Failure is good for you

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failure-when-your-best-isn-t-good-enoughAs we go through life, we often strive to achieve the next goal. This discipline started in pre-K.   We work our way to Kindergarten then grammar school onto high school.   That journey continues to college for some while others take a detour and enter the real world.   Many move on to college to pursue what they are passionate about.

All through this journey, success is within reach. There were some setbacks, mistakes, but for the most part we managed to move to the next stop then the next one after that. From a certain vantage point it looks like it was smooth sailing.

As we enter the real world, we no longer take any tests or quizzes.   We no longer pull an all-nighter to take a test. We work on projects and focus on delivering results or contributing to the bottom line of the company that we work for.   Measurement is very different at times, varies with the manager you report to.   It is not the number of hours that you work that matter; it is the results that you produce that count.

While in school we succeeded each year and moved on to the next level. Success comes easy in my opinion. Most students make it to the next level.   At some point we expect to move to the next level. Of course we need to work to make it, but for the most part most students make it to the next level. Success comes naturally but in the real world that is not the case.

The first time you faced failure was the hardest.   Why? Because it was out of the norm. You were so used to succeeding, but now either you failed to deliver or got a poor rating for the first time in your life.   Don’t be in despair.   Failure is good for you. What? What do you mean? How can failure be good for me? Yes, it is. With failure, you have the opportunity to assess what went wrong and what you can do to improve your situation.   Each failure is an opportunity to learn the lesson and improve upon yourself.

In my opinion, it is best to fail early and often early in your career. This way you learn the lessons and improve yourself.   After each failure, make sure to spend the time learning the lesson before you move on.   There is a tendency to rush because you want to leave the bad memory, but if you don’t learn your lesson, you’re bound to make the same mistake.   As Bill Gates says, “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”   By heeding the lessons of failure, you’ll be aware and avoid making the same mistakes.

To end this post, I’ll close it with a quote from Tony Robbins, “I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration was actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.”     With failure comes learning; if you embrace the opportunity to learn, you will avoid the same mistake and achieve the growth that will enable you to be prepared for the next challenge ahead.

As Michael Jordan’s puts it, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” This quote reminds us that through adversity success is within reach. Let me know what you think.

Who is your client?

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client-relationshipsIn Mirriam-Webster’s a client is defined as a person who engages the professional advice or services of another. Another definition of client is customer.   In my early twenties I often thought of the client as the end client. By that I mean, if a company is a bank, the clients are the people who do business with the bank.

In my thirties, as I spent more time in the workforce, I started to shift the concept of client to people I interacted with or served on a daily basis. What this meant was that in the various departments that I interacted with my business partners, operations partners, are my clients.

In my mid to late thirties as I embarked on my leadership journey, my concept of client was everyone that I interacted with, including those people who worked in my organization.   As a servant leader, you aim to add value to others. In order to achieve that you need to shift your focus from self to others.   It is a difficult process, because in the age of instant gratification, the focus is often on self.   However, in order to achieve the shift, you need to slowly transform yourself by improving your awareness.   This process is difficult, but the reward is great.

Each year after that, I made progress in shifting my focus.   I start my day by thinking how I can add value to people around me.  Realizing that everyone is my client, I need to ensure that I do my best in servicing them. However, does that mean that I will be stretched in 10 different directions? Of course the answer is “NO”.

Here are some of my suggestions on how to ensure you’re providing a good service:

Be accountable – be accountable for your actions. Make sure to take ownership of your process and ensure that you see things through, that it gets done.

Focus on relationship – be aware of people’s needs and how you can help them.   Be a partner and don’t push people around.   If you have the bandwidth to help, help one or offer to help.

Priorities is key – while the need to serve everyone is crucial, you need to understand the priorities. Not all requests are alike; some are more important than others.

Focus on the end result – putting a smile on people’s faces is ultimately what we want to achieve. Focus on doing your best to delight your customer. When we enable our immediate customers, they can in turn help their customers.

Differentiation is the key – the key to market movement is differentiation. How can you differentiate yourself from everyone else? Do you want to be known for better service, best price, etc.?

If you keep in mind that the people you interact with are your customers, chances are you’ll do your best to delight them.   Remember that if you help them, they in turn can help someone else.   Go ahead and delight your customer. Put a smile on their face.

Entitlement

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entitlement-cartoonpicture courtesy of garyvarvel.com

In Merriam-Webster, entitlement is defined as the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something. Or, belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges.   When I was growing up, my father told me that there is no work that is beneath me, that I should always be eager to take on any work and put in my best effort to get it done.

Over the last 24 years, I took on work that I didn’t like, but did the work with a smile and got it done.   I always put the team/firm’s best interest first and understood that sometimes someone needs to do the work that no one likes but gets the work done.   I look at it as taking one for the team.   I’m willing to wait my turn and let others take better assignments.   I took my father’s advice to heart and waited to earn my keep.

As I moved up the management ranks and the Gen Y entered the workforce, I observed that they have a sense of entitlement. They know what they want and aren’t shy in letting people know what they don’t want.   It creates a dilemma for people managing them because work that otherwise would be done will be left to more experienced folks to do because new employees have no interest of working their way up.   Is this the sign of the times? They grow up taking and when they enter the workforce, it is time to give. However, they are accustomed to taking and think that they should continue that behavior.   While some are still eager to work their way up, a good number of them just want to do things that they want.

Dr. Jean Twenge is the author of Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled and More Miserable Than Ever. Dr. Twenge of San Diego State University studied more than 16,400 students who took the Narcissistic Personality Inventory between 1982 and 2006. In 1982, only a third of the students scored above average on the test. Today that number is over 65%.     This trend is alarming because self-centeredness will affect our ability to keep a competitive advantage, because folks halfway around the world are willing to do the same work to earn their stripes and get paid much less to do it.   As a result, they gained the skills that could enable them to be more successful in the long run.

entitlement-problem

The age of technology advancement and the need to for instant gratification or what I call the “I want it NOW” mentality will prevent them from developing the skills they need to be well-rounded and better prepared for future opportunities.   In the past, everyone worked their way up.   With the new generation, where they want to pick and choose, it is becoming increasingly difficult to gain the foundational skills that are needed to enable them in the future.

When my daughter joined recreational sports a few years ago, I was surprised to see that everyone received a trophy at the end of the season.   If I remember correctly, they only won one game and lost eight.   In fact, my daughter was so upset each week as their opponent scored against them at will. 8-6, 4-2, etc. was the score of their opponents.   I told my daughter that what was important was the they were trying their best. However, receiving that trophy was not right as they really did not achieve anything.   It was hard for me to explain to my daughter; however, in the coming years she understood my point of view—akin to inflated grades to make children feel better, similar to mass promotion.

Gen Y’s need for affirmation and entitlement is spilling over to the work environment.   If this pattern continues, we will fall behind and other countries will take the lead in the marketplace.   We need to put entitlement into context and make sure they learn that they can be entitled to something only if they earn the credit by doing the work.   It is a stark reminder that they need to work their way up.     It’s leaders’ jobs to make sure that we educate the future leaders.   If we want to succeed, rebaselining of their understanding is an important step in heading the right direction.

I do understand that this topic is a bit controversial, but if I don’t talk about it and raise awareness, I’m not doing the right thing. The question to ask is: Do I want to face the alternative that we will lose our competitive advantage? My answer is an emphatic “NO”.   Let me know what you think.   I’ll end my post with this quote by Earl Nightingale, “We will receive not what we idly wish for but what we justly earn. Our rewards will always be in exact proportion to our service.

 

The Joy of Coaching

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CoachingI had the privilege of coaching people to advance their career and attain certain fulfillment and the satisfaction, as well, of coaching my daughter’s 3rd and 4th and later 5th and 6th grades basketball team.   On both fronts, the satisfaction is in seeing people grow and develop while keeping their joy of learning.

The greatest reward as a coach is to be able to motivate your team to achieve goals they otherwise think they cannot achieve.   To give them the extra push in challenging times that enables them to overcome the obstacle.   Ultimately as a coach I learned something new throughout the journey about my players. That same is true for my executive coaching.   When your client overcomes an obstacle or becomes unstuck, that’s a win for you as well.

While anyone can say that they’re coaching, saying you’re a coach is not same as acting and conducting yourself like one.   Based on my experience, a great coach has the following characteristics:

They focus on YOU – the focus of the coach is you and your development.

“Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.”John Wooden

Challenge you – they challenge you to overcome things you otherwise thought you couldn’t achieve.   In challenging times, they help you transition from having distractive thoughts to creating constructive thoughts that enable you to move forward.

Good communicator – communication is the key to a successful coach. They’re able to communicate in good times and challenging times as well. They always find ways to come up with the right choice of words to encourage their people.

Has a philosophy – They have a belief and principles.   In my case, I always emphasize learning fundamentals and the value of sportsmanship, team work and hard work.

Discipline – Discipline is the foundation of any successful undertaking. Without discipline you cannot be successful.   You need discipline to help you focus on the overall goal.

Understand their people – It is easy to push your team, but failure to understand your team will lead to frustration and result in eventual failure. A good coach takes the time to learn and understand their people.   They know when to push and hold back and nurture their team.

Aim to serve – Coaching is a service. To succeed, a coach must aim to serve their constituents and be there for them.   Their unselfish attitude will ensure that their constituents’ best interest is always front and center.

analazing market situationIn my experience, the biggest difference between sport coaching and executive coaching is in client confidentiality.     In executive coaching, you need to uphold client confidentiality. It is job one.   Both bring joy to the practitioner and often provide lifelong learning as their relationship progresses over time.

Coaching is a blessing – a blessing to touch people’s hearts and develop them and see them grow.   I’m thankful for the opportunity to make a difference.

 

“The test of a good coach is that when they leave, others will carry on successfully.”   Author Unknown

Live in the moment

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cookie-monster-wisdom

I’ll start my blog with my quote, “Live in the moment. What’s here today is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow. Make the most of your opportunity and try to see the positive side of every situation.”

All my life, I have constantly worried about tomorrow. With the life challenges that I went through, I couldn’t see past today. Therefore I spent time worrying about what would I be doing tomorrow.   Deep inside I was embarrassed that my classmates would all be successful and I would be working in my family’s convenience store for the rest of my life.   Perhaps it was not that bad because that’s what I was told I was capable of.   But never a day went by that I didn’t hear people say that I wasn’t like my siblings.   Even my teachers wondered how I was related to my brother and sister, because they were really doing well academically and I was just average.

Back then I was eager to finish grade school so I could be in high school. Once I was in high school, I couldn’t wait to go to college. In my senior year in high school, I qualified for a scholarship for a computer programming class. The trend continued and I was in a rush to go to college. During my junior year in college, I realized that all I did was rush from one stage to another because I was trying to escape my present situation. As a result, I failed to enjoy my journey. I learned to slow down, but made little effort to enjoy the moment.   Before you know it, I was done. I took the board exam and then reality set in.

The day after I sat for the board exam marked the rest of my life working in our convenience store. It hit me like a brick wall: wow I rushed all for this moment.   Each day that went by I realized that it was not for me. I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t passionate about it. My love for computer programming was still there.   I fought the fear to talk to my mother about my desire to seek opportunity elsewhere.   It was not easy, but eventually I mustered the courage and talked to my mother.   In the end, I was allowed to seek employment elsewhere and I promised that I would work on weekends and holidays at our convenience store.

It took me a couple of months to find a job due to the competitive marketplace. The day I started my job, I vowed to take each moment and make the most of it.   By staying in the moment, I saw opportunities and made sure I worked hard to qualify for the opportunities.

My journey was meaningful because of the way I approached it. I also emphasized working hard while making sure when I made mistakes that I took the time to learn the lessons and avoid repeating the same mistake.

Living in the moment means…

Don’t worry about things you can’t change – there is really no point in worrying about things you can’t change, because you’re wasting your energy and stressing yourself out for no reason.

Don’t let the pain of the past rule your present – while you might experience a tough or challenging childhood, it does not mean that your future has to be the same.   Just like me, I take those experiences and try to provide a better experience for my children.   I stopped letting the past rule my future.

Learn to slowdown and enjoy the moment – Slow down and enjoy the moment. Make the most of your opportunities. Don’t rush. Let the lessons of today come to you.

Eliminate the filter that prevents your seeing the good in others – sometimes our bias prevents us from seeing the good in others. These filters are byproducts of our experience. Our awareness is the one that will set us free.   Step back and reassess the situation and make sure that you’re considering all other things before coming up with a conclusion.

Live-in-the-moment-funny-messagesI’ll close this post with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”   To make each day the best day in the year, we must be aware and conscious about it.   I hope reading this post helps you reflect on enjoying the present. May today be your best day ever.