“Thinkers50 Management Thinker of 2015 Whitney Johnson wants you to consider this simple, yet powerful, idea: disruptive companies and ideas upend markets by doing something truly different–they see a need, an empty space waiting to be filled, and they dare to create something for which a market may not yet exist. As president and cofounder of Rose Park Advisors’ Disruptive Innovation Fund with Clayton Christensen, Johnson used the theory of disruptive innovation to invest in publicly traded stocks and private early-stage companies. In Disrupt Yourself, she helps you understand how the frameworks of disruptive innovation can apply to your particular path, whether you are: a self-starter ready to make a disruptive pivot in your business a high-potential individual charting your career trajectory a manager looking to instill innovative thinking amongst your team a leader facing industry changes that make for an uncertain future We are living in an era of accelerating disruption; no one is immune. Johnson makes the compelling case that managing the S-curve waves of learning and mastery is a requisite skill for the future. If you want to be successful in unexpected ways, follow your own disruptive path. Dare to innovate. Do something astonishing. Disrupt yourself.”
When I was six, Columbia Pictures released the original Karate Kid movie. I loved it, and used my newly learned karate skills to punish the neighbors fence. (oops!)
I now have a six- year-old. The Karate Kid has been on my mind this week. (yikes)
I started playing hockey my freshman year high school. I was terrible. I could barely stand. I spent more time crashing over the boards than celebrating goals. I can’t even remember my first goal, probably an accidental redirection off my stick, between my legs.
But I do remember my first coach. Bill Miller. He was a great guy. Loved hockey, loved the thrill of victory, but mostly loved seeing the development of hockey players.
My phone rings and I frown. “Not him!” Does this ever happen to you? True story, this just happened to me. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling the way that I was. I like the caller, we get along very well and have a lot of similar interests, but for some reason, I felt an urge to not pick up the phone. How do you say “no” with respect?
In retrospect, it wasn’t him, it was his requests. Every time we talk he has something he “needs” my help on. And because I like and respect him, I have a hard time (ok impossible time) saying “no”; everything from relationship advice and moving furniture to last minute rides and finishing projects at work.
Boundaries are tricky aren’t they?
Even when you determine that saying “no” is the right decision, it still requires actually saying “no”. How do we make saying “no” a little bit easier?
11 steps to softening the “no”:
Get to know your “yes”- Before you can get really good at declining offers you need to understand what you want to say “yes” to. What are the things in your life that take priority and then say “yes” to those first. Otherwise you may end up saying “no” them by default.
Practice- The first time you say “no” you may find it difficult, but as you work on it and gain more experience it will become easier. Start with small inconsequential requests and move on to larger requests as you develop.
Listen to the request fully and respectfully- Give the person making the request the opportunity to fully articulate the need.
Pause before responding to any request- Take a few moments to think about what is being asked and evaluate it against your other commitments and responsibilities. Determine if it is a “should” or a “could”. I have a friend who never agrees to anything immediately when asked. Her response is always “let me check on a few things and get back to you”. This gives her the opportunity to fully vet each request and when she does accept a request she is fully committed.
Simply say “no” (or as simply as possible)- When you determine that you cannot accept a request respond with a clear decline. Do not try to soften the response by being vague or cryptic. Either you can or you cannot do what is requested.
Recognize your time is your time and it is valuable- Each request is taking something from you, your time, and that has value to it. Know your priorities and what you can realistically accept.
When appropriate give a brief reason for declining- It is important to be honest and when appropriate you can share why you are unable to accept the request. People will respect your directness.
But don’t feel obligated to explain- You are in control of your life and your reasons for declining are your own. You do not need to justify or be confrontational when you decline.
Script it out- When you know a specific unrealistic request is coming you can prepare by writing out a response ahead of time. Or you can respond to a request through email or text which will give you a chance to fine tune and wordsmith your response.
Have alternatives- A great way to decline a request is to couple that “no” with alternative options. Maybe you cannot help but could Sally?
Finally, stay firm- Once you have made a decision stand your ground and stay committed. A good decision made after deliberation shouldn’t be changed in the heat of the moment.
Whatever steps you choose and use know that you are making a decision for yourself to prioritize what is important to you. Nobody has control or power over that. Say “no”…firmly, frequently and with respect.
“In H3 Leadership, Brad Lomenick shares his hard-earned insights from more than two decades of work alongside thought-leaders such as Jim Collins and Malcom Gladwell, Fortune 500 CEOs, and start-up entrepreneurs. He categorizes twenty essential leadership habits organized into three distinct filters he calls “the 3 Hs”: Humble (Who am I?), Hungry (Where do I want to go?), and Hustle (How will I get there?). These powerful words describe the leader who is willing to work hard, get it done, and make sure it’s not about him or her; it’s about the leader who knows that influence is about developing the right habits for success. Lomenick provides a simple but effective guide to help one lead well in whatever capacity he or she may be in.”
Book Club Review
Thanks for being a part of the Modern Leadership Monthly Book Club. If you happened upon this page and are not a member you can join for free here .
The book club is designed to explore books that will help us on our leadership journey. It is a part of the Modern Leadership Podcast where we breakdown a book weekly in each episode. You can catch the podcast here.
If you read last week’s blog post than you already know about the fishing, the fireworks, the creek, the mud, the upset dad. My weeklong trip to Northern Saskatchewan wasn’t as relaxing as the brochure promised.
Thankfully, the truck came out, we got it cleaned up and we actually caught some pretty decent fish. If you didn’t read it you can here.
But, the story can’t end there.
Because, just like our goals, even after we get back on track, there can be detours, and there usually are. It is not all smooth sailing to goal success, right?
After a week of fishing, it was time to drive back home. A short 24-hour jaunt. The group split into three vehicles, me driving the now famous mud truck filled with the young folks. The “adults” took the other cars.
The plan was a direct trip back, all 24 hours, stopping only for gas. I got out ahead of the group, but thought I was in the back. Uh-oh. I sped up little by little trying to catch up to the group behind me.
Until… I ran out of gas.
Fortunately, I found the only freeway ramp inside 20 miles and coasted right up to the gas pump.
Unfortunately, it was 5:30am, the gas station was closed, and the folks with money, cash and credit cards, were not there.
Twice within a week I found myself in trouble. The difference was I didn’t cause this diversion.
Sometimes this happens in our goals. We handle and account for all the distractions and diversions of our own creation, but sometimes things just happen beyond our control and then, Bam! We are back off track. What do we do now?
Luck, miracles, and a helping hand.
Somehow, the adult’s truck, the one I thought was ahead of us, pulled to the side of the freeway to wait. You see, they also thought we were behind them; hey, it was o’ dark 30 give us a break. They pulled over to let us catch up knowing we would be needing gas, as were they.
We ran up, met them, got the credit card, filled the tank and made it home. The end. (Of this story.)
When it comes to goals, and we find that difficult times arise, I find the best way to get through the distraction is enlist the support of a helping hand.
Without the credit card it would have been impossible for us to complete the journey.
Likewise, without mentors, masterminds and accountability it is impossible for us to make it through to the end of our goals. We can try to make it on our own, but the reality is most obstacles are easier to overcome with assistance. Mentors can take us to higher levels FASTER than we can go without them.
Look at every famous athlete: performance coach, every successful actor: director, every popular singer/performer: voice coach, and every successful CEO: mentor. Coaching, mentoring, mastermind groups and accountability partners are imperative to your successful journey.
If you don’t have someone holding you accountable to your goals, assisting you when you run out of gas, energy/motivation, or mentoring you through tough times, you need to.
Promise: Nothing in your business and life will have a more immediate impact on your success or a larger ROI than working with a coach.
Do you ever feel like you are just spinning your wheels? You set a goal, you have some big plans, you start down the road and then BAM! Sidetracked, or worse…. stuck.
The mud stuck truck.
A few years back, I went fishing up in Northern Saskatchewan with my dad. I make it sound like I am a big fisherman, I am not. I am terrible, impatient, loud and I bore easily. But a week away from the city would do me well so I went.
The group we went with are of opposite me. They love fishing, rising early, paddling out and sitting in silence for hours. It didn’t take long for me to get bored.
So, I came up with a win-win. I’d take the truck, drive the 50 miles back to town and get some milk and cereal for breakfast. They would sit silently and fish; win-win. So, I took off, on my own, in to town.
I didn’t make it. I got distracted.
Heading down the highway I saw a sign directing me to a firework factory (angels might have been singing in silhouette over the sign). I couldn’t pass it up. So, off I went in search of explosives. As I went deeper into the surrounding forest, I was faced with an adventure; if you define adventure as what you get into when not doing what you’re supposed to.
The trail took a sharp right and headed down the steep side of a hill. A little leftover rain made the road muddy and I slid to the bottom. Hello little stream. Well, it looked little.
As I slid into the stream, my truck, actually my dad’s truck, sunk about a foot deep. I gave it some gas and lost another foot. Out of frustration I gassed it again and found water at the bottom of my doors. I was really in trouble.
Do you ever find yourself in a similar situation in life?
You set a goal: lose weight, get a date, start your business, write a book or close a new deal; then set off towards completion, excited and ready.
But along the way something seemingly better jumps out, pizza, Netflix, karaoke night?
And Bam! Sidetracked and stuck in a stream.
Out of frustration you spin your wheels: buy new workout shoes, buy a book writing class, or rewrite your goals.
Eventually you find yourself stuck, up to your doors, no closer to your goal and lost. You feel alone, cutoff or worse, a failure.
What do you do?
First, recognize what got you off path. Acknowledge. What is your “firework factory”? The reality is, the road to success is loaded with enticing diversions. The road to success is hard, fireworks are awesome and that is how it begins.
The first step to getting, and staying, on track is to know the detours, diversions and temptations. Recognize what obstacles you face.
After realizing that spinning my tires was…. well, spinning my tires and getting me more stuck, I had to come up with a plan.
I jumped out into the muddy creek and started digging out each wheel. Why didn’t I call for help? I was way out in the forest in Northern Saskatchewan. It was just me and the chipmunks.
After digging out I stuffed branches, leaves, and grass from the creek back into the holes. I climbed back into the truck, put it in neutral, revved and popped the clutch. I moved about a foot, repeated, and slowly crawled through the creek.
Just as darkness began to settle, covered head to foot in mud, both me and the truck, and exhausted, I reached the solid side and got out.
It was too late, and I was too tired, to head to town so I just returned to the lake and admitted my mistake.
What did I learn and how can you apply it to your goals.
9 strategies to get back on track
Recognize you are off path. The first step always involves admitting to yourself that you have a problem J
You can’t panic: You may be way out of cell range and all alone but you need to keep a handle on it emotionally. It hurts to get off track from your goals. The guilt, the embarrassment, the wasted hours. But panicking does not help, it further hurts.
Hard work: Look, we all get off course, and the further off you get, the harder it is to get back on. If you really want to succeed you must put in the time. And sometimes that means digging out your wheels in the mud and muck. Get back on track with your goals by putting in the time to catch up to where you should be.
Creativity: Stuffing branches and leaves under the tires for traction and then popping the clutch wasn’t in any manual. In fact, most auto folks would recommend against it. But I was desperate, and desperate times call for creative measures; you like how I did that? Look at your goals and what caused you to veer off. Can you think of a creative way to stay excited and get back on track?
Give it some gas: When I pushed the gas pedal, prior to the creative stick stuffing solution, I just sunk deeper. When we get off track and we keep spinning our wheels we get more stuck. But if you employ the strategies of hard work and creative solutions- AND THEN give it some gas. Pop! You are out and back on track.
Never give up: Whether you are stuck in the mud or stuck on a goal you are not a failure and you are not irreversibly off course UNTIL you give up. The first dig, stuff, pop clutch circuit got me a foot, the second a yard and finally after a few tries I was back on course. Your first attempt to reestablish your goal may not work perfectly. KEEP AT IT!!
Get lucky: Luck is not just when preparation meets opportunity. Luck is preparation meeting opportunity, combined with your effort and creativity. When you put in the effort required, luck will be in your favor more time than not. Luck is something we recognize in the rearview. After a little time to reflect we wonder how we did it. We did it because we prepared, we worked hard and the opportunity presented.
Ask for help: We can’t, and shouldn’t, go it alone. Who is your support network? While I would have loved someone to help dig out my truck, the truth is, I had to do that part on my own; so might you. But once I got out I immediately sought the help of my dad, the trucks unhappy owner, to get cleaned up. Allow those in your life that care and want to help, participate in your efforts.
Learn the lesson: Never allow what distracted you initially to distract you ever again. No more firework factories. We have goals to accomplish and lives to impact. Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.
Along the road to success we will see plenty of distracting diversions. We will get tired, we will question our commitment and wonder why we even thought it possible. But remember, if we got off track, we can get back on. We have the tools and the steps necessary. It doesn’t matter how far off course you feel, there is always an opportunity to learn and return. Dig out your wheels, pop the clutch and let’s go!!
Would you believe this is not the end of my Saskatchewan fishing trip story? How much more can go wrong? Find out in next weeks blog post.
Do you ever wonder if you are headed down the wrong path? Not “throwing your life away” kind of wrong path, the “focusing on the wrong priorities in life and business” kind of wrong path.
I’ve been there. I started, and failed at, three businesses in the last ten years. Not one of them caught the fire necessary for sustainability. I wasted a lot of time and money; the time burns me more than the money.
As high achievers, you and I see a need and we start to fill it. Unfortunately, this leads to the society of starters, when we need to be finishers.
The Long Road to Banaue, or as my kids call it, The 17 Hour Death Drive:
As a family, we took a vacation to see the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines; commonly referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World. The place is amazing: 2000-year-old rice terraces carved into the mountains of Ifugao fed by an ancient irrigation system. Stunning sunrises, fog, greenery- just breathtaking.
The terraces are, however, a long way from the Manila airport. Only accessible by car, it takes 8-9 hours without traffic; good luck finding a rental willing to allow their cars up there. Add three more hours for the two-kilometers across Manila commute- yes, two kilometers, three hours, yuck! Plan for 12 hours of one lane, steep, windy driving with chickens scattering about.
We arranged for a room at Tony’s house, he is the best, and set off.
Like goal achievement, you have your desired outcome, you set your course, and enthusiastically take off. But what happens when you realize the course you chose was wrong?
We relied on GPS because we are directionally challenged newbies to Northern Luzon. One map directed to Banaue proper, a second to Tony’s house. When they differed, we followed Tony’s house map. Twelve hours later, pitch black and pouring rain, we came to the pavements end. The road continued in the form of a muddy mess. I tried to walk it, barely.
The hard decision
When this happens on a drive you can turn the car around. When it happens in the drive to your goals, what do you do? The only options are reverse course or push on.
Easier said than done
When we invest time and effort into a project or goal, the pain of realizing that you are on the wrong path can be crushing. As motivation hits an all-time low, you question if it is even worth pursuing.
We had the same decision to make on the road to Banaue. According to the map we were now four hours in the wrong direction. Was Banaue worth it?
We turned around, retraced to where the GPS led us astray, and arrived at the Rice Terraces a little after 1:00am. Tony was asleep so we slept a couple hours in the car (slept?). At sunrise, we stood at the upper lookout and watched as the magnificence of Banaue’s 2000-year-old rice terraces came into full view. It took 17 hours but we celebrated arriving.
You will experience disappointment when you realize you followed the wrong course to your dream. But, once you get back on track and ultimately reach your destination, it will be worth it.
Three suggestions when you realize you navigated the wrong course to your goal.
Make a decisive decision to succeed. Do not doubt or hesitate. Immediately adjust to the right course.
The route was an error, but you are not a failure. Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn. You did not fail, you just took the scenic route. Do not beat yourself, pick yourself up with confidence and go after your goal.
Reaching your goal will taste super sweet. Anything worthwhile will take effort and demand sacrifice. But when you do reach your goal the result will feel deserved.
Like sunrise over Banaue after a 17 mile death drive.
A practical approach to creating wealth-based on the established principles of ancient Jewish wisdom-made accessible to people of all backgrounds
The ups and downs of the economy prove Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s famous principle that the more things change, the more we need to depend upon the things that never change. There’s no better source for both practical and spiritual financial wisdom than the time-tested knowledge found in the ancient Jewish faith and its culture. In the Second Edition of Thou Shall Prosper, Lapin offers a practical approach to creating wealth based on the established principles of ancient Jewish wisdom. This book details the ten permanent principles that never change, the ten commandments of making money if you will, and explores the economic and philosophic vision of business that has been part of Jewish culture for centuries. The book’s focus is on making accessible to individuals of all backgrounds, the timeless truths that Jews have used for centuries to excel in business.
Someone knocked over a drink. Surprise? Not really; it happens every pizza night. My kids aren’t clumsy, they just have a scarcity mentality. We love pizza over here (my son’s favorite song “I love pizza more than you”, a song he made up; he’s five). The scarcity mindset drives them to inhale their pizza and fight for the final slice. Someone always walks away in tears. Silly and immature, we can always get more pizza.
How many of us go through life with the same scarcity mentality?
A scarcity mindset is convinced that opportunities, resources, promotions, and success are limited; there just isn’t enough to go around. Forcing feelings that you must get yours before it runs out. This type of thinking leads to fear, failure, unhappiness and insecurity; characterized as a belief in the existence of too much competition, not enough money, uncontrollable environments and comparison.
Scarcity focuses on:
The short term
Jealousy & unhealthy competition
Limiting views of growth
Unwillingness to share credit or recognition
Insecurity, pessimism and small thinking
Materialism & a fear of missing out (fomo)
An Abundant Mindset
Alternatively, the abundance mentality recognizes that opportunity, like air, are limitless; plenty to go around. Abundant leaders concentrate on what they want to accomplish, even if it appears impossible. If only I could help my kids understand there will always be more pizza.
Abundance focuses on:
The big picture, the long term
Collaborative opportunities to progress
There is more __________ where that came from
Building trust & rapport
Optimism, service & giving
Finding happiness in the success of others
Commitment and Motivation
Ideas and opportunities are not scarce, they are abundant. Yet few act on their inspirations. It isn’t a lack of ideas, rather a lack of motivation and commitment. Unlimited excuses begin to surface; too busy, no funds, too much competition, no time, etc. Success begins between your ears, it starts with mindset.
6 Steps to an Abundant Mindset
Reduce media consumption – conscious media consumption (including social) is imperative. So much is negative, a continuous parade of failure, hate and depravity creating unhealthy competition, lowered self-esteem and fear others will steal your success. This is not representative of your reality. Recognize that equal promotion is not given to stories of abundance and positivity. They do exist.
Give-Share-Serve – giving starts the receiving process. Turning your focus outward draws opportunities toward you. In life, you get back what you send out. Start by serving with no expectation of return and be surprised at the return. Help others achieve their dreams.
Stop comparing – recognize that the experiences your friends, coworkers and others appear to be having are often the “Photoshop” version, not the real challenges. Celebrate their success but don’t compare.
Commit to work for it – “opportunity is missed by most people,” as Thomas Edison famously said, “because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”. Anything worthwhile is going to take commitment, sacrifice, dedication and intention. Abundance exists for those willing to commit to work for it.
Don’t fear failure – failure is an event and a mindset, not a person. It is not permanent. Never permit fear to obscure opportunity. Ask, “what is the worst thing that could happen” (really happen). Often, very little. Take a step into the unknown confident you will be able to see further. Look for positives in failure as stepping stones to your next victory. Sometimes we win and sometimes we learn (tweet that).
See opportunity – Make the choice to see opportunity, to expect opportunity. Like buses, another will be coming shortly. The choice to have an abundant mindset is within.
Abundance and Scarcity
The scarcity mentality causes sufferers to accept things as they are, not as they can be. This thinking will not benefit your dreams. To be successful, focus on building trust and working collaboratively. If you support others in their journey to accomplishment, you will be rewarded with abundant opportunities.
I received an email from an outstanding performer. One line that immediately flooded me with anxiety. Do you have 5 minutes to meet? Maybe you can relate, these inquiries are never five minutes and rarely positive. Is he quitting, taking a better offer, asking for more money, did he screw up? So many possibilities. But, the question that haunted me most, why the email, why not just come into my office?
Open Door Policies Don’t Work
As a leader, I have always maintained an open-door policy, accessible when needed. I kept the physical door to my office open, smiled often, and even referred to my availability in nearly every staff meeting. But very few took advantage of it. If leadership experts ardently encourage the importance of accessibility, why don’t open-door policies work?
The idea of an open-door policy is great for employee orientations and handbooks but to make them work in practice, you must create a culture of comfortability. Think about it from the employee’s point of view. As they approach your “open-door” They worry about:
Is my question or dilemma too small for the leader to be bothered with? Timid
Is the mistake (or problem) so big that I will be escorted out (fired)? Fear
Will the leader ask a bunch of questions I can’t answer? Embarrassment
Will solving the problem create more work, longer hours, or push me outside my comfort? Ability
Will the leader think that it is my fault? Blame
The conundrum of accessibility
The more successful you are, the less accessible you become. The more leadership influence you attain, the more trepidation from your followers. As responsibilities increase, more people get involved, and you get pulled in more directions. The dilemma, who gets how much of your time?
Passive versus active accessibility
I worked for a great leader who understood active accessibility. Every afternoon he would leave his office and walk the building. He would randomly pop his head into offices and over cubicle walls to invite the occupant to join him for a short break to Starbucks. He did this nearly daily, learning about the lives of his team and their struggles, offering teaching experiences. Employees often shared concerns they were hesitant to share in his “open-door” office. When leading, actively seek opportunities to be involved with your team.
Unfortunately, as your team grows, your capacity to give equal accessibility becomes unrealistic. That is why it is important to create a healthy culture that doesn’t hinder your ability to accomplish your other responsibilities.
Maximize active accessibility without destroying your life by:
Setting boundaries – My accessible boss walked the building in the afternoon when his energy dropped and he needed a break. He chose the opportunity to interact when it fit his agenda.
Determine who needs and who merely wants your time – As your team grows spend most of your time with members who need Allow other leaders to handle requests from those who want your time. Your aim is to drive the organization forward not respond to every request.
Delegate – Let others step up to the role of leader and handle appropriate responsibilities on your behalf. Give them the opportunity and watch them rise to leadership.
Identify common requests – As your leadership experience increases you will recognize that certain inquiries come up multiple times. This is especially true as the layers of leadership increase. Systematize your response for simplicity and ease of communication.
Be consistent – The fear of comfortability is the chief cause of open-door policy failures. Consistency creates comfortability. When team members learn to anticipate your response, their concern about approaching you diminishes. You want your team to bring mistakes to you before they become problems. Reduce their fear of coming forward by always responding consistently.
Accept you can’t do it all (though we want to) – Understand, as your leadership increases, there are roles you will no longer be able to play. This doesn’t make you a bad leader, but heightens the importance of your active accessibility. Make each interaction productive knowing you will not be able to participate as often as you would like (or did before).
The appearance of accessibility – Perception is often reality. Creating the impression of accessibility may be enough for a healthy work environment. Talented team members will not abuse availability. If they do, use the preceding six suggestions, or accept that the individual may not be a good fit for your team.
The “5 minutes to meet” email
My outstanding performer didn’t want more money, to resign, nor did he make a mistake. He wanted a few suggestions on responding to his team member’s concern. I spent more time concerned about the open-door policy than I did on his response. Create a culture of active accessibility and save your sanity.