Tag Archives | Positivity & Well-Being

5 Tips from Lee Sklar

10308554_10152120369101430_3067860134782587280_nI’m a working musician on the side. I’m blessed to be a part of a talented, values aligned band that loves making music that makes people dance and smile!

I see (and have written about) a lot of parallels between music teams and business teams. A recent MusicRadar interview by one of the finest musicians on the planet, Leland Sklar, really rang true for me.

Lee has played bass on over 2500 albums for artists as varied as BB King, Phil Collins, James Taylor, Hall & Oates, and Lyle Lovett. He’s a sought-after studio and tour musician. And, he’s a genuinely nice guy. His world view is interesting & entertaining, and he engages willingly with fans on social media.

What’s Lee’s approach? What does he do – to get hired again and again – that countless other musicians don’t do? Lee says, “It’s not about bringing your chops (skills) to the date – it’s what kind of energy and professionalism you bring with you and how you improve the creative process.”

By tweaking Lee’s language a little for business application (with his permission – thank you, Lee), let’s apply his insights to the question, “How do you make yourself a valuable, sought-after business team member?”

Learn As Much As You Can
“It behooves you to bring as much facility and versatility” to your work opportunities as you can. Refine your skills constantly. Toss rusty, less valuable skills while building needed skills nimbly. Be proactive – don’t wait to be asked.

Learn The Language & The Tools
In the music world, musicians that can sight-read sheet music have a huge advantage over musicians that can’t. Every business has frameworks, systems, and approaches that it prefers. Be adept at your company’s language and tools. Study. Speak up with suggestions. Inquire why. Be skilled at your company’s foundational methodologies.

Personality Counts
“Be somebody that people get along with.” Be nice. Be a positive person in every interaction. Be engaged – if the team is reviewing progress and performance, don’t text or email; be present & offer insights. Be enthusiastic! Be the person that moves things forward, nicely. “Be the person you’d hire if it was your business.”

Stay Healthy
You can’t effectively serve anyone else if you’re not 100% healthy – spiritually, mentally, and physically. Take good care of yourself so you can contribute genuinely, happily, and consistently. Drugs and alcohol incapacitate you. “If you go on stage and you’re messed up, you’re disrespecting your fellow musicians and audience members.” Eat right. Sleep right. Exercise. Repeat daily!

See the World
“Anything you can do that makes you a better person will be reflected” in the work you do. Don’t sequester yourself! Take advantage of opportunities to see different companies. Go to customer sites to learn how they use your company’s products and services. Talk with people. What you learn, see, and hear can help you see the world from their eyes . . . and adapt to serve better.

What is your experience? What tips would you add to this list? Please share your insights, comments, and questions in the comments section below.

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway: the Great Boss Assessment and the Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

My new book from Wiley, The Culture Engine, guides leaders to create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. Get your free sample chapter here.

Photo © Courtesy of Leland Sklar. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Help them “Run Back to the Barn”

HorseWhat brought our family to Colorado was a wonderful experience in the early ’80’s at a dude ranch in Sedalia, CO (only about an hour from where we live today).

The Lost Valley Ranch is a family owned and operated working ranch. Its Rocky Mountains location is gorgeous – but what makes it special is the guest experience. Programs for all ages, activities of all kinds (including hammock napping, if that floats your boat), fabulous mealtimes with family, and great entertainment by the ranch staff make the experience special.

Our family went three times over six years. These trips helped our daughter fall in love with Colorado. She went to college here, fell in love here, and settled here. The rest of us have followed her lead to end up living in this beautiful state.

At the ranch, each adult was assigned a horse at the beginning of the week. Wranglers would discuss your experience with riding (or lack thereof) and pair you up with a horse that would accommodate your skill level. They wanted us to be safe and have fun on our rides.

I wasn’t an experienced rider. I was assigned a beautiful, big Paint Horse that was steady and sure-footed. As I grew more comfortable with riding those first days, I wanted my horse to gallop a bit. And, my horse wasn’t a galloper. No matter what I tried out on the trail or in the fields, I couldn’t get him to run on command.

However, he did run consistently when we reached sight of the barn, his home. At the end of our trail rides, he’d run back to the barn, every time.

It wasn’t surprising. His barn, his stall, was home. He was fed there. He was lovingly bathed and groomed there. His peers were there (horses are social animals, which I didn’t know). The barn was a cool place to be. So, he ran home – because he loved the barn.

Is your workplace somewhere employees run to? Are they excited to get to work, to serve customers, to solve problems with valued peers, and things like that? Or are they not that enthused about getting to work each day, more listless than inspired?

Leaders, choose to create a workplace that is a cool place for employees to be. If they’re treated consistently with dignity and respect, they’ll thrive there. If they’re given challenging work that makes a difference, they’ll bring their best selves to work. If they’re valued for their efforts as well as their accomplishments, they’ll apply discretionary energy to team goals.

And, if peers also treat them with dignity and respect, that’ll be an even greater draw.

#Workplace Inspiration doesn’t happen naturally. Power plays, politics, and ladder-climbing is what happens in workplaces naturally. If you want #Workplace Inspiration, you must intentionally model it and demand it, of everyone.

That’ll make employees “run back to the barn,” at the start of every workday.

What do you think? How inspiring is your workplace today? What did your #GreatBosses do to craft a work environment where you thrived? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Subscribe to my free weekly blog & podcast updates. Subscribers enjoy two “fabulous gifts:” my Be a GREAT Boss ebook plus an excerpt from my new #GREAT Bosses tweet book.

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway. The Great Boss Assessment compares your current boss’ behaviors with those of great bosses. The Performance-Values Assessment compares your organization’s culture practices to those of high performing, values-aligned organizations. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

Photo © istockphoto.com/kyslynskyy. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Serve Well Then Lead Well

Happy Diverse Business GroupLast week’s post/cast outlined the foundation of effective service and leadership – living well, being of positive physical well-being.

If I have inspired you to take steps (literally and figuratively) to boost your physical health, let’s look at the second step: serve well.

Serving others is the foundation of citizenship in our families, workplaces, and communities. The call to service is also found in nearly every one of the world’s religions.

I define servant leadership as a person’s dedication to helping others be their best selves at home, work, and in their community.

What if you are not a formal leader in your family, workplace, or community today? Please don’t let the terminology “servant leadership” dissuade you from embracing the philosophy and practices of servant leadership.

Anyone can serve – and lead – from any position or role in a family, workplace, or community.

What is the philosophy of servant leadership? One must understand and embrace the philosophy before their daily plans, decisions, and actions can be consistently aligned to that philosophy.

Servant leaders believe:

  • Every person has value and deserves civility, trust, and respect.
  • People can accomplish much when inspired by a purpose beyond themselves.
  • It is their role and responsibility is to enable others to bring their best to every moment and every interaction.

What are the practices of servant leaders? Servant leaders typically:

  • Clarify and reinforce the need for service to others. They educate others by their words and actions. They help create a clearer understanding of the greater purpose of serving others. They pose questions to help those around them consider how to set aside self-serving behaviors and embrace servant leadership behaviors.
  • Listen intently and observe closely. They understand that, in order to inspire the best in others, they must understand the world others live in. They do not assume things about others, nor do they judge others. Over time they learn about their players’ unique worldview and opportunities to serve by listening more than talking, observing more than preaching.
  • Act as selfless mentors. They are not looking for credit! They are looking to boost traction in others’ efforts to better serve. Their interactions and communications are designed to boost others’ servant philosophy and others’ servant skills.
  • Demonstrate persistence. They understand that a conversation or two may not change a player’s mindset or assumptions. They are lovingly tenacious; they invest hours in conversations over months to help educate and, hopefully, inspire servant leadership practices in others.
  • Lovingly hold themselves and others accountable for their commitments. Servant leaders are human; they’ll make mistakes. They know the players they are working with will make mistakes. And, they push for high standards of performance and service quality by everyone. They praise aligned behaviors and redirect mis-aligned ones to create consistent service to others.

How do you know if you are a servant leader? You don’t have a vote! The only folks who do have a vote are those that interact with you daily: family members, friends, colleagues, customers, and strangers. You must ask regularly, “How can I be of greater service to you?” then refine your behaviors to serve more effectively.

What do you think? What are your best servant leader practices, ones you use frequently to serve others? What did your great bosses do to serve you effectively? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Subscribe to my free weekly blog & podcast updates. Subscribers enjoy two “fabulous and exclusive gifts” which include my “Be a GREAT Boss” ebook plus an excerpt from my new #GREAT Bosses tweet book.

How does your boss fare in my new fast & free Great Boss Assessment? Contribute your experiences – it takes only minutes. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

Photo © istockphoto.com/ridofranz. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Live Well to Serve & Lead Well

Walk ParkHow do you feel, right now, as you read this post or listen to this podcast?

Are you fully present, engaged, possibly optimistic about what’s to come today and in the coming days?

Or do you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle, sleep-deprived, or without a clear head, heart, and spirit?

If you are feeling less than your #BestSelf, you are unable to serve others well or to lead others well.

Living healthy is the foundation of effective service and leadership. It must come first.

What is a desirable standard for physical well-being? You don’t have to be a triathlete to qualify as “living well.” But you do need to know where you stand.

A commonly-used metric for physical health is BMI (body mass index), which uses height and weight to assess one’s body fatness. It’s not the only metric you should use, but it’s a fast and easy way to gauge how close you are to a healthy weight.

Another valuable metric for physical health is to assess how you physically feel on a regular basis. If you have positive physical well-being, you feel energetic, optimistic, present, and enthused about life. Though your feelings about your physical health is a subjective measure, it is an important element of your well-being.

There are two main contributors to your BMI and physical well-being: food and exercise.

Food is fuel. The human body is a machine that expends energy in daily life. How you fuel your body contributes to your positive physical well-being or to your lack of it.

Traveling for client work caused me to struggle with my weight for years. The first food/fuel system that has made sense to me is Tim Ferriss’ Slow Carb diet. The basics are to eat lean proteins and vegetables, and to eliminate dairy, starches, grains, and fruits.

Meals are simple and tasty. Once your body gets used to your slow carb fuels, you feel stronger, more present, and happier. Even better: the diet includes one day off a week, where you can eat anything you want! This cycling of high calories actually helps the body’s metabolism.

The “no grains or flour” idea is reinforced in Dr. David Perlmutter’s new book, Grain Brain. Perlmutter’s research shows that eating whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, and depression.

Another key part of the slow carb approach – eat breakfast! According to a 2011 NPD Group study, 31 million Americans skip breakfast. Numerous studies link skipping breakfast to increased risk of diabetes and coronary disease as well as a negative effect on mood, memory, and metabolism.

If you do nothing else with what you learn in this post, commit to eating a slow carb breakfast every day for two weeks. Tim Ferriss give tips on a three minute slow carb breakfast if you’re time-crunched in the mornings. See how it makes you feel. If it works for you, keep at it and incorporate slow carb foods into the rest of your daily meals.

Adding exercise will help you feel better, stronger, sooner. The simplest exercise? Walking. Recent studies have found that as little as 10 minutes of walking daily improve cardiac heath and cognitive memory. Start slow and build up to 30 minutes walks once a day.

Consider getting a step counter to help you keep track of your fitness goals. The Fitbit One just got Consumer Reports top rating.

What do you think? How do you manage your physical well-being daily? Try the two-week slow carb breakfast test and tell us how you feel afterwards. Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Receive two “fabulous gifts” only available to subscribers of my weekly updates. The gifts include my “Be a GREAT Boss” ebook plus an excerpt from my new #GREAT Bosses tweet book.

How does your boss fare in my new fast & free Great Boss Assessment? Contribute your experiences – it takes only minutes. Results and analysis are now available on my research page.

Photo © istockphoto.com/leaf. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Shared Values and Common Goals

iStock_000020421537XSmallHow do leaders create #WorkPlaceInspiration? Why should leaders care?

Leaders are charged with getting things done through others. Most organizations carefully monitor output – production, quality, sales, market share, profits, deadlines, etc. They create dashboards to measure how well actual output compares with expected (or promised) output.

If output standards are met, some leaders recognize that effort. Some don’t. Monitoring continues, ad nauseum.

Output is an important metric; organizations must be disciplined about delivering high quality products and services to generate revenue. AND, making output the exclusive metric drives undesirable consequences.

It, at minimum, can create practices where employees are treated like “cogs in a wheel” as opposed to valued contributors. It can create an “I win, you lose” dynamic among team members. Employees may spot problems but choose not to solve them because “that’s not their job.”

At the extreme, undesirable consequences can include abusive leader behaviors which lead to sabotage, “retiring on the job,” etc.

These undesirable consequences cost time and money. These hard dollar costs erode company success.

Most organizations do not monitor #WorkPlaceInspiration, the degree of human enthusiasm for the work and the application of discretionary energy by staff to the work.

When one looks at companies that are highly regarded for both performance and employee well-being (for example, the Fortune 2013 Best Companies to Work For list), two common foundational practices stand out: they have shared values and common goals across the organization.

Common goals align efforts and skill application to desired results. Add shared values – alignment to formalized values expectations that define citizenship standards – and remarkable things happen to the folks who work there.

Employees show up fully. They feel trusted and respected. They take calculated risks that solve problems and move the organization forward.

Employees care – and it’s demonstrated daily, in every plan, decision, action, and interaction.

The benefits – hard dollar gains – of #WorkPlaceInspiration are impressive:

  • Leaders doing what they say they will do and demonstrating espoused values inspire employees to apply discretionary energy in service of company and to customers. Hard dollar gains? For one hotel chain, $250,000 for every 1/4 point gain on a 10 point scale. (from Dr. Tony Simons’ Integrity Dividend)
  • A 2006 Gallup study of over 23,000 business units found that units in the top 25% of engagement scores generated 12% higher productivity than units in the bottom 25% of engagement scores.
  • In a 2005 DDI study, a Fortune 100 manufacturing company reduced quality errors from 5,658 parts per million to 52 parts per million.
  • A 2008 Kenexa study of 64 organizations found that companies with highly engaged employees achieve twice the annual net income of companies whose employees are less than highly engaged.

(Thanks to the talented Kevin Kruse for sharing the last three of these impressive studies.)

To what extent does your team have shared values and common goals? Does your boss pay attention to employee engagement? What have you noticed about the engagement of employees you work with? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Subscribe to my weekly blog posts and podcasts and receive two fabulous free gifts: my “Be a GREAT Boss” ebook plus an excerpt from my new #GREAT Bosses tweet book.

How does your boss fare in my new fast & free Great Boss Assessment? Contribute your experiences – it takes only minutes. Results and analysis will appear on my blog’s research page once we reach 100 global responses.

Photo © istockphoto.com/rypson. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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