Contrasting Success Factors – Entitlement vs. Empowerment

“I spend my life constantly calling in ‘imaginary’ debts that aren’t owed to me in order to avoid the ‘real’ debts that I owe to others, and so everybody ends up bankrupt.”  – Craig D. Lounsbrough

As I shift my attention to the new year, I thought I would take a slightly different approach to my leadership blog posts. This year, or at least for the next few months, I’d like to focus on the topic of “Success” by contrasting the different attributes of successful vs. unsuccessful people. So, let’s start this series out with a discussion on entitlement vs. empowerment.

More and more these days I find myself running in to the issue of entitlement. Sure, you have all heard plenty about the ‘entitlement’ mentality of the millennials (which I think is both incorrect and misunderstood). But to be honest, I’m seeing the issue of entitlement just as frequently (perhaps even more so) in the older generations. I’ll avoid any political association to this post and simply say that I believe entitlement has become far too prevalent today. And yes, there is a difference between social responsibility and entitlement. Continue reading

Want to start a new habit? Start tiny. Be ready to fail. A lot.

NOTE from Editor: I had full intention of posting a blog on new year’s resolutions, with a theme around “start small and built it up”. While researching, I stumbled across a friend’s blog who had just written a similar piece. In the spirit of cooperation, I’ve received his blessing to share his post here on leadingwright. Hope you enjoy, and thank you Brian Beckcom for the insight!

With the new year upon us, many of you are hoping to achieve some New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, the statistics of people actually achieving New Year’s resolutions are shockingly small. Why?

Perhaps because once our brains are hardwired with a particular habit, it is almost impossible to “get rid” of that habit. That habit has literally become part of the physical wiring of our brain.

But people can – and do – change. And people can – and do – meet their New Year’s resolutions. The obvious question is, why do most people ultimately fail but a few succeed?

I recently read an awesome story about how to change your habits. First, you have to understand that you’re not really changing your habits. Instead, you’re forming new habits that override the old ones. Here are some tips on creating amazing new habits: Continue reading

The Gift of Gratitude and Appreciation

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. – Epictetus

The holiday season is supposed to be a time to celebrate all of the blessings we’ve received. It’s a season of giving, receiving and celebrating historical events that define our religious and moral being. It’s the ending of a year, and the beginning of another. A time for reflection, and a time to be grateful. I know personally 2018 has been an amazing year, as I celebrated a healthy 20 year marriage, my daughter’s graduation, and turning 50. OK, so maybe I’m not so excited about turning 50, but I digress.

For others, it can be dark and depressing. At times life gives us more than we think we can handle. In the past year I’ve personally witnessed several of my closest friends dealing with the loss of loved ones, their jobs, and their marriage. The three most difficult events in life for anyone to experience. At the worst it can destroy lives, and at best it can sour your outlook and damage your self-esteem. Continue reading

I Believe in You…

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano

As many of us here in the US are consumed with March Madness and the college basketball finals this weekend, I thought I would use a quote from one of the more storied coaches of my time – Jimmy Valvano. Jimmy was the head coach of the North Carolina State Wolfpack and went on to be a well-known sports commentator for ESPN.

While he led his college team to a college championship in 1983, he is more widely known for the content of his character – determined, driven, passionate, and a coach whose reputation of caring for others was rivaled only by the grace he showed in his final battle with cancer. For those of you who know of Jimmy Valvano, no introduction is necessary. For those who don’t, it’s worth some research, as one of his lasting legacies is the Jimmy V Foundation – a charity set up by Jimmy in his last months of life for the express purpose of ‘winning the battle against cancer once and for all’. Continue reading

He hit a home run and didn’t even realize it

“You hold back only to realize there is nothing keeping you back, except yourself” – Rachel Wolchin

One of my favorite books – subsequently turned in to a movie – is Moneyball. It is the story of Billy Beane (then the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team), and how he transformed baseball using a revolutionary approach to assessing, drafting, and ultimately fielding players based on a complex formula of statistics. The approach, called sabermetrics, had only hereto been used by a small following of fans for fantasy and similar tracking of player performance. Billy was the first Manager in professional baseball to embrace the approach and use it as a primary factor in his decision on which players he kept on his team and the order in which he had them bat. Today most professional baseball teams use this approach – and in many respects this is behind the recent success of the current world champion Houston Astros.

Back to Billy – his achievement is even more profound when you consider the circumstances. At the time, the Oakland Athletics were a second-tier professional market with an extremely limited budget to match. Most of the more successful franchises were spending 2 to 3 times more than the Athletics, allowing them to field the best talent in the league, and in return, consistently outperform other teams. Continue reading

Climbing Mt. Everest

“Sometimes we think that progress must occur in one direction. But that’s not really true. Sometimes you have to go backwards to move forward.”  –  Alison Levine – Lead the first all-woman US expeditionary team to climb Mt Everest

Several years ago I had the privilege of hearing Alison Levine present as a keynote speaker at technology industry symposium. An accomplished mountain climber, she is one only a handful of females who have climbed Mt Everest, and may be the only one to have traversed all 7 of the highest summits in the world. If you’ve not had the chance to hear her speak, it’s worth exploring her website to get a sense for her accomplishments and her passion for leadership (http://www.alisonlevine.com). The way she translates them in to something each of us can appreciate is a talent in itself.

Such was the case when I saw her speak about her journey to the top of Mt. Everest. Her story was riveting, and the implications for both business and leadership have left an impression with me for years. In fact, her story inspired me to do a little research on climbing Mt. Everest, and led to a few of my own observations on its relevance to leadership. I’d like to share a few of those with you today. Continue reading

Purpose Matters in Business

“Lean in to Purpose”  – Jonathan Mildenhall

I was recently at a conference where Jonathan Mildenhall was a key note speaker. For those of you who don’t know Jonathan (and I don’t expect you to), he was previously the Chief Marketing Officer at Coca Cola and is now the Chief Marketing Officer at AirBnB. His marketing pedigree is not the topic of this message, but his passion for building “purpose driven companies” is.

His presentation was fantastic. In fact, as he took us through a journey of his career and some of the hallmark marketing campaigns he has overseen with Coca Cola and AirBnB, you could clearly see the impact that purpose has on those two organizations. And its not that these two companies are charities – far from that. But their commitment to purpose helped drive both to notable growth and brand success. Consider the following elements of Purpose from each of these companies:

• Coca Cola: To refresh the world…To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…
• AirBnB: Creating real connections/friendships between likeminded people

Continue reading

The Meaning of Life

“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.”  – Friedrich Nietzsche

I’ve always thought Nietzsche was an interesting study. A German (Prussian) philosopher born in the mid 1800s, his writings are both profound and controversial. His beliefs centered around the concept of good and evil, struggle and survival, an assessment of humanity as incomplete, and its need to evolve to a new set of values (as knowledge destabilizes old values). And to be clear, I don’t necessarily agree with all his writings or his beliefs. But taken in parts, his writings can often be very thought provoking.

Such is the case with this quote. I heard it recited by an American veteran recently in a documentary on the causes and outcomes of the Vietnam war. For those of you who are students of history, you know that war was one of tremendous suffering – for all sides involved. And the trauma it left for those involved has taken decades to heal (if at all). But this is not a story on the lessons of Vietnam. Rather, it’s a testament to the profound nature of the words of Nietzsche. Continue reading