Archive for the ‘ Inspirational ’ Category

The Smile Test and the Positive Leader


Did you feel happier? Now try this experiment again with a group of friends in the same room. Look at one another as you smile. Does anything change?

From what I’ve experienced, being around a group enhances the effects of the smile test. Why? Because happiness is contagious. And by smiling, you encourage better moods in the people around you, which can even circle back around and improve your own mood further.

So share your smile and laughter with those around you as much as you can every day. You’ll be regarded as a more positive leader, someone who uplifts and inspires anyone and everyone. You may even find, as Brent did in his experiment, that your day becomes a lot brighter!

beautiful young girl smiling

Smiling Girl

Overcoming the odds

My dad and I after the surgery

About 5 years ago my father was diagnosed with liver cancer. He was a heavy drinker in his younger days and his cirrhosis compounded his medical issues. Over these 5 years he has gone through chemotherapy, radiation, and a litany of drugs to stabilize his liver. 9 months ago he was finally cancer-free and was then able to be on the transplant list for a new liver. A few weeks ago we received a call that a new liver came in and he needed to be at the hospital as soon as he could. My dad said he felt strange about it and had mixed emotions about the process. “How can I live because someone else has died?” I can’t imagine the competing values he had to deal with. The surgery went better than expected and the transplant was successful.  When the doctor pulled the liver out he said he didn’t know how my dad was still alive. He barely had a few inches left of a functioning liver.

What’s different about dad now than before his surgery is his zeal for life. He has always been a very happy and positive person, but something has changed for him. He told me the other day on the phone that he has “a second chance at life.” It got me thinking. What if I lived like I had a second chance at life? How much happier and productive could I be if I lived like this? So go out and make the best of everything. You never know how much you can accomplish with the right mindset

“The Happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything.”

Who Do You Trust?

If you’re an avid YouTuber, you might have heard of ze frank (listed under the channel zefrank1).    I personally know of him for his “educational” videos on animal species mixed with his colorful commentary.  Even if you’ve never heard of him, before, you may have heard of BuzzFeed, where ze frank is also the Executive VP of Video.

He’s posted a video to his channel on the topic of trust using two performers from Cirque du Soleil.  This video is more of an artistic and emotional look at what trust really is, but in the end, asks this simple question: “Who do you trust?”

This also leads to another question: “Do people see you as trust-worthy?”

If you haven’t, already, be sure to take a look at the TrustWorks model which breaks down 4 main characteristics of trust.  Also, be sure to take a look at one of our sister-blogs at www.LeadingWithTrust.com for regular tips on building trust as well as leading others.

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What are Your Secrets to Being a Revolutionary Leader?

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How quickly things change in 10 years

Think about this: the first iPhone came out in 2007.

Technology changes so rapidly that it is incredibly difficult to keep up with the rate of change. But looking at leadership, have there been as many revolutionary changes in the last seven years as there have been in technology?

Mobile World Congress was this week in Barcelona. For those who don’t know, it’s a huge annual conference where some of the top smartphone manufacturers introduce their latest products. Though Apple was absent, Samsung announced their latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S5. Some advances from the previous version include improved battery life, updated camera, faster processor, a heart-rate monitor, and a new fingerprint scanner (a la iPhone 5s), but despite all of these, its reception has been generally lukewarm because the changes weren’t quite revolutionary.

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The response to the S5

Consumers of technology these days demand constant innovation from products. Why shouldn’t your direct reports, the consumers of your leadership, demand the same? Would you be able to keep up?

Let’s get the ball rolling on change. Are you currently doing something differently from other leaders to improve your leadership skills and/or meet the needs of your direct reports? Perhaps that thing you do is actually the game-changer that will revolutionize leadership as we know it. Share it in the comments.

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Image Credit: 1 | 2 | 3

Corporate Citizen X

Corporate Citizen X

Corporate Citizen X

He was found by all Human Resource accounts to be
An individual contributor against whom had no official complaint,
And all the annual reviews on his performance agree
That, in the new millennial sense of a classic word, he was an
Angel,

For in all of his daily tasks he did serve the greater good of the organization.
Except for one Sabbatical till the day he retired He worked at his desktop and never got fired,
But satisfied his many managers at Grey Consulting Inc.
Yet he wasn’t offensive or strange in his worldview,
For his mature colleagues report that he had paid his dues,
(His HR file also shows this service was satisfactory and sound)

And the outsourced Positive Therapists too had found
That he was respected by his peers and liked to sip the news
Social Media is convinced that he engaged CNN’s blog every day
And that his algorithms regarding advertisements were typical in every way.
Insurance records under his name prove that he was fully insured,
His health card showed it had been swiped once in the ER, and that he left completely cured.
All of Nielsen’s numbers and Gallup results do declare

He had taken full advantage of his 401k-employee match plan,
And had everything necessary for a 21st century man,
Laptops, SMART phone, wireless signals running through his living room air.

Our investigation into Eco Footprints demonstrate a spirit of circumvent
That he maintained the proper green omissions based on the time of year;
When there was no conflict, he was not conflicted; when there was tension, he was proportionately tense.
He had married and added two and a half children to population,
Which all NBC Social Political polls indicate was the right number for a parent of his generation.
And a few witnesses observed that he never influenced or manipulated their
Online Education.

Was he free? Was he happy? The questions are rediculous and absurd:
Had anything been wrong, in this connected world, we surely would have heard!

A Parody of WH Auden’s, The Unknown Citizen

Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consultant and Learning Media Specialist at The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action, a self-paced learning course about personal excellence and effective collaboration.

My Vegas Story: Seize the Day, and Night!

At close to 10PM, the pilot announced that he would be making the final descent to Vegas, the city I had been to only once before for a brief amount of time. I peered down through the plane window and saw the beautifully lit strip, magnificent and thriving. And that kicked off an unforgettable 3 days and 2 nights at the HR Tech Conference earlier this week.

Las Vegas Welcome Sign

Welcome to Las Vegas

Go see the Cirque shows. Walk around inside the Bellagio. Most importantly, don’t stay in your hotel room! These recommendations from my coworkers bounced around inside my head as I went to my first session of the conference. Being new to HR and to workforce analytics, the information presented and conversations I had with people really highlighted just how much I didn’t know. And sure, this was quite unnerving because everyone around me seemed like they had it all figured out. But in another corner of my brain, I was absolutely thrilled. Here was an opportunity to absorb as much information as I could about a topic I hadn’t really been exposed to before, but was so critical to my work. So I made up my mind to learn as much as I could about the bright minds that made up the HR world.

And then there were the networking events. Wow. Reserving an entire lounge overlooking the strip for a night is definitely not cheap. Especially when there is an open bar. But somehow there were not just one, but two separate networking events that took place both nights I was there. Of course, I took advantage of these events and chatted with very interesting people while getting some good recommendations and advice.

But there was one thing I didn’t get to do. I didn’t step foot on the dance floor. And I generally love to dance. Perhaps it was the thought that I had previously that everyone around me had it figured out. Perhaps it was the lack of liquid courage in my body. Perhaps it was the reservation that I had built up after two girls had “propositioned” me on the strip and I had quickly, but politely, mentioned my girlfriend before taking my leave against their persistence. Whatever it was, as I approached the dance floor, something made me stop.

And when I left, I was filled with regret. The next day was only a half day for the conference and I was to fly out immediately afterwards, so this was my last chance to experience Vegas. I simply couldn’t bring myself to go back to my hotel room. Sure, it was past one in the morning and I was ready for bed, but come on, I was in Vegas! And then I remembered the recommendations. It was too late for a Cirque show, but the Bellagio! And with that, I started walking.

Las Vegas Strip

A view of the strip in Las Vegas

It took me almost 40 minutes to get there from the Mandalay Bay because I took my time and enjoyed the buildings. I mean, where else can you see large replicas of the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the New York City skyline in the same area? And when I got to the Bellagio, I was amazed at the hand-crafted colored glass pieces that hung from the ceiling. I even got to see the talking tree! Well, it didn’t talk while I stood in front of it, but it did move its eyes and blinked as it smiled. It was surreal.

By the time I got back, it was almost 3 in the morning. I was tired but happy. As I laid down in my bed, my mind drifted back home to San Diego. And I thought, what if I put myself in the shoes of a tourist every day? If I went everywhere with the same sense of wonder and curiosity? If I lived everyday like it was my last chance to experience where I was and what I was doing?

Mark Mayfield, one of the speakers at the conference, declared that everyone knows about perspectives A and B. But to take a unconventional and undiscovered third perspective can exercise one’s creativity and bring more humor and entertainment into one’s life. I wholeheartedly agree.

So have fun, take chances, and don’t ever let regret materialize. And if something ever stops you from walking onto the dance floor, I have just the thing. It’s a statement that I read in a magazine on the return flight: “The No. 1 antidote to fear is experience!”

 

 

Enjoy Your Work!

“Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” —The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 

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Tomy Sawyer Whitewasing A Fence by Norman Rockwell

There are high-minded folks who are prone to speak confidently, and perhaps somewhat knowingly, about the challenges of today’s  “workplace,” as some distant plot of time and space that is in desperate need of inspiration. These gurus and generals of thought and attitude speak of a place that somewhere along the way has gotten separated from the rest of our lives.

What we have come to call “work” now seems to consist of only duties and tasks that our minds and bodies are obliged to do nearly three out of every four days of our lives, rather than a grand stage where our hearts and souls lead the dance. The mere mention of the word “work” has become synonymous with labor and toil, with survival and disengagement, with quiet desperation and the worship of weekends.

Today’s deepest leadership challenge is not finding a way to influence people and ourselves to work harder or more efficiently; rather it is to inspire and encourage meaning and joy in the tasks we set out to achieve in the service of others.

“The work that is really a man’s own work is play and not work at all,” Mark Twain noted in A Humorist’s Confession. “Cursed is the man who has found some other man’s work and cannot lose it. When we talk about the great workers of the world, we really mean the great players of the world.”

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Enjoy Your Work

The poorest paid receptionist to the highest paid executive should be challenged to cultivate the eternal, to store up treasure in others, and to ultimately rename work as pleasure—a dispensation that rewards our highest calling as human beings through the consumption of meaning, purpose, and happiness. The teacher, architect, salesperson, accountant, mechanic, engineer, copy editor, software developer, legislator, actor, pastor, poet, prince, homemaker, painter, speaker, writer, software developer, or singer, should seek the higher rewards of their daily endeavors through the enjoyment and adventure of completing what they have learned to do, have trained to do, were born to do at work.

But the ones who have subtly and silently slipped into the chorus of groans and now tread in the mental pool of toil, have in fact resigned themselves to no longer hope to do something great in their work.

“How can they when their souls are in a ferment of revolt against the employment of their hands and brains? The product of slavery, intellectual or physical, can never be great,” Twain concluded in his sober confession.

It is time to rename work as pleasure and seek to master it with as much passion and persistence as we do a good meal, a child’s laughter, or the deep and intimate connection with a friend or family member who reminds us of how precious this life is. It’s time to renew our spirits during the three out of every four days of which our minds and bodies are not obliged to “work,” but inspired to work with joy.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies and CoAuthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action, a virtual learning experience that empowers individuals with the skills to achieve excellence at work.

Inspired vs. Required

It’s back to school time! While the memories of summer fade into our conscious, to be called upon in future years of eternal youth, young minds reluctantly transition into formal education mode. The thought of spending the next nine months sitting in a classroom cramming information into their brains is far from the glorious lessons learned on rope swings down by the river, swimming pools, and lemonade stands of summertime.

Square Peg, Round Hole

Square Peg, Round Hole

So why is it such a haunting proposition to return to the classroom this time every year? Why are our children not as excited about learning—the core purpose education—as they are about the freedoms of summer?

Today’s formal education conditions young people to jump through hoops, rather than train them to think for themselves.

Core curriculum and Standardized Testing provides checklists and incentives/consequences for the fulfillment or lack of fulfillment of the duties outlined. Today, we require rather than inspire a healthy and effective learning process. We worry about skills, test scores, grade point averages and assignments rather than focusing on the process and the development of the whole person into a critical thinker and unique individual contributor with valuable ideas and a mission to fulfill in life.

These children grow up to work for organizations and continue the program they learned in childhood…. hoop jumping, get by, do your duty until their eyes glaze over from the combination of boredom and stress of today’s formal education process.

We applaud those who successfully jump through the hoops and we shake our heads at those who don’t. We forget that some of the greatest minds and contributors to our culture and civilization were children that we would have shaken our heads at in their youth because they couldn’t “hack” it. Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs, as well as many of today’s movers and shakers come to mind.

What would happen if we took time to have great discussions with children? What would happen if we inspired them to learn all they could and then turn around and fulfill their life mission and inspire others in the process? What would happen if we stopped focusing on the outcome (scores, grades) and focused on how effective the process is? What would happen if we adults stopped being “the sage on the stage”, but rather the “guide by the side” and became fellow learners with children showing them how to effectively learn, lead, and apply during the process? What if we mentored them as a whole person and took delight in them and in drawing out their thoughts on various subjects?

When the inspired children grow up, how would that change the way they approached their careers? How would they lead others differently? How would that affect entire organizations as they started to hire employees that had the quiet confidence and desire to serve a higher cause that inevitably stems from having been treated with interest, and respect and given time and attention and encouragement to naturally grow in areas of weakness and strengths, rather than be criticized and measured by the results of cookie cutter tests?

The way we raise and teach our children conditions them to accept mediocrity and boredom and a state of disempowerment as the norm for their adult lives to the detriment of us all. There is a better way, but it is time-consuming, messy, harder, less measurable, but for sure more fulfilling. It’s time to rethink the way we teach our children to becoming healthy, happy, adults through the learning process.

 Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies and is CoAuthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action, a virtual learning experience for Individuals in the workplace. He also a Master Trainer of Student Self Leadership, a leadership program designed for youth to be more effective collaborators and problems solvers in their schools and communities.

Leadership Failure

Not too long ago I was put in charge of a couple sections of soldiers who were working on some military intelligence products for an upcoming mission. Since the teams were working on separate products, I assigned myself to one team and had a Lieutenant take charge of another team. The LT had been in the army for a few years, so I had no qualms about giving the team to him. I spoke with him privately and told him that he had “full autonomy” over his team and gave him full discourse over what his team did and how they finished their products. The next morning I come into work at 7:30 fully expecting everyone to be there for unit physical training. They weren’t. When I asked the LT where his team was, he said that he told them that they could do physical training on their own and that they didn’t need to show up until 9:30am. “What? Why did you do that? We always show up at 7:30.”Leadership

So, of course, they decided to sleep in and didn’t do any physical training for the day.

And of course my team was upset that they didn’t get to sleep in and come to work at 9:30. The last thing I wanted to create was resentment across the two teams. I thought that maybe a “team building” exercise was in order, but I didn’t carry it out because I felt I would probably screw that up too.  I was upset about the whole situation, but mainly I was irritated at myself.

After looking back on the incident, here’s what I learned:

  • I never really gave him full autonomy

Here’s what I really said: You can have full autonomy unless you do something I don’t want you to do or something that I disagree with you on. What I told him he could do and what I wanted him to do were two separate things.

  • I shouldn’t have given him full autonomy

Giving full autonomy over everything is not really leadership at all. I thought I was doing the right thing by giving him autonomy, but what I should have done in that situation was to give him more direction as to what is expected and necessary. Autonomy has its place and limitations; using it correctly is when it’s the most impactful.

  • My communication was not aligned with my expectations

I was never clear on my expectations. What was standard and status quo for me was not necessarily the same for him. Talking through each other’s expectations would have been helpful for minimizing conflict and building trust.

For any further information or questions contact me at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

The End of Innovation

“Innovation is dangerous!” says Yawn Fearman, Gatekeeper of Ideas at Acme Corporation—an international consulting firm that provides executives and managers the tools and skill sets needed to maintain power and balance within organizations. “Innovation is an unruly attitude that ignites revolutions and unwillingly forces change upon the slow and steady hand of the status quo.”Death of Innovation

Fearman asserts that there several simple mindsets to avoid disruptive an inconvenient ideas within an organization:

Isolate Innovation

When a child acts up or misbehaves at home, the best discipline is to give them a Time Out and send them to their room. You don’t have to kick them out of the organization, but isolation will make them think about the real vision and values of the company in more detail. It will encourage them to align their hopes and dreams with the hierarchy of the organization who own the vision and values.

But if you do want to innovate within your organization, keep it limited to one or two departments that are led by individuals who have a degree from a prestigious school and who are in close collaboration with you as a key leader.

Just Say No

Hey, if it worked for Nancy Reagan in the mid-80s (and look how far we’ve come since then), it can work for leaders when individual contributors come up with creative and new ways to serve clients. When ideas come up from the front line, just say, “no.” You probably don’t have the resources or money to implement the ideas anyway, so no real harm can come from this approach. It’s clean and effective and eventually, people will stop coming up with their own ideas so that you can do your job—implementing your own.

Show Them Who’s Boss

When the first two strategies don’t work, flex your Position Power. You have the degree, the experience, the complex title, and the pay grade—so use them!

If employees discover that they have other avenues of power, such as personal experience, knowledge, relationships outside the organization, or a specialized ability to perform specific tasks that the executives may or may not, this could become very disruptive to an organization. Don’t shy away from the fact that you are getting paid the big bucks to drive the organization into the future—not them. You have the title and the authority to make the first and final decision.

Enjoy the Silence

Don’t allow the loud distractions of individual or collaborative innovation to drown out the brilliance of your leadership ability. You’ve earned the corner office, and you were born to lead. The future of the world depends on you—don’t leave it to chance by putting its fate hang on someone else’s wild ideas.

** The views and opinions expressed in this fictitious article do not necessarily reflect sound advice or the views and opinions of
 the author, or The Ken Blanchard Companies.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies and Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action, an asynchronous learning experience for Individual Contributors within Organizations.

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