I Will AIM

Inspiring others to act

Will Lukang is a professional motivational speaker, mentor, and coach. He is the co-author of The Character Based Leader. Will aims to inspire others to act and lead through his speaking, workshops, and blog.    He is an independent consultant with the John Maxwell Team.

Will help people uncover and reach their full potential.   As a result, his clients are able to be effective in both their personal and business life.  They seek his service because of his knowledge and experience in helping others achieve results.   He help them through coaching and leadership training as well as honest assessment of their leadership capabilities.  By doing so, his clients were able to get unstuck and achieve their full potential.

An Example of Poor Leadership

At the recently concluded Ryder Cup tournament, the U.S. was not able to stage the comeback needed to win the cup.   Win or lose, I’m still proud of our players.  

I’m writing in reference to what transpired throughout the event, especially when the U.S. fell behind on Saturday.  I certainly don’t question Tom Watson’s decisions, because as the leader of the group you have the prerogative to make the decision that you see fit.     The U.S. lacked energy and fell behind 10-6 going into the Sunday match play.     My memory is still fresh that the European team was able to stage a comeback from a similar deficit so I was confident that we could still make it happen.

After discussing and setting the stage for Sunday, the team presented Mr. Watson with a gift: a replica Ryder Cup trophy signed by all the players.   As noted by Yahoo news, Mr. Watson scoffed at the gift, suggesting that it meant nothing unless his team completed the comeback the next day.   Here is where his leadership fell short.  While he is entitled to his frustration, he needed to continue to engage and inspire the team and promote an environment that helped the team uplift their spirits.

A leader is a tough position.    If it were easy then everyone could be a leader.   Often a leader is looked to as a source of inspiration and energy.  When the chips are down, your constituents seek your guidance to keep them going.     When a leader says the right thing, no matter how bad the situation, the players listen and continue to do their best.   I’m by no means saying that the players lost focus because of what transpired, but it certainly did not help. 

As I reflect on my experience, I vividly remember the 2012-2013 season when I was coaching St. Elizabeth’s 4th grade girls’ basketball team.    We had a great season heading into the playoff.   We faced some challenges in the semi-final, but we buckled down and pulled through.   Before we started the championship game, I told the girls to enjoy the moment and leave everything on the court.  I mentioned that this was our moment and this was what we worked so hard for the last four months.   We started strong, leading by 4 by halftime; we played well, but had a hard time scoring in the second half.    Our opponent shut us down and our girls faced the adversity of trying to make things work.  My assistant coach told me to let the girls know that it is okay to lose.   I told him that I refused to do that because there was still time on the clock and as long as there was time, we would never give up.  With two minutes and 47 seconds left we were down by 4 points; I called a timeout.   I told my players that I believed in them, the question was did they believe in themselves.  They yelled “Yes”.  I told them to forget about what happened leading up to that point that the most important time was the next two minutes and 47 seconds.   One of my players named Maura went for a shot and was fouled.  She calmly sunk the free throw.  At last, we were down by one.  I told them to play good defense to get the ball back.

We made a stop and executed a perfect fast break from my point guard Molly to our center Lauryn and the gym erupted with cheers from the parents of St. Elizabeth.  We were now leading by one.  I told my players not to foul, but continue to play good defense.  We got the ball back and Selena threw the ball to the back court to Lauryn and the game ended.   I always look back to that last huddle and it brings a smile and joy to my heart.  As the coach and leader of the team, I know it was tough to be in a situation where my team could lose the game, but I refused to quit, because I wanted the players to learn how to work through adversity.

Granting my experience is nothing like Mr. Watson’s, I still understand that a leader plays an important role in helping the team set up the tone and atmosphere.   As leaders, we are responsible for the team no matter what happens.   At the heart of leadership is sacrifice that is necessary if we want to lead others.   In the end, Mr. Watson wrote an open letter to everyone, but it was a bit too late.   The next time PGA picks a captain, I hope they consider the person’s leadership capabilities.   There is a saying that not all smart people can teach; sometimes they cannot make the subject simple enough for a layman to understand.  The same is true in the workplace.  The best technician does not make a good manager.   Therefore, the best player who has won many tournaments is not necessarily the best choice.   They need to take a page from Mr. John Wooden’s book on leadership that says, “People want to believe you are sincerely interested in them as person. Not just for what they can do for you.

Writing is a labor of love; I’ve blog for 26 weeks in a row.  I’m aware that people who read my post need to learn something therefore I do my best at all time.  Feel free to share my post to your friends.

 

Seeking happiness

With the ever-changing financial landscape and advancement in technology, we have less time for ourselves because we are constantly connected.   Our employers are faced with the challenge of doing more with less and that translates to either longer work hours for their employees or finding more effective and efficient ways of getting things done.

One thing is certain: the days in which we have abundance of funding are gone.   Fiscal responsibility is front and center focus and the need to do more with less is being used as a competitive advantage.   Unfortunately, at times the laser-like focus on the bottom line shifts the need to think longer term to short term, thus missing some critical points. Hence the outcome is not always pleasant.

Amidst all the above challenges, is happiness attainable? Here are some of my suggestions:

  • Focus on your dream – Your dream serves as an inspiration to keep you going.   By keeping it front and center, you’ll be able to keep things in perspective. More importantly you’ll be able to prioritize things that come your way.   Remember thebig rocks (see my prior post on it) in your life. During challenging times, it helps to keep our dream in mind, because it will enable us to buckle down and dig deep.
  • Make other people happy – When we add value to other people, it also helps lighten our mood. It does not take much to do this.   Showing appreciation, gratitude, and being there for others are simple ways that have lasting impact.   For people who are managers, seek to understand your people.   Understand what they seek to achieve in their work.   Work with them to accomplish their personal goals. Remember that a happy employee will ultimately benefit your customers.
  • Always strive to do your best – This is very important.   It does not matter how smart you are; if you don’t apply yourself, you will not reach your full potential.   The key to doing your best is not perfection.   It is the effort, commitment and dedication. Sometimes your best does not yield great results, but as long as you strive to be your best you can live with the outcome. More importantly, the progress you’ve made will keep you focused on moving forward until you achieve your goal.
  • Take care of yourself – Your body is your temple. No matter how much money you acquire, if you don’t have your health, nothing else matter. Because all the money you earned will be used to pay for healthcare costs. So take the time to take care of your body.   This is my biggest challenge. As I want to achieve many things in life, I often sacrifice sleep.   I’m fortunate that I’m still healthy, but I know that I need to correct this pattern. .   Akin to people taking medicine but continuing to eat greasy foods—if they slow down the intake of greasy foods, perhaps they would not need the medication altogether.
  • Don’t do the same thing over and over – As it relates to progress, at times we do something the same way, but expect that the results will change. There is a saying that it is insanity to expect different results from doing the same thing.   When you’re stuck, step back and evaluate your situation.   Maybe you need to rethink your position.   Evaluate and assess the situation and apply corrective actions; this way you can see the progress you’re expecting.
  • Be yourself – I’d like to remind that you’re not obligated to live up to everyone‘s expectation.   Being yourself will definitely lead you to being happy.   Sometimes we live to meet other’s expectations. That makes us feel like we are being watched and not measuring up to their expectations.
  • Life is not perfect – At times we want to make it better to the point that we obsess about it. By obsessing on it, we becomes rigid and lose our ability to adapt to change.   More important, we lose the ability to have fun with what we are doing because we focus on the score and nothing else. Just like in basketball, sometimes your best players are the ones that do not score. Your best defender can shut down your opponent and give you the chance to score and win.   I suggest, aspire to improve you each year, but don’t obsess and keep score to maintain your awareness and focus.
  • Change is constant – Expect that change will happen all the time. The best way to succeed is to understand what’s in it for you. If you believe in the change, help facilitate the change.   If you don’t buy in to the change, leave and walk away. Don’t stay if you don’t agree, because change will be done on your behalf and it is never good or pretty.   Your ability to adapt to change is key to your success.
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Remember that happiness is a state of mind. When we focus on the positive aspect of the situation, we do see opportunities amidst chaos.   Negative emotion can consume and paralyze us to the point that we are oblivious to our surroundings.   To be happy, we must understand our priorities in life and act on the things that come our way based on our priorities.   There is no perfect situation and perfect time. What you have is the current situation to act and make decisions on based on what is important to you.

Everyone on this earth was given the same 24 hours.   What’s different between a happy and sad person is their awareness and the choices they make.   As Jim Rohn says, “The same wind blows on all of us. What matter is how we set our sail.”   The sail in our life is our attitude. To be happy, we need to understand our priorities and make decisions as it aligns to our dream.

Writing is a labor of love. If you like my post, share it with others. If you disagree, share your perspective as I look forward to learn and grow each day.

“For some people, they live through life seeking happiness.  Waiting for that day – the perfect moment.  What they don’t realize is that happiness comes from within, it is also a choice.  A choice to be happy with what you have and appreciate the things around you.    Don’t wait another day to be happy.  Count your blessing and be happy today.  For tomorrow is not guaranteed and you’ll miss the opportunity to share that beautiful SMILE :-)  that can brighten someone’s day and have a lasting effect in their life.”

-Will Lukang

Settling for something

In a recent call with my accountability partners from a training program, we were discussing the things that we needed to accomplish for the coming weeks.   I could sense that most of us were overwhelmed because we all have day jobs while trying to hone our skills to do what we love to do, which is coaching, training and developing leaders.

The program is very demanding in that we have homework, numerous calls and accountability partners that challenge and push us outside our comfort zones.   I myself felt that it is a bit too much, but I’m thinking to myself that if this were easy, everyone would be doing it already.   If this were just plain general knowledge when it would be worth nothing. The focus really is to acquire this specialized knowledge and make ourselves marketable in the area in which we are passionate.

As we discussed during the call, one participant suggested that we reduce the number of assignments. While I’m interested in the idea, I said to myself that, if we settle, we will not achieve our goal. Joining the program meant that we wanted to stretch and challenge ourselves.   Two weeks into the program we were compromising and settling. I explained to the team why it is not a good idea to settle; I also encouraged them to just give it their best shot, because I’ll do the same.

To achieve something in life, there will be sacrifices. It could be lack of sleep, time with love ones, relaxation time, etc. We need to weigh the value of achieving that goal. How important is that goal to us? Why does it matter that we achieve it?   It is then we decide the dedication and commitment we need to get it done. Once committed, we just need to follow through and be persistent.   Nothing can be accomplished when we quit too early.   As I explained to my daughter, we take a light bulb for granted because it is there every day. If Thomas Edison quit after failing over a thousand times, we would be sitting in the dark with a gas lamp today.   Is that prospect better? Think about it. If it is easy, everyone would be doing it and there will be no value in doing it. The key to a successful career is gaining that specialized knowledge that allows you to differentiate yourself from everyone else. Differentiation is the key and you can only achieve that by continuous learning and being focused on your goal.

As Jim Rohn says, “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” To be ordinary, you’ll be in the middle of the pack. Is that what you aim to achieve? If that’s what you want, that is perfectly fine, but progress and dreams cannot be achieved in such a manner.   As John F. Kennedy said, “Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life.”   Our mind is very powerful; when we settle, our opportunity also decreases significantly.

I see every day that people settle for less than they deserve.   They do this because they are comfortable and just want to go with the flow. The reality is that everything around us is changing and progressing. Staying in your place is not going to help you. In my opinion, they are partially living their dream, and partial can never equate to fulfillment.   I do believe that every person has potential for greatness; however, it is only possible if you push the envelope and make it happen.

Writing is a labor of love. If you like my blog, please share it with your friend. If you don’t agree, share your thoughts and comments.

Do Not Do List

When I was growing up, I suffered from an inferiority complex where I always felt like I wasn’t good at anything.   This stemmed from the fact that I grew up in an environment where academic results were a key indicator of your love and appreciation.   I was told day in and day out that I was not smart and would never amount to anything, that the family convenience store would be my future because I wasn’t capable of greater accomplishment.

When people tell you something so many times, at some point it will be like a fact or reality to you, because it was repeated so much and programmed in to your sub conscious mind.   You start to behave and act the way that reinforces what was expected of you.   During that time, everything seemed normal, but the daily struggle of coping and feeling worthless continued to dominate my daily life.   I often questioned why I bothered going to school when my outcome was already confirmed. Why suffer and take those exams to then yield the same result?

Looking back, I would say that I didn’t know better.   I was not equipped to discern that I could influence the outcome. In my junior year in high school I turned things around and started believing in myself.   My teacher encouraged me and gave me the nudged to prove that I could accomplish more.   It is by no means that I figured out that I was smart, because I’m still not to this date. However I realized that I can do more than what I was programmed to believe in.

Back then, I started a proving-myself list. It is similar to a do-not-do list in that I list the names of people who doubted me and aim to prove that I can get it done. Each time I prove to someone that I got the job done I will cross out that name.   It took a while to see results, but I was patient and focused.   It is my laser-sharp focus and consistent results that helped me get to where I am in my career.

Over the last twelve months, I’ve focused on my do-not-do list. You might ask: what is a do-not-do list? A do-not-do list is a list of things that you’re currently doing or behaviors that you’re currently exhibiting that are holding you back. It is causing you to get stuck, thus failing to reach your full potential.   By raising your awareness and proactively stopping those actions and behaviors, you’ll slowly move in the right direction and achieve your dream.

So, what’s on my list?   I’m sharing a piece of myself—this is tough one.   The top two items are self-limiting belief and procrastination.   What do I mean by self-limiting belief? My lack of confidence in myself often affects my ability to try new things and pursue new opportunities.   When a new opportunity arises, I often talk myself out of trying or putting my name in. Not sure why, but since I’m aware of this behavior, I in turn challenge myself as to why. It is a difficult challenge to build up one’s confidence, but through baby steps and continuous progress it can be achieved, but it’s difficult to make the behavior go away.   The second one is procrastination.   Many times I will say to myself that I will do it tomorrow, even when I planned to do the task today. There is always tomorrow, isn’t there?   Then tomorrow comes and I get really busy; I’ll do it again tomorrow.   I’ve committed to blogging once a week. Since April, I’ve completed 22 weeks to date, an amazing accomplishment in my mind, but along the way, I almost missed making the weekly post twice.

I’ve taught the do-not-do list to many people at work. To date, many of the folks who attended my class shared with me their perspective and progress.   They said that it made them realized that they have something to work on and understand why they were stuck to begin with.   Awareness it the gift of making this list; once you’re aware of it, you can decide to work on it. I’m proud to say that many of them are doing something about it.

As you read this post, what would be on your do-not-do list? How will that list shape your future? I’d like to hear your perspective.   Writing is a labor of love, if you like my post, share it with others. If you disagree, share me your perspective.

Play Your Cards Right

We all came into existence not because we chose to be, but we were brought into this world by our mother. Our circumstances vary and the upbringings were also very different.   As we grew up, we were exposed to the environment in which we were raised. The environment contributed to who we are and our values were inherited from the adults and other people who influenced us.

Must our upbringing define us?   I know I’m treading in a tricky topic, but I’m going out on a limb here. I’m of the opinion that our background and upbringing can help influence and shape us, but once we learn how to discern right from wrong, we are able to make decisions that help us achieve the dream.

Voltaire’s quote comes to mind, “Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her. But once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.”   I agree with Voltaire that you need to play with the cards that you are dealt with and make the most of it.   My father was born in a family of five children. He was the eldest. Growing up, my grandfather was never around for his family and my father had to work at an early age to help his mother.   My father became the sole provider of his family.   Imagine having to work when you’re eleven or twelve years old and being responsible for your family. When I asked my father why he did it, he said the need to help his family was a far greater cause that anything else.

When my father was 17 years old, he travelled to the Philippines to work in a hardware store and saved all his money to send to his family.   He spent the next 10 years doing the same thing day in and day out while also saving money to open his own convenience store.   As I reflect on what my father accomplished, I can’t help but remember Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” My father’s laser-sharp focus enabled him to achieve his goal and create a future for us.   He willed it and persevered each day.   He kept his focus no matter how long it took.

As Tony Robbins says, “The past does not equal the future.” That is truly possible if you want to change something in your life and proceed to make it happen. My father inspired me to push myself outside my comfort zone.   He encouraged me to strive to do my best regardless of my intellectual capabilities.   He insisted that I be diligent in everything I do.   It taught me hard work is the key to my success.   While I still have a long ways to go to achieve my dream, I know that we are all blessed with the same 24 hours each day.   What we do with our time will ultimately determine our outcome.   In essence we reap what we sow.

I’ll end this post by saying, we may be dealt a hand that we don’t like, but we can try to play those cards with diligence and dedication until we are done.   As long as we do our best, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Akin to basketball, you can’t worry about the previous missed shot; you need to focus on the next shot and do the best you can. Remember that our will and desire can help program our subconscious mind to pursue the things that are otherwise impossible.

Writing is a labor of love, if you like what you read, please share. If not, share me your thoughts. Thanks

You Reap What You Sow

The girls are back in school. The next few weeks will be a transition period and then things will be back to normal.

This is often the time of the year in which I focus on market trends and observe things that transpire as another year comes to a close. “What?” you ask.   I often take this time to seek to understand what I need to learn, engage in, or stop doing.

As I assess what I need to learn, it is a future focus exercise. I want to plan for the future and be ready for a situation that’s coming up. I always remember that my dad used to say that you’re doing this for your future. While you cannot see or picture what your future looks like, have faith that it will be what you’ve working hard for.   In essence, you can only reap what you sow.   In my mind, this is the most important exercise and I see to it that I spend adequate time on this exercise.

The second one is what am I not doing that I need to be engaged in. This is a bit interesting, because this is one of those: go out, participate, and network.   After a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is network and talk to other people.   But I force myself to participate. In fact, I have two events that I need to attend to in the coming weeks.   This goes back to the saying that you can only reap what you sow.   Networking is a process not an event. It is something you do throughout time and not a one-time thing. It often amazes me when I meet people at an event and they will only ping me sometime later to ask for a job.   But between the time I met the people until the time they ask me for a job, they never both to drop a note to say hi.

Finally, check my do not do list.   This is really important because what are on this list are things that I’m still doing that are preventing me from achieving my dream.   If I don’t stop doing these, I will be stuck forever.   By taking stock as to what these are, I am aware of what I need to work on and how to improve myself.

Remember that you can only reap what you sow. If you desire something to happen in your life, you need to do something today and continue to do something tomorrow and the day after in order to achieve that dream.

Writing is a labor of love, if you like what I wrote, please share it. If you don’t agree, share me your thought.

Unplug on vacation

For the first time in many years, we went on vacation and I unplugged myself from work. At first, I was not quite sure how I would cope with it, but then I took a leap of faith and went along.

The trip included 4 days of cruise time in which I went without the daily connection and interaction of LinkedIn, FB, Twitter and WordPress. In jeopardy was my blogging streak, because I did not have Internet connection, as I got preoccupied by all the activities on the cruise and before I knew it the day was over. The first five days of our vacation went by really fast.   When we left the boat, I was reminded that I went without all the great tools for 5 days. The interesting part is that I did not miss it at all.

Over the next few days, I stayed disconnected from work until someone reached out to me. I was engaged in work for 4 hours, but after that I was able to not look at my blackberry and did not login to work for the rest of the trip.   I found that at times it is best to be disconnected. It helps rest your mind and recharge your energy.

Regarding my blog, I was able to post my blog on Humility on Leadership on Sunday. I guess the streak continues. As I wait for my flight to return home, I decided to blog on this post. Unplugging is at times the best way to recharge. In these days of technology advancement, it is great to realize the blessing of being able to spend time with your family and not be bothered by the lack of connection to the outside world.

While I enjoyed being disconnected, I ran into a mother on the cruise that mentioned that her two teenage children were upset because there was no Facebook on the cruise. I felt bad for the children, however I think this is a perfect opportunity for them to learn the skill of socializing and exercise their verbal communication skills. Another mother gave in and paid for the wifi connection on the boat. We later ran into her and she was complaining that the children used up $89 of Internet in less than two days.

Overall I learned a valuable lesson of being disconnected. It gives me time to reflect and assess what’s going on with my life. It is bittersweet that I’m blogging in a waiting area at the Orlando International airport waiting for my flight. New experience always brings about new learning. I suggest you unplug on your next vacation.

Humility in Leadership

Humility is defined as the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people: the quality or state of being humble. I’d like to focus on the words quality and humble because those two words are the essence of what true leadership is all about.I’m amazed to read stories of how people who rose to a leadership position start behaving differently and end up mistreating their constituents. Here are some of the examples in recent times: 1) Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund and a leading French politician, was arraigned on charges of sexual assault. 2) Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd resigned for submitting false expense reports concerning his relationship with a contractor. 3) US Senator John Ensign resigned after covering up an extramarital affair with monetary payoffs. 4) Tiger Woods extra-marital affairs that caused his decline. 5) Just last week, Bubba Watson was in the news for his behavior on how he treated his caddy and his boorish attitude at the PGA. One can argue that the degree of severity is different, but the root cause of their behavior is the same. They all starting feeling they are entitled and are above everyone else. I understand that there are a lot of demands on a leader day in and day out, but it is not an excuse to lose their humility. Here are some methods I believe would help you stay grounded: 1) Practice self-reflection – this will enable you to step back and reflect on your activities for the week and see where you did not do well and identify room for improvement. 2) Ensure you have an inner circle – your inner circle will be your confidant. They will be the people that guide you through the process. 3) Prune your inner circle – make sure none of your inner circle are pushing you in the wrong direction and giving you the wrong information. If they do, let them go. Make sure you're surrounded by "yes man". 4) Make tough decisions – leaders always make tough decisions. Sometimes it means letting someone go because you don’t share the same vision.

As C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” It means focusing on others and practicing the servant leadership. True leaders always aim to serve rather than be served. Sometimes what causes us to stray from our path is our thinking that we need to act tough. As Simon Sinek said, “Great leaders don't need to act tough. Their confidence and humility serve to underscore their toughness.” It is important to be yourself and not lose yourself.

Writing is a labor of love. If you like my post, please share it with others. In addition, I also would like to hear your perspective.

Plan your career like planning your vacation

travel plansIn the recent class that I taught on 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I pointed out to the participants that while the 21 laws is a leadership program, the underpinning of the program is personal development. The class participants were a cross section of individual contributors to mid-level managers.   My objective was to let them know that even if you don’t manage anyone right now, you still need to learn what it takes to be a leader. More importantly, that self-improvement is crucial to their future success.   What they do now will greatly affect their future.

When I taught the third session, I asked the participants by show of hands, how many created their ‘DO NOT DO LIST’.   I was surprised that less than 1/3 created their DO NOT DO LIST and created a plan of action on how to improve themselves. I then followed up with a question: How many hours do they spend planning their vacation? Their eyes lit up and I could see the excitement and enthusiasm.     On average, they spent 20 hours preparing for their vacation; that’s almost three days spent to plan a vacation, but they could not be motivated to create a plan to help improve themselves.

Canadian personal development expert, author, and public speaker, Brian Tracy, once said, “If you wish to achieve worthwhile things in your personal and career life, you must become a worthwhile person in your own self-development.”     Remember that you can only harvest something if you plant the seeds.   Everything takes time to grow and develop; without proper planning you will always be at the wrong time even in the right place.   Imagine being in the right place, but at the wrong time; it means that you don’t have what it takes to get the job done.

career directions

As I look back to that moment, I decided to reiterate the value of planning. I stressed the importance of planning for your future.   I asked them the question: Would the fear of failing now be greater than the fear of failing to achieve your dream? It is a question only they can answer.   Remember that regret is always in the end.

Writing is a labor of love for me. If you like my blog, please share it to someone who need to read it.   It is through sharing that we can make this world a better place.   Also, feel free to share your thoughts and perspective.

Leader must give up

give upA leader is often the person that helps a team reach a goal that they otherwise thought they could not achieve.   They inspire everyone around them to act and persevere until the goal is achieved.   In many ways, their constituents look to the leader for encouragement and direction. Their guidance is what helps the team overcome adversity. At times, people think that the leader has all the answers and is knowledgeable or a subject matter expert. If a leader falls into the trap of being all for everyone, they will not be successful.   In order for a leader to be effective and efficient, they need to give up and let go certain things.

Here are some of the things a leader must give up:

  • Making all decisions – leaders must empower their people that are closest to the problem to come up with solutions or recommendations, because they are the domain experts.
  • Let go – at times we are tempted to do everything ourselves, because we can get it done faster.   Also we deemed that the times spent on teaching someone can best be served addressing the issue. But that is a false expectation. If we don’t teach everyone around us to fish, they will always expect us to give them the fish.   It is best to invest the time to teach someone; this way they can help in the future.
  • Talking at all times – it is important to communicate, but it is equally important to listen.   By listening to your constituents, you will learn more about your audience and understand their challenges and identify opportunities.
  • Control – extend the ropes for your people to prove to you that they can get it done. However, always be there to support and nurture them. Be there to catch them when they fall, but let them learn the lesson before they move on.
  • Assuming perfection – you can try to be on top of the situation at all times, but you don’t have to be. You need to surround yourself with the right people to get things done. Knowing who to seek help from or tap to get things done is more important than trying to be the expert.

 

At times it is okay to give up; a leader must give up for the right reason. Empowering their constituents and investing the time to develop them will be key to the overall success of the organization.

Writing is a labor of love. If you like my post shares it with your friends or share your perspective, because it will help me grow and develop.

When grades no longer apply

gradesGrowing up we spend many years in school. During those years, we have quizzes, group projects and final exams. Back then it was easy to know where we stood and how we were doing.   At the end of the school year, we got a Grade Point Average to depict our performance for that school year.

As parents, we help shape the future of our children by sharing our knowledge, perspective, and providing guidance.   We can also provide them the foundation of what is it that they need to focus on. Like doing the right thing, religious foundation, be cordial, be respectful or striving to get A’s as symbols of academic excellence.   By focusing on getting A’s, we might influence what they would believe is the goal.

Few months back, my eldest daughter asked me what I meant by doing your best. Does it mean getting A’s? I took that opportunity to impress upon her that what I meant by doing your best is really doing your best at all times.   That would mean that sometimes your best is not an A and that would be okay.   The grade point is a guide and I want them to aim to get better grades each time, but doing their best is what matters the most.

Once they finish college, they are off to the real world in which there are no quizzes and grades to guide them throughout the year. In my opinion, without a proper transition, they are ill prepared to face the challenge of real world.   In the same light that I believe college should provide a course in personal finance, I believe that they also need to provide a course in entering the workforce.   Understanding that they need to be accountable for their career and own it.   How to receive a performance review and ask and receive feedback. Managing expectations and creating a career plan are all essential to enable them to succeed.

Do we want to create a workforce that understands that patience is a virtue and that you own your career.   Without that foundation, they will fail to realize their potential because they will expect other people to take an interest in their growth and development.   These days, doing more with less is the norm that leaves managers less time to focus on growth.   If we leave it to others to map our career plan, chances are it will not get done and we’ll be disappointed.

 

Big Rocks!

free-bible-studies-online-the-big-rocksEach day we wake up in the morning to go about our life.   The decisions we make invariably will contribute to the outcome of the day.   We go through the day and do things we thought were important to get done for that day.   Hopefully as the day progresses, you’re making progress and able to check things off. The reality of life is that things are bound to change.   An urgent incoming call can alter your day—unexpected calls from school to name a few. Before you know it you’re doing things that were not on your list when you started your day.   A mad rush to get things done that are not on your list and lo and behold the day is over. The list that you started the day with is what you have at the end of the day. Does that sound familiar? Yes, I felt that way in the recent past.

Many people demand our time.   Unless we know our priorities, we can get sucked into other people’s demand of our time. The more we offer, the more people take more of our time. In this world, there are givers that give all the time and takers that do nothing but take from everyone around them.   I’ve fallen victim to people demanding my time and I end up working on things that do not add any value or help me achieve my goal.

Until one day, I decided enough is enough.   I need to do things that contribute to my big rocks. The big rocks are things that matter to me the most, like my family, my dream, my aspiration and passion.   The day I put my foot down is the day I felt I’ve made progress with my life. By no means have I turned the corner and become fully independent, but I do say “NO” when I have to.

So, how did I do it? I start my day by imagining my dream.   As my mentor Paul Martinelli says, “Hold your image.”  I hold the image of my dream and let that set for a moment. Let it inspire me to be more aware of what I do and the decisions I make. Understand that each decision made either brings me closer to my dream or pushes me back a step or two. Bring my big rocks front end center, this way I am conscious about it.   Believe me it did not happen overnight. It took days, weeks, and months, until I mustered the courage to say “NO” to people. At times, no is not the answer, but rather disrupting you now, when later can I do the work for others.

It took a lot of time to get to where I need to be, but I feel that the progress made has made me more conscious of the choices I made and how I can influence my progress to get to where I need to be.

Big rocks…remember your big rocks. Hold that image each day and make it stick.   Be conscious of your decisions and make sure that you are working toward achieving your dream.   If you are aware of your priorities, it makes making decision easier.

Are you ready to focus on your big rocks? What would you do differently tomorrow? How can I challenge you to take your first step?

AIM program – Step 3- Making It Happen

AIM

Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen others make it happen.” Michael Jordan

 

This is the final segment of my three part series of my AIM program.   Before you read this post, I recommend that you to read the following posts:

  1. Step One – Awareness
  2. Step Two - Intentionality

Just like a book series, it is more interesting to know what happened in the first two volumes to provide you with context of the development of the final volume.   The third segment focuses on making it happen, which is the execution of the plan. I call this the triple A’s, representing Act, Assess and Adjust.   By applying the triple A’s, we are able to adapt to changes and revise our plan. This will enable us to continue our journey and monitor our progress.

 

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

The key to this step is making the decision.   According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, the universe will conspires to make it happen once a decision is made.   The first step is always the hardest.  The challenge is: making the decision is only the initial step. What is really important is taking action. It is at that point that you are on your way to achieving your dream.

Once you’ve started your journey by taking the first step, it is important to be diligent and keep up with your progress. Celebrate good days in which you made progress and also acknowledge that there will be days that you’ll fall behind, but learn from your mistakes and get back in the saddle; move in the right direction.   As part of their program, the participants will receive 2 coaching sessions each month on a one-on-one basis.   The coaching session will allow me to help keep the participant on track and ask the tough questions.   In addition to that, peer circle call will be in place, whereby all participants of the training will jump in and call once a month to discuss their wins and challenges. The peer circle calls are crucial in establishing a sense of community.

According to Colin Powell, a dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.   You have to keep in mind that to succeed will require discipline and perseverance.     You need to be persistent, but as your coach, I will help you and guide you to achieve you dream. Remember that your success starts by you believing in yourself.   I believe in you. The question is, do you believe in yourself?   I certainly hope you value yourself to love yourself and want to succeed.

To close, I’m here for you.   I’ll use my knowledge and expertise to help you. However, you need to pull it together to make it happen.   Let me know what you think of my blog. If you like it, share it someone you know who will benefit from reading it.

Will’s AIM Program –Intentionality

I_Am_Intentional

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. Lao Tzu

Intentionality means doing things with purpose and passion.   Being aware and conscious about your current state and facing that hard reality that changes need to be undertaken in order for you to attain your dream.   According to Lao Tzu, resisting reality will create sorrow that can only hold you back. Why choose that path when you have the option of turning things around?   In my opinion, it is never too late—never unless you’re dead, that is only the time it is final. Till that happens, you have the opportunity to seek the changes you want to better yourself.

This step starts with a personal assessment which focuses on identifying your strengths and weaknesses. The purpose of identifying your strengths is to come up with plans to continue to find ways to highlights your strengths.   The weaknesses identification is critical to your growth and development, because more often than not, some of your weaknesses are single handedly holding you back or pulling you down.

A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Colin Powell

Facing the hard reality is not easy. Who wants to sit there to pinpoint what is holding them back? However, it is a crucial step in your growth and development to face the hard reality head on.   As Colin Powell says, a dream doesn’t become reality without hard work. The hard work here is to painstakingly list every weakness and be intentional about how it is holding you back. Without fully disclosing and articulating these, it is hard to find the way forward.

Once you’ve listed each of the weakness, prepare a plan on how to address that challenge. What can you do to address it? Do you need training? Do you need a mentor? Do you need a coach? What is that one thing that can help you turn the corner?   During this step be intentional and spend the right amount of time and create a plan. Do the same for your strengths and determine how you can continue to highlight it. What are the opportunities to showcase your strengths?

I often ask people this question, “Would you ever consider driving without a direction? How would you know if you arrive?”   If you won’t drive without a direction, why are you willing to drive your life without direction?   Don’t take chances with your career, plan, act, do, reassess and continue that cycle.

To close, on my next blog I’ll focus on making it happen.   Let me know what you think of my blog. If you like it, share it someone you know who will benefit from reading it.

 

Will's AIM Program –Self Reflection

self-reflection Photo courtesy of salesprogress.com

I’ve been working on a program called AIM. It has been six months in the making. Over the next three blogs, I will be sharing a high-level overview of my program.

A – Stands for Aspire. Aspiration is the starting point of taking your dream and conceptualizing it.   By doing so, you’ll articulate and describe it like it is right in front of you.   You should paint the picture and vividly describe what it looks and feels like.

I – stands for intentionality.   Being intentional is key to your ability to achieve your goal.   Intentionality helps raise awareness and pushes you to do something about it.

M – Stands for making it happen.   It means creating the plan to detail how you will go about achieving your dream. It is the step to create the plan.   A plan that will guide you through the process, you’ll use it to track progress and adjust accordingly.

To aspire, you need to be able to describe your dream. There must this burning desire to want to make it happen. This must be something that motivates you to get up in the morning and get started with your day.

Once you define your dream, your next step is to practice self-reflection.     Here are the steps in self-reflection:

  • Step one is reflecting on all the things that transpired during the week.   During this step, take account of everything that happened during the week, both good and situations that did not go well.
  • Step two is to write down each of one the situations. Try to describe and elaborate the situation, including the wins and room for improvements.   This step forces you to commit all the things that happened to you to their physical state.
  • Step three is categorize and group them. This is relevant because it enables you to come up with solution or action items and address all possible issues.
  • Step four defines a way forward for each of the situations in which it did not go well. Highlight how you can improve upon the situation. What could you have done differently?
  • Step five is step back and try to see the situation in a third-party perspective.   By doing so, you’ll be forced to grow and develop, to be objective in evaluating your situation.

Practicing self-reflection is key to your ability to assess your situation.   This practice is key to your growth and development.   Without operating outside of our comfort zone, we will not be challenged to step up and address the things that are preventing us from achieving our dream.

To close, on my next blog, I’ll focus on intentionality.   Let me know what you think of my blog. If you like it, share it to someone you know who will benefit from reading it.

Failure is good for you

failure-when-your-best-isn-t-good-enoughAs we go through life, we often strive to achieve the next goal. This discipline started in pre-K.   We work our way to Kindergarten then grammar school onto high school.   That journey continues to college for some while others take a detour and enter the real world.   Many move on to college to pursue what they are passionate about. All through this journey, success is within reach. There were some setbacks, mistakes, but for the most part we managed to move to the next stop then the next one after that. From a certain vantage point it looks like it was smooth sailing.

As we enter the real world, we no longer take any tests or quizzes.   We no longer pull an all-nighter to take a test. We work on projects and focus on delivering results or contributing to the bottom line of the company that we work for.   Measurement is very different at times, varies with the manager you report to.   It is not the number of hours that you work that matter; it is the results that you produce that count.

While in school we succeeded each year and moved on to the next level. Success comes easy in my opinion. Most students make it to the next level.   At some point we expect to move to the next level. Of course we need to work to make it, but for the most part most students make it to the next level. Success comes naturally but in the real world that is not the case.

The first time you faced failure was the hardest.   Why? Because it was out of the norm. You were so used to succeeding, but now either you failed to deliver or got a poor rating for the first time in your life.   Don’t be in despair.   Failure is good for you. What? What do you mean? How can failure be good for me? Yes, it is. With failure, you have the opportunity to assess what went wrong and what you can do to improve your situation.   Each failure is an opportunity to learn the lesson and improve upon yourself.

In my opinion, it is best to fail early and often early in your career. This way you learn the lessons and improve yourself.   After each failure, make sure to spend the time learning the lesson before you move on.   There is a tendency to rush because you want to leave the bad memory, but if you don’t learn your lesson, you’re bound to make the same mistake.   As Bill Gates says, “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”   By heeding the lessons of failure, you’ll be aware and avoid making the same mistakes.

To end this post, I’ll close it with a quote from Tony Robbins, “I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration was actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.”     With failure comes learning; if you embrace the opportunity to learn, you will avoid the same mistake and achieve the growth that will enable you to be prepared for the next challenge ahead.

As Michael Jordan’s puts it, “I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” This quote reminds us that through adversity success is within reach. Let me know what you think.

Who is your client?

client-relationshipsIn Mirriam-Webster’s a client is defined as a person who engages the professional advice or services of another. Another definition of client is customer.   In my early twenties I often thought of the client as the end client. By that I mean, if a company is a bank, the clients are the people who do business with the bank. In my thirties, as I spent more time in the workforce, I started to shift the concept of client to people I interacted with or served on a daily basis. What this meant was that in the various departments that I interacted with my business partners, operations partners, are my clients.

In my mid to late thirties as I embarked on my leadership journey, my concept of client was everyone that I interacted with, including those people who worked in my organization.   As a servant leader, you aim to add value to others. In order to achieve that you need to shift your focus from self to others.   It is a difficult process, because in the age of instant gratification, the focus is often on self.   However, in order to achieve the shift, you need to slowly transform yourself by improving your awareness.   This process is difficult, but the reward is great.

Each year after that, I made progress in shifting my focus.   I start my day by thinking how I can add value to people around me.  Realizing that everyone is my client, I need to ensure that I do my best in servicing them. However, does that mean that I will be stretched in 10 different directions? Of course the answer is “NO”.

Here are some of my suggestions on how to ensure you’re providing a good service:

Be accountable – be accountable for your actions. Make sure to take ownership of your process and ensure that you see things through, that it gets done.

Focus on relationship – be aware of people’s needs and how you can help them.   Be a partner and don’t push people around.   If you have the bandwidth to help, help one or offer to help.

Priorities is key – while the need to serve everyone is crucial, you need to understand the priorities. Not all requests are alike; some are more important than others.

Focus on the end result – putting a smile on people’s faces is ultimately what we want to achieve. Focus on doing your best to delight your customer. When we enable our immediate customers, they can in turn help their customers.

Differentiation is the key – the key to market movement is differentiation. How can you differentiate yourself from everyone else? Do you want to be known for better service, best price, etc.?

If you keep in mind that the people you interact with are your customers, chances are you’ll do your best to delight them.   Remember that if you help them, they in turn can help someone else.   Go ahead and delight your customer. Put a smile on their face.

Entitlement

entitlement-cartoonpicture courtesy of garyvarvel.com In Merriam-Webster, entitlement is defined as the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something. Or, belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges.   When I was growing up, my father told me that there is no work that is beneath me, that I should always be eager to take on any work and put in my best effort to get it done.

Over the last 24 years, I took on work that I didn’t like, but did the work with a smile and got it done.   I always put the team/firm’s best interest first and understood that sometimes someone needs to do the work that no one likes but gets the work done.   I look at it as taking one for the team.   I’m willing to wait my turn and let others take better assignments.   I took my father’s advice to heart and waited to earn my keep.

As I moved up the management ranks and the Gen Y entered the workforce, I observed that they have a sense of entitlement. They know what they want and aren’t shy in letting people know what they don’t want.   It creates a dilemma for people managing them because work that otherwise would be done will be left to more experienced folks to do because new employees have no interest of working their way up.   Is this the sign of the times? They grow up taking and when they enter the workforce, it is time to give. However, they are accustomed to taking and think that they should continue that behavior.   While some are still eager to work their way up, a good number of them just want to do things that they want.

Dr. Jean Twenge is the author of Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled and More Miserable Than Ever. Dr. Twenge of San Diego State University studied more than 16,400 students who took the Narcissistic Personality Inventory between 1982 and 2006. In 1982, only a third of the students scored above average on the test. Today that number is over 65%.     This trend is alarming because self-centeredness will affect our ability to keep a competitive advantage, because folks halfway around the world are willing to do the same work to earn their stripes and get paid much less to do it.   As a result, they gained the skills that could enable them to be more successful in the long run.

entitlement-problem

The age of technology advancement and the need to for instant gratification or what I call the “I want it NOW” mentality will prevent them from developing the skills they need to be well-rounded and better prepared for future opportunities.   In the past, everyone worked their way up.   With the new generation, where they want to pick and choose, it is becoming increasingly difficult to gain the foundational skills that are needed to enable them in the future.

When my daughter joined recreational sports a few years ago, I was surprised to see that everyone received a trophy at the end of the season.   If I remember correctly, they only won one game and lost eight.   In fact, my daughter was so upset each week as their opponent scored against them at will. 8-6, 4-2, etc. was the score of their opponents.   I told my daughter that what was important was the they were trying their best. However, receiving that trophy was not right as they really did not achieve anything.   It was hard for me to explain to my daughter; however, in the coming years she understood my point of view—akin to inflated grades to make children feel better, similar to mass promotion.

Gen Y’s need for affirmation and entitlement is spilling over to the work environment.   If this pattern continues, we will fall behind and other countries will take the lead in the marketplace.   We need to put entitlement into context and make sure they learn that they can be entitled to something only if they earn the credit by doing the work.   It is a stark reminder that they need to work their way up.     It’s leaders’ jobs to make sure that we educate the future leaders.   If we want to succeed, rebaselining of their understanding is an important step in heading the right direction.

I do understand that this topic is a bit controversial, but if I don’t talk about it and raise awareness, I’m not doing the right thing. The question to ask is: Do I want to face the alternative that we will lose our competitive advantage? My answer is an emphatic “NO”.   Let me know what you think.   I’ll end my post with this quote by Earl Nightingale, “We will receive not what we idly wish for but what we justly earn. Our rewards will always be in exact proportion to our service.

 

The Joy of Coaching

CoachingI had the privilege of coaching people to advance their career and attain certain fulfillment and the satisfaction, as well, of coaching my daughter’s 3rd and 4th and later 5th and 6th grades basketball team.   On both fronts, the satisfaction is in seeing people grow and develop while keeping their joy of learning. The greatest reward as a coach is to be able to motivate your team to achieve goals they otherwise think they cannot achieve.   To give them the extra push in challenging times that enables them to overcome the obstacle.   Ultimately as a coach I learned something new throughout the journey about my players. That same is true for my executive coaching.   When your client overcomes an obstacle or becomes unstuck, that’s a win for you as well.

While anyone can say that they’re coaching, saying you’re a coach is not same as acting and conducting yourself like one.   Based on my experience, a great coach has the following characteristics:

They focus on YOU – the focus of the coach is you and your development.

“Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.” - John Wooden

Challenge you – they challenge you to overcome things you otherwise thought you couldn’t achieve.   In challenging times, they help you transition from having distractive thoughts to creating constructive thoughts that enable you to move forward.

Good communicator – communication is the key to a successful coach. They’re able to communicate in good times and challenging times as well. They always find ways to come up with the right choice of words to encourage their people.

Has a philosophy – They have a belief and principles.   In my case, I always emphasize learning fundamentals and the value of sportsmanship, team work and hard work.

Discipline – Discipline is the foundation of any successful undertaking. Without discipline you cannot be successful.   You need discipline to help you focus on the overall goal.

Understand their people – It is easy to push your team, but failure to understand your team will lead to frustration and result in eventual failure. A good coach takes the time to learn and understand their people.   They know when to push and hold back and nurture their team.

Aim to serve – Coaching is a service. To succeed, a coach must aim to serve their constituents and be there for them.   Their unselfish attitude will ensure that their constituents’ best interest is always front and center.

analazing market situationIn my experience, the biggest difference between sport coaching and executive coaching is in client confidentiality.     In executive coaching, you need to uphold client confidentiality. It is job one.   Both bring joy to the practitioner and often provide lifelong learning as their relationship progresses over time.

Coaching is a blessing – a blessing to touch people’s hearts and develop them and see them grow.   I’m thankful for the opportunity to make a difference.

 

"The test of a good coach is that when they leave, others will carry on successfully."   Author Unknown

Live in the moment

cookie-monster-wisdom I’ll start my blog with my quote, “Live in the moment. What's here today is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow. Make the most of your opportunity and try to see the positive side of every situation.”

All my life, I have constantly worried about tomorrow. With the life challenges that I went through, I couldn’t see past today. Therefore I spent time worrying about what would I be doing tomorrow.   Deep inside I was embarrassed that my classmates would all be successful and I would be working in my family’s convenience store for the rest of my life.   Perhaps it was not that bad because that’s what I was told I was capable of.   But never a day went by that I didn’t hear people say that I wasn’t like my siblings.   Even my teachers wondered how I was related to my brother and sister, because they were really doing well academically and I was just average.

Back then I was eager to finish grade school so I could be in high school. Once I was in high school, I couldn’t wait to go to college. In my senior year in high school, I qualified for a scholarship for a computer programming class. The trend continued and I was in a rush to go to college. During my junior year in college, I realized that all I did was rush from one stage to another because I was trying to escape my present situation. As a result, I failed to enjoy my journey. I learned to slow down, but made little effort to enjoy the moment.   Before you know it, I was done. I took the board exam and then reality set in.

The day after I sat for the board exam marked the rest of my life working in our convenience store. It hit me like a brick wall: wow I rushed all for this moment.   Each day that went by I realized that it was not for me. I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t passionate about it. My love for computer programming was still there.   I fought the fear to talk to my mother about my desire to seek opportunity elsewhere.   It was not easy, but eventually I mustered the courage and talked to my mother.   In the end, I was allowed to seek employment elsewhere and I promised that I would work on weekends and holidays at our convenience store.

It took me a couple of months to find a job due to the competitive marketplace. The day I started my job, I vowed to take each moment and make the most of it.   By staying in the moment, I saw opportunities and made sure I worked hard to qualify for the opportunities.

My journey was meaningful because of the way I approached it. I also emphasized working hard while making sure when I made mistakes that I took the time to learn the lessons and avoid repeating the same mistake.

Living in the moment means…

Don’t worry about things you can’t change – there is really no point in worrying about things you can’t change, because you’re wasting your energy and stressing yourself out for no reason.

Don’t let the pain of the past rule your present – while you might experience a tough or challenging childhood, it does not mean that your future has to be the same.   Just like me, I take those experiences and try to provide a better experience for my children.   I stopped letting the past rule my future.

Learn to slowdown and enjoy the moment – Slow down and enjoy the moment. Make the most of your opportunities. Don’t rush. Let the lessons of today come to you.

Eliminate the filter that prevents your seeing the good in others – sometimes our bias prevents us from seeing the good in others. These filters are byproducts of our experience. Our awareness is the one that will set us free.   Step back and reassess the situation and make sure that you’re considering all other things before coming up with a conclusion.

Live-in-the-moment-funny-messagesI’ll close this post with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”   To make each day the best day in the year, we must be aware and conscious about it.   I hope reading this post helps you reflect on enjoying the present. May today be your best day ever.