June 27, 2011
We live in a society that has forgotten not only where we have come from, but also what really matters.
Pleasure, profit, and petty differences have captured the minds of many good people, turning them into short-sighted automatons. Instead, we need to begin focusing on the things that matter. Focus on things like our family, our community, and our principles/values.
Evaluating our challenges from a systems perspective will provide the answers to overcome the obstacles we all face.
A community near me has asked us to help them grow towards a sustainable future. Sustainability is a complex idea to define and even more complex to attain. Here is a simple video that helps define sustainability.
We have begun working with the leaders in the community who are introducing and implementing systemic solutions by adopting the principles found in the Natural Step Framework.
I am very excited both about the opportunity to work with the people in this community and to work with them as they build a more sustainable community!
If you know someone who is passionate about sustainability and helping communities become stronger, pass this post on to them so we can connect. Perhaps together we can do something really significant!
June 23, 2011
We have lost sight of the truly important things in life. Our family, faith, friends, and community are the bedrocks that provide solid foundations in our lives. We must work with purpose and live by the principles that God has revealed to/in us. Too often we spend our efforts on things that ultimately are insignificant. We live below our destiny and fail to fulfill the purpose God has placed within us.
Life, love, and joy do not come from the relentless pursuit of more money, power, and prestige. Neither are they found in the frantic efforts to be the perfect soccer mom.
The people in our lives, and our relationships with them bring life to our existence.
It is about how we interact with and impact those closest to us. When was the last time you really saw the person you are with? How are you bringing life, love, and joy to your family, friends, and community? Do you have conversations that matter? Is there any depth to your life?
When our life comes to an end here on Earth, each of us are seen through these glasses. Not what our degree was, how much money we made, or our title.
Now is the time to start living significantly. Bring some life into the day of everyone you see today.
Have an extraordinary day!
December 1, 2010
It’s not who you might think it is.
How successful have you been in opening new markets and/or launching new opportunities?
Best Buy Co. has it down to a science. When I was working for them, we opened new markets in a “slow economy” several times a year for many years. At first we made some dumb mistakes.
(Like the time we were scheduled to open the St. Cloud, MN store and two hours before the quiet opening we realized that we had no money to put into the cash registers. But that’s a different story, for another post.)
Eventually, Best Buy learned how to open a new market efficiently and effectively. This series will share some of the things I learned in the process.
Once you have decided on a new market to enter, and have identified the value you bring to the community, you need to make sure the community recognizes the value and is supportive of your efforts.
So, Concept #2 is:
Know who makes the decisions.
Know who can say “Yes!” and who can only say “No!”
In almost every organization, or community, there are a few key people who really make the decisions. They are the ones who sign the checks, influence the community, and hold the real power. I have found that usually there are usually less than a dozen people, usually five or six, who control any organization. Even in large organizations, like a major city, if you want to get something done, there are only a few people who can approve your project. There are many people who are able to say no, but only a handful who can ultimately say yes.
Several years ago, I worked with a local builder. They are great people, who truly care about their clients and provide exceptional service and workmanship. They discovered a way to build new homes that are thirty (30) to forty (40) percent more energy efficient than a traditional stud-framed house. Because of the building method, these homes are also approximately thirty percent (30%) less expensive to build as well. The builder was willing to pass most of the savings on to their clients and began selling homes. Everything was going smoothly, until they bought some property within the city limits of a major city in Minnesota.
Suddenly, there were major hold-ups in the permit office. Engineers were called in to explain the math behind the unusual building method. Questions were asked. Answers were provided. Still, no permits were forthcoming.
Six months into the process, I was asked to help the builder.
We attended a meeting with the city engineers, who listened to the builders’ engineers explain (for the third time) how the engineering behind the house actually made it stronger than a traditional stud-framed home. I was there to observe and learn, not lead the meeting. The city’s engineers agreed with all of the explanations, verified the mathematics, and still did not issue a permit to build. A few days later, the builder received a letter from the permit office asking for explanations to more questions. Every question the city engineers were asking were ones that had already been answered by the builder.
I realized the engineers were only able to say no. We were not dealing with an engineering issue, it was a relational/political issue. We had to approach the issue differently than the builder had been.
I contacted someone who was intimately involved in the politics of the state of Minnesota and its major cities. He was connected with almost every politician in the state and understood how things worked in the city government where we wanted to build. I asked for his help and advice in dealing with this situation.
When we met for lunch, he told me that in the city there were five people who controlled the building and construction issues. Each one was in a different department or agency, but they were all friends and collectively made or broke every builder that wanted to build in the city. They covered Licensing and Inspections, Zoning, Planning, and Taxation/Revenues. My friend explained that if you made one of these individuals mad, you lost them all. If you had one as an advocate, you were almost assured of successfully building in the city. The builder had done or said something that upset one of the five.
My friend gave me the names and their contact information, then even arranged for a face-to-face meeting with the person (one of the five) who was at the permit office. (Not an engineer, one of their bosses!)
When I met with Aurthur, (not his real name) he talked about how the city wanted to grow, and the issues he was dealing with in his department because builders were not delivering what they promised. Aurthur had been in some of the early meetings, but like me, had not said a word during the meetings he attended. We both were there as observers. We had allowed others to hold center stage and lead the meetings. Since the builder had never dealt with a city as large as this one, he did not recognize Aurthur as someone he should connect with. Someone in one of those first meetings had given Aurthur the idea that we were potentially going to be a problem for him, so we were not going to get a chance to build there. He was not doing anything unethical, or illegal. Aurthur was doing his job to protect his city, and the people who lived there.
I listened to Aurthur’s concerns and assured him that the builder I was working with was a man of integrity and his people were a reflection of his values. I also gave him my word that I would personally deal with any issues he, or his people had with the builder, the homes they built, or any of the people related to the projects we were proposing. Because of my friend’s recommendation, my sincere commitment to work with Aurthur and his team, and my willingness to listen and address every concern they had, Aurthur stepped out of his office and told all of the engineers in the office to issue whatever permits the builder needed, if all of the engineering issues were handled. The entire meeting with Aurthur took less than twenty minutes. I walked out with the permits in hand.
The key issues are:
- There are usually a few key people who really are the decision makers.
- They are usually NOT the elected or appointed officials. Often, they are not the Department Head.
- They are the “Pillars” of the organization.
- When a new person is elected or appointed to run a department/agency they go to the people who are the career employees to gain an understanding of how things work in the agency/department they now lead. That gives the career employee the real power.
- It is about the relationships, not your offering!
The same can be said of a community. Usually there are key people within the community that care, have an vested interest in the success of the community, and see themselves as the protectors of the community. They may be in the government, or leading business people, owners of property, or owners of large farms in the area. They may, or may not be from one of the founding families in rural markets. Usually, the people within the agency, department, or community knows who these pillars are. They are the ones who everyone looks to for direction. They are the ones who effectively hold the real power. Do not make these people mad. Otherwise, you will end up not succeeding in that market.
How do you find these pillars? Ask. Ask the people who are in the community, people who are involved in the problems you want to help with. If you are sincerely there to help, approaching people with a servant attitude, and listen, you will hear who you need to work with.
Keep in mind, it’s their home, their department, their domain. Not yours. Nobody wants some outsider coming in and telling them what to do, how to do it, and changing everything. That’s true of you and me as well.
But, if you really offer a solution to their problem, are humble enough to work within their system, and bring true value to the market, they will usually help you succeed.
November 22, 2010
My friend, Alan Hill (The Miracle Worker) and I are having an ongoing conversation about the definition of success, and how people are valued. Valued by their employers, their peers, their family, and even by themselves.
Alan’s career has taken him through the IT world. He is very analytical, detailed, and logical. He is also brilliant in his interactions with people. That is a rare combination! Alan sees people, clearly. When someone comes to Alan for help, he often ends up helping them transform their lives in ways that were completely unexpected and wonderful. He does it intentionally, and consistently.
Amazingly, there are people who come to Alan for help and then refuse to listen to Alan’s feedback. Or if they do listen, fail to act on what they have learned. Why is that? By meeting with Alan, they are acknowledging their need for help. They presumably also recognize Alan’s ability to provide that help. So, what is it that keeps them from moving forward?
One stumbling block is discussed in the video I have posted here. Brené Brown gave a talk at TEDx Houston that sheds light on one of the core reasons people (myself included) do not achieve to their/our fullest potential.
Some things to think about:
How can we implement this change in our daily lives?
How do you exhibit this in your life, now?
What do you think?
October 20, 2010
Here is someone who is reaching out and collaborating with other, like-minded people and making a truly transformational difference in the lives of people here and around the world.
How can we work with Jessica and also transform the lives of those we care about?
September 28, 2010
After a hiatus of several weeks, I have to tell everyone about a remarkable occurrence!
My friend, Alan Hill (The Miracle Worker) is going to be on national TV!
He was featured in an article in the Minneapolis Star & Tribune today about 85 Minnesota Jobs experts bounced from their jobs. The story is being picked up by MSNBC and CBS.
Alan will be on the Dylan Ratigan show on MSNBC tomorrow Wednesday September 29, 2010 at 4pm ET.
Alan is to be included in a story on CBS Evening News on Thursday the 30th.
I am very excited about this for Alan! He has been approached to do a TV show highlighting the struggles of job seekers and how they overcome their own inhibitions, etc to land great jobs.
Check out The Miracle Worker Blog at:
I know you will be glad you did!
Congratulations Alan! I will see you on TV!
June 21, 2010
The competitor to be feared is the one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time. - Henry Ford
One of the keys to success in business is to constantly be improving your products, services, and processes all the time. Focus on improving something every day. Even if it is a small improvement, compounded over time, you will reap great rewards for your efforts today.
Stay focused on making your business better. Watch, but don’t worry about your competitors. In short order, your business will be the one that your competitors fear!
Market Share and Profits will grow as you do this.
It’s what the truly great, lasting organizations do.
June 14, 2010
We are continuously faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems. – Lee Iacocca
Behind every challenge hides an unseen benefit. Every challenge contains the seeds of its own solution. These homilies are truths. That’s why so many miss the lesson. Problems and challenges are simply learning experiences. The challenges we face build in us the character, attitudes, and skills that become the foundations for our lives. How we handle our problems says more about who we are than all of our degrees, awards, and trophies ever could.
The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you. – William Jennings Bryan
One of the things I learned early in my life is that we gain confidence from success, but we learn from failure. It is the challenge that grooms us. The resistance builds muscle. The more resistance applied, the more muscle mass that is created. Dive into the fray and see what becomes of it. You may be surprised!
I have often been afraid, but I would not give in to it. I made myself act as though I was not afraid and gradually my fear disappeared. – Theodore Roosevelt
Another truth that I have observed many times is our actions and behaviors affect our thoughts and emotions. Try it. Make a decision to go a whole week assertively attacking every challenge that comes up. Determine to press through every barrier that is placed in front of you. Set aside your fear, timidity, and insecurity for one week. Act as if you could not fail. Approach each problem, every challenge, with the attitude, “If anyone can do this, I can do this!” You will be surprised at how far this one idea will take you.
Timidity and fear are emotions we feel. They are not the real you. The real you is the one who recognizes the feelings of fear and timidity. Can you observe your fear? Do you recognize that it comes and goes? If it goes, it is not you, because we cannot get rid of ourselves.
Put another way…
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7
The Bible says that God did not give us a spirit of fear/timidity. God designed into us power, love, and self-discipline. When we give into our fears, we are denying our true selves.
However you look at it; I believe that each of us has been designed to succeed. When I am faced with a huge challenge and fear begins to surface in me, I think of this verse and remember that since fear is not who I am, I can set it on a shelf and come back to it when it is more advantageous. (If I choose to, that is.)
Our destiny is designed into us. It is our choice to believe the lie and give in to our fears, or to exercise the power and self-discipline it takes to overcome the challenges, learn from our failures, and achieve our destiny.
We must come to the place, where we realize that problems are not permanent, failure is not final, and fear is a lie.
When we do, we will understand that destiny is within our grasp.
May 29, 2010
There is no opportune time for the right opportunity.
- Sue Dunkley, Founder, New Horizons Academy
I have a revelation for you.
The time is never right to start a new venture. There are always barriers to overcome. There are always things that don’t quite line up. Your ducks will never be in a row.
So, deal with it. Decide that now is the time to act, and get on with it.
I know that you would rather hear some prophet tell you “God says now!” On the other hand, maybe you just need to tweak that last detail in your plan. Perhaps you think that if you just had one more person on board it would all come together. Guess what…the stars will never be perfectly aligned.
The solution isn’t trying to be perfect. The solution is seizing the opportunity and realizing your dream.
Out of clutter, find simplicity
From discord, find harmony
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
- Albert Einstein
In every adversity lies its own solution. Find it. Resolve to press on until you emerge on the other side of the barrier. You will find that it isn’t as enormous as it looked from the front.
That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
- Friedrich Nietzsche
It is the challenges we overcome that define our character, and our success. We can never be Conquerors if we have nothing to conquer. You have been designed for greatness. Your destiny lies within you. The vision and passion that drives you will bring you through, over, or around whatever barrier stands in front of you. Every great leader, every true champion, must prove themselves in the game of life. Life throws things at all of us. It’s not the problem that defines you, it’s your response to that problem.
So, don’t wait for things to magically fall into place. They never will.
If you have a dream, a vision, a passion that burns inside of you, get started following your dream! Learn as you go. Ask questions of those who have gone before you. Seek wise counsel, but get started!
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
- Lao Tzu
Take that first step. Take the next step. You will probably not know everything that will confront you between now and the realization of your dream. All you need to know is take the step you see. If you are already on the path, follow it. Even in thick fog, you can arrive safely if you stay on the path and take the step you can see.
I wish you great challenges, because when you overcome them you will see just how truly amazing you really are!
April 6, 2010
When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world. – George Washington Carver
If people knew how hard I worked to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful. – Michelangelo
Here is the prime condition of success: Concentrate your energy, thought and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged. Having begun on one line, resolve to fight it out on that line, to lead in it, adopt every improvement, have the best machinery, and know the most about it. – Andrew Carnegie
If you want happiness for an hour – take a nap. If you want happiness for a day – go fishing. If you want happiness for a year – inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime – help someone else. – Chinese Proverb
What do you think? Is one of these more important than the others? Does a specific one resonate with you? What do these thoughts say to you? What insight do you have? What great thoughts would you add?