Reflections on Leadership: Leaders Create Wins

Reflections on Leadership is my weekly article series reflecting on what it means to be a great leader. I hope that these thoughts can help you with your own leadership development journey.

My mission for Operation Melt is to help you melt away all of the obstacles to achieving your goals, not just your fitness goals. So, helping us all become better leaders is fully aligned with that mission. Maybe this will help achieve the Operation Melt vision…

To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

Weekly Inspiration

Leaders Create Wins

We all have bad days or days where things don’t go the way we hope. Recently I went through a few days where it felt like nothing was going right for me. I had some setbacks at work that caused me to question myself. Some of my personal goals hit a rough patch and weren’t making the progress that I had expected. And, without getting overly specific and boring you, I just couldn’t seem to get a win.

For somebody as goal-oriented as me and who measures his own performance daily this is not the most motivating or satisfying situation.

One night after dinner I decided that I wanted to take my mind off the situation. I turned on a podcast and started tearing out an overgrown bush in my back yard. This bush has annoyed me for years and I was planning to call in a professional this summer. But I decided to tackle some of it myself.

About 90 minutes later most of the bush was gone and converted into 8 bundles of sticks and 2 bags of brush and the yard was clean.

When I looked at the results I felt pretty good. I felt so productive and it makes me dread that area of my backyard a little less.

This situation got me thinking about leadership…. Great leaders create wins.

The best leaders look for opportunities position their team members for success. They help break bigger projects into smaller efforts that can be completed and celebrated along the way. They look for quick wins within longer term initiatives. They also give their team members opportunities to succeed in side projects.

I discuss the motivational value of wins in my book: Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year. One of the ten lessons I learned through my transformation journey is that nothing motivates more than results. Here is an excerpt from the book that describes this situation.

I think of my motivation like a success snowball. I work hard and start seeing results. The results make me happy and make me work even harder. This harder work produces bigger results. Then the process repeats itself until I am unstoppable. This is a big part of how I hit my goal in nine months instead of the year that I set out to achieve.

Call to Action: help your team experience the success snowball! Provide opportunities for incremental wins as often as you can. Then celebrate the wins to help keep everybody motivated and optimistic about their progress. Just make sure that the wins are authentic and not staged because honesty is a prerequisite to great leadership.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your perspective on this topic, my Reflections on Leadership series or anything else via a share on social media or message me directly.

Learn more about why I share what I share at https://OperationMelt.com/why/

Learn more about my book at https://OperationMelt.com/book/

Join my email list at https://OperationMelt.com/mail/

Reflections on Leadership: Leaders Check & Act

Weekly Inspiration

Leaders Check & Act

W. Edwards Deming is a popular name in both the scientific and management community and he had a major impact on the way we live today. Amongst other things Deming was an engineer, professor, statistician and a management consultant. He effectively created the concept of Total Quality Management and continuous improvement.

Deming is credited as the creator of the Deming cycle more commonly known as PDCA. Created in the the 1950s, PDCA stands for plan, do, check, act. It is a 4-step cycle that is the basis for most continuous process improvement efforts undertaken yet today. In very simple terms, the kind I like, it works like this:

  • Plan: define a goal, targets, objectives and processes
  • Do: work your plan and apply what you defined above
  • Check: measure whether your work is producing the intended result
  • Act: take corrective measures to improve your process and start again

Done correctly this cycle never ends. Whether it be leadership, operations, project management or just life you can always improve. If your goal is big enough you will need to keep adjusting to make it come to life.

Let’s skip forward to today.

This is the first week of April which means that the first 25% of 2019 is now complete and we are in the second quarter. This means you only have 9 more months, or 75% of the year, left to achieve those big goals that you set in January.

Are you on track? This first week of the second quarter is the perfect time to focus on the second half of the Deming cycle. Check and Act.

Leaders check! That is, they pause to measure progress. When you set those SMART goals at the beginning of the year they included specific measurements you were going to use to evaluate progress. Have you stayed on course?

Take the next week or two to give yourself a performance review. Evaluate every goals that you have set. Find out where you are on track and where you are not. Also look for places that you are on track but could do even more.

Leaders act! Once you have finished checking yourself it is time to act. Identify some steps you can take to get yourself back on track where you have slipped. Use a critical lens to see if any of your goals are no longer relevant. Then figure out some ways to celebrate your progress where you are meeting or exceeding your goals. Celebrating success is an important yet often overlooked part of the process.

If you are leading a team this would be a good exercise to do with your team too. When I led teams I would have a quarterly offsite with the team to check, act and celebrate.

Call to Action: take this first week of the quarter to Check your progress and Act to make sure you are killing it in Q2.

About Reflections on Leadership

Reflections on Leadership is my weekly article series reflecting on what it means to be a great leader. I hope that these thoughts can help you with your own leadership development journey.

My mission for Operation Melt is to help you melt away all of the obstacles to achieving your goals, not just your fitness goals. So, helping us all become better leaders is fully aligned with that mission. Maybe this will help achieve the Operation Melt vision

To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your perspective on this topic, my Reflections on Leadership series or anything else via a share on social media or message me directly.

Learn more about why I share what I share at https://OperationMelt.com/why/

Learn more about my book at https://OperationMelt.com/book/

Join my email list at https://OperationMelt.com/mail/

Reflections on Leadership: Why I Share

I am changing things up a little this week for my Reflections on Leadership post. Instead of sharing a true reflection on great leadership I wanted to share some reflections about myself. This post is different and important enough that I am cross posting on both my blog and as a LinkedIn article because I want it to stick prominently with my profile.

Each week I produce a significant amount of content.

  • I share my Reflections on Leadership every Wednesday. 
  • I write a weekly blog post about my fitness journey each Sunday and at other milestone moments.
  • Each day I share multiple social media posts to depict my fitness lifestyle, my favorite parts of Columbus, a glimpse of my project management life and a daily inspirational quote. 
  • I occasionally write and publish articles about a variety of leadership, project management and self-improvement topics. 
  • I wrote and recently published a book about how I used project management to transform myself through my weight loss journey.
  • My thoughts are already turning to my next book.

I understand the question many of you may be asking yourself: “why does Tony publish so much content?” Even more, you recruiters, business leaders, professional associates, friends and other LinkedIn users may be asking “why does Tony post on LinkedIn about topics that are so personal in nature.”

I wanted to take a minute to explain why it is important to me to share content. I also want to address why I post on LinkedIn about my health & fitness journey on LinkedIn – a network generally reserved for professional pursuits.

One quick note for you avid followers of Reflections on Leadership this is a different post than the one from a year ago called Leaders Share

I am an artist and so are you!

I believe that each one of us is an artist in our own way. Whether it is painting, music or countless other things we each have creative outlets that we engage in for self-fulfillment. We are all artists.

It has taken me years to discover it but my chosen artistic media is content creation. I love writing and creating content to communicate complex information in a simple way. I also love telling stories that interest and resonate with people. I do it in my professional life and I do it in my personal life. This is my art.

There is a difference between an art and a hobby. A hobby is usually an activity we engage in for fun and because we enjoy it. The big difference between this and an art is that an art form is more of a calling. Art is something that we can’t just not do because it feels like we are missing a part of us. I know my writing is an art because I can completely lose track of time sometimes when writing and the words just come flowing out of me.

Side note: writing is how I think too! When I am thinking through something, brainstorming, trying to figure out my point of view, defining a process or planning a conversation I start by opening OneNote or PowerPoint or just grab a notebook. I like to “see” my thoughts.

In short I produce content for personal fulfillment. Even if nobody reads what I write I will still write. For example I have been journaling daily for nearly 3 years and I do it just for me. This means that I don’t necessarily have to share my art (content) but I clearly do share. This is where the next point comes in.

I want to help!

On October 13, 2017 a coworker walked into my office and asked me if I had a minute to talk. He told me that my weight loss journey had inspired him to start his own and he was making progress. This was a pivotal moment in my decision to share highly personal content on highly public mediums. As it turns out this was just the first of many such stories I have from my journey.

I have always hoped that the work I do, the content I produce, the mentoring I provide, the coaching I do and many of my other outlets have an impact on people around me. That is why there was a point where I was mentoring seven people at one time and teaching a mentoring class – all of which were on top of my main job. This is why I love leadership so much. Leadership is an opportunity to make an impact on people.

I want to make a meaningful impact on people. I want to help people achieve there goals. I want to help people make their own dreams come true.

You never know when a piece of content you write or an experience you share or a moment of vulnerability will resonate with somebody. You never know when you are going to change (or maybe even save) a life. What I do know is that my stories and my continuing journey can be a contributor to the success of others. I know I have a point of view and that makes me happy to share. I am just getting started!

This is why I developed my vision statement: To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

I am proud of my accomplishments.

In addition to the altruistic aspect of sharing my story and my journey there is also another side of that coin. I am super proud of my accomplishments and there is a degree of humbly patting myself on the back.

I have done a lot of unique things in my life. How many people actually run a half marathon (less than 2% of the US population) and how many do it 16 months after reaching the peak of a lifetime of obesity? I bet it is (or close to) zero! And this story just scratches the surface because, like everybody else, my “becoming” story takes many twists and turns (poverty, wins, losses, laughs, tears).

It took me more than forty years to become legitimately proud of myself (even of my mistakes) and I am not afraid to share that with others. I want everybody to get to that point where the are proud of themselves and are able to share yet still maintain humility.

This is who I really am.

All of this brings me to my final and maybe my most important point. This is the one that really explains why I choose to share stories about my weight loss on a professional networking site like LinkedIn. This is a point that has taken me a while to understand and many people struggle with through their entire lives.

I am more than my job.

I am not just building a career but I am trying to build a life of contribution and fulfillment! My accomplishments outside of my job say as much or more about the kind of asset I can be to individuals and organizations as any certification, degree, recognition or other professional achievement.

Arguably the main (but certainly not exclusive) audience for each person on LinkedIn are recruiters and hiring managers. Most people turn to LinkedIn to find their next career opportunity or other professional endeavors. Because of this most people have learned to spin their profiles and posts as a self-marketing tool. While you can’t really blame people for doing this it becomes difficult to get a true sense of the person.

This isn’t me!

My hope is that my current and potential connections get to see the real me and not just my branding. By publicly sharing such personal content, including on LinkedIn, I am hoping that people can see what makes me tick. I want people to see these things whether I am looking for the next step in my career or not. It is important to me to be real and honest all the time and not just to sell myself.

I am passionate about my work and my various pursuits. I am a project manager at heart and I sincerely believe project management can change lives. I am living that belief every day because project management has changed my life. I have literally written a book about life-changing project management. Project management is more than just a job!

I work hard to be an inspirational, generous and service-oriented leader. In everything I do I try to help people achieve their goals. I want to help provide the right inspiration and motivation and then I want to use my coaching and mentoring skills to help empower people to achieve their own big goals. Human beings matter! I want to make an impact on people, those people can make an impact on companies and that drives results.

I am goal-oriented and a high-achiever. Through many different facets of my life and especially through my recent personal transformation I have set goals, built plans to achieve them, stayed focused, tracked progress, made course corrections and achieved that goal. Many of these goals have been major accomplishments and then I am on to the next. These are the same attributes I can bring to any role I take on in my professional life. Give me a relevant, SMART goal and I will crush it!

I am very analytical and believe in the power of data. My top Gallup StrengthsFinder strength is competition which means that I love measurable performance. Data is very important to me and keeps me motivated, it is just how I am wired. So data is, clearly, very important to me and I use data to tell stories in all aspects of my life.

I try to lead and act with humility and believe we can all do better. The vulnerability that I show in my writing and in my leadership comes from a place of humility. I know that I am far from where I can be and even further from where I started so I try to make progress and get better every day. I do this in my fitness, I do this in my knowledge, I do this in my leadership and in countless other areas. When we stop improving we stop living. I know this post may test the boundaries of my humility a bit but this is an exception, promise!

I am an accomplished communicator. Another one of my top StrengthsFinder strengths is communication and I like to make complex concepts easy to understand. I like to tell stories. This has always been a talent of mine and it is one that I continue to develop.

Like everybody else, I am multi-faceted and have broad interests which sometimes makes it tough to fit in just one box. In my life and career I have never been able to say “I’m a doctor” or “I’m a teacher” or any other clear answer about what I do and where I am going. I have skills, interests, passions, talents and goals that span a diverse range of categories. While I stop short of calling myself a “polymath” (which is a word that I just learned existed about a month ago) I do have those tendencies if not the expertise.

There are more but my humility is telling me to stop here.

Suffice it to say that I am not scared to put myself out there and be me even on LinkedIn. If this is appealing to potential connections I hope that they reach out as I love to meet new people. Maybe I can help you achieve a goal (personal or professional).

If it is not appealing. If you think I am crazy for sharing so much. If you disagree with my message. If you think I am unprofessional. I completely understand and respect your opinion. Thank you for reading my content and giving me a chance!

If you want to learn more about me just reach out. Also please consider purchasing my book – Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year.

Call to Action: there are several things I hope you take from this post. But I will boil it down to 2 things I hope for:

  1. I hope that this new understanding about why I produce and share so much content provides some context that you keep in mind and that you keep reading my posts. Plus I hope you reach out if you want to talk more about your goals and mine.
  2. I hope that others will follow my lead and have the courage to be themselves even on LinkedIn. If we are all more transparent, real and vulnerable in our lives we will each be happier and accomplish more together.

About Reflections on Leadership 

Reflections on Leadershipis my weekly article series reflecting on what it means to be a great leader. I hope that these thoughts can help you with your own leadership development journey.

My mission for Operation Melt is to help you melt away all of the obstacles to achieving your goals, not just your fitness goals. So, helping us all become better leaders is fully aligned with that mission. Maybe this will help achieve the Operation Melt vision

To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your perspective on this topic, my Reflections on Leadership series or anything else via a share on social media or message me directly.

Want to learn more? I share my Operation Melt story, my approach and my lessons learned in my new book. Purchase your copy at OperationMelt.com/book/.

Reflections on Leadership: My Favorite Podcasts

Weekly Inspiration

My Favorite Podcasts

Do you know what a podcast is? That may sound like a silly question but a year ago I was only loosely familiar with them conceptually. And I am a pretty technologically astute guy!

A podcast is essentially a radio audio (though there are videos too) program pre-recorded and downloadable from a variety of services. If you have a smartphone there is usually a podcast app built right in and connected to one of the various cloud-based services – you can listen on your computer too. You subscribe to the podcast (usually 100% free) and they are automatically delivered to your device to listen to at you leisure. There are literally thousands of shows available about any topic you can think of and they release new episodes, on average, weekly.

As I mentioned I was not a podcast listener just over a year ago. Then I left my previous job and started my 4+ month sabbatical. During this time I would go out for a walk or run pretty much every day and sometimes for hours at a time. My longest was the day (and it was an exercise “rest” day) that I decided to go for a 12+ mile walk. With all of this time I needed something to listen to and didn’t always want music.

Also during my sabbatical I was going through a significant personal transformation. I was rediscovering who I was and figuring out who I wanted to be. I needed input. I needed inspiration. I needed different ways of looking at things. I guess I was pretty needy, huh?

This is when I started listening to podcasts.

As a leader it is important for us to continue learning and expanding our minds. The top choice for how to do this is reading but that isn’t always convenient. So podcasts are a great alternative. They are a good source for your recommended daily allowance of learning, perspective and inspiration. Finding a favorite podcast or two can be an amazing addition to your walk, your workout, your commute or even to replace your background music at work.

While I don’t listen to every episode of all of my subscribed podcasts I try to listen to a lot of them. I listen almost every day to some content. My goals for podcast listening are varied but they generally follow a pattern.

  1. To keep me motivated and energized when chasing my goals
  2. To help me grow my skills, chart my path & build my business
  3. To challenge my thinking and push me to think bigger
  4. To entertain me
  5. To keep improving my project management skills
  6. To learn more about health & fitness

While some podcasts fit into multiple categories I have bucketed each of my subscribed podcasts into just one bucket below. I wanted to share my list in case something here becomes valuable to you.

Keeping me motivated & energized

Grow my skills, chart my path and build my business

Challenge me to think bigger

To entertain me

Improving my project management

  • Projectified by Project Management Institute
  • I have tried to find more here but I think this is an under-served category in the podcast world. Potential opportunity for me?

Health & fitness

  • I have recently unsubscribed from everything I was listening to here as my journey has evolved. I need new recommendations if anybody knows any good options.

There you have it

Call to Action: find a podcast that you love. Give a listen to the ones I mentioned above or go searching for ones that resonate with you. Whatever your choice just give a podcast a try.

About Reflections on Leadership

Reflections on Leadership is my weekly article series reflecting on what it means to be a great leader. I hope that these thoughts can help you with your own leadership development journey.

My mission for Operation Melt is to help you melt away all of the obstacles to achieving your goals, not just your fitness goals. So, helping us all become better leaders is fully aligned with that mission. Maybe this will help achieve the Operation Melt vision…

To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your perspective on this topic, my Reflections on Leadership series or anything else via a share on social media or message me directly.

Join my email list to have weekly Operation Melt updates delivered to your inbox: https://OperationMelt.com/mail/

Reflections on Leadership: Leaders Aren’t Immune to Self-doubt

Weekly Inspiration

Leaders Aren’t Immune to Self-doubt

I am sticking to just a short post this week but one that is important.

In my Reflections on Leadership series I usually talk about all the important things that great leaders do (except maybe when I said Leaders don’t know what they are doing). It would be easy to think that great leaders are always on and never have an off day. It would also be easy to think that great leaders always have a plan and are confident that things are in track and are going to work out perfectly. In our social media and bullet point culture we can sometimes just end up seeing a highlight reel and thinking there are never problems.

Don’t forget that leaders are people. They are human beings with all the normal shortcomings, setbacks, worries, anxiety and everything else that comes along with being a person.

Leaders also have self-doubt, they aren’t immune. We all have that voice inside of us that says “you are going to fail,” “you aren’t good enough,” “who do you think you are,” “why would anybody care what you have to say?” It happens to everybody including great leaders.

When self-doubt surfaces you have a choice. You have the power to choose how to respond (remember E+R=O). Your best choice is to simply acknowledge that the feelings are there and do what you need to do to push past them and to get back on track. Remember all that you have accomplished to get you to this point and know that you have the power to push forward. You are a rockstar, a superhero and you are powerful. Greatness is just on the other side of that self-doubt.

Call to Action:give yourself a break and know that those feelings of self-doubt don’t mean there is something wrong with you. You suffer from the same condition as the rest of the leaders out there – acute humanity. These feelings are perfectly natural and you have to choose to move past them. You are a superhero and you are capable of so much… you didn’t come this far just to come this far… keep it up!

About Reflections on Leadership 

Reflections on Leadershipis my weekly article series reflecting on what it means to be a great leader. I hope that these thoughts can help you with your own leadership development journey.

My mission for Operation Meltis to help you melt away all of the obstacles to achieving your goals, not just your fitness goals. So, helping us all become better leaders is fully aligned with that mission. Maybe this will help achieve the Operation Melt vision

To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your perspective on this topic, my Reflections on Leadership series or anything else via a share on social media or message me directly.

Join my email list to have weekly Operation Melt updates delivered to your inbox: https://OperationMelt.com/mail/