Posts Tagged ‘Communication’

“The Process”

You might not be a fan of the University of Alabama or college football, but if you are a fan of SUCCESS, I think you will find what I am about to share very helpful. Nick Saban, head football coach at the University of Alabama, has won 5 national championships … one while he was head coach at LSU and four at Alabama. His four championships at the University of Alabama have happened in span of only seven years … the best run in college football history.

In football, you can only put 11 men on the field at one time … it’s your best against their best, so having great talent is critical, but not everything. So, what is the magical formula for success at Alabama and why do so many teams have trouble duplicating it? A few years ago Coach Saban asked me to present a program on communication to his coaching staff. In his world, recruiting star athletes is paramount to their success, and he wanted his coaches to make the best presentations possible to the athletes they wanted to play for Alabama.

I learned a lot of things about Coach Saban and Alabama football preparing for my three hour program. There are a lot of coaches, managers, bosses and leaders out there who never mix it up with the people who are on the front lines. Not Coach Saban; he is all about being on the ground level, getting “dirty” in the details. He understands that old saying, “The devil is in the details,” so he leaves no stone unturned and assumes nothing. I don’t believe I have ever met anyone as detailed as he is. Meetings and practices are planned to the minute and everyone understands what is expected of them and how they are to accomplish it. I don’t have time to go into all that I learned about him in this short article, so I decided to share one of the most important elements of how he has become so successful in what the college football world knows as “The Process;” Coach Saban’s way of winning.  As he says, The Process is much more important than the result.”

The critical element of his success is a simple way of breaking everything down into manageable parts. He owes this technique to Dr. Lionel Rosen, a Michigan State University psychiatry professor he met when he coached there in the late ’90s. Dr. Rosen had studied cognitive therapy used in the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program and found the best way to succeed is to deal with the “moment” … not the future, nor the past. If you handle the moment correctly, the final result will work out. Dr. Rosen pointed out to Coach Saban that the average play in a football game lasts about seven seconds and that is where he needed to concentrate. What happened on the last play is done, it’s the next play, the next seven seconds that counts. By making sure his players (and coaches) fully understand what they have to do in those seven seconds, without hesitation, and prepare them properly so they can execute it … is all that matters. He teaches those young men that the game is played seven seconds at a time.

The same is true in business. By breaking down what you do into manageable segments of time and function, you will be better able to achieve the results you desire. But remember, everyone needs to understand what is expected of them and how they are to accomplish it. I would like to leave you with one last powerful thought from Coach Saban:

Saban - Two Pains - #3

Forget Something?

A while back I did a huge favor for someone and never heard anything from them … zip, zilch, nada, nothing. Just a simple “Thank You” would have been nice … but they acted as if it was expected of me. To say that I was disappointed is putting it mildly.

To me, disappointed is a very powerful and scary word. You see, disappointed can turn into other “Dis” words, such as disgruntled, discouraged, disenthralled, disillusioned, disheartened, and possibly even dissatisfied with our current personal or business relationship. I might start noticing that this relationship (business or personal) is really all about YOU and how YOU can benefit; the words reciprocation or gratitude don’t seem to be in your vocabulary.

Everyone likes to be remembered, thanked or appreciated for doing favors, going above and beyond, being courteous, considerate, thoughtful or kind. Being “taken for granted” stinks. Forgetting to show any kind of appreciation for someone who did something for you … that they didn’t have to do … can end up causing you problems later on. You will never know when someday you may need a helping hand and all those people you took for granted and/or never thanked, might NOT be so readily available to help you out.

Francesca Gino, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, did some research on gratitude and looked at 41 fundraisers at a university, all receiving a fixed salary. The director visited half of the fundraisers in person, telling them, “I am very grateful for your hard work. We sincerely appreciate your contributions to the university.” The second group received no such expressions of gratitude. What was the impact of the director’s thanks? Gino said that “the expression of gratitude increased the number of calls by more than 50 percent” for the week, while fundraisers who received no thanks made about the same number of calls as the previous week.

Organizations and leaders who miss chances to express gratitude, lose opportunities to motivate people that actually costs them nothing. Simply stated: Gratitude is free and profitable. People may not show that they are upset about not being thanked … but when the time comes for them to help YOU out again, they may just be a little too busy that day. You can transform your relationships, business and personal life with the Power of Gratitude! Never underestimate the power of a thank you and never pass up on the opportunity to say those two words.

It is not happy people who are thankful.

It is thankful people who are happy.

Anonymous

 

SKILL & WILL

Let’s get one thing straight … we all begin as a NOVICE. No one, let me repeat that, NO ONE starts as an expert. We all have to learn to walk, talk, eat, swim, count, write, and read. We all start at zero, the bottom, from scratch, zip … with absolutely no knowledge, experience, or understanding of the “THING” we are about to learn. I actually like that fact; for once, everyone starts at exactly the same place. No one has a head-start when it comes to learning.

So, then the journey begins; your progression from being a Novice, then Average, then Skilled, then a Specialist, and finally an Expert is all up to you. I really like the title of “EXPERT” because it has to be earned. You can assign someone a title of Vice President or Sales Manager, Boss or Director … but EXPERT, that title is something to be revered, respected, and admired.

EXPERTS have put in the time, effort, and study to EARN the title. They have dealt with the pains, frustrations, exhaustion, stress that come with obtaining the title of EXPERT. In fact, it’s really not a title at all, it’s a designation or confirmation that the person you are dealing with is very, very good at what they do. I like being around experts, because they have traits in their character that can do nothing but help me. You see to be an EXPERT you have to have passion, conviction, focus, discipline, dedication, drive, purpose, commitment, spirit, determination … and the undeniable WILL to perfect your SKILL.

According to the American Society for Training & Development, American workers average 6.5 minutes per day developing their skill. That statistic alone explains why there are so many average performing people. Most people just aren’t WILLING to put in the time and effort needed to raise their skill level.

Your success has a great deal to do with your level of SKILL, but not everything. I know a lot of talented, smart, well-educated people who have, in no way, come close to reaching their full potential. I was speaking to a Vice President of Sales yesterday, who was expressing her frustration at several of the sales people working for her who have the skill but not the will. She told me they have all the talent, but yet they still don’t excel. She went on to say they have the training, knowledge, understanding and a huge opportunity, with thousands of potential clients available for them to call on, but they accept being average.

You have the FREEWILL to succeed, if you have the WILLINGLESS to do it. The big question is WILL you? Who would have ever thought such a simple word as WILL would have so much to do with your success. Here are a few quotes I want to share with you that should hopefully broaden your prospective on how important WILLPOWER is to your success. They are by people you may have never heard of … ( de Balzac, Min, and Crowley respectively) … but the brilliance of their words is indisputable.

  • “There is no such thing as great talent without great willpower.”
  • “Lack of willpower leads to more failure than lack of intelligence or ability.”
  • “In the absence of willpower the most complete collection of virtues and talent is wholly worthless.”

Anyone can go from Novice to Expert if they have the WILL to do it. But, the “Skill Knob” below can only be turned to the “Expert Notch” if you have the WILL to make it happen and the discipline to study, learn and practice to perfect your SKILL.

Skill Knob

Willpower is a muscle.

The more you use it, the stronger it gets.

(Anonymous)

 

Solve It by Sundown

The Internet has revolutionized the computer and communications world like nothing before. This world-wide broadcasting system can disseminate information without regard to geographic locations at the speed of a “click,” and there lies a BIG PROBLEM.

The speed of a “click” has now conditioned us to how fast we expect things. If you want a book you just download it (CLICK). If you want a movie you just download it (CLICK). If you want a song you just download it (CLICK). If you want information about something you just go to Google, type in the info you need and CLICK. We are all being conditioned to getting INSTANT service and information. That being said, it should be no surprise to you that your customers are becoming more and more demanding at getting whatever they want … NOW!

Right now, there are some of you who have already received a few text messages while you are reading my article and people are expecting an instant response. There is no turning back or slowing down when it comes to technology; there is only speeding up and moving forward. Therefore, the companies that will succeed are doing everything they can to please their customers in a manner their customers expect … which happens to be … NOW!

I would, therefore, recommend a simple slogan, mantra, or motto for all employees of your company to live by … Solve “IT” by Sundownbecause if you don’t, you have just opened the door for your competitor to do so. I used to work with an IT company that sent out my weekly articles; if I ever had a problem with their service, their standard response was, “we will get back to you with a resolution in 72 hours.” The third time that happened I changed companies. My new IT company had me up and running in one hour and I have been working with them for years.

Anytime you push off a customer to fix something tomorrow (or in 72 hours), you are giving them the opportunity and incentive to go find someone who will be willing to fix the problem today. You customer is thinking, “If they can fix it tomorrow, then why can’t they can fix it today?” Now, sometimes you don’t have the part(s) or person available to fix it today and you tell the customer that. Well, my question to you is this: Does your competitor? Remember the internet: A few typing strokes and clicks on a computer and I will have a list of your competitors available to ask that question, and if they can fix it, YOU ARE GONE, FINISHED, TOAST.

The brilliant man Benjamin Franklin once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” I don’t believe Mr. Franklin ever envisioned The Internet, but he sure understood how to be successful. If you want to set your company apart from your competition, then I would do everything I could to establish a culture that understands …

WHEN AT ALL POSSIBLE – SOLVE IT BY SUNDOWN.

Passion is Powerful

A few months ago I had the pleasure of working with Germania Insurance (based in Texas) at their annual sales conference with all their independent agents attending. The night before, at dinner, I had the opportunity to talk to several of their agents. I was fortunate to sit at the table with Matt & Kara Sodolak. (Matt is the insurance agent, and his wife Kara is in banking) I use the word “fortunate” because, I was about to witness what I would best describe as TRUE PASSION for your profession. 

I asked a question of Matt that I have asked countless times …“How do you like being in the insurance business?”  His response surprised me. Without any hesitation he said, “I love it. It’s my job for life.” In all my years of interviewing people, I have never had anyone say this is my “job for life.” The passion, sincerity and conviction in his voice just knocked me over. He sat forward in his chair and followed his statement with, “I love helping people and I get to do it every day.”  There was NO DOUBT in my mind the passion Matt felt for his job, career and the company he worked for. I felt that anyone who had Matt as their agent was so fortunate. He never mentioned commissions … he talked the whole time about protecting his clients and how people counted on him to make sure they had the proper coverage in case something disastrous happened.

Unfortunately, something disastrous did happen; Texas has been slammed this year with enormous floods destroying millions of dollars in property and causing havoc to people’s lives. I heard from Matt last week and he shared a quick story about one of the people who works in their claims department. He wrote:

 “Rob, one of our most valued Customer Service Reps made a comment that made me think of your message and how you said, ‘you must make a commitment to your career to be successful’.  She said, ‘being in the insurance business, all of our customers’ problems become our problems and we have to be here to help them through it that’s why they do business with us and that’s what keeps our lights on; you gotta love it or you are at the wrong place!’”

It doesn’t surprise me that anyone who works with Matt would also have a passion for their job; he would attract other people who would want to do, help and care for others. Let me share a few anonymous quotes with you about the Power of Passion: 

  • Lack of PASSION is fatal.
  • Do it with PASSION or not at all.
  • Talent isn’t much without PASSION.
  • PASSION is the difference between having a job or having a career.
  • Purpose is the reason for the journey – PASSION is the fire that lights the way.

Maybe the one thing that is causing your career from not taking off … is that you aren’t looking at it as a career; it is simply a job to you and your customers, associates, managers and boss can sense that. There is always going to be frustration, toil, hassles, problems, glitches, hitches and difficulties in any job (that is why they call it work). But, if you look at it from a different perspective … that what you are doing is helping people in some way … then it all becomes worthwhile. Galileo, the great Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, and mathematician, once said: “Passion is the genesis of genius.” So, let your passion become the start of something great for your career.

When there is Passion in your Purpose

you give Power to your Potential.

 

Different Approach

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to address the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association and it was one of the most memorable programs I have done in my career; the people attending the conference provide drug & alcohol testing for any company, organization, state or federal agency. During my interviewing process to help me customize my program, one of the questions I asked them was … “What makes your job difficult?” Several people responded: “Having to deal with all the stupid excuses people give for testing positive for drugs.” That response really intrigued me, so I dug deeper in my questioning to get actual examples of their excuses; I will get to the excuses in a moment.

To help them with this difficult portion of their job, I suggested they deal with the problem with a different approach. I proposed they print up a little one-page list of excuses that will not be accepted for testing positive for drugs and hand that to them before being test. That way, if they do test positive for having drugs or alcohol in their system, there is no need to waste everyone’s time using any of the excuses listed. Below are the actual excuses given (with NO embellishment) and the form I suggested they print up.

Excuses That Don’t Work for Testing Positive for Drugs

You Will Need To Try Something Different – These Aren’t Acceptable

More Originality Will be Required

  1. I was at a party and everyone was smoking pot around me, so it’s second-hand smoke.
  2. Someone must have put something in my drink; I swear I would never use drugs.
  3. I take my friend’s pain meds when I have a migraine.
  4. I used to smoke pot years ago when I was fat. I hear it stays in your system for a long time.
  5. It was the cookies I ate at a party. I think it was medical marijuana.
  6. I ate a bunch of poppy seed muffins.
  7. I kissed a girl who had just used cocaine.
  8. I take supplements from the health food store.
  9. I buy hemp oil and make salad dressing with it.
  10. I have to light my wife’s joints for her because she uses medical marijuana and she is too sick to do it herself.

So now, when someone tests positive, they no longer have to deal with these 10 silly excuses … hopefully saving them a little time and frustration, and they did it by adding a little twist of humor in the process. May I suggest for you managers and leaders out there, to take a look at things you have to do like: evaluations, reviews, critiques, changing policies, implementing new software programs, meeting deadlines, revamping procedures, enforcing guidelines, delegating responsibilities, providing feedback, or complying with state and federal government regulations … and see if you can find a different approach that might make it be accepted more favorably.

Originality and humor can help take the “sting” out of any situation, so anytime you can add a little of it, to help take the drudgery or negativity out of an issue, mandate, or task … I recommend you go for it.

Don’t Second Guess

We all have to make decisions every day. Some decisions we make require little thought and the consequences will not be earth shattering or career changing. But, there are other decisions we have to make that can have an enormous effect on our lives. Decisions like … who we are going to marry or do we stay single, where are we going to live, should we have children, what career/job we choose, should we change jobs, do we get a college education or advance our education even further … these are big, tough, critical decisions that aren’t easy to make and the FINAL DECISIONS are life changing. 

I had to make a huge decision this week. I sought out council from people I respect and I measured all the pros and cons. I tried to consider all the “What If’s” and I assessed the consequences with doing it or not doing it. I had received advice like … “I should absolutely take the offer, no questions asked” … to … “no way take the offer, it is not in your favor”. I had been working towards this goal for several years, and when the offer came in writing … I turned it down.

So, what pushed me to say “NO” to the offer? Was it the 13 pages of fine print, written in their favor? No, that wasn’t it; I actually was expecting that. What really helped me decide were two things. The first thing was there was a huge “What If” question that had a very bad result, if all didn’t go well. The second thing was a statement they made: “This is our standard agreement that is non-negotiable.” Everything in business is negotiable and they just told me it isn’t. That one statement made me start re-evaluating everything … and to finally make a decision to say, “NO”. 

I started thinking, once we started doing business together, what else was going to be “non-negotiable.” That one statement triggered me to start thinking of alternatives, options, other possibilities, and a new direction I could pursue, if I said “NO” to their offer. I felt re-energized, stimulated, excited about the other options and even more surprising to myself … I was feeling no remorse about saying, “NO.”

Who is to say I made the right or wrong decision? Some people might say, “Only time will tell,” but, I still have a great deal to do with … the story that will be told. In all my years in business, I have learned two very important things about making decisions.

Ask yourself if you can live with the consequences if it fails … because if you can’t live with it – don’t do it.

NEVER doubt your decision, NEVER look back, NEVER SECOND GUESS…  because if you do, those actions will help to sabotage your decision.

My job now is to make my new direction the right direction, the right choice, the right decision.

You should never make a decision because it is the easiest thing to do, nor should you make it based on convenience and most importantly, never “Second Guess” the decision you made. Former President Harry S. Truman once stated: “Once a decision was made, I didn’t worry about it afterward.” I would recommend we all follow his advice; I know I am.

The Fastest Way to Kill a Good Decision …

is to Second Guess it.

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