Tag Archives: power of vision

Be A Marvin

I had just finished an exhausting day of work. Three presentations — in one day — to three different customers — all in one city. Everything had to go perfectly and, thankfully, it had. I was finally on my way home. I dropped off my rental car and, bone-tired, trudged over to catch the bus that would take me to the airport.

As I climbed up the steps of the courtesy shuttle I was met by the most amazing deep, baritone voice, “Welcome aboard your escape from everything. Sit back. Relax. And enjoy the soothing sounds of some of the best jazz you have ever heard. Let these notes carry you away to a peaceful place, a beautiful retreat, an idyllic get away. My name is Marvin but you can call me ‘Velvet’ because my voice and my ride is smooooooth.”

Needless to say, me and all the other bleary-eyed road warriors, looked at each other with an “Is he for real?” expression on our faces. “In case you hadn’t noticed Marvin… er, Velvet, this is a shuttle bus not a stretch limo.”

Oh, but Marvin was just getting started. He introduced each song on his CD. Gave interesting background information about the artists. Asked if we had any requests. Played mini trivia games with us. Got us all interacting with him and with each other.

It was amazing to watch! In less than 10 minutes he had transformed the “same old boring shuttle ride with a bunch of tired strangers” into a positive, upbeat, fun experience.

As we exited, every single passenger thanked Marvin (of course, he was already up on his feet to high-five each one of us). He thanked us all for choosing his company, wished us all well in our endeavors, and asked that, when we returned, would we please, once again, allow him to serve us.

It was the single best rental car company experience of my life!!  And, trust me, I rent a lot of cars.  And the reason for my positive customer experience: not the reservation specialist when I made the reservation, not the counter agent who got me a map of the area, not the security guard as I pulled out of the lot who made sure I had the right vehicle and a full tank of gas…nope. It was the shuttle bus driver.

Will I do business with that car rental agency in the future? You bet I will! I’ll probably even wait an extra few minutes if the delay will allow me to ride on Marvin’s bus.

There is no such thing as an unimportant job. You have the ability, with whatever you do, to make it extraordinary. Choose to be a Marvin.

Barriers Can Make You Better

I am writing these words on March 27th. For basketball fans across the country and around the world, March Madness is in full bloom. And with the field shrinking down to Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four, this year’s tournament has been filled with surprises.

As it happens every year, there have been a number of great games go down to final shots. There have also been plenty of great story lines filled with upsets, bracket busters, and Cinderellas. On one end of the spectrum there has been lots of second-guessing, hand-wringing, and head-hanging. On the other end standing ovations, celebrations, and jubilation.

As each college basketball season comes to a close I am always reminded of the amazing feat accomplished by the UCLA Bruins during their unprecedented 10 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships in 12 seasons from 1963 to 1975.

During that amazing run, UCLA had a number of truly great players but, arguably, the greatest was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor). His athleticism and ability to dunk the basketball made him stand out like a man among boys on the court.

But between his sophomore and junior years at UCLA, the NCAA Rules Committee made a rule change that outlawed the dunk shot. It was widely believed that the committee had instituted this change with the single goal of lessening Abdul-Jabbar’s dominance during games.

At first, Kareem was devastated. He perceived this as a huge barrier to his success. A giant obstacle thrown in his path. But his coach challenged his perspective and told him to look at this barrier as a way to raise his game to a higher level. As he later wrote in his autobiography, Kareem:

“At the time, Coach Wooden told me it would only make me a better player, helping me develop a softer touch around the basket. This I could use to good advantage in the pros, where I could also, once again, use the dunk shot. He was right. It didn’t hurt me. I worked twice as hard at banking my shots off the glass, on turn-around jump shots, and on my hook. [This barrier] made me a better all-around player.”

Just as the “no dunk rule” barrier caused Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to develop more of his potential by forcing him to focus on other skills and abilities so too can barriers have the same impact on our lives.

Whether the barrier you face is new technology, a new competitor, a challenging student or an economic downturn, remember barriers can truly help us to become even better than we were before.


It is all the rage today to understand your mission, your vision, your values.

You can see both corporations and individuals spending lots of time (and money) identifying these things and then laboriously “word-smithing” them down on paper so that they read just right.

But, if we’re not careful, there can be a total disconnect when it comes to living out those well-crafted words.

Here’s what I mean…If I read your words and then look at your behavior or the behavior of your team, will I see congruence? Will the behaviors, attitudes, reactions, and responses align with what you say is important to you or your organization?

The following story recently arrived in my Inbox and illustrates what I am saying:

The light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration, as she missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup.

As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up.

He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a holding cell.

After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, ”I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ bumper sticker, the ‘Choose Life’ license plate holder, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday-School’ bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk, so naturally…I assumed you had stolen the car.”

Take a moment and reflect. Are your behaviors and reactions aligned with what you say you value? To your customers? To your team members? To your family? To your neighbors?

Exhibit an Attitude of Optimistic Confidence

This is part 11 of a 12 part series that I call the 12 X’s of Leadership.

Leaders see themselves succeeding. They have the ability to look into the future and literally see themselves obtaining their goal. Hitting their target.

Positive visualization is a crucial element in becoming a great leader and it is a powerful tool to help you accomplish any goal you set.

I saw this dramatically played out as my daughter Lindsey prepared for her first Equestrian event as a “show jumper” many years ago. In a nut shell, for me, show jumping was watching my little wisp of a daughter, 10 years old, climb up on the back of a 700 pound wild animal she called Yoo Hoo and ride around in an arena surrounded by hundreds of people and leap over small buildings. (Ok, that’s what it looked like to me anyway.) It scared me.

We got Lindsey an amazing trainer to help her learn how to compete in this sport (honestly, all I knew about horses was which end the food went in and which end it came out and to stay away from both ends).

I was more than a little worried when “my baby” climbed up upon this 700 lb “wild beast”. They trained for months with Lindsey progressing rapidly in her learning. She was a natural.

Then one day her trainer, Jason, proclaimed her ready to compete and signed her up for a huge show. We had one week to get ready. Jason informed us that the week before a show was critical and that he wanted to work with Lindsey every afternoon with her completely dressed in her “competition outfit”.

We arrived for the first pre-competition practice and Yoo Hoo was nowhere to be seen. Jason said Yoo Hoo was ready but Lindsey was not. He proceeded to sit her on top of the fence that surrounded the riding area at the stable and they rode the course over and over in Lindsey’s mind.

Jason taught her that she had to “see” herself succeeding, that she had to visualize herself flawlessly running the course: elbows in, thumbs up, heels down, change leads, lean into the jump. Time and time again they ran the course in Lindsey’s head. She knew it. She saw herself conquering it. She exhibited an attitude of optimistic confidence

The following Saturday I watched my girl win her first blue ribbon and learn a lifelong lesson: Rather than focus on the obstacles in the course of life, focus on getting over them, beating them, and achieving your goal.

Express Your Vision to Others

This is part 5 of a 12 part series that I call the 12 X’s of Leadership

These days there is much written and said about the power of vision. Corporate boards of directors are encouraged to have mission and vision statements. Consultants criss-cross our country helping their clients to facilitate “vision meetings”. Leaders are expected to “cast the vision” for the organization. I have even run across the phrase “visioneering”.

Now, while there are many different ways to define a vision or a vision statement, I tend to like the “easy to remember” ones like this:

Visiona picture of where you see yourself (or your department, team, family, organization, whatever) in “5,10,20” years…you pick the number.

The experts say that vision helps to motivate us (or our teammates, employees, partners, etc.) to “stay the course”, to “keep going when the going gets tough”, to “never give up and never give in”.

A vision should inspire, empower, and motivate.

I like this idea and have almost always heard it exclusively used when discussing organizations. But I think people should have personal vision statements too. [If you missed it go back and check out Part 2 of this 12 part series—the one entitled Extract a Dream.]

But here is where I break away from the pack of “you need to have a vision statement folks”. While having a vision is great, it is only the first step. I think equally important is Expressing Your Vision to Others.

There is something transformational that takes place when you articulate your vision.

  • It seals commitment.
  • It invites accountability
  • It galvanizes resolve.

And that is only part of the benefit. When we express our visions to others it is amazing to watch them line up behind us to help us get there.

When I finally made the decision to write my first book Sticks & Stones Exposed: The Power of Our Words, I didn’t tell anyone. Honestly, I think I was afraid I would fail and then have to answer all the questions about when it was coming out, how it was going and who was going to publish it, yada, yada, yada.

Now, while I had a vision of writing a book, I was in way over my head. I had never written a book. I didn’t know how to find a publisher, design a cover, find out if my working title had ever been used before, how to get an ISBN number, how to get a Library of Congress number, and so many other details. It seemed every day I discovered yet another aspect about which I had no clue.

It was overwhelming and disheartening and my book project slowed to a frozen snail’s pace.

So finally, with a bit of fear and trepidation, I whispered my vision to another person. They got all excited about my project and referred me to someone who knew about book cover design who knew someone that had a publisher friend who knew someone who had written a book, etc. The domino effect was in full swing. It seemed the more I expressed my vision to others; the more I met people who were excited to help me accomplish my dream! And together we did it.

Express your vision to others and watch great things happen!