Play Your Cards Right

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CardsWe all came into existence not because we chose to be, but we were brought into this world by our mother. Our circumstances vary and the upbringings were also very different.   As we grew up, we were exposed to the environment in which we were raised. The environment contributed to who we are and our values were inherited from the adults and other people who influenced us.

Must our upbringing define us?   I know I’m treading in a tricky topic, but I’m going out on a limb here. I’m of the opinion that our background and upbringing can help influence and shape us, but once we learn how to discern right from wrong, we are able to make decisions that help us achieve the dream.

Voltaire’s quote comes to mind, “Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her. But once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.”   I agree with Voltaire that you need to play with the cards that you are dealt with and make the most of it.   My father was born in a family of five children. He was the eldest. Growing up, my grandfather was never around for his family and my father had to work at an early age to help his mother.   My father became the sole provider of his family.   Imagine having to work when you’re eleven or twelve years old and being responsible for your family. When I asked my father why he did it, he said the need to help his family was a far greater cause that anything else.

When my father was 17 years old, he travelled to the Philippines to work in a hardware store and saved all his money to send to his family.   He spent the next 10 years doing the same thing day in and day out while also saving money to open his own convenience store.   As I reflect on what my father accomplished, I can’t help but remember Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” My father’s laser-sharp focus enabled him to achieve his goal and create a future for us.   He willed it and persevered each day.   He kept his focus no matter how long it took.

As Tony Robbins says, “The past does not equal the future.” That is truly possible if you want to change something in your life and proceed to make it happen. My father inspired me to push myself outside my comfort zone.   He encouraged me to strive to do my best regardless of my intellectual capabilities.   He insisted that I be diligent in everything I do.   It taught me hard work is the key to my success.   While I still have a long ways to go to achieve my dream, I know that we are all blessed with the same 24 hours each day.   What we do with our time will ultimately determine our outcome.   In essence we reap what we sow.

I’ll end this post by saying, we may be dealt a hand that we don’t like, but we can try to play those cards with diligence and dedication until we are done.   As long as we do our best, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Akin to basketball, you can’t worry about the previous missed shot; you need to focus on the next shot and do the best you can. Remember that our will and desire can help program our subconscious mind to pursue the things that are otherwise impossible.

Writing is a labor of love, if you like what you read, please share. If not, share me your thoughts. Thanks

Plan your career like planning your vacation

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travel plansIn the recent class that I taught on 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I pointed out to the participants that while the 21 laws is a leadership program, the underpinning of the program is personal development.

The class participants were a cross section of individual contributors to mid-level managers.   My objective was to let them know that even if you don’t manage anyone right now, you still need to learn what it takes to be a leader. More importantly, that self-improvement is crucial to their future success.   What they do now will greatly affect their future.

When I taught the third session, I asked the participants by show of hands, how many created their ‘DO NOT DO LIST’.   I was surprised that less than 1/3 created their DO NOT DO LIST and created a plan of action on how to improve themselves. I then followed up with a question: How many hours do they spend planning their vacation? Their eyes lit up and I could see the excitement and enthusiasm.     On average, they spent 20 hours preparing for their vacation; that’s almost three days spent to plan a vacation, but they could not be motivated to create a plan to help improve themselves.

Canadian personal development expert, author, and public speaker, Brian Tracy, once said, “If you wish to achieve worthwhile things in your personal and career life, you must become a worthwhile person in your own self-development.”     Remember that you can only harvest something if you plant the seeds.   Everything takes time to grow and develop; without proper planning you will always be at the wrong time even in the right place.   Imagine being in the right place, but at the wrong time; it means that you don’t have what it takes to get the job done.

career directions

As I look back to that moment, I decided to reiterate the value of planning. I stressed the importance of planning for your future.   I asked them the question: Would the fear of failing now be greater than the fear of failing to achieve your dream? It is a question only they can answer.   Remember that regret is always in the end.

Writing is a labor of love for me. If you like my blog, please share it to someone who need to read it.   It is through sharing that we can make this world a better place.   Also, feel free to share your thoughts and perspective.

Leader must give up

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give upA leader is often the person that helps a team reach a goal that they otherwise thought they could not achieve.   They inspire everyone around them to act and persevere until the goal is achieved.   In many ways, their constituents look to the leader for encouragement and direction. Their guidance is what helps the team overcome adversity.

At times, people think that the leader has all the answers and is knowledgeable or a subject matter expert. If a leader falls into the trap of being all for everyone, they will not be successful.   In order for a leader to be effective and efficient, they need to give up and let go certain things.

Here are some of the things a leader must give up:

  • Making all decisions – leaders must empower their people that are closest to the problem to come up with solutions or recommendations, because they are the domain experts.
  • Let go – at times we are tempted to do everything ourselves, because we can get it done faster.   Also we deemed that the times spent on teaching someone can best be served addressing the issue. But that is a false expectation. If we don’t teach everyone around us to fish, they will always expect us to give them the fish.   It is best to invest the time to teach someone; this way they can help in the future.
  • Talking at all times – it is important to communicate, but it is equally important to listen.   By listening to your constituents, you will learn more about your audience and understand their challenges and identify opportunities.
  • Control – extend the ropes for your people to prove to you that they can get it done. However, always be there to support and nurture them. Be there to catch them when they fall, but let them learn the lesson before they move on.
  • Assuming perfection – you can try to be on top of the situation at all times, but you don’t have to be. You need to surround yourself with the right people to get things done. Knowing who to seek help from or tap to get things done is more important than trying to be the expert.

 

At times it is okay to give up; a leader must give up for the right reason. Empowering their constituents and investing the time to develop them will be key to the overall success of the organization.

Writing is a labor of love. If you like my post shares it with your friends or share your perspective, because it will help me grow and develop.

Will’s AIM Program –Intentionality

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I_Am_Intentional

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. Lao Tzu

Intentionality means doing things with purpose and passion.   Being aware and conscious about your current state and facing that hard reality that changes need to be undertaken in order for you to attain your dream.   According to Lao Tzu, resisting reality will create sorrow that can only hold you back. Why choose that path when you have the option of turning things around?   In my opinion, it is never too late—never unless you’re dead, that is only the time it is final. Till that happens, you have the opportunity to seek the changes you want to better yourself.

This step starts with a personal assessment which focuses on identifying your strengths and weaknesses. The purpose of identifying your strengths is to come up with plans to continue to find ways to highlights your strengths.   The weaknesses identification is critical to your growth and development, because more often than not, some of your weaknesses are single handedly holding you back or pulling you down.

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Colin Powell

Facing the hard reality is not easy. Who wants to sit there to pinpoint what is holding them back? However, it is a crucial step in your growth and development to face the hard reality head on.   As Colin Powell says, a dream doesn’t become reality without hard work. The hard work here is to painstakingly list every weakness and be intentional about how it is holding you back. Without fully disclosing and articulating these, it is hard to find the way forward.

Once you’ve listed each of the weakness, prepare a plan on how to address that challenge. What can you do to address it? Do you need training? Do you need a mentor? Do you need a coach? What is that one thing that can help you turn the corner?   During this step be intentional and spend the right amount of time and create a plan. Do the same for your strengths and determine how you can continue to highlight it. What are the opportunities to showcase your strengths?

I often ask people this question, “Would you ever consider driving without a direction? How would you know if you arrive?”   If you won’t drive without a direction, why are you willing to drive your life without direction?   Don’t take chances with your career, plan, act, do, reassess and continue that cycle.

To close, on my next blog I’ll focus on making it happen.   Let me know what you think of my blog. If you like it, share it someone you know who will benefit from reading it.

 

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

#100th Blog – Motivating Employees (5WeekStreak)

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happy-employeesKeeping your employees engaged is the key to a company’s success. In order to engage your employees you need to show them you care.   When your employees are happy with their jobs, your customers will share that experience through their interactions with your employees.   Remember that a delighted customer can be turned into a loyal customer through consistent service.   In addition, an employee that is engaged creates a loyal workforce that can help differentiate your company.

What is the key to engaging your employees? How do we best engage our employees?   What is the key to making that connection?   Here are some of the tips:

  1. Listen to your employees – it sounds simple but we often ignore the fact that in order for us to connect with our employees to we need to listen to their viewpoints.
  2. Improve communication – communicate, communicate, communicate…there is no such thing as over communication, but there is a downside of not communicating with them at all.
  3. Timely communication – when communicating, the timeliness of the message is crucial to the effectiveness of the message.
  4. Money is not always the answer – while money is a great way of recognizing your employees, it is best to realize that there are other means of recognizing them.   Recognition does not have to be expensive.   Saying thank you, buying gift cards, and awarding them with certificates are some the ways to show you care.
  5. Share their cause – you might have an employee who is passionate about a specific charity. In that case adopt that charity and help your employee raise funds for that cause.
  6. Invite your employee to participate in brainstorming sessions – in certain cases, involve your key employees and allow them to come up with ways to address a specific work problem that your business is dealing with. This is a way to recognize them.
  7. Be flexible with your employee – provide your employees the flexibility to choose to telecommute and allow them to manage their affairs. This is not for everyone, as obviously some will take advantage of this.   The key is trusted employees.
  8. Challenge your employees to come up with a new solution to an existing problem – allow them to apply creative thinking to help address a problem.   Allot a couple of hours each week for them to work on special projects that they are interested in.
  9. Be accessible – the worst form of leadership is one that thinks that they reached the top of the tower and everyone is beneath them.   Don’t stay in your office. Walk the hall and mingle with your people in their workspace.   Be there, not to police, but rather to get to know them.
  10. Ask questions – be aware that sometimes people will not tell you anything unless you ask questions.   Connect with them by asking questions that engage your employees.
  11. Last but not least, be authentic and don’t fake it, like you care when you don’t.   Because your employees will sense that you’re not sincere. Remember, trust is the foundation of your relationship.

customerWhile the above mentioned tips can help engage your employees, the key to engaging your employees is being a servant leader and being there for them.   When you’re there for them, they will be there for you too. Let me know your thoughts on my post.

 

 

2013 Year in Review

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Year In Review

Change is the big word for 2013.   It is about the only thing that was constant throughout the year.   As I reflect on what transpired during the year, I break it down in three areas:  Work, Personal and Personal interest.

At work, 2013 was a year of changes that challenged my ability to cope and keep abreast of the changes.   From team composition changes to new partnership ventures to changes in technology then moving on to another technology when the prior adoption has not been completed.   On the flip side, I welcome the opportunity to be a part of Human Capital Group committee, which aimed to deal with tough issues like employee engagement and improving communications between management and its constituents.   I learned a lot by staying put and dealing with the challenges.  It stretched and helped me grow and develop.   The growth and development came with a huge price in terms of stress, but I was able to lead by example and be there for my team.  I ensure that I recognize them and let senior management know their accomplishments.   I continue to mentor my mentees and led the Stevens campus recruiting as Team Captain for UBS.  This is the third year in a row in which we hired at least 9 GTPs from said school.  I take pride in the work and process we put in place to enable us to recruit the best talent to join our firm.

From a personal perspective, I cherish the memories created of the great run we had as St. Elizabeth 4th Grade basketball team and eventually winning the championship.     I had the opportunity to bond with my daughter and work with a great group of players.   I instilled principles of teamwork, sportsmanship and respecting others.  At the same time, I taught them never to give up.   We had numerous come-from-behind wins by staying in the moment and chipping at the lead that our opponents had.     During the golf season, Faith participated in US Kids Golf.  She participated in three tournaments and I caddied for her.  Each tournament she improved and showed patience and poise in handling pressure.  I truly enjoy being out there with her.    Maddy’s soccer season was also great to watch the team finished in the middle of pack.   Maddy had her great moments, especially her winning goal at the Columbus Day weekend tournament.  In November, Faith made the TGA B team and played three other clubs to win first place overall.    Take a step back for a moment, winner of a basketball championship and then a golf team champion, that is an awesome year that will be hard to replicate.    In March, both Maddy and Faith received their piano excellence trophies.   Maddy had three years of superior rating, while Faith had six years of superior rating, her second trophy.   Faith also had her trophy for her duet.   Outside of sports and other activities, we spent a lot of time together playing card games, goofing and horsing around and getting to know one another.  It has been an awesome year in this area.

With regards to my pursuit of my personal interest, I found my passion for teaching leadership to others.   Since joining the John Maxwell Team to secure my certification, I led three mastermind groups and I enjoyed each of them.  The highlight of the year was attending the John Maxwell Live event.  Being taught by John Maxwell, Nick Vujicic and Les Brown is the most amazing experience.   Learning from the best and being in the same room, you can feel the energy and their passion.   I also met some great people that I belong to as an international accountability partner.    I made some great progress and then I fell off the horse as work took up more of my time.    In 2014, I commit to get back in the saddle and pursue my dream of being part of the John Maxwell Team by focusing on learning the lessons that will enable me to be effective as an instructor.

In spite of all the challenges and adversity, I learned a lot about myself and my ability to cope and handle stress.   I believe that Will of 2013 is better than Will of 2012. With that said, I’m really glad with my progress.    But more importantly I’m proud of playing an active role in my daughters’ lives, which in my mind is the most important thing in life.   In life, we only pass through this road once. I’m making sure I do my best and be in the moment and make it happen.    I look forward to 2014 with much enthusiasm and excitement that it will be better than 2013.