Understanding How to View Success

Understanding How to View Success

When we work on setting goals, understanding how to view success is a key component in the process. Please read tonight’s blog from Ron to learn more about this critical process, and all of the viewpoints that go into it.

Most of you are by now aware of our goal of helping each employee identify their potential and then put them on a path to achieving it. The keyword there is “goal.” Each person needs to establish goals in their lives. It starts from a young age in how we are treated by our parents and grandparents. They teach us right from wrong and good from bad. In this manner, we start on a developmental path of understanding what we should do. It is our first experience with goals. Be a good person. As Colin Powell is known to say “don’t do anything that will embarrass your parents.” Then we have a transition from family life as a very young person to our school phase.

We go to school and we are taught to read and write and perform arithmetic calculations. That puts us on a path of learning that is aiming at helping us develop our intellect. That is the goal. We also start to experience socialization with a peer group, first our classmates and then our friends, another series of goals in getting along with others. In some cases, we get involved in music or sports and then learn how to get along with others in different backgrounds, again more goals. We have the family, the school, the peer groups, the sports teams and clubs, music and other groups all helping us grow into a complete person. All goals.

And then we have to make a choice at the end of High School or in some cases before, about what we are going to do next. This is, for many, the beginning of making our own decisions and establishing our own goals. This is the next transition from basic learning to specialized learning. To become able to provide ourselves with sufficient knowledge or expertise to be able to look after our own needs. Another transition. A more serious one.

We then go on to Junior College, or a Trade or Vocational School, or a University. We choose the classes we are going to take with a goal in mind. Sometimes that goal is a particular job. Sometimes it is simply getting more knowledge and then deciding what to do with that knowledge. But we are establishing our own goals.

Then comes the next step, another major transition. Getting a job. Finding a career. Becoming independent financially. This is a more difficult transition. Most people do not know what they want to do for a living. Some are very fortunate. They know they want to be a doctor or a teacher or a mechanic. But most people don’t have a clue.

How are we supposed to get the right answers if we don’t know what we are trying to do? We need to establish goals. We need to do a sort of audit on what we like and what we don’t like. What we are good at and what we struggle with. What kind of people we like to be around and which people cause us to want to be somewhere else?

I didn’t have a clue of what I wanted to do. Like most of us, I had been working in part-time jobs. I taught swimming and tennis at a country club. I sold things, encyclopedias. I did telemarketing, selling newspaper subscriptions. I played piano in a bar and organ in churches. I taught education at a University. I wanted to work in data processing but in those years, it was nearly impossible to find work in that field. So, I struggled. I am sure that I was not and am not alone in that fact. I think that most of us struggle to try to find our place in the world, in society.

Let me start by saying that I believe that we all want to be a success. But that is the challenge. What does that mean? Who teaches us or guides us on that path? Is success wealth? Or Status? Or Fame? I submit to you it is none of those things. I would like to say that it is simply being able to lead a healthy and productive and happy life. But what is that and who helps us to understand how to obtain it?

Education has changed today. The choices that a person has in classes are mind-boggling. Ed Gordon, a respected voice in education in America, in a recent newsletter stated “Many parents also believe that their local school is providing a good education to their children. Regretfully this is often not the case. Education levels have not kept pace with skill demands in workplaces.”

We, at Learning Without Scars, are strong advocates of the use of an annual performance review with each employee. This is an opportunity for each team leader to have a productive discussion with each employee and help them understand what they can do to become better as an employee. What they can focus on to be capable of another opportunity in the Company. How the team leader is there to help them. Goals can be established and then the path to success becomes clearer. Wouldn’t we all want that, for ourselves? Someone to help us establish the goals that would help us have a successful life. Don’t you think that would be helpful?

The Time is Now.

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The Power of Identifying Your Potential

The Power of Your Potential

I like to tell the story of a young person, at the age of sixteen, being told that they have a lot of potential. That person feels proud and is happy with themselves. Then talking to the same person when they are at the age of sixty-six and saying the same thing. What would be the reaction then? Perhaps it would be what have you done for the past fifty years.

Potential is an interesting element, isn’t it? We have used and heard about many tools used to measure or determine someone’s potential. SAT tests to qualify for University, ACT used for the same purpose. Briggs-Myers, and Caliper to name a few. In sports you have seen qualification events, you have seen auditions for the arts. All of these things leave out something I think which is very significant. The individual freedom to choose their own path.

Let’s start with a definition of potential that we can use as a foundation to this discussion. Potential is “the skill and the will to develop and perform at a higher level or better level in the future. Potential then sets some kind of benchmark against which the individual can measure progress toward their goal potential. Many of you know that I swam competitively when I was a teenager. I have often said it was through swimming that I became aware of potential. I was always chasing a clock, not another swimmer. I was constantly pushed to beat my best time. To stretch toward a higher level of performance. I have translated that thinking into my views on potential.

Today we have Intelligence tests (IQ) and Emotional tests (EQ) to determine cognitive skills. We have personality tests to determine behavioral attributes. Then we try to determine the principles and values of an individual. Then we pay attention to the motivation of the individual. We try and determine the decision-making skills of an individual. Then we apply situational case studies or put people into a mockup example. We test the heck out of people. Then we interview them for a particular job. Then we make a hire-no hire decision.

Flash forward with me now and we have hired an individual who passed through all of these tests and you want them to work with you on your team. They are hired. Can you imagine their excitement? They got a job. They got a job that they were looking to get. They wanted to work with you. They wanted to do that particular kind of work. I call that person “An Enthusiastic Beginner.” They are all pumped up.

What happens from that point forward is dependent on the leader. How do you handle onboarding a new employee? Once the onboarding is done how is the employee introduced to their work? How are they trained? How often does the leader communicate with the new employee? I often see examples where the leader has seriously impacted the employee. The employee can become disillusioned with the Company and their job. This can be caused by the leader not being attentive enough to the needs and goals of the new employee. Or the employee can become very cautious about how they do the job. The leader can use bullying tactics. All that the company wants is a self- reliant employee. All the employee wants is an opportunity to make a difference.

As people move from being at home as a youngster and transitioning to school, or from school to the workforce they are presented with obstacles. At some point we are told that everything is possible and you will do great things only to find out that it is not true. Not everything is possible and it is hard to see how you can do great things. At other times we become sensitive to other peoples’ needs and wants for us. We are afraid of hurting their feelings if we decide that this job is not what you want and you choose to leave. Or there is the BIG dog in the room, we are afraid that we will fail in the pursuit of our dreams. Some people are even afraid to succeed. This is tough duty. Finding your place in the world, finding your passion is tough enough. Finding your potential is even more difficult.

In our Learning Without Scars business, we want to help in this process. We have created job function skills assessments, with the sole purpose of providing an object measure of an individuals’ skills and competence in the job. This is not opinions anymore. It is not subjective. We suggest to our clients that they use these assessments in many ways:

 

  • The hiring processes
  • The performance reviews
  • The salary and wage administration
  • The development of career paths

In the education world the students are classified as developing, beginning, intermediate and advanced. We use the same structure and the score obtained in the assessments to allow the employee and the company to design an individualized learning program for each individual. This is the product of the thousands of students we have had in classes and webinars first with Quest, Learning Centers and now with Learning Without Scars. We know which subject specific classes apply to each level of skills for each job function. We provide guidance with eight classes being available to fill in the gaps of skills and knowledge. The employee chooses. They know better than anyone where they need the additional knowledge. This approach allows us to be engaged in the process with our clients of helping each individual identify and strive to achieve their potential.

The time is now.

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A Pathway to Purpose Through Learning

A Pathway to Purpose Through Learning

We are all consumed with plans and budgets and objectives. We do them predictably and rigorously at least once a year. Most of us have mission statements and vision statements posted on boards throughout the company. Yet I wonder how many of us have a purpose. Not only that, how many of us know how to find our purpose? I submit that you can find a pathway to your purpose through learning.

Let me start by explaining what I mean by a “sense of purpose.” A sense of purpose is the motivation that drives you toward a satisfying future. It also helps you get the most from the things that you do and achieve in the here and now. Alright that is reasonably clear but how to I get a sense of purpose? That is a problem. Only around 25% of American adults cite having a clear sense of purpose about what makes their lives meaningful, according to one analysis of the subject in the New York Times while 40% claim neutrality on the subject or say they don’t. A study in 2010 by Applied Psychology found that individuals with high levels of eudemonic well-being – which involves having a sense of purpose along with a sense of control and feeling like what you do is worthwhile – tend to live longer. A 2016 study in the Journal of Research and Personality found that individuals who feel a sense of purpose make more money than individuals who feel that their work lacks meaning. These studies and findings tell us you don’t have to worry about making money or being happy, just find your own sense of purpose and pursue it.

What is your purpose in life is a different kind of question isn’t it? It isn’t what do you do or how do you do it or even why you do it. It is what is your purpose. Now that is a real poser. How many of you ask your team members what they believe their purpose is in life? I don’t imagine any of you do. That is much too much of an invasion of what we determine is our “private” space. How are we supposed to know if any of our team are fulfilled in their job or is it “just” a job?

That has been on my mind recently as we slowly come out of the funk that this pandemic has put us in. I have written in the past that we need to push forward. We need to show resilience and strength and continue to serve our customer needs. After all they all struggled to make a living and make ends meet themselves. We need to be strong and present for them.

Recently I read a document about learning from Kinsey Consulting that got my attention. Unilever was the subject of the article and it dealt with creating “an engine of success which is fueled by continual learning.” They are trying to create an atmosphere “where purpose and skill travel the same path.” The consumer goods giant believes that the engine of success is fueled by continual learning. Part of reimagining organizations is the ability to create an atmosphere where purpose and skill travel on the same path.

At Unilever, that’s being accomplished through the company’s Future Fit initiative launched earlier this year, says Leena Nair, Unilever CHRO (Chief Human Resources Officer). Every person in the company has this plan, which contains four elements, she says. Employees start by identifying their purpose. “We feel that people learn best in areas that they feel purposeful about,” Nair says.

From there, the plan addresses employees’ energy level and overall well-being, and how they can improve both; leadership training and areas of development; and, lastly, actual skills. Nair says Unilever has created a learning pathway for all positions within the company. “We think our approach is unique and well suited for the environment we’re in,” she says. “There’s too much noise right now about what to learn; there’s too much coming at employees.” Being actively involved in the process allows employees to take ownership of their career. “It’s not something being done to them,” she adds. “It’s them embracing the change they need, and the company needs, to move through and past this pandemic.”

This is the direct purpose of our job function skills assessments. Although there are many paths for business to follow there is no one path that is perfect for everyone. It seems to be quite clear, however, that there is a need for a clear purpose, a strategy that everyone is aware of and a strong emphasis on learning. That is what we are aiming to do at Learning Without Scars. Our purpose is to help employees think about and understand their individual potential. Then to provide each employee the learning tools, the assessments and classes, that will help them work towards achieving that potential. It is not an easy road to pursue. It is a path that requires a lot of self-discipline and hard work. It is a path that we are on with each and every one of our employee and business clients. Our purpose is clear. Who wants to join with us on this journey?

 

The time is now.

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Using Time Purposefully

Using Time Purposefully

Using Time Purposefully

In “Using Time Purposefully,” guest blogger Ed Wallace continues his relationship with Max, in talking on the rides to and from the airport, about how his time gets taken up very quickly if he doesn’t take great care. Max asks him to think about the number 168. Ed then takes us on a journey of sorts.

We all have the same amount of time. We also have a great amount of freedom in how we use that time. And the trouble is we rarely review how valuable the use of that time was for us, personally or professionally. In our relationship ladder we started with “establishing common ground with our clients, employees, friends and families. That took us to the next level in displaying integrity and trust with those people with whom we have relationships. Now comes the critical element of time. Time is one of the few things in life over which we have no control. I don’t mean how we control it; I mean what is available to us. In his book, Ed gives us many examples to consider. They are all worth the time to think about and act on. He also continues in his use of acronyms. Remember G(goals) – P(passions) – S(struggles)? This time it is POP.

POP is the acronym he uses for Purpose – Outcomes – Process. It is wonderful to have these acronyms to remind us of what needs to be done or happen. Everything starts with a PURPOSE, doesn’t it? A goal, an objective, a destination, a deal, a date, whatever. Without a purpose it would not be very interesting. Think about going to a grocery store without any idea of what you were going to buy. Can you picture yourself wandering about aimlessly? Not going to happen is it? So, we start with a PURPOSE. That is good, I am going to try and do something which makes sense, but what is it I’m going to try and accomplish. Of course, you are aiming at an OUTCOME. A result. Alright then the next question is how are you going to do that? What is the PROCESS?

Nice and simple isn’t it? A Purpose leading to an Outcome following a Process.

Relationships are critical in our lives. We are social animals we need each other. In our family lives and our work lives we need people to become successful. More importantly we need people in our lives to make us happy. Imagine if you will if our lives were to continue to be in the state of the past fourteen months with the Pandemic. Compare that to your lives prior to the Pandemic. Society as a whole, is in a lot of stress for whatever reason, financial, schooling, mortgages or rents, loss of jobs, unable to get proper healthcare and all the rest. No one knows the answers or the solutions. Depression has never been at a higher level on the country. It is very significant that at times like these we become more focused on the use of our time. The professor from San Diego State University, James A. Belasco, the coauthor of the important book Flight of the Buffalo, says “people don’t lack motivation – they lack focus.” Ed brings us this smart yet simple approach – POP. Purpose – Outcome – Process.

As with any interaction with people; a phone call, a meeting, a sales call or a talk with your children there are some simple questions to ask yourself:

  • What am I trying to accomplish?
  • How will the other person benefit from it?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Do we have enough time to do this properly?
  • Is it meaningful and appropriate?

Peter Drucker, a famous business teacher and author says – “The clearer the idea you have of what it is you are trying to accomplish, the greater the chance of accomplishing it.” CLARITY is critical and Ed is giving us a very real and clear plan to better succeed at accomplishing our goal of the “purposeful use of our time.”

If managing time is something that you would like to pursue further our Learning On Demand Class on Time Management would be a “purposeful use of your time.”

For more information and thoughts on pursuing your individual potential, please visit our blog for further posts.

You can purchase Ed’s book “Business Relationships That Last” at Amazon and other prominent book stores.

 

Challenges to Leaders Are All Around Us

Challenges to Leaders are all around us.

We are living in an era of great change: socially, politically, environmentally, technologically and in nearly every aspect of our lives. This presents wonderful opportunities for us while at the same time it represents threats. As a nation while we are excitedly and anxiously awaiting events and advancements we have had to deal with the pandemic. This has given us time to reflect on how we live our lives, how we do things and what is important. Most of us are not creating these events or advancements – there are other people and businesses doing that for all of us.

But we have to navigate our way through these changes. Change is not something that mankind has embraced easily over time. Change, although positive in the long run, can be daunting for most of us in the short term. When we put into perspective the world in which we live and compare the changes we are experiencing to previous generations we sometimes think we are moving ever faster in the pace of change.

However, the rate of change that we are experiencing is an exponential curve that really started to have an impact in the mid 1800’s. Let me share a short story here. The electric engine arrived in the mid-1800s and industry immediately starting replacing steam engines with the new electric engines. This was a very dramatic change.

Yet most Industries did the same thing. All that we did was change the engine from steam power to electrical power. We didn’t change much in the way of the methods or procedures at all, that was left for another generation. You see, these two events, changing the power source AND changing processes and methods would have been too much to absorb in society at one time. It took a new generation before new processes and methods were changed and then productivity change accelerated.

It seems like resistance to change can be so powerful, that it can hold back productivity gains. This begins to make sense when we realize that the changes that are made that increase productivity, to some degree increase risk for the work force. So, leadership becomes even more critical when we are faced with times of great change.

The time is now.

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The Overlooked Telephone Salesperson

The Overlooked Telephone Salesperson

Please enjoy our second vlog of the year.

Motivation

Motivation

Motivation

I grew up in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and during that time Montreal got a baseball franchise called the Montreal Expos. The Manager of the team was a man named Gene Mauch. He had a storied career and was instrumental in selling baseball to the Montreal community. Montreal has a bit of baseball history as Jackie Robinson started his professional baseball career playing for the Montreal Royals. In the early years the Expo’s made a trade with the New York Mets and obtained a shortstop named Tim Foley. He was a real talent but he was also very aggressive. He fought with his teammates at practice. A reporter asked Mauch about this “why do you keep him; he is such a disruptive force?” In his response he said “I would rather tone down his attitude than try to create the right attitude in someone who doesn’t have it.”

I couldn’t agree with that comment more. I have always said “I can’t motivate anyone. If you don’t come to the job self-motivated, I can’t give it to you. But…I can easily demotivate everyone.” So, my approach to most everything is to ask, “what stands in the way from you being able to do a better job?” or, “what is the part of the job you like the least?” And then we get to work to get rid of the obstacles.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams.

So how do we get every employee driven to dream more, learn more, do more and become more? I believe it is helping each individual person to become more than they thought they could be. Creating expectations. I have been involved in this aspect of life since I was a teenager. My sport was swimming growing up. I swam a lot, some five hours a day for many years. But swimming is an interesting athletic pursuit. You are not competing with the other swimmers in the race with you. You are competing against yourself. The clock is your competitor. The only way you win that race, against the clock, is by changing your strokes, by adapting how your body sits in the water. In other words, you make changes. I grew up understanding that to progress you had to embrace change.

Within Learning Without Scars using our job function assessments and integrating them within an annual performance review as a standard within your company you start too can this process of embracing change.  You can talk with each individual employee about their assessment scores. That allows you to discuss where the employees think they can do better. What do they need to do or have happen in the systems or procedures to get better results? You can arrive at a specific learning plan to fill in the skills and competency gaps. What we call a “Learning Path.” When you look at the classes in our Learning Without Scars business you will see four skill levels for each job function; Basic (0-25), Intermediate (26-50), Advanced (51-75) and Expert (76–100). Please Note: we have recently adjusted these skill levels to more accurately reflect the latest results of the employees taking our assessments.

Through this process each employee has the opportunity to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more. Shouldn’t that be the goal for all of us?

The time is now.

What Would Winston Say Today?

What Would Winston Say Today?

Winston Churchill was a special individual. A unique individual. He always stood on principle even at a significant cost to himself personally. He saved the United Kingdom by the force of his will during World War II. Then he got rejected after the war in the first election. It wasn’t the first time he was rejected. But he never strayed from him principles. He was born in 1874 and passed in 1965.

Let’s review some of his quotations.

  • When I was younger, I made it a rule never to take a strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast. (Single Malt is perfect.)

For today consider the following.

  • The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
  • Democracy is the worse form of government, except for all the others.
  • Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.
    • (Read about how the Scots viewed societal responsibilities)

Then getting closer to home.

  • You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all other possibilities.
  • An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
  • If you make 10,000 regulations you destroy all respect for the law.
  • To build may have to be the slow laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.
  • When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.
  • All of the empires of the future will be empires of the mind.
  • Every man should ask himself each day whether he is not too readily accepting negative solutions.
  • If we open a quarrel between the past and the present we shall find that we have lost the future.
  • Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.
  • The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent value of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
  • The malice of the wicked was reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous.
  • We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

The Time is Now.

Why Socrates…

Why Socrates

Our Logo – Socrates

By now most of you know that our logo is an OWL named after the Greek philosopher Socrates. He was the teacher of Plato and Aristotle. We chose Socrates as that is the method of teaching that I use the most. The Socratic Method. This method is most commonly described as “a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas underlying presuppositions.”

In other words, I teach by asking questions and helping my students develop the answers by critical thinking and debate. I help my students understand how to teach themselves.

Socrates aimed to establish an ethical system based on human reason by pointing out that our choices were motivated by the desire for happiness, and that wisdom comes from introspection.

I always ask at the beginning of every teaching experience that I have three questions: –

  • What is the definition of ignorance?
  • What is the definition of stupidity?
  • What is the definition of insanity?

Socrates is famous, among others things, for a wide range of quotations and I would like to share with you some of my favorites:

  1. True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.
  2. I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.
  3. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.
  4. Nature has given us two ears, two eyes, and but one tongue – to the end that we should hear and see more than we speak.
  5. In childhood be modest, in youth temperate, in adulthood just, and in old age prudent.
  6. Nothing is to be preferred before justice.
  7. Happiness is unrepentant pleasure.
  8. Enjoy yourself – it’s later than you think.
  9. Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior.
  10. The unexamined life is not worth living.

 

He once said “Whom do I call educated? First those who manage well the circumstances they encounter day to day. Next, those who are decent and honorable in their intercourse with all men, bearing easily and good naturedly what is offensive in others and being as agreeable and reasonable to their associates as is humanly possible to be…those who hold their pleasures always under control and are not ultimately overcome by their misfortunes….those who are not spoiled by their successes, who do not desert their true selves but hold their ground steadfastly as wise and sober-minded men.” This is a description of an individual that all of us should strive to be seen as ourselves.

Today we look upon Socrates as a positive influence on the development of the human race. His life ended when the political climate in Greece turned against him. He was sentenced to death and was executed by Hemlock poison in 399 B.C. He was 71 years old.

The answers to my three questions at the outset of this blog are as follows: –

  • Ignorance is not knowing what to do.
  • Stupidity is knowing what to do and not doing it.
  • Insanity is repeating the same things expecting different results.

The issue of the CED magazine, of the Associated Equipment Distributors, that contained my last monthly column after twenty-five years, had a nice article written by my editor of more than twenty years, Kim Phelan. The headline, of the article,  included a statement of mine “Teaching Turns My Crank.”

May you learn something important for each of you every day.

The Time is Now.

P.S.: We are pleased to report that our Logo, Socrates, and our Company Name, Learning Without Scars, have both received U.S. Trademark protection effective May 2020.

Dollar Time

Dollar Time

We are all on “lock down” today. Some of us are working from home, using communications and virtual software tools, while some of us are going into the office or workplace. Let’s use this time as effectively as possible. So, if you have time think about your job. What can you do, should you do, to make it better? What do we do to eliminate duplications, minimize mistakes, decrease expenses, increase sales? Make a list, talk with your coworkers about it. Let’s do something different this time. Send me your ideas. Send it to ron@learningwithoutscars.com. After a week or so I will consolidate all these ideas and put them in a table and send them back to you. Then you can look into making the necessary changes that you identified or someone else suggested. Let’s make time as effective as we can.

The Time is Now.