Tag Archives: Priorities

The Solution to #SochiProblems

I was rolling in laughter as my daughter read me some of the tweets chronicled under #SochiProblems during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Olympics. Armed with Twitter feeds and lightning-fast zingers, reporters have ravaged the city’s preparation for the Olympics more cruelly than the packs of stray dogs still (according to Twitter) wandering the streets.

Here’s another funny hashtag for you: #snowpocalypse2014. If you didn’t hear, Atlanta was recently hit with an unexpected snowstorm that paralyzed interstate traffic and trapped many on the roads for hours. Just like #SochiProblems, frustrated Atlantans took to the Twitterverse and blasted Governor Nathan Deal and Mayor Kasim Reed for lack of preparation. But that is just half of the story.

At the same time, other Atlantans (including my son Logan) were packing supplies, food, and extra gas into their 4-wheel drives to come to the aid of many folks who had been stranded for hours.

After hearing about my son’s actions my pride alone probably could have thawed I-75, especially when I thought about what a prime example he and many other local heroes are of Leadership Redefined. You see…

Leaders don’t waste energy complaining, but focus their efforts on finding solutions.

Did I mention that Logan had just sat in 5 hours of traffic before arriving home himself?

Whether you are leading an organization with complexities like the Winter Olympics, or just looking to make it home in one piece, I hope that we can remember in the face of adversity or inconvenience to take a moment to laugh, hashtag our own one-liners and then help ourselves and others.

And while we’re at it, if you can find me any tweets about #SochiSolutions or #SnowpocalypseHeroes, please send them my way.

Click here to order a copy(ies) of Dave’s new book Leadership Redefined.

The only resolution you should make this year

The presents have been unwrapped, the turkey’s been devoured, the crazy relatives have been pushed out the door, and we are all sick and tired of eggnog and Christmas music. It’s time to make some New Year’s resolutions. While losing weight, hitting your sales goals, or quitting smoking are great goals for next year, I’d like to challenge you to make only one resolution in 2014—and unlike the resolutions mentioned earlier, this one has the potential to transform every aspect of your life—your career, your relationships, your dreams and your health. Are you ready for it??

This year, resolve to keep the main thing the main thing.

Whatever the main thing is for you—a career goal, a desire to invest in certain relationships, or a dream you’re chasing—keeping the main thing the main thing will minimize your distractions and focus your actions with the precision of a laser pointer.

For example, if my “main thing” is to be the best husband and father that I can be, I will be working hard to be a great provider for my family—but I’ll also be curbing my late nights at the office so that I can take my wife on a date or catch a movie with one of the kids. I will learn that talking to my daughter about her day might be more exciting than whatever’s being covered on SportsCenter, or that walking our two energetic dogs with my wife transforms a mundane task into an opportunity to spend time with her. Wanting to live a long, full life with my family motivates me to eat a little better and move a little more. It makes me a better listener, a more productive employee, and a more generous giver.

So as you think about your own resolutions, I hope you identify your main thing, and perhaps a few action steps that you can take in order to keep the main thing the main thing.  May your 2014 be an exciting, successful year—but most of all, may it be the year when you begin to make progress on purpose.

Perspective: It’s Funny How Things Change

Have you ever heard of Norman Vincent Peale? This Ohio-born preacher became one of the most influential clergymen of the 20th century, and even if his name doesn’t ring a bell, the title of the most popular of his dozens of books surely will: The Power of Positive Thinking. Published in 1952, the book is one of the all-time-bestselling self-help guides out there, with more than 20 million copies sold in 40-plus languages.

A well-circulated anecdote about Peale involves a man who phoned him one day, deeply depressed and looking for help. Peale invited the man to his office for a chat, during which the man told him he had nothing to live for anymore.

Peale smiled sympathetically at the distraught man sitting before him. “Let’s take a look at your situation,” he said, taking out a sheet of paper and drawing a line down the middle of the paper. He told the man on the left side they would list the things he’d lost in his life, and on the right, the things he had remaining.

“We won’t need that column on the right,” the man said. “There’s nothing in my life left to live for.”

So Peale asked the man when his wife left him. “She hasn’t left me,” the man replied, a bit taken aback. “Somehow, she still loves me.”

“Well, that’s a good start – ‘Wife Not Left,’” Peale wrote in the right-hand column. “Now, tell me, when did your children go to jail?”

“What?” the man asked, surprised. “My children aren’t in jail!”

“Great!” Peale replied, making more notes. “Then we’ve got another addition for things you haven’t lost – ‘Children Not in Jail.’”

After a few more questions along those lines, the man finally saw Peale’s point and even allowed a small smile. He said to Peale: “It’s funny how things change when you think of them that way.”

Learn to re-frame how you look at various situations and it is amazing to see how your perspective can change.

Do You Like What You Do?

Such a simple question, but the ramifications of your answer have a lot to do with your enjoyment of life. Whether you are the CEO of a company or the CEO of a home, you spend most of your time “doing” it. So, do you enjoy it?

Well according to the Gallup organization only 20% of people can answer that simple question with a resounding “Yes!”

Here is what is so interesting…built into the DNA of each and every one of us is the need to do something—and in a perfect world, to enjoy doing it. It is great to have something to look forward to every day. Not only that, but what we do often contributes directly to our identity.

When people are first getting to know each other, what is one of the first questions asked: “So, what do you do?” If your answer to that question is something you find fulfilling and meaningful, you feel so much better about yourself than if your answer leaves you flat and uninspired.

Believe it or not, enjoying what you do has a major impact on many of the other areas of your life: relationships, physical health, and financial security for example.

Think about it this way, if you have wonderful relationships, stable financial security, and good physical health—but you don’t like what you do every day…chances are pretty good that much of your social time is spent complaining about your lousy job (not very fun as it pulls everyone else around you down).  You also spend a great deal of your time away from work worrying about having to go back to it (which ruins your time away from it). And all that worry, dread, and anxiety about work can have a negative impact on your health.

Many have fallen into the trap that work is just a necessary evil and it is certainly not something to be enjoyed. But that’s not true. One of the essentials to having fun at work and enjoying what you do is getting the opportunity to use your strengths every day.  According to the Gallup organization people who have the opportunity to use their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life.

What do you enjoy about your job? What are you good at? Figure out how to do more of it. Get creative. Swap tasks with some of your colleagues. Talk to your boss about it. Enjoying what you do is a “win” for everyone.

I Can’t See My Desk

For over two decades I have traveled across the country because organizations have hired me to help their employees get organized.  I have trained well over 100,000 people in a seminar called “I’m Spread So Thin You Can See Through Me”.

As I ask participants to create a list of objectives they would like to cover, invariably, there is one that continually shows up…desk management.  Now, they might not call it that, but it shows up in a number of other ways like:

“My desk is a disaster area.”

“I have piles all over my office.”

“We are supposed to be going paperless, but I can’t tell.”

“I have no idea if my desk is wood or metal, because I can’t see it!”

“Colleagues put stuff in my chair because the top of my desk is too scary.”

You get the idea.

After inventorying the tops of hundreds of desks, I discovered that most of the stuff piled on our desks is up there for two reasons:

One, it’s up there to remind you to do something.

Two, you don’t know where else to put it in the meantime.

I call all this paper “homeless paper”…it just lives in the environment in your office and occasionally gets displaced to another area of your office to survive.

Here is a great, simple idea to help you gain control of the top of your desk:

  1. Build a “Homeless Shelter”. Some people call it a miscellaneous A-Z file.  There will be 26 folders or files labeled A, B, C, etc.
  2. Then make a decision on every piece of paper following what I call the 4 D’s of Paper Management (Drop It, Do It, Delegate It, Date It)

Here’s how it works. Grab a piece of paper and run it through the following decision-making grid, making sure you go in order:

Option 1: Drop It – Where might be an appropriate place to “drop” some of the paper on your desk? Trash can?, recycling bin?, a permanent file? Wait, it doesn’t have a home…you just built a homeless shelter for exactly this kind of document. What is the piece of paper called? File it alphabetically in you’re a-z files by that name. Now if the piece of paper requires action (not just Drop It somewhere, go to option 2).

Option 2: Do It – If the piece of paper can be handled in 3 minutes or less…do it… and get it off your desk. If it will take longer than 3 minutes go to option 3.

Option 3: Delegate It – If you can delegate whatever that piece of paper represents…delegate it. (Maybe you are the delegatee and not the delegator so this is not an option for you—then you move to option 4).

Option 4: Date It – If you cannot Drop It, Do It, or Delegate It, the piece of paper in your hand represents something that you need to do. So you Date It. Decide when you are going to do it and put on your calendar or to-do list. But here is the secret when you list this activity on your calendar or to-do list, also record where you filed the piece of paper so when you are reminded to do the task you will also be directed to where the information is filed.