had fifteen or eighteen points (we’ll go with eighteen…), possibly even double-figures in the ‘Assist’ stat line, and a handful of rebounds. I played well.

But we lost. And we lost because I missed those free throws!

I beat myself up immediately following the game, of course. We all got dressed, and headed for the bus to go back home. On the way out of the locker room, I stopped to tell Coach I was sorry for missing those free throws.

“My fault, Coach. This one is on me. I messed up by not fouling at the end of regulation to keep him from hitting that 3-pointer, and I missed those two free throws that could have sealed it.” I remember it like it was yesterday.

Coach immediately stopped me mid-sentence, and did something that I also have never forgotten. He reminded me of all the good things I did.

Coach, being Coach said, “You played a heck of a game for us. Kept us moving and executing on offense, made big plays on the defensive end, and you directed traffic for us. Shake it off. Don’t hang your head. We did a lot of great things tonight. Keep it all in perspective.”

A few of my teammates saw me talking to Coach, and when I walked to the bus, they came over to me with some pats on the butt and encouraging words, thanking me for all the hustle and leadership.

The Point

Sometimes we mess up. We miss “free throws”.   Things at work we know we can do and should do correctly, well, sometimes they don’t go as planned.

Some seasons of life, particularly at work, feel like an away game, getting no calls, with a rowdy student section heckling you because you just made yet another turnover or missed yet another free throw.

But remember the point. The point really is not whether we win every game, win every argument, and make it through every day/week/month and season at work with an absolute perfect track record. It’s just not. The point is not about what we do, but instead it’s who we are becoming.

Missing those free throws 20 years ago, at the time, felt like the worst possible thing I could have ever done. Ever. I let everyone down, and I was a huge embarrassing failure.

L-O-L – really? Seriously?

If only I could go back in time and tell 17-year old me that night all the things he would do, people he would meet, places he would go, and blessings he would enjoy for the next 20 years. That scrawny little fella would have laughed as hard as the not-so-scrawny, older fella is laughing right now at how much of a big deal he made missing those two free throws.

The same goes for you.

When it gets tedious at work or even at home, and especially when you mess up, miss step, or miss free throws, guard against feeling like a failure and beating yourself up too badly. Remember that this too shall pass, and ask yourself if it will really matter 20 years from now? Plus, something tells me for every mistake you’ve made, there are about 72 things you’ve done correctly, successfully, and amazingly victoriously.

Guard the point. These little moments in time – missed free throws or miss steps or mistakes – don’t define us. Who we become in the process does define us.

That’s the point.

Remember, the “who” of you is more important than the “what you do.

(Take that, Doc. Seuss…)

 

I look forward to launching the eBook version of Ballgames to Boardrooms: Leadership, Business, and Life Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed very soon!

Stay tuned.  More details on the launch are on the way…

Taylor

 

My Mom Drops Dimes. Here’s an Undefeated “Mom Tip”

I’m no different than you.  Some good days, some bad days, and some get rained out.  I make mistakes just like everyone else.  I didn’t write a book because I’m an expert.  I’m far from it.

I wrote a book for people – leaders and future leaders; to help people get through the week.  While not an expert, I certainly have learned from coaches, teachers, professors, leaders, friends, family, and especially my parents. All I’ve done is write it all down, with stories, principles, illustrations, and applications of how to achieve more success, fulfillment, and happiness in the midst of our everyday corporate grind.

With an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Ballgames To Boardrooms: Leadership, Business, and Life Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed, I’d like to give my mom some props.  I’d also like to share one of the many lessons my mom has taught me over the years, to honor her on Mother’s Day week 2017!

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

Look for the Good in People

Every summer of my college years, I interned on the Walt Disney World College Program, in Orlando, FL. Each summer I worked in a different line of business in a totally new and different location. The summer before my senior year, I worked at Disney’s All Star Movies Resort, as a Merchandise Sales Host. My shift was the highly sought-after, 5:00 pm to 1:30 am swing shift.

Brutal.

I remember calling my Mom a couple weeks into the summer, whining and complaining, “It’s awful, Mom! The hours are stupid, I never get to see any of my friends, and the people at work are all older! Much older.” I was a bit spoiled because the summer prior I worked at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, as an Attractions Host at It’s Tough to Be a Bug. I loved that summer because I got to work with twenty or thirty other college age students also interning for the summer. We worked together, played together, and may or may not have partied together. To say it was fun is an understatement.

Now, I was dropped in the middle of the swing shift with people my parents’ age, working until the wee hours of the morning in an off-the-beaten path resort (albeit a Disney Resort, but I was spoiled.). Poor me.

My mom challenged me to find something fun and interesting about every one of those people at Donald’s Double Feature merchandise shop at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort. I took her advice the very next day (or night) at work.

It worked!

As soon as I got over my self-pity, and started engaging with my fellow Cast Members and even my leaders, the summer changed. In fact, my life may have changed. The more I stepped out of my shell and into the opportunity to engage with and learn from the people with whom I worked, despite their age, the more interesting and fun work became. Imagine that. All it took was being a bit more interested in other people:

  • How I could help them,
  • What I could learn from them, and
  • How much fun they really could be.

By the end of that summer, my leaders approached me about my future with Disney. I was entering my senior year of undergrad, and they told me they were putting my name into a candidate pool for management interns to be selected for the following summer. I was flattered, and of course eagerly accepted the endorsement. They probably never would’ve championed me for the Leadership Candidate Pool had I not changed my tune earlier in the summer.

Throughout my nearly twenty years working in corporate America, I could always lean on a call to my mom on my commute home with tales for her about this person or that one, this stupid thing or that one. I spoke to her with enough frustration, angst, and bitterness to float a battleship, but Mom had a simple suggestion every time.

It would go something like this, “Well, it sounds like someone is getting a little too consumed with himself. But that’s okay. It’s time for you to go focus on making someone else’s day. Try focusing on doing something for somebody other than yourself. You’ll feel much better.”

That suggestion along with countless other lessons from Mom, has always had a 100 percent success rate. If success, in this context, is defined as squashing my own frustrations and bitterness at work, then, yep, it’s literally undefeated.

There’s no other answer or anecdote. This “Mom Tip” works like a charm, 100 percent of the time. Deciding to simply be that person for other people keeps you grounded. Even though you’re hustling, staying around the ball, earning it, doing vs. trying, and crushing it in your own right, compassion keeps a nice balance of your focus on others during your own growing success.

Crushing it and “playing like a champion” is one thing. However, championing others and encouraging your teammates, friends, family or mentees to crush it is next level stuff. That’s where game-change resides, for you and for them. Give it a try. Make an effort to champion other people.

 

Thanks to my Mom, for drop’n dimes like this one for anyone in her path.  This one and so many other lessons are undefeated…

Have a great day, and Happy Mother’s Day.

Taylor

 

Related Posts:

Lessons From Mom 2.0(12)

Lessons From Mom 2011

A Little Bit About Me, and About You

I got fired once.  So that was awesome.

Thirty years old, with a Director title, making six figures, living on the shores of Sunny Isles Beach, FL, with an expense account, and a 24-foot balcony which overlooked an inter-coastal waterway to the left and the Atlantic Ocean to the right.

Now if somebody told 18 or 19 year old me about this future career stop, no doubt that young buck would have been sold – hook, line, and sinker. So why, when it was an absolute reality did I waste it all?

I was all about me. My money, my time, my career, my status, my awesomeness, and everything – my, my, my, my – not the least of which, my own selfish and foolish pride.

That was a little bit about me then.

I made it all about me.

While that season wasn’t my favorite, it may have been the most important one of my life. Perhaps the most significant lesson I learned was about pride and ego.

While I still fail and fall short daily, my passion is to help people. Instead of making it all about me, I’m making it all about you.

That’s why I’ve spent late nights, early mornings, and many a treadmill session, physically and mentally writing a book. It’s a book I didn’t write for fame or notoriety. Instead it’s simply to help people.

If you’re hurting, if you’re frustrated, if you’re disappointed, or if you’re experiencing burnout wrapped up in the ever-so-tiring corporate corporateness of Corporate America, well then Ballgames To Boardrooms: Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed, is for you.

If you’re a leader of people, or a leader among your peers aspiring for leadership positions in your company, then this book is also for you.

Leadership is simple, but not very easy. I’ve spent nearly 20 years in Corporate America, having worked on the front lines, flipping burgers at Walt Disney World, as well as living real-life boardroom scenes overlooking the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. I’ve made a million mistakes, but I’ve learned about a million more lessons.

And that’s what I’m sharing with you.

Sure, some of the illustrations and stories may be about my past, and me, but they’re all pointed toward game-changing principles and lessons I’ve learned which I can’t wait to share with you. I messed up, and wasted precious moments, seasons, and true gifts from God, friends, and everyone in between.

The reason I do what I do now, and the ultimate reason I wrote this book isn’t about me.

It is all about you.

If one person reads it, and avoids heartbreaks, frustrations, and even unemployment, it will have been worth writing it.

I’m confident, however, that these principles will do more than merely help you avoid frustration and burnout. Instead, they will propel you right passed the corporate corporateness of it all, and into the fulfillment, happiness, and success you’ve always dreamed of.

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

 

“Pain is Temporary, Pride is Forever!”

Or is it the other way around?

Athletes grow up seeing this slogan plastered on the walls inside locker rooms, gymnasiums, on the backs of tee shirts, or even across the backside of gym shorts. It means to fight through it. Fight through the temporary pain; the soreness, fatigue, and adversity because you’ll be proud you did, knowing you fought the good fight.

Great slogan. It’s probably true. The opposite is also probably true.

Let me explain.

When you’re fatigued, tired, fed up, worn down, and super annoyed at your coworkers, significant others, bosses, clients, customers, or family members that irritation often stems from an underlying trigger. It’s pride. When pride and ego bubble up to the surface, you run the risk of saying or doing things you don’t truly mean and run a greater risk of hurting others, ultimately hurting yourself. All your work, effort, and potential unfortunately become null and void as pride and ego overshadow all the good you’ve done or intend to do. Why? Because you made other people feel awful about themselves, hurting their feelings in the process.

A temporary flare up of pride can cause pain forever. It comes in the way of lost relationships and sometimes even lost jobs. You lose the opportunities you might’ve otherwise had for career growth, personal growth and spiritual growth. When I screw up it’s due to pride. I can think of three individuals right now I’ve hurt with momentary pride flare-ups. Those moments of pride have caused permanent pain in the way of lost relationships and opportunities. Poof. Gone. You can probably think of a few as well. If not, you’re way ahead of the game.

Adversity happens around every corner. Remember, how you deal with those circumstances makes all the difference in the world. Fight through it and finish strong. You’ll be glad you did, as meaningful relationships, incredible opportunities, and potential beyond your wildest dreams are also waiting for you right around the corner.

 

…so that’s why I’m making this all about you…not me.  I don’t want you to fall victim to your own pride, and I don’t want to go down that path again either.  Been there, done that. 

 

I’m not catholic, but I’m down with the Pope!

Speaking of “you…”

If you missed it, Pope Francis did a seventeen-minute and forty four second Ted Talk.

The talk was titled, “The Future You”.  As usual, he was awesome, with some great nuggets.  Here’s one, which fits perfectly well right here:

A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you. And then there will be another “you,” and another “you,” and it turns into an “us.” And so, does hope begin when we have an “us?” No. Hope began with one “you.” When there is an “us,” there begins a revolution.

 

Inspired by Hamilton – Lessons From Aaron Burr (sir)

For months I kept hearing about this cool, hip-hop musical. I heard it was “pretty good”. I didn’t get it, and moved on without paying much attention.

My wife kept singing Hamilton songs at home, in the car, via text message, on SnapChat, and Facebook, so eventually I got the point. For Christmas, I broke down, got online and by the grace of God (and my credit card), I found us two tickets to see Hamilton – An American Musical, on Broadway at Richard Rodgers Theater in New York City.  It was a gift to my wife, Jenna. It was our first Christmas as husband and wife, so I figured what the heck.

Cool street in NYC, walking where the boys walked, in the “greatest city in the world”.

Hamilton was as good as it was supposed to be. Michelle Obama called Lin Manuel-Miranda’s masterpiece, “the single greatest piece of art” she has ever seen. I would have to agree.

Inspired by Hamilton – the stories, the lyrics, the music, and the art

In the months leading up to our trip to New York for the show, I was writing my first book, Ballgames To Boardrooms: Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed.

I found myself in coffee shops, on airplanes, in Uber rides, on my couch, on the treadmill, and at my kitchen table, with headphones in my ears, and the Hamilton soundtrack turned all the way up. The more fiery and passionate Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo, Anthony Ramos, Daveed Diggs, Christopher Jackson, and others became with their lines and lyrics, the more passionate and fiery I typed!

Lin, Leslie, Phillipa, Anthony, Daveed, Christopher, (cause I’m on a first name basis with them now) and the entire cast of Hamilton, along with the story, the lyrics, and especially the music, inspired me to write and write and write. Lin was the same way while writing all 20,000+ words to Hamilton. Alexander Hamilton, himself, also was non-stop, as Lin portrays him in the musical. They wrote, and wrote, and wrote, for you and for me.

Their stories inspired me to write and write and write for you. Both Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alexander Hamilton moved me to truly move others through my work in my very first book. While this post has nothing to do with “ballgames”, we can certainly learn a few lessons from Hamilton, which can be applied in our daily grind at work.

(If you don’t like history, then skip this part.  But if you don’t like American history, then, well, I’m sad for you.)

Aaron Burr, sir

Hamilton’s arch nemesis, Aaron Burr, isn’t the most loved character in this story. In fact, within the first five minutes of the musical, Aaron Burr’s character lets the audience know that “he’s the damn fool that shot him.”  Alexander Hamilton, that is.  So we learn right out of the gate that Aaron Burr killed our man.

But the story unfolds…

Dinner at “One if By Land, Two if By Sea”, in NYC. The building is an old carriage house once owned by Aaron Burr (sir).

While Hamilton “plays to win”, throughout his entire life, Aaron Burr basically hangs back, always “playing not to lose”. Hamilton says what’s on his mind, takes a stand, and defends what he believes is right. Burr is kinda gross. He slithers and snakes through his political climb, somehow never really taking a stand for anything, for anyone.

Hamilton keeps winning. He stays aligned with George Washington as his right hand man, the Treasury Secretary, and is seemingly always in the room where it happens when decisions are happening (at dinner). Meanwhile Burr usually finds himself on the outside looking in. In the end, Hamilton is the swing vote, which prevents Aaron Burr from being President in the Election of 1800.

If you know the story, you know that was the final straw for Aaron Burr. He calls for a duel with Hamilton, and ultimately shot him in the ribs, killing our ten-dollar founding father.

So Aaron Burr becomes “the villain in our history…” as the final act in the musical portrays it.

However, after about a thousand spins through the soundtrack, several viewings of the PBS special, Hamilton’s America (don’t laugh…you watched it too), and hours of YouTube surfing, I’ve decided Aaron Burr had a few good points. After all, he did graduate from Princeton in two years; pretty fast. (It was his parents’ dying wish before they passed.)

 

Inspired by Hamilton – An American Musical

Lessons From Aaron Burr (sir) We Never Knew We Needed:

Talk less. Smile more.

Even though he was a little slippery, he did have a point here. I’m not sure if Aaron Burr went to church or Sunday school, but he might have. This is kind of like James 1:19 – be slow to speak, quick to listen; slow to anger. While I don’t fully agree with Burr’s sentiment, “…don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for…”, the strategy can add value for a short period of time. Ultimately, standing up for what you believe in probably exudes a greater sense of moral character. In specific situations, however, less is certainly more.  (I just realized, I may have Aaron Burr-ed you on this one, talking out of both sides of my mouth, but you get my drift.)

 

Wait for it.

Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints, it takes and it takes and it takes…and we keep livin anyway; we rise, and we fall, and break and make our mistakes; and if there’s a reason I’m still alive while so few survive, then I’m willing to wait for it.

I like hustle, and I like going for it. I like playing to win vs. playing not to lose any day of the week. Nothing annoys me more than when teams in sports – pick your sport: Basketball, Football, Baseball, Soccer, Hockey – get a little lead early, but then rest on their laurels, ultimately letting their opponent back in, only to lose the game in the end.

However, the idea (and song in Hamilton) to “wait for it” reminds us that waiting time is not always wasted time. I love the lyrics of this song, “I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable, I am an original.”

If you hate your job today, remember, it’s just a season. You’re still in the game. You have a job. Keep serving, leading, and creating value for everyone in your wake. Don’t be afraid to wait for it. Wait for your next opportunity. Don’t force it.

We all know Corporate America takes and it takes and it takes. It really doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints. People front.  People are fake.  And people take credit and give blame more often than the inverse of that equation.

Just remember, you’re still alive, while so few survive. Be willing to wait for it, and have faith. Your day will come.  Better days are closer than you think.

 

Why do you always:

  • Assume you’re the smartest in the room
  • Write day and night like you’re running out of time
  • Say what you believe

Plain and simple, Burr pleads with Hamilton and if we listen, teaches us “soon that attitude may be your doom.”  Enough said.

 

Your pride will be the death of us all.

So true. While Aaron Burr may have stood around waiting to see which way the wind would blow, as Lin portrays it in the musical, Burr reminds Hamilton that “pride goeth before the fall.”

The same goes for us at home and especially at work. It’s less about winning the argument or conversation and all about who you’re becoming. When it gets heated at work, with the boss or with your coworkers, and in even in the boardroom, catch yourself. Pride and ego are the two culprits, which can cloud our hearts, minds, and certainly our careers, if we let them.

 

The world is big enough…

Aaron Burr becomes “the villain in our history” when he shoots Hamilton. In one of the most beautiful moments of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s depiction of this story, in the last song of the musical, Aaron Burr, the villain, becomes human. While Alexander Hamilton may have taken his last breath, Aaron Burr realizes he’s the one who will pay for it.

The last thing we learn from Aaron Burr is something we can all take with us to work tomorrow morning. Lin’s lyrics hit all too close to home:

I was too young and blind to see…
I should’ve known…
I should’ve known the world was wide enough for both Hamilton and me.”

– Aaron Burr

Who are you in the story? Are you Hamilton? Or are you Aaron Burr? Both have their flaws, but they also have their moments of pure genius, love, and compassion.  We can learn from both of them.

Don’t forget what became too late for both Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr to remember. If you have “foes” at work, remember the world is wide enough for both of you. Your company, your team, your life at work doesn’t have to be filled with dissension, frustration, and animosity.

All it takes is compassion and compromise.

One thing is for certain, people around us will absolutely tell our story.  Every single day, every single conversation, and every single person matters.

How will they tell your story?  How will they tell mine?

Our character will tell the tale.

T. Scott

PS:

To Lin-Manuel Miranda, thank you for the inspiration.  If it took writing this blog post and/or my book, Ballgames to Boardrooms, for us to meet, it will have been worth it.

Best Part of My Day

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved sunsets.  No matter where I find myself, where I’ve lived, or stage of my life, I just love that time of day.  It’s just beautiful, and it makes me happy.  Maybe it’s from childhood memories of shooting hoops outside until that final glimmer of daylight faded to night.  It was always so peaceful, relaxing, and calming.  Even now, “sunset” time is the best part of my day.

Same goes for some special people in our lives at work.  They’re just beautiful.  They calm us down, and they make us happy in the midst of otherwise stupid, annoying, gross, and down right frustrating situations.

An excerpt from my forthcoming book:

Ballgames To Boardrooms: Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed

Usually, in every job or situation there’s a person who has a way of making it all better.

Do you know them? Maybe you have one or two in your life, and you’re thinking about them now. They’re the people who make a rainy day seem bright and sunny, an aggravating project fun, and they can even make a boring email hilarious.

Consider with me for a second the coach, teacher, leader, parent, friend, coworker, or family member who instantly comes to mind. You know, that person in your life who is:

  • Encouraging, and your biggest cheerleader no matter what

  • Accepting of your weirdness because they see it as unique and special

  • Rooting for you even when others root against you

  • Forgiving every time you mess up and fall short

  • Friends with everyone; not because they have to, but because they want to

  • Inspiring with their unconditional love and compassion toward anyone in their midst

What would you do without them? For starters, you’d feel less encouraged, less forgiven, less inspired, and you’d probably have one or two fewer people to call true friends, confidantes or advocates.

Whoever they are, and whether it’s at home or at work, we love that person in our lives. We light up when we see them in the office. Sometimes just a quick glimpse, email, instant message, or a text from them calms our nerves, chills us out, and makes us smile.

They’re such a blessing. Work would suck without them.

As awesome as they are, who says we can’t also be that person for others?

It’s time. We can. I can. You can. With compassion and compromise at the forefront of our hearts and minds, that person we’ll absolutely be.

Sure, when others look up to you or turn to you, always watching and listening to what you say or when people begin doing what you’ve encouraged them to do, the responsibility on your shoulders can be daunting. But that’s leadership. Remember it’s “accepting the challenge to influence” which makes leaders, leaders.

You can do it. It all starts with compassion and having an attitude of an advocate. Want to be a game-changer? Want to really step up, influence, improve, inspire, and change lives?

For your own life, do you want less frustration, hurt, despair, and depression? Me, too.

Have an Attitude of an Advocate

Compassion is the answer.  It’s always been the answer.

This attitude of an advocate is even more than an attitude; it’s an overwhelming spirit. When you decide to be that person to others, you’ll be changed for good. You won’t be able to shake it and you’ll become the leader you never knew you could be. How will you feel it? How will you know you’re leading? After weeks and weeks and months and months of conversation after conversation, you’ll turn around and see a line of people following you or lining up to work with you. They’ll lean into your leadership, coaching, and direction because you’ll have proven just how much you care about them and their future.

This spirit and attitude is one of compassion, grace, mercy and love.

If you’ve ever been encouraged or inspired, touched, motivated, or personally changed by someone, you know how unbelievable it feels. If you haven’t, that’s okay, because guess what? When you become that person for people in the office, at the gym, at your “dumb job” or especially at home, and when you’re the encourager, inspirer, forgiver, and motivator, you’ll feel an overwhelming spirit, and it will be so, so good.

Your heart will be so full of grace and love that your mind will forget all about the frustrating, demoralizing corporate corporateness of your daily grind.

You can’t go wrong with GRACE and LOVE.  They’ll always be the best parts of your day.  Count on it.

 

Who’s the best part of your day, at work?

Post a comment, sharing who ‘that person’ is for you, and why.  Or share this post, and tag them in your ‘share’ or ‘comment’. 

Let them know just how special they are, and how much you appreciate them and love them.  They deserve to feel a little love today, and you do too… 

To feel love, give love.

Better Days Are Closer Than You Think

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

Today’s front-line employees, entry-level managers, middle managers, and even some executives, are caught in the proverbial hamster-in-a-wheel routine that is Corporate America. A general lack of inspiration and motivation looms over people who spend their days, trudging through life as real world “Eeyores.” This happens for many reasons spanning issues including poor leadership to bad attitudes not to mention insecurity and a sense of fear. You may be experiencing fear of failure, fear of loss whether it’s about losing money, status, or the same job that causes so much pain and anguish in the first place.

Does this sound familiar? Me too. I’m no different from you. I’ve spent the past 15 years

  • Getting frustrated with the slackers
  • Bosses who “boss around” as opposed to connecting and leading,
  • The “unfair system,” and
  • The tediousness of the grind

Too often we spend hours, which turn into days and weeks, which turn into months and years wasting time. We may feel mentally paralyzed and as if all hope is lost. I see it and feel it around me and have for many years.  Perhaps you do too.

  • Do you feel you’ll “never be promoted at work” and “someone else will always have what you want?”
  • Have you literally lost that loving feeling for what you once thought would be the right professional or personal path, for you?
  • Do you constantly want to win, but always feel defeated?

First, I want to let you know, it’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay. But you don’t have to stay there. You can re-ignite the spark you used to have inside. My guess is for all the reasons above; you’ve picked up this book. I’m glad you did, because in the upcoming pages you and I will engage and connect over stories, illustrations, easy-to-follow action steps and perhaps some fresh perspective that may help.

Remember when we were little? Remember playing sports? We were so innocent, with child-like faith. We just wanted to go play. Our parents dropped us off at practice or the games and all that mattered was having fun, making new friends, learning, growing, and hopefully winning. We had the spark during every game, every practice.

  • If you’re looking for ways to have more fun at work and home, make new friends or foster more productive professional or personal relationships, keep reading.
  • Or, if you’re looking for inspiration to reignite your fire to learn, grow or maybe even get that promotion or new job, yes, you picked up the right book.

Soon you’ll meet my High School Basketball Coach, Charles Baker. He always taught us to focus on three things – Play Hard, Have Fun, and Listen to Your Coaches. In the chapters that follow, I’ll highlight what many of us have forgotten from those simple, yet profound lessons we learned playing sports at a younger age.

Meet Coach Baker! Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Famer and teacher of countless, transferable lessons…

Our Little League baseball, basketball, soccer, cheerleading, gymnastics, dance, and football coaches taught us the ideal values and dropped pearl after pearl of wisdom we never knew we needed back then. But if we apply those lessons today, at work, we’ll see and feel real, positive change. I’m bringing these pearls of wisdom back, which I hope inspires and encourages anyone and everyone who wants a change in their day-to-day grind. Hope is alive and well. It’s out there. There’s a way to experience better days, at home and at work.

I’ve been leading Teams in the Hospitality and Travel Industry for 15 years, and like you, I’ve loved sports my whole life. My academic experiences include East Carter High School in Grayson, KY, Florida Southern College, in Lakeland, FL for my Bachelor’s Degree, and Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration for a Master’s Degree in the Management of Hospitality.

I’m also a devout Christian with many stories of how God has and continues to show up in my life as well as in the lives of others – at work and at home. I know people need encouragement because I’m one of them.

I’ve been blessed thus far in my professional career; having worked in many different roles including front line and leadership positions, for companies like Disney Parks & Resorts, Gaylord Hotels & Resorts, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Wynn & Encore Las Vegas, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and Disney Vacation Club.

I’ve realized what brings me joy, inspiration and fulfillment. While I love basketball, that’s not it. While I love hotels and all facets of the hospitality industry, that’s not it, either.

I love helping people. I love helping you.

So, I didn’t write this book to get rich. I didn’t do it for fame or fortune. I wrote this book to connect with people, and to reconnect them back to what makes them happy; having fun, being utilized for their special talents, winning, and growing; both personally and professionally.

I took Coach Baker’s main three lessons:

Play Hard

Have Fun

Listen to Your Coaches

To these I’ve added two more principles:

Practice the Future Today

Make the Extra Pass (Unleash Compassion)

I’m confident these five principles will help you have more fun, feel more fulfilled, and grow in your personal life as well as your professional career, despite the frustrations of corporate corporateness we all face.  (Yes, I made up a new phrase – Corporate Corporateness…something tells me you know what I mean…)

I hope you’re as excited as I am. Better days are closer than you think.

I look forward to launching my book, Ballgames To Boardrooms: Lessons From Our Coaches We Never Knew We Needed.