A Bad Fit

There we were, rookie coaches, at an evening social event with other, more seasoned coaches, trainers, staff, and spouses. 

I was talking with a few of the newbies, of which I was one, when the lead dog came into the room.  This was the guy who started this thing many years ago and who built it into one of the most successful franchises of its kind.  At least that was what I was told.  I never really checked.  Either way, this guy was a genius at how to build businesses by virtue of his own experience, his track record helping others succeed, and the worldwide company he now owned.

It was pretty cool. Except for one small challenge.  I didn’t like him, not one little bit.

While we were standing there chatting amongst ourselves, the “big dog” walked into the room and headed toward us. Not much choice, since we were right inside the door he used. He walked up, said something shallow, and I could not help but notice him looking over our heads.  In all honesty, he was a pretty tall guy, but looking “beyond” us was pretty condescending.  What was he doing?  Small, shallow, I-don’t-care-who-you-are-or-what-your-story-is talk in order to buy time, look over our heads and find someone he deemed important and far more worthy of a conversation. Then he was gone. Off to someone or something seemingly better.

I hope you’re getting the gist of what I’m sharing. If you are, you might have had similar experiences.

Rude, arrogant, condescending.  Not attributes I’m very fond of. Outwardly smart and successful as this guy was, he rubbed me so far the wrong way! I struggled from that point on with him being the leader of this entire gig.  While many of my colleagues were the polar opposite of him, he was at the top and that just did not sit well.

Our values are what we hold to be true and important in our lives. They are filters through which all decision are made.  If it fits the filter, keep moving forward; if not; run away.

So I eventually ran.  A good decision. One that led to my company today.

What are your top 3-5 values? Companies define these things often, some even live and execute through them consistently.  But this is about you – what are your personal values? What filters do you use to evaluate careers, relationships, and difficult choices?

Having the right filters, or defined values, will lead us to make better decisions and live with fewer regrets.  And that’s a good way to live.

Arctic Dock Jumping

Every year we go on two family vacations.  One is set, for life, never changing –total tradition.  That’s West Virginia.  Working on the 19th year this fall. Fired up. 

For spring/summer, we typically go to the beach. Most times it’s been OBX.  This year we switched it up and went to the Finger Lakes.  We figured we could still swim and have the relaxed, mountain-type atmosphere.  

Well, we got the atmosphere, but not the swimming. What were we thinking?!!! Not sure what the lake temperature was, but in those 700’ deep lakes, and after a cold and rainy winter/spring, the last week of which we chose for our trip, it was flat out freezing. 

We arrived at 60 degrees and rainy. And of course, my son Mitchell immediately put the challenge out to jump off the dock that evening. Kind of like a highly committed polar bear plunge – you have to swim out.  Gotta admit I did not want to do that. But he’s my son; I’m his dad. What’s a good dad to do? I’m in. And our youngest daughter and new son-in-law “jumped” at the challenge as well. 

So we did it. Jumped right in off the dock. I had no idea how cold it was. Didn’t test it. Just jumped in. And it was beyond cold – the immediate take-your-breath-away, I’m freakin’ panicking here and gotta-get-out-now cold. Never hit water that cold. 

And we did it again the next day. 

And again the last day. In fact, by the last day, it wasn’t likely any warmer, but the sun was out and, to tell truth, we were getting used to the pain.  

As I looked back, I realized what I dreaded most became one of my best memories of the trip.  I can’t tell you how much I wanted NOT to jump in, but I’m sure glad I did. We had a blast and built some fun and unique memories. Imagine if I stood on the dock and watched. I’m his dad – can’t do that. 

I don’t want to ever miss these opportunities to connect with the people I love. Even if it means doing something I really don’t want to do.  Yet, sometimes that thing we don’t want to do, like dock jumping into arctic water, turns out to be a fantastic, unforgettable memory.  

It sure did for me.

Pride Sucks

 

(Contributed by Mitch Greene)

I’ll admit it. I’m a very prideful person. It’s a real problem. I’d like to say that I can be humble, and I have good integrity. But if someone were to say that I have no integrity that would take me over the edge. That is one thing I can’t say I’m proud of. 

Well, this day taught me a lot about swallowing my pride and letting go. 

I was at work having a completely normal day and actually in a great mood for no real reason. That all ended very abruptly when I did something I wasn’t supposed to. Honestly, I had no idea that it was something I shouldn’t have done, which was pretty unusual since I had been working there for four years. When my superior found out about this misstep he was not happy at all. See, he is even more prideful than I am. I’ll just say that I have not seen a time when he was “wrong.” We constantly get into arguments for no reason, and it was about to start again. 

We were simply going through the steps. He says I wasn’t supposed to do that; I say I didn’t know. He says yes I did and things go on. That is until he says that I was purposefully undermining his authority and trying to make a fool out of him. 

It was official. 

My integrity had been challenged, and I was ready to rumble. The whole nine yards. I think if you were there you would have seen me sprout two horns. I took a huge breath and was ready to let hell loose from my stomach. 

But then a little voice in my head told me to calm down. 

So I let all the air out, put my head down and said the painful words of humility: “I’m sorry.” He laid into me for the next five minutes and then let me go. You would think that I would have known I did the right thing and was happy with that, but I wasn’t. I was so mad. Thinking in my head, “I should have let him have it! I should have shin kicked him!” I went on grumbling to myself for the next 20 minutes or so until my superior came around the corner, smiled at me and cut a joke. My entire mood changed after that. 

I think I did the right thing.

 

Let Up and Lose

For Christmas in 1975, our grandparents gave all three of us kids a ping pong table.  I was 9, my brother, Jeff, was 16.  And our sister, Wendy, didn’t care. 

Jeff and I did.  We played ping pong all the time, and we got pretty good at it.  We constantly swapped victories and sharpened each other along the way. I also had some friends who were pretty good players, but not quite at my brother’s level.   In fact, while attending college, Jeff won the school ping pong tournament. 

Jeff is a nice, compassionate and caring person. But not in the midst of ping pong play, especially with me. Let me share what differentiated most of our games.  When Jeff won, it was either because he was just better in that match, or…I let up and lost.  He never let up, particularly when he was winning. Something I had to learn. 

Picture the scene: I’m winning pretty big, maybe 16-8 in a game to 21. I have to admit my competitive beast mode usually let up around this time because I started feeling sorry for him.  Big mistake. Jeff never let up and smelled blood when I did.  He often won those matches.  

And when Jeff was destroying me, did he let up on me? Nope. Didn’t he care? Where was the compassion for his brother’s miserable performance? Not there.  

I’m older now, and I don’t let up. Never. He taught me that. 

There are many ways to apply this thought process. Maybe sales: great results usually lead to less prospecting because we let up. That leads to poor results. And so goes the cycle. Don’t’ let up. As my friend and mentor used to say, “You are either growing or dying; there is no coasting in life.” 

If I can take anything away from those matches with Jeff 35 years ago, it’s this: 

When you’re winning, press harder. 

Let up and you lose.

What We Permit We Promote

Our neighbors from way back when had an interesting parenting technique. It failed. A lot.

I want to be careful here as this is a very common technique.  It may be that others have found a way to make it work. Just not us. And definitely not our neighbor.

You might have guessed it.  It’s the 1, 2, 3 technique. You remember, “That’s one. That’s two. And that’s 3.”  Only 3 never came for her. Our kids knew it, and so did hers. And so do most.

She’d count them out when they were in trouble, and they’d just wait it out.  She’d count off 1 and 2, then hesitate, sometimes going for 2 and a half (I’m not kidding!), then in more desperation, she’d go for “I mean it,” continuing with various other threats. This rarely stopped the behavior and never accomplished the real goal. Teaching.

Always remember:  What we permit we promote.

She counted – temporarily permitting the bad behavior until the dreaded “3” count, which often didn’t occur – and by default promoted the bad behavior by permitting it.

I know parenting is far more complex than this. Yet maybe it’s not, at least in this context. It’s pretty clear: what we permit we promote.

And it’s not just parenting. It's life.

If we permit interruptions we promote interruptions.

If we permit quitting we promote quitting.

If we permit negativity we promote negativity.

If we permit cruelty we promote cruelty.

In other words – at home, at work, in life, with ourselves, as well as others – only permit behaviors that we want more of: those we want to promote!