Prove it! Growing Leaders One Proof at a Time

They think it can’t be done. You do. Now you’ve got to prove it. Game on. Nothing’s more inspirational than having something to prove.

My team has spent the last 2 years proving “the impossible.” The more folks told us “it” wouldn’t work, the more fired up we got.

We wanted to prove that culture drives results– and culture can be built. It’s not only about extrinsic rewards. Engagement counts. So do trusted relationships. Partner. Inspire. Give both ways. Through an extensive collaboration across multiple companies, we’re creating complex proof that culture matters. Proving it is fun, inspiring, and leaves us salivating for more.

The hungry for more part is important, because proving yourself is never handled. Bill Treasurer told me, “even at your funeral, it’s likely you still will be proving something.” Leaders need to get used to that inspiring feeling. Prove yourself early and often then do it again.

5 Ways to “Prove It”

Tap into your team’s innate desire to “prove” something. They will grow. Magic will happen. Results will breakthrough. You’ll have some fun. Here’s how.

  1. Offer challenging assignments
    Offer projects that stretch your team beyond their comfort zone. Find impossible missions. Pick work that’s closely aligned with their innate passion or career goals.
  2. Create concrete goals
    The goal must be clear. What exactly are you looking to prove? How will you know when you have achieved it?
  3. Find some naysayers
    Create a rallying cry to “prove it” to those guys goes a long way
  4. Scaffold their growth
    Be the guy that believes in the mission, leave the nay saying to the others. It doesn’t feel good to have to prove something to your boss. Support them as they prove it to others.
  5. Repeat the cycle
    Celebrate the proofs, and then be ready with the next challenge. Keep them growing.

Powerful Perspective: Opportunities and the Arch of Time

You hear devastating news. Job loss. A diagnosis. A new baby with life-changing special needs. Your brain and heart rush through thoughts, prayers, next steps. It’s hard to gain perspective. This was not in the plan.

What now?

Perspective and the Arch of Time

I met with Bill Treasurer to talk about his new book, Leaders Open Doors. I was intrigued as to why he would be giving all the proceeds of his book to help children with special needs. His perspective is powerful. A daughter born deaf with cerebral palsy on top of life’s other complications.

“At first it was hard to adjust my expectations for what life with my daughter would be like. Now I realize that there are flowers in every situation.”

Bill believes in the perspective of the “arch of time.” The arch of time allows the good to unfold.

Over time, he’s experienced…

  • What courage looks like
  • Patience
  • Gratitude
  • New relationships
  • The desire to help
  • Opportunities

When the news is bad. It’s hard to envision anything good. How do you gain the strength to allow the arch to emerge?

Bill suggests envisioning 10 reasons you are grateful for the situation. If that’s too hard, imagine 10 positive outcomes that could come from it. And then be patient. Enjoy the mystery as each day unfolds. Celebrate the unexpected flowers.

Perspective and the Leadership Journey

How does such perspective apply to leadership? Don’t focus on the difficulty– focus on the opportunity. Don’t judge a situation too soon. Look for possible.

Bill and I share a common disdain for the phrase, “what keeps you up at night.” First, it’s over used. Second, it elicits the wrong conversation.

“It’s as if some leaders believe that the only way they’ll get any rest is as if the entire workforce shares their fears. Unless people are as afraid as they are, they think that no one will be motivated enough to address whatever is causing the leader to lose sleep.”

Keeping perspective is a powerful leadership competency. Inspire and motivate by providing opportunity, even in the darkest situations. Opportunity is motivating. Scaffold your team as they climb the arch of possibilities. The results may surprise you.

How do you keep perspective?

How Personal Challenges Motivate Success: A Guest Post from Sara Parrish

Going through life we sometimes run into road blocks, challenges and uninvited detours. Bankruptcy, foreclosure, divorce, and serious illness are just the beginning of a long line of challenges that distract us from our career goals. These challenges can, and often do, create upheavals in our personal and professional life. As we build our image becoming spouses, parents, college graduates, and home owners, it is easy to let “things” define who we are instead of our talents. Our true nature as leaders can never be taken away. Natural leaders don’t sit on the sidelines long. They are naturally driven and motivated to get back in the game.

“Sara has been working in Telecom for the last 15 years. She holds a BA in Communications and Public Relations and an MBA in Global Management. She is extremely active in her community volunteering for HIV/AIDS, Hospice, American Lung Association, and Domestic Violence. She is a Leader Athlete and loves snowboarding, scuba diving and other outdoor adventures.”

We grow up with the images of happily ever after all around us. In most of the world’s greatest and most memorable stories there are some common factors:

  • There is always a hero
  • The hero is on a journey
  • The hero meets the villain
  • The hero overcomes the villain

These commonalities play out many times throughout our lives, as we are the hero of our journey. The “villain” encountered is often uncertainty, change, and unwillingness to be flexible. How we prepare and react to major life changing events and challenges determines our long-term potential for success. Detaching from the things that we can’t control and focusing on the things we can, help minimize the impact of negative cycles in our lives. As people sometimes say, “the times change and we change with them”.

I have been inspired by the role model of my father, who grew up underprivileged, and despite the obstacles and challenges went on to be a very successful executive. His story has led me to pay close attention to other success stories despite the obstacles and to look for patterns from which to learn and teach.

Some Role Models

One thing the following people have in common is they all encountered tremendous challenges and turned their unfortunate circumstances into true success stories.

Neale Donald Walsh (short video on facing fear) Neil went through years of hardships including divorce and a horrible car accident that left him homeless and unemployed. He lived in a tent city gathering cans to pay for his next meal. He later landed on the international best seller list with, Conversations with God. He openly discusses with audiences how he was inspired to write the series during his darkest days.

Wayne Dyer(short video on changing from within) Dr. Dyer started life off in an orphanage and is a fine example of a self-made man. He regularly talks about how events in his life motivated him to live to his full potential. Dr. Dyer teaches the importance of positive thinking to overcome challenges in life.

Louise Hay  (short video on positive affirmations) was diagnosed with cervical cancer and claims that treatment through self-forgiveness and combined therapies cured her. She is the successful author of “You Can Heal Your Life” and created Hay House publishing.

Having a small amount of ongoing stress keeps one focused and alert to subtle changes in the environment, allowing smarter and more creative reactions. In environments completely absent of stress it is easy to become unmotivated and complacent. We must avoid the temptation to feel defeated after a fail and try again. The key is understanding our limits, not embracing them.

How do life challenges affect your work life balance and what do you do to overcome them?