Feeling Stuck? Here are 8 Ways to Push Through

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Sometimes we just feel stuck. Not that anything is really wrong, but more the sense that we’re not going anywhere. That place where you sense that things are okay, but not great. Where it seems like you are just going through the motions. Dependable and reliable, yes. Consistent, absolutely.

But not necessarily bringing your A-game.

I know the feeling. For me, this usually happens after an event is over, or completing a big project. About 10 days-two weeks later. I usually just feel stuck at that point. I have a hard time being creative, being intentional, getting things done, moving the ball forward, and making decisions. I feel like I’m walking in knee deep mud at these points.

Another time of the year many of us feel stuck is mid to late summer, right about now. You feeling it right now?

If so, here are a few things to do:

1. Get out of your “normal” routine. Break up your schedule. Go on a trip. Visit someone you’ve wanted to see for quite a while. Hang out with people you don’t know but want to learn from. The key on this is break up your “normal” with something that is out of place, out of context, or just simply breaks up the rhythm. Makes you see things from a different vantage point. For me, when I travel, it usually “unsticks” me.

2. Go back to the Basics. Sports teams will go back to the basics to get out of a rut. In football it’s back to “blocking and tackling” or in basketball it’s back to “passing, dribbling, and shooting.” For you, this could mean a number of things, but in essence, returning to the foundations of what you do, why you do it, and how you are uniquely designed to be doing what you are doing.

3. Jump on the Inspiration train. When I get stuck, I usually take time to find some stories of inspiration, read some emails, watch some videos, and allow myself to be re-inspired and re-energized.

4. Talk with someone who motivates you. I also like to make sure I find some time to spend on the phone or in person with people who inspire me, because they usually can pull me out of my funk that I’m in. Make sure you have some people in your life who are motivators and inspiration icons- when you are around them it just fires you up. Could be a friend, a boss, a mentor, or someone you don’t know well. For me, I’ll call Bob Goff. If you know Bob, you know what I mean!

5. Keep it simple stupid. Kiss. Figuratively, not literally…! Start a new to do list with no more than 5 things on it. Get those done. Then move on to the next 5 things to do. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a to do list that is unachievable and not reachable. Focus on simplicity and clarity.

6. Hang around kids. Whether your own kids or someone else’s. Children have a way of providing inspiration because of their imagination, childlike faith, and sense of amazement at everything.

7. Return to the core. What do you love to do? What brings you to life? Maybe it’s reading a good book, or taking a drive in the country, or playing golf, or playing guitar or singing. Reconnecting to our areas of strength and passion usually reignites the momentum.

8. Exercise. Take a run, go swimming, work out, climb a mountain, jump on a bike, water ski, play basketball, or whatever activity fits you.

20 Dumb Things Organizations do

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As leaders, we always are trying our best to create momentum, good morale, team spirit, vision and an overall spirit of enthusiasm on our teams and in our offices.

Here are a few small things that have the potential to kill the company morale quickly:

1. bad tissue in the bathrooms- no one wants the equivalent of sandpaper at the office. invest in the good stuff.

2. charging for coffee- seriously. a bad decision all the way around. and while I’m at it, most companies should quit charging for snacks. Spend a couple hundred bucks to create a free snack bin.

3. standardized approach to your office or cube- let your team add some flare to their area. please.

4. Bad art (or no art) on the walls- I love Successories, but come on, let’s shoot for some actual real art on the walls, not just cheesy leadership posters made for the dentist waiting room or elementary school principal’s offices.

5. a faulty copier or printer- I think there is an international conspiracy to make all copiers bad.

6. Bad furniture- especially uncomfortable chairs. or desks that belong in a junkyard. And please get rid of the fake trees!!

7. technology issues- computer issues, incompetent IT people, and slow responses will cripple your team. Invest here or else.

8. public recognition that is incorrect- make sure you know who actually did a great job before handing out the kudos at the company picnic or staff meeting to the wrong person. this is a total demotivator.

9. a new policy every week- whether it is expense reports, insurance, office furniture, parking, kitchen etiquette, IT, pets, pranks, profits, spouses, travel, meals, hiring, firing, vacation, talking, sleeping, phones, dating, child care, meetings, conference rooms, dish policy, management, health care, reporting, new forms, recycling, etc., etc. etc. Change is good, but can quickly overwhelm the system. Constant change can be incredibly draining.

10. fun Police- there is one in every company, and their entire reason for living is to make you feel guilty for any kind of fun in the office. Punch them directly in the throat. Just kidding, sort of. And of course the IT/Tech guy who blocks every helpful internet download or interesting website is a real joy to have around.

11. Reserved parking spaces- my thoughts here always lead back to the movie Office Space. Reserve spaces for guests and customers, but give up on the reserved spot for the employee of the month.

12. Reality Deprivation- especially by those in charge. Lack of objectivity and proper perspective can lead to really bad decisions, and ultimately, keeping really bad policies and bad objectives in place because of complete unawareness of reality. Many times ignoring reality can lead to drastic issues, and potentially a sharp decline in a thriving core business because of lack of self awareness.

13. too many meetings- if you are an executive or team leader, this is usually your fault, because you feel like you need to schedule meetings in order to seem busy. Stop it. When in doubt, don’t meet. Just execute. Don’t talk more about it. Just get it done. No one needs more meetings. No one.

14. unmet promises- i’m guilty of this one. I admit it. and it is a morale killer. Leaders- don’t throw out promises you can’t keep because you feel like the leadership moment demands it. Hold your tongue, or be prepared to deliver.

15. Unnecessary Dress codes- This one creates more water cooler talk than maybe anything else. If you can be casual, then just be casual.

16. Punishing all for the sake of one- another one I’ve been guilty of before. Instead of confronting one person regarding an issue, a whole new company policy or nasty email is created or sent geared towards the whole team but everyone on the team knows its meant for only one person.

17. Catering to the Brown nosers- this happens all the time. And usually everyone is aware of who the brown nosers are except the boss. This drives get it done type leaders crazy.

18. A reward that doesn’t fit the accomplishment- You just brought in a $100,000 client… here’s a $50 gift card to Applebees. Or you save the company $75,000 in expenses… thanks for the new mousepad and 2 free movie tickets.

19. Sending an official printed “memo” to all staff as a reprimand- Really??

20. Inviting feedback but then punishing those who give it- this happens way more often than it should. In an attempt to have an “open door” policy as an organization, a survey is sent or a question is raised in a staff meeting. And of course someone speaks up, but then that person is relegated to the “bad list.” Don’t punish the messenger, or reward them. Just be willing to listen to them.

 

What would you add to the list?

Avoiding a BIG land mine for Leaders

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Leaders: Who are you accountable to?

1. Who speaks truth into your life? Your spouse? Your best friend? Your boss? Your co-workers? Your small group?

2. Who has the right to honestly tell you when you are wrong, and make sure you stay in touch with reality?

3. Who is asking you the difficult questions that everyone else around you may be thinking but don’t want to bring up?

4. Do you have someone, or a group of people, who will challenge you, tell you when you are wrong, confront you on the tough issues, and make your aware of areas where you might be missing the mark?

If not, figure this out. Quick. If you are surrounded by only yes people, you’re probably unaware of things that could be jeopardizing your leadership. This is a major land mine for leaders.

We all have dysfunctions. Every leader does. But our healthy response to our own dysfunctions depends on how much we let others “in” and give them full access to pushing back and kicking us in the tail if we are off base.

For many leaders, the greatest threat to our influence right now is our tendency to read our own press clippings, and continually put a “wall” up around us that protects us from any kind of honest feedback.

Don’t do this. Avoid the temptation to “remove” yourself from healthy accountability. Refuse the impulse to start surrounding yourself with people who are there only to protect you from reality. Insulation itself is not bad, but too much of it will allow reality deprivation to set in, which can be costly.

We need people around us who will tell us what we don’t want to hear, when we don’t want to hear it. Identify these people in your life, and give them full access to keeping you in check.

So, my question to you…. who is this in your life?

13 Key Points on Being an Authentic Leader

Here are 13 points on the importance and practice of being Authentic as a Leader. You might consider these “Authenticity Rules.” And in today’s leadership culture, it’s true that “Authenticity does actually rule.”

Some best practices I’ve found helpful:

1. Be real in all mediums. Digital age makes it easy to be inauthentic. Although we are always “on,” ultimately we can create a fake persona behind a profile on Facebook or a twitter account. It’s easy to live a secondary life and feel like we are someone we aren’t. Have to be authentic across the board.

2. Constantly turn the rocks over in your life and in your leadership. Uncover the areas that need to be made clean. Big things are at stake. It’s exhausting to not be the real you. It’s easier and less work to be who you really are.

3. The more successful you become, the less accessible you are. It’s reality. More people clamor for time with you, but it’s not possible to be available to everyone. Be wise and discerning, but also open to helping where you can. As Andy Stanley says “do for one what you wish you could do for many.”

4. Learn to open up. You can impress people more easily from a distance, so many leaders keep others at arms length. For example, we often prefer digital interaction to life-on-life exchanges. This insulates us and prevents others from uncovering our weaknesses and flaws. But it also reduces our ability to influence others.

5. Ask great questions. Great leaders I know solve problems and create solutions through the questions they ask. Questions many times reflect your values, and give value and dignity to the person you’re asking the question of.

6. Invite direct reports to do a 360 degree review of you on a regular basis. It’s uncomfortable, but also helpful. As Rick Warren has said, “You can’t love people and influence them unless you are close to them. Up close means you can see my warts.”

7. Accept a better standard. The goal of every Christian is to become more like Christ, but often our standard becomes some “great” leader who we admire. When we exalt fellow influencers, we try to dress like them, talk like them, pray like them, tell jokes like them, and achieve like them, it’s dangerous. By emulating them we hope to someday become like them. This never works, and a painful side effect is that deep down we end up feeling like a cheap knock-off.

8. Be interested over interesting. Start with leaning into others and caring about them vs. only worrying about yourself.

9. Be accountable to those who know you best. Know your blind spots in your leadership. We all have areas of weakness. Know what they are and give your team, your family and your friends permission to call you on them. Are you comfortable enough in your leadership that those around you have the freedom to tell you the truth without repercussions?

10. Make more of those around you, and less about yourself. Make others the center of the story. Authentic leaders are servant leaders, and willing to be less in order for others to be more. Authentic leaders seek to serve and understand the power of putting others first. And great leaders attract great people to their team. Like attracts like.

11. Actively build a Support Network. Beware of CEO disease, the temptation to surround yourself with people who only tell you what you want to hear. Keep honest people in your life so that you can stay grounded in the reality of your experiences. Don’t ever think you’ve arrived. Don’t take yourself so seriously. You’re not a big deal. Seriously. I don’t care who you are. Humility is way more attractive than arrogance.

12. Give others permission. Allow your team, your friends, your family and your community to continually have permission for pushing more towards the true you. Asking questions, pushing for clarity, pushing back, disagreeing, confronting, bringing new and different ideas to the table, and ultimately the ability and the freedom to push and pull.

13. Give yourself permission to be who you are. Authenticity requires true honesty, self awareness and a selfless approach to leading. One of the challenges in organizations today is actually creating space for leaders to admit and share their challenges. We need to create community where you can talk about the things you are dealing with without getting arrows in the back. Be willing to share your struggles. Create and find environments where we can deal with things and be honest and real.

Do you have 3 key words to describe your Leadership style?

There are lots of tests, assessments, seminars, conferences, training centers, and workbooks available today that are supposed to help you accurately identify and determine your leadership style. Many of these are very helpful, and very accurate. I’ve taken lots of them.

But someone asked me the other day, “With only three words, describe your leadership style.” And with no hesitation, I immediately knew.

My answer: Hustle, Hungry, Humble.

Those three words have defined my leadership style for the last 20 years. I’ve seen this style manifested in all the different titles, roles, and leadership moments over the last several years.

In fact, those 3 words are so important to me, that my next leadership book is entitled H3 Leadership: Be Humble, Stay Hungry, Always Hustle. Releases on September 22, in about 2 months!

Obviously there is no right answer to the question, but we all must be diligent in defining, refining and living out our leadership style. A phrase that would describe my leadership style over the years: “work hard and play hard.” Whatever we are doing, we give 110% and always want to deliver- an excellent result. Whether working on a brochure, programming, curriculum, or playing basketball or kickball at the office, the goal is to strive to be the best at everything we do. You must have tremendous passion for the work. Another phrase I think describes my style is “calm but intensely focused.” Especially in environments like producing an event where things can be chaotic and multiple decisions have to be made instantly.

I believe this naturally flows out of my leadership style of Humble, Hungry, Hustle. Secondarily, I think the honorable mention runner-up words would be Passion, Excellence, and Execution.

Try three words for yourself- it’s tough, but will help in identifying the areas of your leadership that matter the most, show up most often, and should be put into practice with the most focus and intentionality.

15 Ways NOT to Lead Well

It’s ultimately up to you to lead well. It’s your responsibility to be the best leader you can be.

We see lists all the time of what makes a great leader, but what are some of the other sides of the equation, in terms of not leading well?

How is your leadership dysfunctional? What stands out as areas to improve?

Here are a few key indicators of the kind of leadership and ultimately a leader that needs to reimagine, re-engage, and recommit. Look for these, and if they exist, be committed to change.

So here you go, examples of NOT LEADING well and consistent killers of momentum for leaders, their teams and organizations: 

1. Pointing fingers and blaming others. Blame is getting passed around like a bad virus. Trust is gone. Everyone is cordial but behind closed doors there is deep distrust, driven by fear and insecurity.

2. A focus on the wrong priorities. Not willing to confront the key areas, and a constant default to Sideways Energy. More energy in scheduling lunches than in bringing in new revenue. Spend more time on updating the employee handbook vs getting on the phone and finding new customers. More time on updating headshots on the website than working on the strategic plan for next year.

3. Bad decision making. Making decisions based on whoever pays you the most, whoever screams the loudest, and whoever requires the least amount of effort and pain. Everything starts to become about the lowest common denominator and the lowest barrier to entry.

4. Passing along the decision stick. Counting on someone else to make a decision, other than yourself. Putting things off so that someone else will have to fix them later. Kicking the can down the road as Maxwell says.

5. Allowing bureaucracy to be an excuse for getting nothing done. Here comes the “they” mentality. It becomes about “them” and “us.”

6. Personal entitlement has taken over. Putting your own personal goals ahead of the team, or the greater cause at play. In this case, the good of the organization takes a backseat to you keeping your office or role or title. Your default is “how will this affect me” instead of “how will this affect the organization.”

7. Arguing constantly, vs listening and looking to create collaboration and areas of common ground.

8. No one values each other and silos now exist everywhere. Staff meetings and leadership team meetings start getting cancelled on a regular basis. Lack of communication between key people and teams becomes normal. Cliques and gossip become rampant in the void of communication and trust.

9. Lack of empowerment. No one feels able to do anything about the situation.

10. Same old same ole. The work and environment is mundane. It’s boring. Energy is non existent.

11. There is no accountability. People on your team just feel like they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. Everything is last minute and late. Nothing goes out on time, or gets scheduled on time. No one knows where everyone is and can’t find anyone. This will drive your best team members crazy.

12. Not willing to confront the brutal facts. Loss of reality and not willing to confront what is really going on. The leader is living in hopa, hopa land and suffering from Reality Deprivation. A lack of self awareness is prevalent here as well.

13. Vision is gone. Lots of hype but very little true and authentic hope in the future. Lots of promises made but very few promises kept. The painting of a preferred future has turned into a hype machine that everyone sees through.

14. The buck stops here doesn’t exist. No one is ultimately responsible. The responsibility tree has been chopped and split up so many times you can’t really figure out who is driving what and who has responsibility for what.

15. Safe, secure and stable starts to drive the future instead of innovation, creativity, risk taking and courage. Holding on and control is the posture instead of giving, catch and release, generosity and big picture thinking. “Don’t rock the boat” is the inspiration, which quickly becomes uninspiring.

What other things have you seen being acted out that remind you of how NOT to LEAD?