Reflections on Leadership: More Than a Job

Weekly Inspiration

More Than a Job

One of my coworkers left last week to start a new job in Arizona. So we were going through the standard end of working together motions and saying our goodbyes and saying that we want to stay in touch. That is when he made a statement that really resonated with me:

“We have very similar views about project management and it is more than just a job.”

Wow, that statement hit me like a ton of bricks and gave me a big ah-ha moment!

The difference between a job (or even a profession) that is energizing and exciting and one that is just meh is in how you view your work. Are you just doing things that you are told to do and that you have to do and going through the motions? Or do you see your work as part of a bigger calling and opportunity to make an impact on the world?

For example my chosen profession is project management and it is definitely more than a job to me. I look at project management as a way of life and sincerely believe that great project management can change lives.

Let’s look at a very simple definition of what project management is. At its heart, project management means the following:

  1. Establishing big goals, documenting the goal and why it is important and committing to accomplishing it
  2. Building a plan to accomplish your goal and beginning execution
  3. Monitoring progress towards the goal in an empirical and fact-based manner
  4. Managing the balance between the work, the timeline and the budget and reacting to issues and changes as they occur
  5. Finishing the project, celebrating success and moving on once you are finished

Yes, there are lots more aspects to project management but those are the basics.

Why do I say that great project management can change lives? Well the project management approach can be successfully applied to any goal that you want to accomplish and the probability of success will skyrocket. I proved this to myself when I used project management to achieve success in my fitness journey and managed myself from obesity to athlete in 16 months.

But project management is just the start…

Leaders have the opportunity to make a bigger impact wherever they go. Whether you are in a position with a leadership title or if you are just leading by influence you are making an impact. You are helping build leaders around you, you are making an impact on people, you are helping to achieve big goals and you are learning every step of the way. This impact is even further amplified when you engage in servant leadership!

Call to Action: If you want to feel great about your job and excited every day just make sure that you continue to view your contributions and your impact as more than just a job. You have the potential to leave your mark on the hearts of everybody who you serve. Spend every day trying to make that mark an inspirational one.

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 comment on this post, a share on social media or message me directly.

Reflections on Leadership: Leadership Carols – Part 3

Weekly Inspiration

Leadership Carols

Tis the season, right? One of the best things about the holiday season is that we get to hear all of those familiar old songs in their classic and updated versions. You know all of the words, you sing along and enjoy the one time per year when you get to hear them. People love them so much that that “one time per year” just keeps expanding – or maybe that is a retail-driven thing.

Have you ever paused to reflect on the messages contained within Christmas carols?

There are many important messages contained within Christmas carols. Some of these lessons are even leadership related lessons.

For the rest of the year I will be focusing on the leadership lessons contained within popular Christmas carols in a series I am calling Leadership Carols.

Little Drummer Boy

So far I have talked about the hidden leadership lessons in Rudolph (look for and shine a light on each person’s talents) and Frosty (make the most of each day). Both were great lessons but I think I have saved the best for last. Today I want to discuss an important leadership lesson contained in The Little Drummer Boy.

A new king was born and everybody rejoiced. They were coming to see him and bring their finest gifts to honor him. Unfortunately one poor boy couldn’t afford to bring a gift to the new king. Instead of bringing a tangible gift he made an offer to play his drum. The king’s mother (Mary) nodded and allowed the boy to play his drum. The boy played his best for the new king and made the little boy smile. It turns out that he did have a gift to give after all and it was one that was appreciated.

As leaders we are often focused on self-improvement and are never satisfied staying in one place without growth. But this impatience cannot turn into constantly focusing on our limitations, our weaknesses and what we don’t have.

Instead of focusing on our weaknesses we need to focus on our strengths and how to continue to grow them and apply them in new ways. The talents that you have are unique to you and are important. You are enough!

Call to Action: find your drum and play it loud! Merry Christmas!

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 comment on this post, a share on social media or message me directly.

Reflections on Leadership: Leadership Carols – Part 2

Weekly Inspiration

Leadership Carols

Tis the season, right? One of the best things about the holiday season is that we get to hear all of those familiar old songs in their classic and updated versions. You know all of the words, you sing along and enjoy the one time per year when you get to hear them. People love them so much that that “one time per year” just keeps expanding – or maybe that is a retail-driven thing.

Have you ever paused to reflect on the messages contained within Christmas carols?

There are many important messages contained within Christmas carols. Some of these lessons are even leadership related lessons.

For the rest of the year I will be focusing on the leadership lessons contained within popular Christmas carols in a series I am calling Leadership Carols.

Frosty the Snowman

In last week’s post I described the leadership lessons that are contained within the classic holiday song Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. This week I will be sharing a similar take on another classic holiday character: Frosty the Snowman.

With my strange brain I have always known Frosty to include a variety of very odd and semi-hidden themes. First is the Frankenstein like premise of bringing life to a being who isn’t meant to be alive. Then there is the theme about become aware of ones own mortality. But it wasn’t until recently that I connected the dots on the leadership message.

For those who aren’t 100% familiar with the story of Frosty (which is maybe nobody) I will review. Frosty was a snowman that was built by some children. He started off as a traditional snowman with a corncob pipe and a button nose and his eyes made out of coal. Then there was a big surprise when the kids put the finishing touch, an old silk hat they found. When they placed it on his head he began to dance around and they were they surprised when, before their eyes, he came to life that day.

The kids and Frosty spent the day playing together and having a good time. Unfortunately Frosty knew what his future was because he knew the sun was hot that day. But he made the most of the day and he said let’s run and we’ll have fun now before I melt away. A rather morbid, feel-good story when you think about it.

This is the line, let’s run and we’ll have fun now before I melt away, is where we find our leadership lesson in Frosty.

Leaders know that their time to make a big impact may be very limited. The limitation isn’t because we are going to melt away per se but more related to our environment. There is only so long that your stakeholders are patient as you learn the job. There is only so long that your team will stick around if their work isn’t fulfilling to them. There is only so long before external factors change your priorities. In short you have to make an impact and prove your value before you are out of time.

A leader who I previously worked with had a great way of summarizing this. He said…. In America a person can win an election, put their hand on a bible and swear an oath. From that point on they ARE the president and aren’t learning to be the president.

On day one as a leader you have to play the role and do it well. The clock is ticking before the hot sun melts always your credibility.

How do great leaders manage this short time? They make the most out of every day as a leader. They are constantly pushing for bigger results, growing the talent and trying to run and have some fun at the same time. Great leaders don’t just sit and wait for things to come to them, they push to make things happen. They strive to be a better version of themselves every single day.

Call to Action: make an impact today! Then do it again tomorrow and the day after that. Look for ways to add value and ways to be of service to others. If you spend every day trying to be a servant to others you will continue to grow as a leader and prevent the hot sun from melting you away.

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 comment on this post, a share on social media or message me directly.

Reflections on Leadership: Leadership Carols – Part 1

Weekly Inspiration

Leadership Carols

Tis the season, right? One of the best things about the holiday season is that we get to hear all of those familiar old songs in their classic and updated versions. You know all of the words, you sing along and enjoy the one time per year when you get to hear them. People love them so much that that “one time per year” just keeps expanding – or maybe that is a retail-driven thing.

Have you ever paused to reflect on the messages contained within Christmas carols?

There are many important messages contained within Christmas carols. Some of these lessons are even leadership related lessons.

For the rest of the year I will be focusing on the leadership lessons contained within popular Christmas carols in a series I am calling Leadership Carols.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

You know the story of Rudolph, right?

He was a reindeer who was a little different. He had a very shiny nose. So much so that, if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows.

Rudolph’s peers mocked him for being different. They laughed and called him names. They never even let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.

But Rudolph worked for a great leader: Santa. Santa recognized that Rudolph wasn’t weird and didn’t deserve to be an outcast. He had just had unique talents that needed to be leveraged in the right way to unlock his greatness.

Rudolph got his chance to shine one foggy Christmas Eve. Rudolph’s leader knew that his talents were the only thing that could save that Christmas. So Santa came to Rudolph with an important question – “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight.”

That was also the turning point in his relationships with his peers. They were finally able to see past the thing that they thought was weird and recognized that it is actually one of Rudolph’s top talents. He peers were a bit over-the-top about it and all the reindeer loved him. Then they all shouted out, with glee, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you’ll go down in history.”

All it takes is a good leader to recognize the talents in their people and to shine a bright light on those talents whenever possible. It can make all the difference to a person and to an organization and may even save Christmas.

Side-note: good leaders should also make sure to take steps to prevent bullying.

Call to Action: look for everybody’s true talents. When you find the talents that make each person unique you can then help each person develop and apply those talents to achieve great results. Don’t think less of a person just because they may be a little different. It is that diversity that builds the best teams and strongest results.

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 comment on this post, a share on social media or message me directly.

Reflections on Leadership: Leaders Don’t Know What They’re Doing

Weekly Inspiration

Leaders Don’t Know What They’re Doing!

Ok maybe that’s a little harsh. I don’t mean that all leaders are operating without a clue of how to to their job. That would be unfair. Maybe I should have said “leaders figure it out” … that’s more of what I am talking about.

I had a different point of view early in my career when I thought my leaders had it all figured out. I assumed there was some big plan and every step had been meticulously planned out. I thought that ever bump along the road was anticipated and that my leaders had seen it all a million times before. I thought they were experts.

I was wrong.

What I have learned later in life is that great leaders haven’t seen it all before. There is usually a strategy and the outline of a plan but it is not as well-defined as I used to believe it was. Because it can’t be.

In the world we live in today there is too much complexity, too much change and lots of unanticipated events that happen every day. There is no detailed plan that can prepare you for every twist and turn as a leader. Trying to create such a plan is also, in many ways, a waste of time.

What the best leaders are very good at is anticipating a little and reacting a lot. A good leader is a problem solver and is able to quickly consider a large volume of information and make the best decision available to them at the time. This skill is guided by a strong foundation of values, some fundamental knowledge and experience and a winning strategy. It is also enabled by great talent at every turn.

The ability to figure things out in real time is one of the most important skills a leader can have. This will likely mean taking a risk and trying something new. So this skill also requires a solid safety net of humility to catch you when you fall. And fall you will!

If you find that you do know what you are doing and you do have it figured out it is time for a change. Push yourself out of your comfort zone because that is where all the growth happens!

Call to Action: stop worrying that it feels like you don’t know what you are doing and be comforted by the fact that none of us do. Redirect that worry to building solid analytical and problem solving skills and you will be a great leader for life. Even though you really have no idea what you are doing.

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 comment on this post, a share on social media or message me directly.