Lead the culture, change the culture.

Leadership

Everything we do contributes to the culture around us.  In other words, our actions play a crucial role in ‘what we look like.’  Many organizations build culture around their desired results, but forget to identify how to do it. 

Our culture isn’t just created by what we’d like our results to be. It’s created by how we act on the way to the finish line. What we do between point A and point B will create what we look like. 

Our culture is what we look like.  What we allow to happen and what we tolerate paints the picture of our culture.  Think of your culture like a reputation.  Whatever your reputation is will be a mirror image of your culture.  It’s how others see you. 

Teams must identify what they want their culture to be.  If you want to be a hard charging, inspiring, high performance organization you must create how you’d achieve that.  How you behave can be done by choosing the correct values that correlate to the outcome you want.  Each organization will have to collectively decide on the values they want to represent that best fits their desired culture. 

When you lead with values and act on the values the culture is changed.  It’s not an overnight process, but through time and holding each other accountable the culture will change.  It’s a team effort.  Leading by example is still the most powerful way to lead.  Everyone will need to lead by example, but the desired culture will need to be invested in by the top leaders and managers.  They must take the first step.  If they don’t lead by example no one else will follow the path and the culture will not grow. 

It’s crucial for leaders to lead the change.  It’s one thing to create what you want the culture to look like, but it’s another to act it out.  Action is key!  Leaders must take action and show others ‘how’ to do it.  You, as a leader can help transform any culture if you lay the path for what you want to change and then taking the first step to make it happen.  The more you model the desired culture, the more your culture becomes what you intend it to be.  Lead the culture(actions), change the culture(actions).  

5 Ways to Help You Lead in a New Environment

Ideas, Innovation, Leadership, Organization, Social, Tips, Tricks

It would be naive to think that one leadership or management strategy is going to work exactly the same from environment to environment.  It’s just not that easy.  Every organization, work center, company, and or course, the military will have different ways of operating.  After all, they all have different missions.

I am now working in my fifth work center in the last six years. I didn’t have a full spectrum of the mission or what I’d be doing.  I did have to put my learning cap on and embrace the change. A question that has come to mind lately is how do I lead in an environment that I am unfamiliar with?  After brainstorming with my mentor and close friend I have narrowed down some ways. Here are 5 ways to get your foot in the door into leading in a new environment.

Learn the mission!  You have to know what the overall mission is and you have to know your role in the mission.  Know your limits of responsibility and know your strengths and weaknesses given the new mission.  Everyone has a specific amount of responsibility over their area. Know where your role begins and ends. Ask yourself what you bring to the table? What are you good at and what do you need work at? You will need to self assess your strengths/weaknesses in this new environment. Play your strengths when you are able and learn when you are unfamiliar with the process or directions. Ask questions when you don’t know an answer or a process. It’s okay to ask other agencies how they fit in the mission. You need to see the big picture and not just the area around you. Knowing the mission and knowing your role will ultimately help move the mission forward.

Introductions! Aside from knowing the mission, you have to know the team you’re a part of. In order to work on a team you’ve got to know the team and the team has to know you. First impressions are very important, but we can never truly know someone by a simple greeting.  After personal introductions have been made, lay the foundation of your work ethic. Begin to show your work ethic. This is where people will truly get a sense of who you are. Lead with values, not authority.  Values provide a standard of positive behavior. Use them and add other values that instill a strong work ethic. Get to know how your team members operate. Seek what drives their performance.  Ask them questions about their passions, their family, their background.  Leading is ultimately about taking care of people.  One must know their teammates on a professional and personal level in order to be effective at taking care of them. After all, leadership is about taking care of people. Know your team!

Be proactive, not reactive!  Don’t wait for someone to tell you to do something.  Take initiative in your area.  Seek out and find what needs to be done or what could be done.  There is always someone who needs help.  Go ask them if you can help or if there is anything you can do to help.  If you know what needs to be done, do it.  If you don’t, then ask someone what you can do to contribute. This is why knowing the mission is important.  It will give you an idea on what needs to be done.  When you’re proactive you stay ahead of the game.  Doing so can often help save you and others time in the future. Being proactive means you’re prepared.  No one likes the feeling of being unprepared. Take initiative every chance you get!  It may lead to some great opportunities! Nothing is more satisfying to a supervisor than seeing a subordinate take charge.  This not only tells them you have a great work ethic, but that you are capable of leading. Be proactive!

Communicating clearly.  Communication is a very hard skill to master.  For someone to put thoughts or an idea into words, or better yet, action, it can be quite difficult if you don’t understand how each member of your team listens or learns.  To clearly get your objectives across to your team can be very delicate.   Make sure you take time to get the correct words down before you speak your objectives/tasks/ideas, etc. The precision of your communication can make or break the success of your team.  And always make sure that your team members know to ask questions if they don’t clearly understand the objective.  That is also another part of communication.  It’s a two way street.  Ensure you communicate clearly and ensure your team knows how to seek answers from you by asking. Listening and hearing are two different things.  Listening is an audible action, hearing what’s said is the process of information into a structured concept.  Communicate clearly so that your point is heard.

Be willing to learn!  A leader’s job isn’t to know all of the answers.  Leaders must show they are willing to learn from their team members.  Listening and learning from the members on the team builds trust.  When teams learn from each other it strengthens their ability to adapt to overcome challenges. It creates a teamwork environment.  When leaders and members of the team are open to learning from each other it also creates a culture of learning.  Learning is how we grow.  Show them that if you can, they can.  Learn together!

My First Deployment: A Joint Environment – 4 Leadership Lessons

Leadership

I was on vacation in Texas with my wife and daughter.  We were vising family, enjoying being away from our normal routine in Colorado.  My Superintendent calls and says, well, I have some bad news.  You’ve been hit with a deployment.

Nothing really bad about it, just wasn’t expecting to get tagged as I just got to the unit 6 months prior.  It happens, I’ve been tagged with less time on station before, but it got canceled. What do you do when you’re tasked to deploy? You begin to prepare and roll with the punches. 

Four months later I got on a plane and flew out of the US for the first time in my life.  Was I nervous?  Yes!  I wasn’t being tasked with a group of people.  I was alone and I didn’t know what to expect.  After almost missing my international flight, I was finally able to relax on a long 9 hour flight to Zurich and then another 9 hour flight to Muscat, Oman.  You see, this was no ordinary report to an Air Force base and begin your time. There was no base.  There were no dorms. There were no chow halls. There was the Embassy. I was tasked to work at a U.S. Embassy. I didn’t even know such a tasking existed.  No one ever talks about this sort of tasking.  It was going to be interesting.

This was a joint environment. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force.  I was around other branches actively for the first time in my career.  What do you do when you find yourself learning the culture of other branches? You become a sponge and start learning the best you can. Sadly, I just wasn’t up to par on how other branches operate.  I highly respect my brothers and sisters in arms from other branches, but I honestly don’t know much about the other branches.  I was not only about to learn a new position, but I was about to learn how to work with other services on a different level than the usual operations that I was accustomed to in the Air Force.

If you know me, I don’t take part in anything without trying to learn something about leadership.  Thus, after 20 hours of flying back home, reflecting and analyzing what I just did for the last six months I have narrowed down the lessons I’ve learned while working in a joint service environment.

Teamwork makes the dream work.  When you combine multiple cultures into one culture, things can get tough. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, different terminology, different skills and everyone had different missions that contribute to the overall mission. We all had our own missions to do, but when someone needed the assistance from someone else, you had their attention. When you have the cooperation of others that agree on the same solution while striving for a shared/common goal, you get success.  I learned that when you need help to make progress, find out who the subject matter expert is on the team so they can bring their skills to the court.  You can’t win alone.  Use your team when necessary.  Leaders don’t lead because they know all of the answers, they lead knowing that diversity is a great team asset.  Teamwork is viable and valuable. If you can’t take another step, someone on your team will be able to help you take it.  Leaders utilize their team members effectively.

The right environment makes a difference.  I was the lowest ranking member in the office.  In fact, we only had three enlisted members in the office.  Everyone else was an officer.  As the new guy in the office learning not only about the job, but the people and their mission, I was a sponge taking in information on a level I’ve never known.  Given that it was a joint environment, the people around me helped me learn, at my pace, how they operated and how they contributed to the mission.  They didn’t get frustrated that I didn’t know certain processes or procedures, but they adjusted as needed to fit my learning needs.  They didn’t expect me to know everything.  They created an environment of progress and learning.  Adjusting to a new position was going to take a little time. Leaders are adaptable.  They are able to change approaches on a whim.  I am thankful for the officers who were patient with me as I learned about my job, learned about them and learned about the whole mission.  They helped me learn effectively and they taught me effectively. The environment, in a way, changed to fit my knowledge, but yet remained in a progressive state.  I believe if I entered a work environment that demanded instant knowledge, instant responses, instant right answers that I would have been overly stressed making the office a place I didn’t want to be in.  I’m thankful to learn the importance of culture in a joint level. An effective work culture contributes to the effectiveness of the office. The people can make that happen and it’s people that should make that happen. Leaders are adaptable and create environments fit for growth.

Communication is key for any team to function.  There were some days where everyone was in the office and some days where only a few remained in the office.  Communication goes a long way and without communication no team can function fluidly.  We had meetings Sunday morning and Thursday afternoon.  Sunday morning was a time to say, hey, here is what is going on this week.  Thursday was a time to reflect on what happened during the week as preparation for the next.  Although, at first, I really didn’t see the need for two meetings a week, but looking back, these meetings were very important. Even though, I had a small role in them, for the big picture, they were crucial. This was the time where we all came together in one room to talk through issues and how we were going to fix them. This wasn’t a time just for updates, but this was a time to communicate.  Communication was the driving force for this.  Everyone had their chance to speak and everyone had a chance to listen, learn, provide feedback, and provide ideas/suggestions.  Without this circle of communication, getting everyone on the same page would take a lot more effort and time.  I’ve been through many staff meetings and some seem like a waste of time, lack purpose and boring.  I began to look at these meetings as the chance to communicate. As everyone had their own agenda during the week and turned many pages, this time allowed everyone to sync up and get on the same page.  Communication was key in making this happen. Leaders communicate. 

You’ve got to have balance! When you’re away from your family during the holidays, it can take a hit on your spirit and your morale. The best thing about this deployment was that when we weren’t at work, we weren’t working. Haha. The people around me would always have something going on that allowed us to hang out, relax, and keep the morale up. Weather it was a camping trip, a hiking trip, a site seeing trip, or even just going out to eat, it was an important time to balance the week out.  Balance is very important even when you’re not deployed.  Although, I wasn’t around my family, we became like a family. We made sure there was a time for fun. It wasn’t forced, like “mandatory fun,” it was genuine fun.  I find that foreign in our culture sometimes. We try to force it with fun runs, BBQs, etc. Sometimes the best thing to do is provide the opportunity and those who want to show up can voluntarily show up.  Balance helped me stay positive and grateful.  I met awesome people and I’m grateful they provided the opportunity to have a little fun while being away from my family. Leaders provide balance. 

Reviving Core Values

Leadership, Organization

Every day I walk up a flight of stairs to my office where I work as NCOIC, Administration Management. On the first set of stairs, there are three steps that have one Air Force core value written on each of them.  Integrity, Service, Excellence. These core values are burned into the memory of every Airman since day one of basic training. They are meant to guide us. They are meant to be lived. They are meant to be a path of being better, doing better and knowing better. Yet, at times, we, members in the Air Force, undervalue and underutilize our core values. 

Values drive the behavior of any organization, not just the military. Values are set so that the people in the organization have a guiding light, a north star to show which direction to go when we’re lost and to remind us that although, people fail, our values cannot. Values will be rock solid. Values will never fail you. Values will always be there when you need them.

An organization that doesn’t have a set of values setting the behavior of the organization will often fail. It would be as if the organization is walking blindly. Our Air Force core values are easy to understand. Opportunities are birthed every day that allow us to perform our core values. Values are not meant to be used sparingly, they are meant to be used at every opportunity that arises. It’s how we create a culture of positive behavior. We can correlate a core value into almost every decision and every action and if we’re dedicated to actually living them, we’ll never be wrong. Though, we can fail as people and as a leader, it doesn’t mean values have failed you, it just means that you’ve failed at what you’re doing.  Ret. Gen Stanley McCrystal once said, “Leaders can let you fail and yet not let you be a failure.”  The same goes for our core values.  Though, you, a person may fail, if your core values are the heart of your actions, you will not be a failure.  It just means you have to try again.

Sure, we hear them, read them and every Airman is given a coin that has them embedded in it, but are we using them to the fullest potential? Even more, are we, as a team and individuals using them at all? Is it even possible to live them constantly every day? I like to think that if we gave a little more effort into living our core values how awesome our leadership would be and how awesome our teams would be. Walking up the steps to my office while reading our core values challenges me to live them. Just like in any busy work culture, it’s easy to overlook our values. I’m guilty of it, I’m sure others are too. Will there be days that you just don’t feel like putting in the effort? Of course, but our core values even address that behavior. 

The Air Force provides a definition for each core value(can be found here), but is that the end all be all to the core values? No. They can mean different things to different people and can be elaborated on.  What do you think they mean?  It’s a question that we, as an entire organization sort of forgot about as we engage in our daily duties and I believe our core values need to be given the attention they deserve. Right? Our culture depends on it.  Lately, it seems we’ve lost sight of our values and that’s okay, we’re human, we forget things, we know life is busy. It’s never too late to revive them and use them to improve our culture. Our core values have unlimited value.

Above all else, values help us be and become better leaders. When we feel our teams slipping in character, judgement and performance, we should always look at our values.  They’ll keep us in line and keep us moving forward.  Values create a work environment fit to thrive and survive.  Here is my personal look at how I apply and see the Air Force core values. I hope over the next few days or weeks you consider writing your perspective on the core values.  Share your perspective with your team, use it as a topic of professional development.  Get to know your Airman’s perspective to see how they view them.

Integrity first –  It’s not just about doing the right thing when no one is watching, it’s also about holding yourself accountable when no one is watching.   This also includes you holding your team members accountable.  It’s about carrying out your responsibilities accurately and effectively as possible. Show humility when you don’t have the answer. It’s okay to be wrong. Own your mistakes.  Be transparent in what you do. Keep true to yourself and be a person others can count on.  Integrity is about how the team is held together.  Make sure there are no kinks in your line that can jeopardize how the team holds on together. 

Service before self There will be days when you wake up and you just don’t feel like it.  We’ve all had those days and we will have more. What we do as Airman is bigger than ourselves.  It’s bigger than our personal desires.  Service before self is simple.  Your duties come first to include the service of leadership.  It’s about taking care of people as well. People are a part of the service so they must be taken care of so they can take care of the mission. Personal desires can always be put be aside to handle an issue/task/challenge at hand. This is not about you, it’s about the team.  When the team wins, you win.

Excellence in all we do –  My middle school coach used to say, “Go hard or go home.”  That was the standard.  Was it possible to give your full 100% every single football practice? No, but it wasn’t just about your physical ability. It was about your mentality, your heart, your attention, your dedication. It was more than running hard or hitting hard. It was the effort, the approach to the game. We must not only do our best, but whatever we do must be done with the results of great effort.  It’s hard to really measure effort, but people can always tell when you are giving less than what you are capable of giving. Whatever we’re working on, the end goal, must reflect excellence. Don’t commit to something unless you can give your absolute full attention and effort it deserves. One of my favorite quotes is from one of my favorite runners Steve Prefontaine. “To give any less than your best is to sacrifice a gift.” There is no time for slacking, half-assing, or procrastination.  If you’re going to do a job, do it right.  In the words of Deadpool, “Maximum effort.”

A 3 Pointer in Failure Readiness

Leadership, Life, Organization, TEDTalks

I don’t watch a lot of sports, nor do I play very many, but I am a very competitive person in just about everything.  Everyone knows that competitive people dislike losing.  I was never much of a basketball player, but I did play in middle school and a little in high school.  I remember playing in middle school and one particular game stood out more than the rest.  We were losing by 6 and we had .57 seconds on the clock before halftime.  Half a second!  It was our ball under our own basket.  The coach called a stack play and knowing we only had a split second, I refused to run the play.  There wasn’t time for it.  I took a risk.  As soon as the ball was in play a shot had to be made, if a shot could be taken.  I actually remember setting up for the play and then breaking to run to the 3-point line around the opposite side.  The person throwing the ball was telling me to get back, but I said, ”We don’t have time for a play, throw me the ball.”  I was wide open!  He threw me the ball and I shot the 3 pointer.  I made it, but we were still losing. 

If there is one thing that we dislike the most it would be failing.  We are anti-failure! We don’t want it to happen!  It doesn’t feel good and it can cost us time, money and resources. Though it doesn’t feel good, it’s bound to happen at some point.  We all experience failure.

Even though I made that shot, it wasn’t enough to tie or take the lead. What I felt was failure.  I remember sitting in the locker room and I was very upset that we were losing.  We weren’t winning and to come back seemed like it would need a miracle.  I was not happy and I began to think losing was inevitable.  As I look back, I now know that there is a way to fail the right way.  I may not have realized the in-depth look at failing, but I do now. Here are a few lessons I extracted from this memory that has helped me be ready for failure. 

Mindset; Be prepared – Burn it in your mind that failing is okay.  If you haven’t heard the TedTalk by Ret Gen Stanley McCrystal – Listen, Learn and then Lead, he makes the comment, “Leaders can let you fail and yet not let you be a failure.”  When you fail, it doesn’t make you a failure.  It’s what you do next that defines your success.  Have the right mindset that failing is okay and that it is a possibility.  Don’t focus on failing, but be ready to try again.  It’s not being negative, it’s being prepared for whatever may come.  I believe when you’re ready for anything, even failing, that you’re getting a head of the game.  Don’t be fooled by failing.  It’s not the end, it’s just the beginning of another try.

Learn; Take away something new – There is learning to do in failing.  Always see what there is to learn from failing.  Remember that failing is sort of like constructive criticism.  It’s a chance to reevaluate what you’re doing so that you can try again.  Learn what worked, what didn’t work and why it failed in the first place. Learn something out of failing!

It was halftime now and it was now the coach’s opportunity to teach us what we were possibly doing wrong.  We evaluated what we were doing, we created an improved plan to fix it and then we took the 2nd half as the time to execute it.  We created that execution plan by learning from what we did the first half. We learned!

Attitude; Don’t be negative – Attitude changes everything.  If you have a bad attitude, it brings you down and the team down.  No one likes a downer.  Be positive that you will succeed.  Failing at something is a road bump.  You can still keep going as long as you remain positive and dedicated.  Keep your spirits up.  Having a good attitude can be contagious.  It’s good to pass that along. Sir Winston said, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”  Do not let failure control your emotions and certainly don’t let failure define who you are. Of course during any halftime, you’re not there to just create a new game plan, but you’re there to get re-motivated.  A time to push away the negatives and focus on the positives.  An attitude adjustment!

The half-time was a time to regain our composure and focus on turning the score around.  We went back out there and we played hard.  It was a close game and at the end, we ended up winning by 3 points.  I always look back at that game and think that if I had not made that shot would we have won? Remember the game is only over when you give up.

Why change matters!

Ideas, Innovation, Leadership, Organization

Every organization has a time when the people leading, the processes they manage and the products they create transform into something new, something different, something better and sometimes worse.

When I think of change, I think of the movie Without Limits.  It’s about Steven Prefontaine, the famous long distance runner who was tragically killed in a vehicle accident. He instilled such a strong belief, philosophy and approach to running that he refused to bow down to anyone’s advice, even his coach, Bill Bowerman, in the way he wanted to run.  Coach Bowerman tried immensely to teach Pre that his methods, although, effective, could be better if he would just change his strategy.   Pre insisted that there was no other way to run other than running flat out until he had nothing left.

Steve Prefontaine: I don’t want to win unless I know I’ve done my best, and the only way I know how to do that is to run out front, flat out until I have nothing left. Winning any other way is chicken-shit.

Though, Pre was extremely effective in his unchangeable belief in running, he also learned that hard work could still lose a race while a mediocre effort could win one.

Bill Bowerman: Pre, you see, was troubled by knowing that a mediocre effort can win a race and a magnificent effort can lose one.

Change is difficult to comprehend when the ways you’ve been doing things are working.  While some see no need for change, there are those that adapt to change and seek change very quickly.  In a work environment, no matter the career, these two types of people can clash and create an uneasy work environment.

So why the need for change?  Even when processes work in today’s culture we have to ask ourselves if they’re going to work in the future?   Are we willing to change to fit the culture we may evolve into?

Change scares us for many reasons.  We don’t like unfamiliar territory,  we like having control of what we know, we like stability and certainty.  That’s okay, it’s only natural that we feel these comforts.

Pre knew that his coach was right.  He knew that running with a better strategy would decrease his time, but winning wasn’t the only thing that mattered the most, it was ‘how’ he won that mattered.  Thus, Pre resisted change.

In the Air Force, every two years a squadron or base proceeds through a change of command. This means that a new Commander will take over as the current Commander moves on to another assignment. In this, many things happen. There is a time when things continue the way they are, but at one point a new set of eyes sees something that can be better. Thus, a new process begins and it’s like the first day of the school year again.  There are those that take it, some that resist it, some that wait and see and some that will try to avoid being a part of it.

There are a number of animals that deal with change too.  Some animals change their core temperature to fit in the environment’s climate. Some change color to blend in with their surroundings as a defense mechanism.  We, as humans, have a hard time adapting to the shifting direction of our environment.  Change is essential to adaptation.  It is also detrimental to not only surviving in our area, but also thriving in our environment. 

A football team is a prime example of how changing, “adapting,” can predict the outcome of any situation.  A football team must be able to change at a moment’s notice if the play they are trying to initiate is noticed by the opposing team.  The team may call an audible or they may play it out.  The defensive team, must do the same.  They will either play along with the play and each player do their part, but what if the offense calls a play change on the line.  The defensive team must adapt to the change and be ready for what is about to come.  They must change their defensive strategy!

This same concept is crucial to every organization.  Every organization must embrace change as a readiness tactic.  A readiness to remain in business.  If not a part of a readiness process, then it must be taken as an opportunity to make progress.

In golf, adaptability is key to winning.  Players must adapt wherever their ball may land.  The inability to adapt could be the difference between winning and losing.  Sometimes the case is just 1 stroke away, sometimes it’s a battle for a tie breaker and it may require tiny adjustments to win.  The winner of the 2015 Masters Champion(Jordan Spieth) won 1.8 million dollars, the 2 runners up(Rose/Mickelson) tied for 2nd and received $880K each and the 3rd place winner received $480K.  The difference in these winnings were very close and I’m sure there were many barely missed putts for birdie that could have put anyone in the lead at any time.  After each round, the players are usually questioned with how they performed.  Most will say they made adjustments in their swing or even changed their attitude.  Adapting to the situation definitely makes an impact.  A million dollar putt could be quite literal!

In all reality, change matters in all aspects of our culture, whether it’s sports, business, military, time management or even eating habits.  We must accept change as opportunities to make progress or in some cases not only survive, but thrive.  Businesses’ goals are not just to survive, but every business wants to thrive.  Adapting to compete with their competition, or adjusting to the supply and demand  need can really make or break a business.

Take change as opportunity.  Adapt as it requires.   Although, we’re not putting for a chance at a million dollars, we are all goal oriented for success .  Change doesn’t mean taking jumps in processes, but even adjusting with baby steps makes a difference.  Change matters! 

Lessons from a Boulder Street Performer

Leadership, Life, Social

Today, my cousin and I drove into Boulder to find a place to eat. We went down to Pearl St to see what wasn’t too packed. We walked up the strip and we saw a guy giving high 5s and hugs.

If you know Pearl St, it’s a very cultural diverse area. People are singing, asking for money, juggling, balancing acts, a bunch of sidewalk performers. Anyways, so we walk around and saw this guy and then we turned around and ate a pizza place near where we saw him.

We started to observe him a bit more to see more of what he was doing. If you view the tweet you will see him hug a guy in a red shirt. Also, there is a guy in a white bandanna that eventually turned around and walked back to him to take a hug from him.

He did this for about an hour, he would yell with enthusiasm every time someone engaged in a high five or hug. He was very enthusiastic! So after an hour, he then walked over and grab a guitar. He then started singing to people. Now, most performers here stay in one spot and usually expect people to draw to them. Of all the performers on the street, he is the only one that would go to people. He was very interactive. Some people would do a little dance, some people would literally wait for him to stop to take a picture and he’d give them a hug and high five.

Though I observed a stranger giving high fives and hugs, I observed a few other things…

One, from a business standpoint, if you’re selling a product you can’t expect people to run to you, you’ve got to establish a rapport with your target audience. This guy did that. My thought was he’s probably trying to get people to listen to him play and sing, but by spending an hour giving people high fives and hugs, he invested in them and took interest in them. People noticed and people gave him the time to listen. He didn’t shove his product down their throat, he took time to groom his audience and gave them something before asking for something(and he really didn’t need to ask, they gave without him asking). Build that rapport. 

Two, people skills are an overlooked subject in today’s business. Businesses want to hire people based off the knowledge they may have or received from experience or college. Knowledge may get the job done, but it may not keep you in business. This guy had a way of inspiring people that made people want to be around him. Strangers who in a short time invested in his product of compassion, love, and all around kindness. People skills are something that can be difficult to learn, you either have them or you don’t. This guy had incredible people skills. It was plain to see that he wasn’t there for him, he was there to give and people accepted it. Invest in people skills. 

Three, although many people were susceptible to his kindness there were a lot of people that weren’t and that’s when I realized how kindness has become such a foreign interaction. We automatically think, “What do you want from me?” After talking with him after we ate, we asked him why he did what he was doing. His response was, “I just like to make people happy. I’m not here to really make money. I want to make people happy with everything I do, high fives, hugs, singing.” Be kind, people need it and it doesn’t hurt if you need it too.

Four, he didn’t expect people to come to him, he went to them. He met them were they were. He gave, gave, and gave some more. Selflessness in such a simple way and he was making many people happy. Be a little more selfless. 

I was really inspired by this guy. Before giving him a hug and a high five, I told him, “You’ve gotta keep doing what you’re doing. You’ve got a talent that people take for granted. Develop your craft and keep inspiring. Whatever your goals are, this is what will get you to them.” He spends a lot time making others happy, perhaps he just needs someone to show him a little encouragement. He gave his appreciation to us and we had to leave.

His name is Pir. He is basically on the verge of being homeless, but I doubt anyone ever could take away his happiness. He’s got goals to go to college soon and I hope he gets through it. He’s got great potential to be a great leader.  If I owned a company or a business I would hire him on the spot.  He’s the kind of people you want engaging with your customers.  If you’re in Boulder on Pearl St and a guy is giving free hugs and high fives, it’s probably Pir.  Give him a hug or a high five,  he deserves it!

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Change is Opportunity

Leadership, Organization, Social

Change is Opportunity

People don’t like change. We like routine and when things do change we begin to feel a little stressed due to the unfamiliar territory.  It’s okay to feel that.  It’s natural.  However, change can be a good thing. We need to look at change as a way to grow and learn.  Seek the value in change. If things don’t work out, guess what’s next…change. I wrote this from an experience at my previous base.  (see below)

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At my previous base I was President of the Airman’s Council.  I wanted to make a few small changes in the morale of the Airman, get them to boost the camaraderie in a non-work setting.  Our council began to host, at least once a month, some type of event for the Airman.  Free, no charge, come and enjoy food and the fellowship of your fellow Airman.  These events usually averaged 20-30 people.  Not many at all considering the amount we have on base.  I began to feel a little discouraged because what we were doing wasn’t catching on.  We advertised, we put the word out, our First Sergeants pushed these events, but still no one came.

In one of our executive council meetings we decided that we were going to pause the events since the numbers were low, but then our First Sergeant mentor pulled me aside after and told me this.

“Don’t stop what you’re doing.  You’re providing opportunity!  Even if no one is taking the opportunity to take part, you are doing your part to give the opportunity to the Airman! Keep doing what you all are doing.”

Talk about an eye opener!  Opportunity!  I started to think about how that applies to the things I come across.  In all reality, I think I could have grabbed opportunity a bit more in the past.  I wanted to change things and realized perhaps that we were changing things even if only a few people grabbed the opportunity.  That’s when I realized, change is opportunity.

I leave with you this, when something comes along that allows you to be better, do better and leave better, take it.  Take that chance to learn something for yourself and take it to leave something for someone else.  Change is opportunity!