Do You DWOP?

Accountability Courage Resilience

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Key Point: Having an aspirational dream is sometimes more powerful than thinking about conquering someone or something. And stepping back, recharging while focusing on a strategic approach is often more productive than just charging ahead, hoping for the best. 

You may have heard or read about the recent remarkable feat of climbers Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell. The two finished a 19-day, 3,000-foot (915-meter) ascent of the Dawn Wall on El Capitan in California’s Yosemite National Park. Many experts consider this to be the toughest free climb ever completed. Free climbing means that Caldwell and Jorgeson only used their hands and feet to ascend, and applied ropes only for protection from falling. (See pictures of their adventure up the Dawn Wall on El Capitan… Yikes). The climb included 32 pitches in total, and seven of these pitches (about the length of a climbing rope, or 60-70 meters) were rated 5.14 difficulty (on a scale from 5.5 to 5.15). A single 5.14 climb is a once in a lifetime accomplishment for the most expert climbers, and completing seven such pitches in a single push up a route makes the feat a legendary story.

Jorgeson posted during the climb: “This is not an effort to conquer. It’s about realizing a dream.” Once Jorgeson and Caldwell had set the dream of free climbing the Dawn Wall, they began to prepare. They scouted the routes. They practiced the different pitches repeatedly. They trained to build the strength and endurance needed. Planning that dream took SEVEN years of comprehensive training with every detail in mind.

Achieving a dream is usually a test of perseverance even with the best intent, focus and preparation. Despite all the “blueprints” pre-drawn for the ascent, Jorgeson really struggled to complete pitch 15. This was a section of rock where he had to climb laterally between two vertical pitches. He failed 10 times before completing it. It took him seven days. This didn’t involve returning to The Four Seasons for a pillowy rest every night. Caldwell and Jorgeson were sleeping in tents attached to the wall hundreds of meters off the ground. Jorgeson’s determination to overcome this challenge is truly inspirational. 

Character Moves:

  1. What are your dreams? It is ok to take the time to clarify and be intentional. Sometimes it’s very specific, like climbing the most daunting rock face in the world. Other times, it is driven more by purpose or a life defined by making a contribution to others. Dreams can be modest or huge. Most importantly, your dream is exclusively yours! 
  2. For most of us the road to achieving our dreams involves what often appears to be insurmountable challenges. Yet, I’ve come to appreciate that it’s these challenges that really define us. Rather than just whipping and exhorting ourselves to try harder, remember that the best approach may be to step back, rest, recover, regenerate and respond to the challenge strategically. Often people choose to react or avoid, and it’s amazing how avoidance, inertia and fear based paralysis can turn into weeks, months and years. 
  3. While inertia is useless, it is interesting to note that the two climbers were putting as much attention and focus into their recovery and regeneration as they were into their climbing. Do the same. This is a lesson I would have liked to have learned earlier in my life. Take the time to rest, regenerate and THINK through a plan. So, now do you know what a DWOP is? It’s a “Dream Without a Plan.”

Climbing with a plan in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: It’s sometimes annoying to wrap your mind around the idea that you can’t be “comfortable,” and you need to remain challenged, chasing, growing, “climbing.” Your inner monologue may say, “dude, shut up, I am comfortable, let me be for right now, I’ll figure it out.” Well… When? It sucks, but it’s true, no one is going to do it for you, and tomorrow isn’t going to be “magic.” You have a dream? Perfect. Good. Get it! But it’s nothing without a plan to achieve it. (I’ll be the first to admit my night can consist of pursuing nothing but what’s streaming on Netflix… But! Seriously, we’re burning daylight and if we made a point to take our plans just one step further, scrolling through the movie menu will feel that much more justified).

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Create and Tell One Story Per Day!

Gratitude Respect Teamwork

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Key Point: Commit to creating and telling one key story per day. The following is a quote from this Forbes article:

“A 10-year, 100,000-person study conducted throughout the U.S. and Canada by the O.C. Tanner Institute and HealthStream confirms that recognition and appreciation tops the list of things employees say they want most from their employers. According to the study, 79 percent of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a key reason for leaving. And of the people who report the highest morale at work, 94.4 percent agree their managers are effective at recognizing them.”

Giving recognition tells a story about the great work people have done. 

Storytelling, with a purpose, is key to being a good leader. When we hear how others overcame problems or situations, ideas begin to fill our heads, inspiration fills our hearts, and actions begin to create the stories that will be shared tomorrow.

The same article refers to a Gustav Freytag, a German novelist and playwright who studied the greatest story telling and created the Freytag Pyramid to guide our thinking regarding what makes a great story. See below:

Freytag-Pyramid

Well-documented research confirms that effective storytelling can be a driver of employee performance. When a story has impact you can literally see the audience connect. They start to think, feel, and respond the same way as characters in the story. Consider the impact a true story could make on an employee when they hear the company’s Founding StoryPivotal StoryTeamwork Story, or Great Work Story, told in Freytag’s format—situation, climax, and resolve.

A Founding Story connects team members to the purpose of the organization. A Pivotal Story is used to help employees understand what differentiates their organization from others. Teamwork Stories are just that; a capture of people working together to create something exceptional. And a Great Work Story is simply but powerfully saying thank you for very specific behavior. 

Character Moves:       

  1. Think of yourself as a story creator and teller. See every day as a blank page to create/tell those stories. Commit to personally creating and telling one every day and you will become a superb impact player! Think and act this way. It also makes you a value creator. 
  2. Remember when you say, “thank you,” you become a storyteller. Please refer to my last blog regarding being a “pancake person”
  3. Have the Founding Story in your “back pocket” and refer to it for context regularity. Keep a “book” of impact stories. These are your stories that explain how differentiating greatness is achieved!
  4. Tell a story about how great someone is who works for you and you will differentiate yourself as a leader. See number two above.

Story Leadership in The Triangle,

Lorne   

One Millennial View: Stories are my thing… As a journalist, I’ve had an appreciation and understanding of what a good “story” is, why it sells, and needs to be told. One of my professors in University used to say, “Everyone has a story,” regardless how mundane a timid person may fear it would appear on paper. It never does if it’s written right, and it takes a good leader to be able to construct a compelling “headline” for everyone. If your employee, or co-worker is worth his or her salt (and they likely are), everyone can appear on the front page.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Thank Outside the Box!

Gratitude Organizational culture Respect

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Key Point: Saying thank you takes just a few minutes and it costs us nothing but the associated time and thoughtfulness. I was recently in a meeting with about 120 people. This team’s leader and and Executive Vice President (EVP) was telling a story about how he was concerned that he missed the retirement of a wonderful team member, who had been with the company for 34 years. The good news was that his information was wrong and he had another day to make sure he could give her the appropriate thanks. At that time we were discussing how we might bring more “WOW” to our customers and teammates. So with the information about this pending retirement, we decided to call her right there and have all 100 plus team members shout out a collective goodbye and “THANK YOU!!”

So the EVP called her cell and because she was looking after customers, the call went to her voice mail. Nevertheless, this great leader seized the opportunity to leave a surprise voice mail, specifically expressing gratitude for her positive spirit and extensive contributions. And then on the count of three, all 120 people yelled, “THANK YOU!!” Moments later, she texted friends and other teammates how tearfully surprised and touched she was. Her text began, “OMG…” You can imagine the rest. Of course, her 34 years of contribution are worth much more than a simple voice mail message and a shout out from teammates. However, it meant something very significant to her AND to us! Sadly, too many people leave organizations in a disquieting way, like somehow they never existed. 

During this same session, another wonderful leader shared a letter she has discretely carried in a protected plastic folder since 1997. At that time she was a bank manager and gave a loan to a terminally ill customer, who was nearly bankrupt due to unbelievably expensive drug costs not covered by Canada’s vaunted health care system. This leader was the customer’s last resort…NO other bank would touch him because of his debt. He was not only very sick physically but all the financial institutions diagnosed him with “fiscal terminal disease.” The letter, received by this bank manager several years later, and a testimony she keeps as one of her most precious possessions, is a personal note sent to her and the CEO, thanking an “angel” for saving his life. The customer was alive several years later and fully attributed his additional years to this fearless, caring banker! 

Gratitude and “thank you’s” go hand in hand, freely available and accessible to all of us. 

Character Moves:

  1. Say “thank you” every day! Be grateful every day! Say thank you and be grateful for the Pancakes. (Here’s an excerpt from “Six Habits of Highly Grateful People”).

Pancake

Grateful people are habitually specific. They don’t say, ‘I love you because you’re just so wonderfully wonderful, you!’ Instead, the really skilled grateful person will say: ‘I love you for the pancakes you make when you see I’m hungry and the way you massage my feet after work even when you’re really tired and how you give me hugs when I’m sad so that I’ll feel better!’ 

The reason for this is pretty simple: It makes the expression of gratitude feel more authentic, for it reveals that the thanker was genuinely paying attention and isn’t just going through the motions. The richest thank you’s will acknowledge intentions (‘the pancakes you make when you see I’m hungry’) and costs (‘you massage my feet after work even when you’re really tired’), and they’ll describe the value of benefits received (‘you give me hugs when I’m sad so that I’ll feel better’).”

Pancake gratitude in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: I don’t find this to be a big deal and I’m certainly not trying to boast, but it seems relevant. For no real reason, really, or not one I can explain, when I leave the gym (a 24 Hour Fitness in Santa Monica) on a daily basis, I’ve developed the habit of saying “thanks guys, have a good night” to the assorted employees at the front desk while throwing my towel in the bin and walking out the door. Well, recently, the manager pulled me aside, introduced himself and personally thanked ME for doing that. Apparently out of the hundreds of gym goers, I’m the only one who does that, and it has gained appreciation… My response was, “of course!” (Which I think is one of the most common responses to a “thank you,” these days). Because really, I think it’s just nice, easy, and right. Upon reflection though, I know for a fact my co-workers don’t get nearly as many “thank you” reps from me, so I have to up my “thank you workout” routine in my own office.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Do You Mind Winning?

Abundance Purpose Teamwork

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Key Point: Our thinking and mindset has such a major impact on how things go in our lives. The great Internet retailer Zappos uses one key interview question (among a number of others) as a way of determining cultural fit. They ask a prospective candidate if they see themselves as “lucky” or not. Research has determined that people who think of themselves as lucky, collectively, are more successful in work and life. The essence is that if you expect that things will work out for you, they likely will and vice versa. I’m not suggesting that we can think our way into winning the lottery or some unrealistic fantasy, which would be silly. However, expecting to win, to be successful, and to declare it by stating “I am ___” is a foundation for success. Mentally picturing ourselves winning in work/life provides a roadmap for our mind and heart to align, connect and achieve a desired future state.

Hopefully you had a chance to watch the NFL National League Championship football game this Sunday (apologies to my many European, Asian readers and others who aren’t interested in American football). The game offered a wonderful lesson underlying a winning mindset. Those of you that viewed the game saw a remarkable comeback by the Seattle Seahawks over the Green Bay Packers. When Pete Carroll, the Seahawks’ coach was asked after the game how it felt to think he might lose, when the team was so far behind, he genuinely said, “I wasn’t thinking about losing the game.” When the Seahawks’ quarterback, Russell Wilson, was asked how they won after playing so poorly, Wilson told reporters he was always confident they were going to win and never gave up on himself and his teammates. In fact, he predicted throwing the winning touchdown to the receiver in overtime in advance of doing just that. He absolutely believed they would win even when things looked bleak and out of reach. His view wasn’t based on arrogance or being unrealistic. His confidence exists because he knows no other way to think and play the game.

This is a wonderful lesson for all of us. The Seahawks may not win the Super Bowl and will obviously eventually lose another game. Of course, just thinking about winning is insufficient; one has to actually execute with skill. Nevertheless, if one does not genuinely think they are going to win, you can almost be assured they will lose! And I know this same principle applies in work and life.

Character Moves:

  1. Expect to be lucky. Expect to win. Prepare to win. And to stay with the sports analogy, if things don’t go well at some point, even if for an extended time, know that eventually, based on your perseverance that it will! Part of winning is extending the finish line until you do. The great thing about life/work is that for most of us, we “play” for a long time. A losing “quarter” or “half” does not determine how the “game” ends.
  2. When you are on a team, expect the best from and trust your teammates. Don’t worry about whether they are doing their jobs. Fix yourself first and be your absolute best. Believe in your teammates and share how you feel about them. Encourage them. We usually rise up when we know our teammates believe in us.
  3. In the end the “love” word emerges: Self love that each of us deserves to win and have good things happen to us and love of our team and mates. LOVE. Winners fearlessly embrace the word and all the emotion it drives.

Love winning in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I was at a watch party for the aforementioned Seahawk’s game, and I won’t pretend to tell you that I didn’t think the game was won and done for the Packers with five minutes remaining. I know people who attended the game in Seattle that left towards the end (to beat traffic), because, the odds were that the contest was all but over. Thank goodness the Hawks reminded all of us that you don’t stop till the final whistle blows, and that applies to every aspect of life. Is it cushier to win when it’s not such a battle? Yes. But, I guarantee you if you asked any of the Hawks players how they’d prefer the outcome, they’d say the game couldn’t have been more perfect. It’s those hard earned wins, the ones where you scoop your victorious confidence from the pits of darkness that feel the best. Hawk n’ roll!

 – Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Smile, Flap and Step To Success

Books Happiness Respect

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Key Point: Happiness and forward action fuels success, not the other way around. It’s that simple and that complex. It’s that easy and that difficult. Shawn Achor‘s  book, The Happiness Advantage, draws on tons of rigorous Harvard driven research, and practical experience to demonstrate that this principle is a truism.

Achor introduces seven practical and actionable principles that are tried, tested and true in demonstrating how we can apply what he calls, “The Happiness Advantage,” to maximize our personal potential. While we learn and read about these principles, I’m going to share a short cut to accelerate this path to success.

He refers to an activity he has applied with thousands of people in a variety of situations and cultures. He breaks groups up into pairs and instructs one person per couple to use every bit of their self-discipline to show NO emotion, regardless of what their partner says or does. He then brings in the other person and instructs them to simply look the other person in the eyes and smile. Literally every time, usually within a few minutes, the person instructed to use discipline and show no emotion, ends up flashing a reciprocal smile or even erupts in bursts of laughter. This is the foundation of something called the “ripple effect.”

You likely have heard that a single butterfly flapping its wings can create a hurricane halfway around the world (Aka, the butterfly effect). The point is that every small change can trigger a bigger one. And I recently read a poem by Antonio Machado that states: “Walker, there is no path. The path is made by walking.” The poem reinforces that we all have only one real choice in front of us, which is to take a forward step. The step is more important that looking and waiting for a perfect path. That expected trail most likely doesn’t exist.

Character Moves:

  1. Embrace the research, science and belief that self-happiness leads to success, not the other way around.
  2. Genuinely walk through your day, consciously looking people directly into their eyes and smiling. Positivity is contagious. (Be honest… How much do you look people directly into their eyes and smile before EVERY intersection)?
  3. Flap and step! It is forward action that causes a ripple effect. Do not worry that there might not be a path. Do not worry if you can fly. Just flap and step and you will cause a ripple!
  4. Read and apply Achor’s seven principles to get real, sustainable momentum. However while everyone, including you, is studying and learning the seven principles, remember that smiling, flapping and stepping will create a positive wind, and maybe ripple into much more!

Smiling, flapping and stepping in the Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: In today’s sometimes-hypersensitive society, I’ve read/heard that a smile from a stranger can be perceived as something “more” than just an expression of positivity. Some assume there’s an agenda attached. It’s troubling. I don’t think that should be the case… But unfortunately, a smile from well-dressed doorman in New York City (nice to see you too, sir) could be received differently than one from a homeless person on the corner (oh he wants something), or a guy at the gym (what a creeper), or a woman at a bar (she’s into me), or even a co-worker (what are they smiling about)? But let’s be realistic, intuition isn’t a guarantee, and we all make hasty assumptions about what each smile “really” means. That’s our own mistake for overthinking it in the first place. The nitty gritty is that smiles are, on the surface, just a universal expression of friendliness… And one that should continue. Our self-conscious makes them something more/less… Chances are, if someone just means well, everyone will read that right on their teeth. Keep smiling. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis