In 100 Words: The Adversity Advantage

June 15th, 2016 by AdvisorCatalyst

Great accomplishments have a history of adversity. Our response when asked the question, “When have you grown the most in your career?” is frequently connected to times we were stretched to an uncomfortable level. The struggle of adversity is likely to produce stronger personal character as well as better performance. Character growth is seen in the form of greater personal humility, more graciousness toward others, and increased work ethic. Performance improvement comes through investing extra effort, developing our skills and figuring out new solutions. In the end, adversity provides the necessary edge to accomplish more than we first thought possible.

“There is no education like adversity.” Benjamin Disraeli

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In 100 Words: Don’t Fly Solo on Quarterly Rocks

May 2nd, 2016 by AdvisorCatalyst

Flying solo is a major accomplishment for a learner pilot. It is, however, a poor approach for a Quarterly Rock Champion. The Rock was selected because the leadership team thinks it will have significant impact on the organization’s future if it is accomplished during the next 90 days. This typically requires deep work and focused use of resources.

A Rock Champion should set up a strong team and utilize project management disciplines. Along the way, keep the leadership team regularly apprised of the status so they can: generate ideas, challenge the work, and commit resources necessary to complete the objective.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Edison

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In 100 Words: Success > Satisfaction > Stagnation

March 15th, 2016 by AdvisorCatalyst

Success is challenging to sustain. I believe one key reason for this stems from the cycle indicated in the headline. Too often we lose intensity when we are experiencing success – we become too satisfied. Here are two disciplines I use to help maintain my intensity and desire to keep setting and accomplishing new objectives:

• Purpose – focusing on the WHY of my work motivates me to keep improving because I realize my work is far from complete.

• Pace – alternating my periods of production intensity with meaningful downtime keeps me from flaming out and exhausting my resources.

How do you maintain intensity?

“The world owes all its onward impulses to men ill at ease.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

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In 100 Words: The Overreaction File

February 1st, 2016 by AdvisorCatalyst

We have all seen people overreact. We usually think, “Easy…, it’s not that important.” If we’re honest, though, we overreact ourselves at times. This is especially common with our first (often too quick) response in stressful circumstances – irritation and frustration boil over. Abraham Lincoln exercised a unique habit in moments of frustration – he vented by writing a scathing letter which he promptly filed in a drawer and never sent. Do you have a file for your initial responses in testy situations? Favorable outcomes are more likely when we take time to settle our minds and emotions before replying.

“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” The Epistle of James 1:19, The Holy Bible (ESV)

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In 100 Words: Take Time to Celebrate

December 15th, 2015 by AdvisorCatalyst

Leaders should consider spending more time celebrating achievements within their teams and organizations instead of rushing headlong into whatever is next. Granted, the anticipation of charging ahead can be exciting. The pace, however, may leave people exhausted and feeling under appreciated. Is what we just accomplished worth anything? Is it only about the next goal or new theme?

The coming weeks are a good time of the year to identify and celebrate:
• successes (large or small)
• progress along the path
• what was attempted and learned

Thank team members for their efforts. Share memories of how it happened. Enjoy celebrating together.

“Celebrate what you want to see more of.” Tom Peters

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In 100 Words: The Snare of Easy Success

October 31st, 2015 by AdvisorCatalyst

In any endeavor – academics, athletics, career or business – performing at the top is exhilarating! However, if success comes too quickly and easily, a deceptive snare is laid – blindness to the need to improve. The motivation to form healthy work and learning habits is missing. It’s simply a matter of time until performance peaks out.

Remaining a top performer – sustaining success over time – requires continuous growth and work. Life is a progression, not a single event. The factors influencing achievement are constantly shifting, so only deliberate improvement prepares us for more challenging future pursuits and enables us to elude the snare.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” Benjamin Franklin

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In 100 Words: Are You Scanning?

September 15th, 2015 by AdvisorCatalyst

One key reason teenage drivers crash four times more often than older drivers is an underdeveloped skill of scanning – glancing around for 360 degree awareness. Leaders can struggle with the same weakness in an organizational sense. Disruptive ideas, be it innovation opportunity or business model threat, will most likely come from outside your industry.

More experienced leaders are better prepared to understand significant outside developments and how they apply. However, it requires looking around. These activities can help you hone scanning skills:

• Read or skim a wide variety of magazines
• Talk to people in different industries
• Attend other industry conferences

“Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.” Booker T. Washington

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In 100 Words: Chips off the Block

July 31st, 2015 by AdvisorCatalyst

People easily identify my children as belonging to me. In addition to physical distinctions, we share a few marked behaviors and attitudes. When I’m bothered by what I see in my children (e.g., lack of follow through or resistance to change), I try to examine myself as the leader.

Similarly, in organizations employees may take on the characteristics of their leaders. Are you annoyed with certain behaviors, reactions or attitudes you see in people you lead? Consider, these could be “chips” from your leadership block.

If we want to see different chips we must be willing to change the block.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams

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In 100 Words: Limit Your Options

June 15th, 2015 by AdvisorCatalyst

Common sentiment seems to hold that we are back in a period of strong economic growth. Leader’s radar screens are filled with many new and exciting opportunities. We can get downright giddy after slogging through years of a tough market.

We may also find ourselves unprepared for saying NO to the majority of good opportunities. Yet, it is critical we do so. Instead, too many leaders will do almost anything to keep all their options open. In the end, hedging options typically slows down decision making and robs resources (commitment) from the best opportunities.

How can you limit your options?

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci

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In 100 Words: How Strong Teams Develop

May 1st, 2015 by AdvisorCatalyst

Don’t expect your team to become strong by itself – as if by spontaneous combustion. Strong teams develop with external energy, that is, individual team members committing to each other and to their common cause.

Whose job is it to build a strong team? Obviously, the team leader bears direct accountability. That being said, if you are the member of a team, you need look no further than yourself. Do not think it is the job of the team leader only. Everyone on the leadership team can take responsibility for strengthening their level of commitment to one another and the cause.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Helen Keller

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