Blog Cover Photo: Rise To The Occasion

This is part of a blog series from a business development talk I gave. To get caught up, see: Committed to Mastery and then Transformative Teamwork.


Today, we’re covering part three of the speech: Rise To The Occasion.

The contrast of several Northern leaders needs our attention. The North, at the outset of the Civil War, was lacking in high ranking military men. Most of them had gone south at the start of the war. The few that remained, like George McClellan rose quickly. Others, like Generals Custer and Grant, would rise to the occasion.

Setting The Stage

McClellan was a brilliant tactician. His study of worldwide fighting styles, military strategies, and historical aspects of war made him highly desirable. He graduated second in his class from West Point. Dubbed the Young Napoleon, McClellan’s future was bright. Everyone expected great things from McClellan. He cared deeply for his soldiers and they loved him for it. From their perspective, they were well fed, well trained, and rarely fought. It was a pretty good arrangement.

However, between McClellan and President Lincoln, things were rarely ever smooth. McClellan became famous for requesting more supplies and exaggerating enemy numbers. One account tells of a breakdown in Confederate lines and supplies after a battlefield loss. Research seems to indicate that had McClellan pursued them and chased them down, the war would have been over in less than two years. Richmond would have been captured. Top generals would have been defeated. The North would’ve won without further bloodshed. George McClellan

Instead, McClellan estimated enemy numbers exaggerated by 20% and blamed the possibility of bad weather as reasons for a delayed attack. As a result, he called off the chase. Within two days, the South regrouped, shuffled their troops, and counterattacked. They drove the north back. For more than two additional years the Civil War would be fought because of this one failure in his leadership.

Rise to the Occasion

Contrast the brilliance, genius, and ultimate ineptitude of someone like George McClellan with someone like Grant. Grant rose to the occasion given to him. Grant’s war policy was to attack consistently and ferociously. He was adept and editing commands on the fly. He was both well prepared and adaptable. Because he knew the ultimate goal, he could change his methods as the battlefield dictated.

George Armstrong Custer, from outward appearances, had nothing going for him. He barely graduated from West Point coming in dead last in his class. Custer gained an unfavorable reputation because so few trusted him. He was often pulling pranks, spending time in detention, getting into trouble, and had an overly brash demeanor.

However, throughout the Civil War, he distinguished himself as a man of courageous action. By the end of the Civil War, he had been promoted to Major General and was in command of the entire cavalry. In an age where leaders worked from the rear and made orders for other men, he gained admiration by fighting from the front. It’s been noted that he was often the first to go flying into combat with his men trailing behind him. At the conclusion of the war, his unit was responsible for capturing more POWs and infantry flags than any other unit. He was even respected enough that he received the table that unconditional surrender terms were drafted.

Where We Find Ourselves

Three men at the same point in history take dramatically different paths in life. One, seemingly given every advantage, squanders it all. He leaves frustrated, disgraced, disillusioned, and desperate. The other two inspire, engage, and rise to the occasion. McClellan, from the top of his class, witnesses everything crumble before him. Grant and Custer rise from the bottom. Custer, quite literally from the bottom of his class to one of the highest positions available and becomes the stuff of lore and legend.

There is something inside of our DNA that loves these transformational stories. Zeroes to heroes inspire us. We long for stories of David defeating Goliath. Worst to first and victory in the midst of defeat give us hope. Blog Cover Photo: Rise To The Occasion

Undoubtedly, there are many parallels in our businesses. Perhaps you even know of a time or two in your own life or that of your company (or even an employee) where you can see now how things could have and should have worked out differently.

Individuals or companies with all the advantages that still somehow managed to fail. Mega tech companies caught with bad numbers and crumble an empire. Someone identified as a high performer busted for ethical violations or a failure to perform. An industry darling in one year is an outcast in another.

But there’s also the flip side.

A surprise hire going on to transform a business or industry.

A perpetual under-achiever finds a fire in their soul and rises to extraordinary levels of leadership.

And while nothing in life is a guarantee, what I have found throughout my years in coaching, is that there are certain tendencies and ways to “hedge our bets.”

The Power of Coaching

Coaching advances the high performers at an astounding rate, helping them to avoid burnout. It also has the capacity to equip the last place hire to deeper levels of transformation. Coaching gives a place for both the first-place all-star and the last place “skin of your teeth, you just barely made it” performer.

My start in coaching looked much the same. I began working with clients who self-identified as someone who knew they were capable of great things but couldn’t get out of their own way (much like we might have said early on about Custer).

The ICF first defined coaching as, “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

When we equip our ourselves and our staff to reach their full potential we inspire them to rise to the occasion.

 

Gettysburg Address

There are tales of a young Lincoln staying awake at night, sitting in his parent’s parlor, listening to adult’s converse. He would stay up past his bedtime listening intently to every word. At the end of the evening, he would go to his bedroom and replay the conversation in his head. Through his own admission, he would pace back and forth until he understood every word and perspective that was shared. Only then was he able to relax enough to go to sleep.

Dedicated To Mastery

This commitment to mastery shaped the success that Lincoln would experience throughout life. It gave him his great oratory skills. During the Gettysburg address, he captivated the crowd and it is largely regarded as one of the greatest speeches of all time.

Edward Everett, after the Gettysburg battle, remarked,

“I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

Everett’s assessment is no exaggeration. He was a fellow speaker that day. He spoke right before Lincoln, for two hours, and yet I’m guessing you’ve never heard his speech. Instead, it was Lincoln’s two-minute address that became famous. His commitment to mastery gave him the oratory skills needed when the occasion arose. Abraham Lincoln Statue

Similarly, at the beginning of the war, Lincoln had zero understanding of military strategy and his chief officers let him know it. Lincoln, always dedicated to mastery, however, stayed up late studying every night. Reading books, pouring over history, evolving his own understanding, it wasn’t long before he had developed a plan and wanted to implement it. General McClellan laughed at it and dismissed it. Eventually, McClellan was replaced by Grant and put into effect. It was in fact, the strategy that won the war for the north. By the end of the war, Lincoln was widely regarded as a genius military strategist. His commitment to the mastery of any given subject or problem distinguished him from his peers.

Our Own Commitment

What does our own commitment look like? Can we say that we are dedicated to mastery? Not proficiency. Avoid average. Not “slightly better” than the competition. Mastery. Excellence. The desire to be the best. Are we unwaveringly committed to that? Do we pace our bedrooms and night, committed to mastering the problems and opportunities before us?

In business?

In our marriages?

With friendships?

Towards our customers?

Pick any area of life and become committed to mastery. Then pick a new area. Repeat. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself successful.

 

This is an excerpt from a recent talk I gave to business leaders and has been adapted for the blog. For any coaching inquiries related to developing your leadership capacity, please email me.

 

The Gettysburg Address:

Gettysburg Address

Building With Purpose Online Conference

Because of COVID-19, the changing landscape of human resources means that both employers and employees are entering a new workforce frontier. For some, working from home is a new experience and therefore requires a new way of thinking.

Still, others are questions of accountability, appropriate conduct, and billable hours.

For all of us, we’re realizing just how much we can miss the mark of success if we aren’t dialed in and laser-focused.

I had an excellent, and wide-ranging interview with Dr. Juanita Webb for the Building With Purpose Conference. Check out this clip:

 

Building With Purpose

This excerpt is a part of the FREE online conference I’m hosting called Building With Purpose. This course will help you pivot during this time of social distancing and working from home.

For many of us, it’s a new experience. These experts will help you gain clarity and momentum and experience success.

To sign up for the conference, go here.

Registration is completely free and is currently open.

Building With Purpose Online ConferenceIn this conference, we hear from leading experts in:

  • Coaching
  • Business Consulting
  • Human Resources
  • Finance
  • Digital Marketing
  • And more

If you’re interested in starting or growing a business or even just wondering how to maximize your time and what to do next, enroll in the free conference.

To follow up, I’m offering all attendees a complimentary session.

To redeem your session, go here.

The Changing Landscape Of Human Resources

For many of us, the changing landscape of human resources can be a source of fear. However, like all things in life, we lean into the fear and learn to conquer it. That’s how we grow. For those of us facing those changes right now, here are three words of encouragement:

1.) The Good Outweighs The Bad.

Despite what you might see on the news, the good that people are doing far outweighs the bad. Like the famous Mr. Rogers quote, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” Yes, there are jerk-landlords and underdeveloped bosses. There are also amazing people doing amazing acts of service in this time of need. I have one friend who says her goal as an HR professional is to put the ‘human’ back in ‘human resources.’ Now more than ever, I think we are starting to see that.

2.) Opportunities Abound.

Working from home is new for may people. Personally, it has led to a complete transformation of my life. I love working from home. I see my family more, I engage in more meaningful projects, and I have seen my productivity increase. In seven years of working from home, I haven’t regretted a single day of it. While there is certainly going to be an adjustment period, look for the opportunities opening up in front of you, your family, your career, and your side-hustle.

3.) When in Doubt, Ask Questions.

One of the great things Dr. Webb reminds us of is that many employers haven’t had to think about working from home before. Most companies, are making it up as they go. They are building the aircraft and trying to fly it at the same time, so to speak. This means that these are great times to ask questions and take advantage of the new situation. What do reimbursements look like? Will the company provide additional material, training, or support for free? Can the compensation change? What about a more flexible work schedule? Asking questions, both for clarity and for creativity can open us up to a more enjoyable experience and a better working environment. It might even allow you to keep the best parts of working from home after quarantine ends.

Push Through Excuses and realize you can do it.

 

The measure of our success will always be determined by our ability to push through excuses.

A List of Popular Excuses

Tell me if you’ve heard (or used) any of these following excuses:

  • I’m Tired
  • The kids wouldn’t cooperate.
  • My boss was mean.
  • A bad economy.
  • No one listens to me.
  • My spouse doesn’t support me.
  • A team member (or business partner) didn’t work as hard as me.
  • I don’t have the time.

The list could keep going, couldn’t it? We’ve all been there. Longing for a vision of what could’ve been or should’ve been had things worked out differently.

They can work out differently. Things can always improve. We can always do better. Under no circumstances should we ever forego chasing our dreams.

Our success is limited only by our ability to overcome our circumstances.

Push Through Excuses

Early on in my coaching career, I had a not-so-good client. (That’s putting in nicely). I didn’t enjoy working with this person. They had a long list of dreams and desires and an even longer list of reasons why they couldn’t accomplish those dreams.

During one coaching call, he explained that he couldn’t send any resumes out because his ex-girlfriend wouldn’t have liked his resume format. Push Through Excuses and realize you can do it.

He didn’t apply for a job, because a former girlfriend wouldn’t have liked the formatting. Everyone else was getting to dictate the direction and circumstance except for him.

We worked on these issues for weeks. Stuck in a dead-end job, he wanted out badly (or so he said). Finally, after a month of inaction, I leveled with him. “Fix it this week or I’m sending your money back. I’m done working with you if you don’t want to change.”

After a few seconds of silence, he responded, “Yeah, I’m not gonna fix it this week. Thanks though.” Within thirty seconds of that sentence, we wrapped up our last call, I canceled his paperwork, and I never looked back.

I’m not sure what happened to him, but I learned a lot from him. I learned about my ideal client, staying motivated, having discipline, and the need to push through excuses.

Our ability to reach our dreams is directly related to our ability to push through excuses.

Determined At All Costs

High-achievers and success-oriented people have learned to push through excuses. Nelson Mandela remarked, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Leaders are determined at all costs to push through excuses. They choose to exercise courage instead of fear. Practicing commitment to their goals is paramount. They know how much is riding on it.

Here are three tips to give us courage as we pursue our goals and push through excuses:

1.) Create Clear Goals

Clarity breeds confidence. When we know exactly what we’re aiming for, and why it matters, we can muster up the strength to continue.

2.) Recall Your Track record

If no one has told you this yet: Good job. So far, you’ve made it through 100% of everything life has thrown you. Your strength, capabilities, and commitment have gotten you this far. You have no reason to think you can’t make it through the next obstacle, however daunting it may seem.

3.) Journey Together

Life is hard. It’s even harder to do it alone. Find a friend, mentor, peer, trusted advisor, or coach. Establish a relationship with the right people who are in your corner and push you towards greatness. The right people help you tell your story better. They are absolutely critical to your journey.

We’ve all been hurt. Everyone has been lied to. We all know the pain of fear, regret, pain, and failure. Successful people have learned to tell a different story. To rewrite their old history and chart a new path.

The journey to success is not a straight line, but it is one that must be made intentionally. Lean into those goals. Pursue them with passion. Give it your all. Don’t stop. In order to reach your full potential, you must push through excuses.

Start today.

 

A Name on the Back of a Jersey

Every jersey comes with a name on the back. It is an identification of the player. More than the team, more than a number, this is a particular someone.

Jones.

Brady.

Manning.

Mahomes.

Davis.

Let me tell you why I’ve given up wearing jerseys.

A Life of Passion

I love sports. More than anything else, I love all things Nebraska. Husker volleyball, baseball, wrestling, basketball, and football. If they have a team, I’ve watched it on tv. I’ve been to several sporting events in person.

I plan on dressing up as Scott Frost, the football coach, for Halloween.

My wife was appalled at my petition to name some of our kids after Husker greats.

I love all things Huskers.

Along with this, comes several decades worth of memorabilia. Shirts, cards, magazines, autographs. My parents have a “Husker Hall of Fame” in my childhood home.

But I’ll never wear a jersey, Husker or otherwise, again.

It comes down to me, about a shifting philosophy in my own thinking.

The Name on the Back

The short version is that it comes down to the name on the back. I’ve got nothing against the team, the number, or the player. Instead, it comes down to my own sense of identity.

I root hard for my team, but for years I wrestled with the belief that I should root that hard for myself. I’ve learned that I need to root for my own success and my own victory. 

Every season is a fresh start to be special. Sitting at 0-0 I carry the belief every fall that my favorite football team will finish 14-0. A Name on the Back of a Jersey

But for years, I struggled with bringing that same belief into my own life.

I was, so I thought, a victim of my identity. I was trapped by my past. My belief was that I was stuck in a predetermined path and that any changes I made would be minor at best.

While my team could do great things, I could not. 

In short, I would’ve been embarrassed to wear a jersey with my name on it. I was comfortable rooting for other people, but not for myself.

If my team can go 14-0, why can’t I?

Wear Your Own Jersey

So I’ve changed my philosophy on wearing jerseys. I wake up every day with the notion that I want to wear my own. I don’t want to champion someone else’s skills, abilities, or passions more than my own.

This isn’t arrogance, this is assurance.

I was created for a purpose. I have passion. In this world, I am capable of unleashing great good.

My investment in myself will benefit me, my family, and those around me.

I also unwaveringly believe the same thing about you.

You were created for a purpose You have a deep passion. You are capable of unleashing great good in the world. Your commitment to you will benefit you, your loved ones, and those around you.

Wake up every day and put on a jersey that has your name on it. Commit to living your best values and transforming the circumstances around you.

We aren’t victims, we are overcomers.

We aren’t stuck, we are capable of great transformation.

If you need someone willing to champion you and come alongside you as you learn to put on your own jersey, reach out to me. I’d love to help