Month: January, 2011
Joe Kerr: After countless requests, our esteemed moderator has finally agreed to allow me to pontificate on a topic of my choice. First lesson: Persist. Wear ‘em down. Already you’ve gotten more value from this post than any other. Keep reading. There’s more!
Unlike the tired format you are used to – i.e. taking tidbits from so-called experts and getting my reaction to their mindless drivel, I’m going to share a tried-and-true technique, a story (which you are free to use by the way) from the Chronicles of Joe Kerr. I actually told this story to one of my guys when he came to me to talk about a raise. It really blew his mind. It goes like this…
Bill, let me tell you a story… When I was on vacation in the Bahamas last week I got some water in my ear. I’m sure that’s happened to you before, right? It actually happens to me fairly frequently. Not sure why. Maybe there is a connection to brain activity.
Anyway, I couldn’t shake the water free. I did the “jump up and down with head tilted to one side” move. I rocked my head back and forth a few hundred times. I slept on the one side of my head, then the other. Nothing doing. Even the cabin pressure on the plane ride home didn’t do the trick. Sunday morning I leapt out of bed to greet the day and boy was I in for one heck of a treat. I got that wonderful feeling of a warm trickle of water in my ear. It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world actually. After a brief second or two of sheer bliss, my ear was clear once again. “How about that?” I thought to myself. “Isn’t that something?”
“So, what is the lesson,” I asked Bill. “Don’t go swimming in the Bahamas?” he responded. “Don’t be silly Bill. You’ve had the feeling I described, right? Relish it Bill! It’s a little slice of heaven. You can’t buy that feeling Bill. The lesson is that we need to be grateful for the little things. It’s the little things Bill… life’s simple little pleasures that make our lives worth living.”
Bill looked a little overcome by this new-found knowledge, but I wasn’t done yet. The story continued…
Sometimes life deals you a blow, like clogging up your ear. We can’t continue to let things like that get us down. We need to plow through them. Eventually, if we work hard enough, we’ll get that reward – that sweet, warm sensation of water draining from our ear. Sure, it may take some time, maybe even a year or two, but it very well may come.
Needless to say, Bill was speechless. It’s not every day that someone like him gets a life lesson from a manager, and a pep talk to boot – a potent, productivity cocktail “Stop by any time Bill,” I said, “My door is always open.”
Obviously this was a perfect management tool for Bill and his raise request, but if you think about it, the applications are endless. Keep this baby in your back pocket, and use it frequently. God Bless.
Wanda B. Goode: I’m speechless.
Here are a couple of posts explaining how to get water out of your ear!
In his new book, Hard Goals, Mark Murphy shares information on a 1992 study by Fortune editor George Colvin which measured the skills of 257 music students. The study showed that there was no correlation between early musical ability and top musical performance. The interesting finding was that the top students practiced 2 hours/day versus 15 minutes for the lowest performing students. He used the numbers to extrapolate total hours of practice for the musicians by age 18. Turns out the top performers would have practiced 7,000 hours, the average ones, 5000 hours and the lower level musicians, 3,400 hours. Natural talent did not appear to be the difference maker.
Thoughts Joe and Wanda?
Joe Kerr: Fortunately I’ve been blessed with both, so it’s not much of a debate for me.
Wanda B. Goode: I think we can all name quite a few very bright people with bad attitudes that have struggled. Similarly, we all know a few with limited skills that light the world on fire with their passion and drive. A good attitude can overcome many deficiencies. As managers, attitude should be a significant consideration during the hiring process.
Here are some related posts…
A couple of weeks ago the Philadelphia Inquirer printed an AP story where Michael Dell was interviewed about his company’s shifting strategy. He said the following about transformation.
“So you come up with the strategy and you start communicating – aggressively and consistently and on a repeated basis. Then you have a series of determined actions and investments that reinforce the strategy. And what happens over a period of time… is people start to believe that this change is real and they see it happening because they’re a part of it and they’re living the changes. And that’s where it gets really exciting.”
He makes it sound so simple, huh Joe and Wanda?
Joe Kerr: It’s simple when you are a change ambassador, a transformational leader like me. When you have Gumby-like flexibility and eat change for lunch it’s as natural as picking your nose. Of course not everyone is like me, but that’s exactly why I’m here.
Wanda B. Goode: Come up with the strategy, communicate the change and its impacts persistently, and then execute relentlessly involving as many people as possible. Many stumble on the very first step. They wander aimlessly without a strategy. For whatever reason, many more have difficulty communicating. Rarely is there enough communication around transformation. Finally, and probably most common, is the breakdown in the execution step. Flavor of the day anyone?
I love the term “determined actions.” It takes determined actions to show people that you mean what you say and that “this transformation thing is for real.” Once the crew understands that, they are much more willing to get involved. More of us need to make such “determined actions.”
Here’s a related post…
Dan McCarthy hosts the January, 2011 Leadership Development Carnival at his site, Great Leadership. Sample the 30+ management and leadership articles posted this month.