Smiling employees with overlay text, "Service with a smile"

In a world increasingly divided and hostile, the best thing we can offer is service with a smile.

The Benefits of Smiling

It’s not something we think about often, but there are benefits associated with smiling. In addition to providing a warm, welcoming demeanor, smiling has other benefits, like:

  • Increased mood
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Aid digestion
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Decrease pain
  • Stronger immune system Smiling employees with overlay text, "Service with a smile"
  • Create a positive mindset
  • And more!

But here’s the crazy thing. Smiling, scientists have discovered, is contagious. This means that when you smile (and get these benefits), others will too!

Service With A Smile

I remember a conflict I was in with one former employer. He wanted to know why I never smiled at him when he walked into the office. Convinced something was wrong between us, he began to harbor feelings of anger and resentment. It carried into other spheres of working together, and eventually, I was almost written up over it!

The sad truth? My desk faced the doors and I’d often look up, lost in thought. If they walked by, it wasn’t that I was upset, angry, or dismissive of them. I was simply thinking too hard!

But this did cause me to become more aware of my facial expressions towards others. Instead of dismissing those claims, I took them to heart. I want everything I do to be a warm, welcoming place for people to be around.

I made a conscious effort to work on smiling when engaging others. For someone used to being accused of RBF, this was no small challenge. It has been, however, entirely worth it. The effort to put more work into smiling and engaging others has proved useful for business and personal reasons.

Engaging Leadership

One of the great things that smiling does for us as leaders are that it engages others. It marks us as warm, approachable, open, affirming, and in control.

Smiling communicates that we are calm and steadfast.

Providing service with a smile is more than plastering on a fake veneer, it is training our brain, and those around us, to look for the good in all situations.

It demonstrates our ability to work under pressure.

Service with a smile provides reassuring calm in the midst of surrounding storms.

One area I’ve seen this work is in parenting. When I need to have difficult conversations with my children, I make sure to put on a smile. Not to dismiss wrong or correctable behavior, but to let them know that it is okay. Everything is going to work out fine. Sometimes, I even let them know, “I’m not bad, but I do want to talk about what happened.”

This works in the workplace as well. Really, in all areas where we feel called to lead. 

Service with a smile lets others know that we will all get through this together.

Take An Inventory

The easiest way to get started experiencing the benefits of smiling is to smile. The quickest way to get there is to take an inventory.

Where are the moments we struggle with the most? How have we responded? What would we like to do differently?

Start by planning your day, based on how you want to engage the world and what you hope to accomplish with a smile.

Then, think about the common places where you’re interacting with people and write down intentional things you will do to smile and engage them.

One area where I had to work hard (and to be honest, I’m still working at) is to smile when I produce online content. It’s not that I’m unhappy or grump. Instead, it’s that I take seriously my calling to make great content that I get so focused on that that I can forget to enjoy myself.

I’ve started to write down physical notes when I record (or speak live) to smile. It’s actually in my notes, BE SURE TO SMILE HERE.

It engages the audience and creates rapport.

Smiling communicates value.

It demonstrates appreciation.

As leaders, everything we do is monitored. To be at our best, one simple way is to smile.

Creating opportunities for service with a smile transforms our thinking, influences our actions, transforms conflict, creates opportunity, and advances the mission.

Smile on!

Friends with thought bubble cutouts and overlay text "A Failure to Communicate"

The one thing any business owner, entrepreneur, or leader never wants to happen is a failure to communicate clearly.

Why?

As Mark Miller points out in his book Win Every Day, “Communication is the oxygen of execution.”

A Failure To Communicate

In his book, Miller highlights the difference between what is expected of everyone in an organization, and what is expected of leaders.

Everyone in an organization must be concerned with “Helping Others Win.” Leaders have the added burden to “Communicate Tirelessly.”

When it comes to communicating mission, vision, and values, the experience of my own coaching clients bears this out.

One of the points I make repeatedly is the need to over-communicate these key aspects of the business.

Here is the rule we start from: Once you’ve talked about your vision a hundred times, the average employee has heard and understood it less than ten.

Shocking, right?

But it’s true.

One of the great failures of business owners and leaders happens when they think everyone else ‘just gets it.’

They don’t.

As a business owner, you may be passionate and inspired by your vision. Compelled by the mission, you get out of bed every day ready to change the world.

Your average employee doesn’t.

To bring them into the mission and vision you created, it must be shared.

Constantly.
Relentlessly.Friends with thought bubble cutouts and overlay text "A Failure to Communicate"
Effectively.

4 Levels of communication

1.) A Failure to Communicate

The first way we communicate is not at all. Like the famous line from the movie Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is a failure to communicate!”

A number of years ago, I shared a meme that reminds me of this. The caption I posted was, “This signifies my day so much”

The meme was of a couple, sitting on opposite ends of the couch. The woman, in her diary, was writing about her the distance her husband had been displaying that day. She had made his favorite meal, and there was not so much as a “Thanks.” involved.

She wanted to go out that night and get dressed up. He seemed disinterested.

She tried to snuggle him and watch tv, he was cold and stand-offish.

The diary continued, wanting to know what the problem was. Was he seeing another woman? Maybe their relationship was in trouble? Did he not love her anymore.”

Then we see his diary. Motorcycle won’t start. Can’t figure out why.

This lack of communication led to marriage trouble that didn’t have to exist, at least as far as the meme was concerned.

I shared it that day because it resonated. If I remember correctly, I had a lot of apologizing to do after that.

2.) Poor Communication

Since we’re on the subject of things I’ve learned the hard way, here’s another one.

A couple of years into our marriage, in the midst of a ‘heated discussion’ my wife finally snapped. “I wish you wouldn’t call me “dear.” You only say that when you’re angry with me.”

Lesson learned

Sometimes we communicate. We just do it poorly. The wording is wrong. The metaphor doesn’t work. The imagery fails. It happens when I speak (more than I’d like to admit) and it happens when we share the vision with others.

Business owners just as frequently communicate poorly.

Every time a business owner shares company values but doesn’t practice them, there is poor communication.

When a business leader excuses poor language, crude humor, or angry outbursts as “their personality”, poor communication is experienced.

3.) Base Communication

Assuming you as a leader don’t want to fail to communicate or communicate poorly, what are the other options?

The first is base-communication. But let’s be clear upfront, this is still not considered good communication.

It’s the bare minimum required to get any given task accomplished.

Base level communication is, “John I need you to send me that report.” Why? “Because I said so.”

The job gets done. You will get the report emailed to you, but it’s hardly exhilarating leadership.

Base-communication cares about one thing: results. But, as great leaders know and practice, we care about more than results.

First, we care about people over projects.

Second, we make intentional investments into new leaders.

So where does that leave us as leaders wanting to do more, be more, and have more?

4.) Over-Communication

Over-communicating is people inspiring, mission clarifying, and value-enhancing. Over-communicating looks at more than the task or the goal, it examines the heart of the person we are speaking with.

The best leaders we know practice the art of over-communicating. They speak clearly, concisely, and contextually. Great leaders know how to get at both the heart of the matter and the heart of the person quickly. Excellent communicators know what it means to elevate others and embrace the mission.

Over-communication requires commitment, bravery, and an extreme commitment to service.

The Case to Over-Communicate

To win the hearts of those around, the only way forward is to over-communicate. But note that over-communication is not micro-managing. It does not over. It does not belittle. And it does not de-value.

Over-communication accentuates the positive. It brings out the best in others. Over communication sparks light and life in those that are listening.

Over-communication holds unwaiverlingly to the idea that everyone can witn.

When we over-communicate with our spouse, employees, team-members, and friends we bring value and honor to their personhood.

And as we’ve already seen:

Communication is the oxygen of execution.

Stock and Computer overlay with text "Intentional Investment"

The greatest thing we can do every single day is to make an intentional investment into those around us.

The recent world pandemic of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) reminds us of the fragility of financial investments.

Will the stock market recovery? Absolutely. Eventually.

But this also reminds us of the need to invest in relationships.

One thing that pays immediate dividends and lasts forever is investing in people. Finding, developing, resourcing, and equipping future leaders around us is always worth the investment. 

Growth Happens Here

When I work businesses, especially entrepreneurs or solopreneurs, this becomes an emphasis of our coaching time. Stock and Computer overlay with text "Intentional Investment"

In the beginning, all work is done by the owner. As anyone who has started a business. In addition to being the owner, they were also the sales team, marketing department, human resource contact, janitor, and security guard.

The business grows, and it comes time to hire a new employee.

This can be scary. Someone who is used to doing it all can be hesitant to give something up. The fear is that the new person won’t do it as well.

Hint: That’s probably true.

But that doesn’t mean we avoid hiring. Instead, it means we get intentional about hiring. We look for people willing to be invested in.

Instead of capping growth at the original owner/banker/marketer/sales/do-it-all-yourself we find ways to offload burdensome tasks to someone else.

The owner focuses on the core activities of the business, the things that only he or she can do to help the business grow. We create a hiring profile based on those other tasks. The ones that are important, maybe even vital to the organization, but something that can be done by someone else.

In the coaching process, we work through four quadrants and have the owner visualize where the growth needs to happen.

The last step is always people investing. That’s where we see the greatest return on investment.

Intentional Investment

What does intentional investment look like? It can take many forms:

  • An encouraging word or letter of thanks
  • Educational support
  • Mentoring/Coaching
  • Professional Development seminars
  • Sharing hard-won battles or industry secrets

In sum, Intentional investing happens anytime we are purposeful about shortening the learning curve between where someone is at and personal mastery.

Previously, we have looked at what it means to choose people over projects.

This goes one step beyond that.

More than just the relationship, we care about the growth of the person.

Ready to invest in someone else? Here are three ways to seek out relationships for intentional investment.

3 Ways to Cultivate a Life of Intentional Investment

1.) Intentionally Create Calendar Space

Personally, I’ve stopped using the phrase, “I don’t have time.” I’ve discovered that I’m always willing to make time for things in my life that really matter. If you want to find the time, you never will. Ultimately, that’s because you don’t value it enough. Create calendar time to intentionally cultivate relationships.

2.) Find a bit of yourself in the other person.

In many ways, the coaching field is full of coaches who utilize their time to help others that are like them. I know this is true of me personally and several of my other coaching friends. We coach what we have come out of, or where we see ourselves going.

Mentoring. Connecting. Investing in others all look like this as well. Find someone who reminds you of you at a younger age and guide them towards maturity. What are the things you wish you’d know at that age? That’s the perfect place to start.

3.) Create a compounding vision of success

Albert Einstein is attributed with saying that compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe. However true this is, I believe our ability to invest in others is even more powerful. In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, people have been hoarding items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. There are even videos online of fistfights erupting over these items.

One thing we never want to hoard is information, transformation, or success. I firmly believe there is enough for everyone. In a world that says, “There’s only enough for one of us if you have it then I can’t.” I choose to fight against that.

There is enough happiness, joy, success, wealth, insight, talent, and ability for us all to succeed.

Instead of seeking out compounding interest, seek out compounding wins of success and personal investment in others. Their gratitude, your joy, and the world’s need for positivity will all thank you.

Justin’s note: During this trying time of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic I am doing my part to give back.

1.) If you want a free downloadable of 50 ways to practice self-care click this link.

2.) If you have been impacted by the COVID0-19 virus as an employee or business owner, I’m giving away free coaching. Go here to apply.

Person Rock Climbing with Overlay text "Do Hard Things"

One of the common phrases in our house is, “Do hard things!”

It’s a call. A challenge. To our kids, but also to the adults. Life requires, necessitates difficulty. We should rise to the occasion.

Do Hard Things

Life is full of the difficult.

Taking our first steps requires doing hard things.

When we’re young, learning to walk is hard. Yet without knowing any better, our natural instinct is to persevere. We fall, we rise again, and we take another step.

Somewhere along the way, however, we get talked out of that mindset. We learn to shrink back, play small, give in, and give up. Ultimately, we end up missing out on some of the greatest aspects of life.

Because everything we’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. Our ability to push through, rise to the occasion, and achieve the difficult things, determines how far we get in life.

 

Don’t Run From Hardship

One writer from the early church history penned the idea of difficulty this way:

Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing. If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking. (The Voice)

We were warned thousands of years ago about the necessity of doing difficult things in life. From cleaning our rooms to forgiving someone who offends us, the message is the same: do hard things!

Got a side-hustle you want to be your full-time gig? Do Hard Things. 

Looking to advance in your career and get a promotion? Do Hard Things.

 

Discovering the need to be a better parent, spouse, or lover? Do Hard Things.

Trying to lose ten, fifteen, for fifty pounds? Do Hard Things.

Convicted to swallow your pride and ask for forgiveness? Do Hard Things.

A Call For Growth

Ultimately, this is a call for growth. For all of us. We are presented each and every day with the chance to grow and get better.

For my son, it’s cleaning his room, engaging in his math homework, and being nice. (Even when his little brother is legitimately being annoying).

 

For me, it’s putting in the focused effort on the right action items every day. Ignoring distraction, feeding my quest for self-improvement, and growing a business.

For you, it might be something different. Maybe it’s to put the phone down and engage with the family. Perhaps your growth point is to finally start that business venture that has you so scared (I can help). Maybe there’s that small voice that is urging you to show up, to speak up, and to act for justice.

Whatever it is. Embrace the call. Press into that feeling. Rise to the occasion.

Do Hard Things.

Abraham Lincoln Statue

Growing Leaders

I’m becoming a huge fan behind the idea of “Dynamic Leadership.”

More than influential, this is transformative.

For the individual, the team, and the organization. Most importantly, it’s also highly transformative from a customer experience.

To be dynamic simply means to be in constant change, to make progress, or to be characterized by energy and new ideas.

Isn’t that what we want from leaders.

Isn’t that what we want to be as leaders?

Dynamic Leadership

One great example of dynamic leadership is Abraham Lincoln. Viewed as one of the greatest presidents in American history, I’m amazed at his leadership journey. From a small town, this largely self-educated individual rose to lead the nation through the greatest turmoil it ever experienced.

In total, some 620,000 American soldiers died in the conflict. To date, 1.2 million soldiers have died in war. This means that nearly 50% of all American soldier deaths happened during the Civil War.

It’s an amazing statistic and a wild time in our history from start to finish. In August of 2019, I started listening to Shelby Foote’s three-volume series on the Civil War.

In addition to other articles, books, and journals, I have become fascinated by the leadership story of Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln’s overriding commitment throughout the Civil War was the preservation of the Union. That is, he wanted above all else, a continued united group of states.

But throughout the war, his vision of what this was and how it needed to look changed dramatically.

Changing Morals

One big area of change, thanks to the influence of Frederick Douglas, was his stance of slavery. Lincoln went from fairly apathetic about it to strongly convinced of its evils and the need to abolish it.

His values changed. Abraham Lincoln Statue

The experiences of his life changed him.

He was open to others, listened to their experiences, and became convinced of the need to change his stance.

Lincoln was a dynamic leader.

Compelled more by the conviction to lead, help, or serve he was willing to personally be wrong in order to accomplish what was right. Many of his correspondences with military leaders gave them his input or insight, but he deferred to them to do what they thought. In short, he trusted their expertise, more than his own, to accomplish the mission.

This was true, despite the increasing pressure and opposition from friend and foe and in spite of personal losses and setbacks.

Becoming Dynamic

Becoming a dynamic leader isn’t easy … but it is worth it.

Dynamic Leadership allows us to lead both up and down an organization.

Dynamic Leadership promotes humility, service, open-mindedness, and grace.

Most importantly, dynamic leadership leads to the transformation of individuals, teams, organizations, cultures, and yes, countries.

If you’re interested in becoming a dynamic leader, let me know. I’m preparing to launch a fully online leadership course in dynamic leadership where we’ll talk about growth points, visionary leadership, and team dynamics.