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The Culture Challenge

Leaders set the standard. Recently, I read an article (excerpt below) that reminded me about the vital importance of leadership culture. This week, we’re talking about the culture challenge faced in leadership, and ways to overcome and transform poor culture.

“The culture inside the Nebraska locker room isn’t OK.

Scott Frost made that apparent during the bye week, when on his radio show he said there was a “portion” of the team not ready to play at Minnesota, where the Gophers blew out the Huskers.

He went all in and called out his team Saturday, saying his team is ‘just OK’ and that he’s not ‘going to be happy with just OK.'” (source)

As a fan of all things Nebraska, this has been a particularly painful football season. While most of the last twenty years has been a disappointment for one of college football’s most storied and proud programs, this one hurts deeply.

Why?

The expectations were different. The season was supposed to be different. The outcome was supposed to be different.

Year two of a coach’s tenure is supposed to see improvement. Year two of Scott Frost’s tenure at Nebraska, his alma mater, was supposed to be glorious.

Blog Post Title on background of workplace
The Culture Challenge

Instead, eight games into the season, analysts are reporting how the culture is, ‘just okay.’

Just Okay Is Not Okay

When talking about culture, on the field or in a company, just okay is not okay. Fighting okay is a big part of the culture challenge faced by leaders.

Leaders set the standard of conduct. They set behavior expectations, acceptable methods of social interaction, as well as the vision and direction of an organization. When someone, or a group of someones, fails to live up to those standards, it is up to the leadership to change the culture.

There are, of course, many ways to do this. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to unpack the importance of culture in leadership. We’ll examine how to create a new culture if you’re in a startup, and how to change a bad culture.

For now, here are three principles to use no matter what your current circumstance is.

1.) Set a Clear and Compelling Vision

Like a masterpiece painting, a healthy culture is a product of vision and hard work. Longing for a great culture and actually having one are two different things. 

As a leader, spend time intentionally investing in the culture and direction of your company, team, and surrounding people.

What does the workday “feel like?

How do people act?

What’s the end goal?

How does your department handle promotions? Confrontations? Missed sales goals or development targets?

If you can’t articulate your culture clearly and simply, it needs more work. Worse yet, if it doesn’t inspire others to be better, it will ultimately bring harm.

The goal is to articulate the what and why of the organization in a way that shapes, inspires, and transforms.

2.) Inspire Others to Greatness

Once the vision is clear and compelling it should inspire those that hear it. It should be a place where people outside of the organization say, “I want to work for them.

Inside the organization, there should be tangible feelings of joy, clarity, and a desire for growth. This doesn’t mean that people necessarily want to work longer hours, but it means that they want to work harder in the hours they do work. Why? Because their work has meaning and purpose. They know that they are contributing to something greater, something beyond themselves.

The goal is to call forth the highest level of character achievement and belonging.

3.) Take Immediate Action

Violations of the culture will happen. Eventually, someone will know that a tardy might go unnoticed and regularly start showing up late. Part of a healthy culture is dealing with problems that arise quickly, fairly, and with the goal of restoration. Discipline happens to correct behavior and hold the standard high, not to deliver punishment.

Tardiness is corrected not by docking pay, but by showing them what is missed or at stake when they fail to show up on time. Poor attitude with customers doesn’t mean demotion, it means providing better training to help them deal with the stress of other people’s bad attitudes. 

The goal is to restore the person to their own personal standard of morals, to the team, and to the vision and culture set in the company.

Transforming Culture

The challenge presented to Scott Frost is daunting. Not only does he have to instill his good culture, but he also has to overcome the bad culture he inherited. On top of that, he has to rewrite twenty years of poor standards.

For many of us, we face similar situations. Family histories, company profits, and personal standards all confront us on a daily basis. Some we inherit, others we create. All need to be transformed and redeemed.

Creating a compelling, inspiring, and consistent culture is not easy. But it is worth it.

Overwhelmed and Underperforming

Two years ago, if I could describe my life in two words, it was overwhelmed and underperforming.

Have you ever felt that way?

I was close to finishing my doctoral thesis.

My (part-time) job was steadily growing in hours and responsibility, leaving the time commitment much closer to full-time.

My kids were getting older and starting new activities.

Both my coaching and personal training businesses were growing.

My workdays started at 4 am and often ended after 7 pm, leaving little time for self-improvement, relaxation, or hobbies.

I knew something had to change.

A New Direction

I’ve followed Michael Hyatt and his brand since 2012. Each iteration and direction has helped me refine my own path. But it was at this point two years ago I decided to try his Full Focus Planner.

In all honesty, this has been the single biggest game-changer for me. I get more done, in less time. I also have greater clarity, passion, and discipline.

In fact, I love it so much, I made a YouTube series on how I’ve been using it.

But, if you’re looking for a quick recipe guide to success on how to increase your productivity, maximize your time, and gain progress on your goals, I’m here to help.

3 Steps To Lessen Overwhelm and Increase Performance.

The following three things have allowed me to go from “overwhelmed and underperforming” to “thriving and successful” in a rapid amount of time.

1.) Create Clarity on Your Goals.

 I’ve written before on the importance of goals. This takes it one step further. Not all goals are created equally. Not all are of equal importance. 

I have a goal to both grow my business and be present for my family. When those goals are in conflict with each other, I choose the family time.

Goal clarity is about being clear on your top priorities.

But it’s also about being able to define your goals. 

This last week, I spent half a day creating a clarity document on metrics for my business outside of financial goals. I now have requirements for how many people I want to read the blog, share it, and leave a comment.

But this is also true for every social media account that I have.

Speaking of which, you reading this gets me one step closer to my goal and I rrrreeeaaaaallllly appreciate it. Could you help me get one step closer and share it somewhere?

2.) Simplify Your To-Do List.

Not all goals are created equal.

But neither are tasks on the to-do list. 

The problem when you just write to-do’s down on a sheet of paper is that they all look equal. In reality, there are only a few things you can do each day that would substantially advance your career, personal life, business, or relationships.

Focus on those.

Personally, I choose three tasks a day and design my day around those. While I may need to “check off” ten or more times in a day, I only focus on the three most important.

Think of it this way. What will advance your business (career, start-up, relationship, fill-in-the-blank) more: Sending the Invoice for payment due or organizing your closet (desk, backpack, car, etc…)?

Are both important? Yes.

Do both tasks need to be done? Yes

But which one will set you back or cause greater levels of stress if not done? Chances are, it’s the invoice. Because without the money from that job you might have to sell those clothes, that backpack, or the car.

Focus First on what matters most.

I find that scheduling my big three works well. I have the first task completed by 11 am, the second by 2 pm, and the third by 5 pm. This gives me time to focus on each one, and still get to those smaller items.

3.) Delegate and Delete.

As a chronic workaholic and typical Enneagram Type 3, I love long task lists. It makes me feel accomplished. If I don’t get twenty things checked off in a day, I feel like I wasted my time.

But recently, I’ve also discovered the joy in two amazingly powerful words: delegate and delete. 

Here’s how I choose to do something myself, delegate it out or delete it from my list.

1.) Am I the only one capable of doing this? OR Am I the most qualified? If yes, I do it.

If the above answer is no:

2.) If this doesn’t get done, will someone miss it or will my business fail in some way? If Yes, delegate it to get it done. If no, delete it.

In these two simple questions, I am now free to focus on what matters most to my goals and still get an amazing amount of stuff done.

What sorts of questions would you ask of someone struggling being overwhelmed and underperforming?

Have any tips?

Leave a comment below!

Goalless Drifter

After my college graduation, I had a conversation with my older brother about what was next in life. Everyone, it seemed, had a keen interest in me up to that point. They always wanted to know I wanted to be when I grew up, what college I was going to, and what I was going to major in.

But I never had one conversation about what happened after that. How do I start a successful marriage (I didn’t do that one well)? How do I grow in emotional health (took a lot of trips to the therapist’s office)? How do I pass on key values to my children (still figuring that one out…)?

The problem was that no one had taught me how to set goals for what came after graduation.

I wasted a lot of time (and hurt a lot of people) because I was a goalless drifter.

People without goals are people without a future.

Ready, Set, Goal!

One key to sustainable success is the daily habit of setting, reviewing, and reestablishing goals.

One of my practices is to use Michael Hyatt’sFull Focus Planner . I’ve used it for over a year now and absolutely love both the structure and order it gives me, while also allowing a great deal of freedom in the process.

I’ve also discovered the power of paper and what it means to write goals down. It’s easy to think, “My goal is…” because we often forget it. But by writing goals down, it not only gives us a visual reminder of what we’re trying to accomplish but cements it into our brain better.

 

By getting clear and specific on what we are aiming at, we gain a strategic advantage to sustainable success. The key discipline though is to make our goals S.M.A.R.T.E.R.

S.M.A.R.T.E.R Goals

When you’re ready to say, “Ready, Set, Goal!” you must begin by making sure you have the right format.

S: Specific. Make sure the goals you set are clear on the intended destination. Don’t think, “Lose weight.” Instead write, “I want to lose twenty pounds.”

M: Measurable. Similar to specific, measurable makes sure that what you’re aiming for can actually be hit. Avoid using jargon or filler words in your goal-setting times. Don’t think, “Be more productive.” Instead, write that you want to, “Use my time wisely by spending no more than thirty minutes a day on social media.” Ouch. That one may hurt a bit, but it’s measurable. You can use apps or the integrated Apple Screen Time (if you’re an iPhone user) to track how you’re spending your time on your phone.

A: Actionable. Start your goals with action-oriented verbs (as opposed to “to-be” verbs). This focuses your attention on what needs to be accomplished. Don’t write, “Be better at date nights.” Instead, try, “Take my spouse on one date night every week.” Now you know how to take action to accomplish your goal.

R: Realistic. This one can be challenging, and we’ll talk about short and long term goals in a second. But realism is important in goal setting. Too often, goals fail because they either don’t inspire us or are unattainable. Realistic goals should do both. “Complete my ebook and submit to the publisher by the end of quarter three.” This goal meets the first three points and is entirely realistic (even if you’re not very far into your book). However creating a goal like, “Establish the first hotel chain on the moon by the end of the year” meets the first three steps in the process, but not the last one. To take action that inspires, your goal must be reasonable.

T: Timely. Put some hustle in it. This is where I work hard with my clients to push ourselves on our goals. Strive for greatness and see what you can do. If your goal is to gain three new speaking opportunities for your business, fantastic! But put yourself under a time constraint to reach that goal. “Acquire three new speaking opportunities by the end of August.” It’s clear, concise, and gives you a visible target to know if you’ve hit your goal. It also pushes you to keep working and avoid drifting from your goal. The end of August is coming up quick after all.

E: Exciting. Your goals should scare you a little bit. If not, you’ll never grow. This is honestly one of my big descriptors for the clients that I work with. We always work a little scared. If you’re making $50,000 a year and want to work with me, and your goal is to make $50,000 next year as well, we probably won’t be a good fit. You still might have some great goals, but I want my clients to push themselves. My clients are making $50,000 but want to make $125,000. They know they need to get serious about pursuing their dreams.

And it works in all areas of life too. Want a better marriage? Don’t take your spouse on four dates a year, take them on two a week. That shows me you’re serious about reprioritizing your schedule to thrive in your relationship.

R: Relevant. This one matters, but more in the daily habits of life. I regularly review my goals to make sure they are still what I want. Every year, I sit down and try to project out a year to set goals throughout. A number of times I’ve set a goal in January, gotten to May, and then realized it was no longer relevant. That’s not a bad thing! Those goals pushed me and stretched me in new ways that have forever changed me. But in that growth process, I realized that I needed to rechart my course and set a new destination.

Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your goals and start a new direction. That’s the fun part of goal setting.

Clear goals

+

Daily Habits

=

Lasting Success!

 

If you’re wanting to know where to start, I’m launching a Habit and Performance Mastermind Group. To find out more, set some goals in a supportive community, and take your life to the next level, click this link.

Answering the Call

In 2004, I was a college freshman.

Miserable.

Alone.

Depressed.

I had gone into college thinking I was going to be a science major. However, I remember one night staring into the microscope around 2 am trying to determine leaf structure, that I realized I didn’t want to do it anymore.

For someone already struggling with their place in the world, this was the last straw. I remember sinking into a deep depression. I felt like my whole world had been taken away.

A new city with no friends.

A lifeless major.

No sports to ground my days as they did in high school.

Lost.

Alone.

Discover Your Call

Defeated.

Gambling with God

During this time, I began a deep dive into my place into the world. I started to study the Bible and see if it had something for me.

I head this small voice telling me to think about a career in ministry.

I had tons of excuses about why that was a terrible idea.

I can’t speak in public.
I’m afraid of crowds.

I’m shy
I don’t want to.

Yet in my desire to find my place, I kept reading. I kept studying. And I kept hearing that voice. Finally, I had had enough. In a fit of rage and the cockiness of a 19-year-old know-it-all, I threw my Bible against the wall, promising to read whatever passage it fell open to.

If you can convince me to go into ministry through this, I’ll do it.

I was willing to gamble with God.

I picked up my Bible where it lay, plopped down on my bed, and read. My Bible (*coincidentially?*) had fallen open to Exodus chapter four.

In this story, a man named Moses is being called by God to free the Israelites from slavery at the hand of the Egyptians. Moses didn’t want to. He fought God’s call. He questioned God’s sanity.

Moses said:

I can’t speak in public.
I’m afraid of crowds.

I’m shy
I don’t want to.

Moses expressed everything to God that I had.

That small voice returned and said, “If I can do something with him, surely I can do something with you.”

Discovering Your Call

Now, I’m not saying I’m the next Moses. I’m far from it.

I’m also not saying that your call has to be as dramatic or painful as mine. I sure hope it’s not.

But here is what I have learned in the almost fifteen years since that day: Everyone has a call.

Your unique experiences, gifts, passions, interests, skills, and background have made you truly unique in this world. There is no one like you and you are like no one else. The world needs you. It needs your voice. Your perspective. Your championing of issues close to your heart. The world needs you, in all of your glory, to embrace who God has made you be at your core and live fully alive.

Without you, this world is incomplete.

Discovering your call is about finding whatever it is that makes you come alive. It is about blending your God-given potential with your world-changing desire.

So listen to that voice. Pursue it. Be open to it. As crazy as your world-changing idea may sound, it echoes in your soul for a reason.

It’s time to answer your call.


We are in a series on calling here on the blog. If you have a story idea, question or topic you want to be covered, or if you’re ready to work with Justin please fill out the contact form below.

 

Staying On Course

Recently I was on a trip and I loaded the destination into my phone’s GPS, and started driving.

I didn’t feel like I needed it at first since I know how to get out of my neighborhood. But it’s easier to do in the beginning than to plug it in while driving.

Through a series of short straightaways and quick turns, I soon found myself on the highway.

Stay on this road for 227 miles.

Staying on course means having discipline and eliminating distraction.

Immediately I had a knot in my stomach.

I knew it was a long trip. I knew how many hours it would take. I had even accounted for traffic times so I could make it as short as possible.

But there’s still something about seeing that number and the accompanying time frame that made me feel a tad frustrated.

Can you relate?

Why we need to practice staying on course.

Whether we like it or not, we all need to follow the advice to stay on course.

Trying a new startup venture? Stay the course.

Repairing a broken relationship? Stay the course.

Losing weight, changing your eating habits, or completing a degree? Stay the course.

Too often, we bail too quickly on our goals and never see real results. We hear the other dreaded word of a navigating GPS system: “Recalculating.” It means we’ve veered off course and need to get back on track.

Staying the course means eliminating distractions.

Staying the course means staying hyper-focused.

Staying the course means developing extreme discipline.

Staying the course means knowing what the end destination is, and refusing to stop before you get there.

Staying the course is not easy, but it is deeply rewarding. It is the only way to truly get to where you want to go in life.

The only way your side hustle becomes your main gig is by staying the course.

The only way you’ll have the body you dream of is staying the course in your diet.

The only way to have a thriving marriage, growing business, strong team, or financial success is by staying on course.

Your goals, dreams, visions, and plans for life are all at on the line. Don’t settle for anything less than reaching your final destination.

Stay the course!