The Paradox of Becoming Both Full and Empty

Abundance Contribution Purpose

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Story: On a cold, misty morning in late Oct. 2017, after 11 previous attempts, Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds broke the standing speed record for climbing the Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park – with an unbelievable new time of two hours, 19 minutes, and 44 seconds. According to Wikipedia, The Nose is one of the original technical climbing routes up El Capitan. Once considered impossible to climb, El Capitan is now the standard for big-wall climbing. In 1958, it took a team more than 15 days to climb it the first time. Then, three guys who looked like a hippy rock-n-roll band, were the first to climb it in one day in 1975. Today, for the fittest of climbers, the ascent still takes two to four days. Could you imagine in 1958, telling the first group (who were treated with much fanfare for their feat), “well, 60 years from now, two guys will do it in a couple of hours.” WOW!

Key Point: I’m writing this while lying in my hammock, under the shade of a motherly maple tree. It is about 34 degrees Celsius (93 F), with a soft breeze. Emotional yum! I am feeling totally full of gratitude after wrapping up a wonderful climb of my own over the last few years, and also surprisingly empty. It’s a rather satisfying kind of “empty” though, as in: Spent, depleted, and ready to be rinsed out too. Perhaps for a refuel? Refill?

What I wonder about, drifting aimlessly during my lazy afternoon hammock swish, is what it would be like to live in a world where one billion people truly loved their work. The prevailing data is that most people hate or are ambivalent about their jobs. Could thousands of organizations adopt a common set of powerful guiding principles, and still uniquely apply them to create phenomenal organization cultures everywhere? Why not? Someone had to ask: “How can you climb El Capitan in less than 2.5 hours?” and then did it! So, I guess that’s why we need to get to empty? So we can ask ourselves what the refill or refuel could be? Right now, I’m just enjoying snoozing, dreaming and letting “wouldn’t it be cool if?” questions drift into that warm lake breeze. Hmm.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. We know that people cannot stay in the performance zone continuously. One has to intentionally rest, refuel, and perhaps even refill differently. Getting to full and empty is important. Staying at empty for too long is unhealthy. Recognize that with us humans, feeling totally full might also mean we may be close to empty. A peculiar paradox. Where are you?
  2. I’ve had this hammock for years. I’ve put it up every summer, and never once laid in it for more than 10 minutes. Now, I’m wondering why? This weekend, promise yourself you will put up a hammock or do something similar. Maybe it’s as simple as an afternoon snooze. Everything will be ok without you for 30 minutes. Refuel. Refill. Even a little. You’re worth it! You might even dream BIG!

Full and Empty in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: My initial thought is that I truly don’t know anyone who sincerely “hates” what they do for a living. But, maybe that’s me being naive. After all, it’s a common enough study, and perpetuated by mainstream music and media. In real life though, who would want to admit that? It is worth some reflection, and perhaps some refueling and refilling on a Saturday to ask yourself why what you do on Monday is truly what you want to get out of your metaphorical hammock for. It couldn’t possibly be harder to answer than climbing The Nose, and if it is, maybe that should hit you on the nose. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

July Lessons 9: Dance Like No One’s Looking!

Abundance Contribution Teamwork

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Over the month of July, I will share lessons learned from my ATB journey, post my retirement announcement effective Aug. 1. The accomplishments and extraordinary results at ATB over six plus years belong to many. However, the learnings I will share are exclusively mine. I hope you will find them thought provoking, and perhaps even instructive.

Story: Those of you who have read my book, The Character Triangle, likely know this story. For folks that haven’t, it’s relevant to my last days at ATB Financial.

I started my career as a 21-year-old coach/phys ed/English teacher at an elementary/Jr. high school in Edmonton, Alberta in 1971. When I arrived, the school was average at best. Four years later, based on the exceptional teamwork of faculty, students and parents, it blossomed into an exceptional school. The morale and academic/athletic results achieved in such a short time period were remarkable. It was a genuine cultural transformation. I left in 1975 to do graduate work, and on my last day at the school, I was treated to the most memorable goodbye. As the touching tributes concluded, 400 crazy kids stood on their chairs, applauded my contributions until the principal finally wrapped things up. I sat on the stage and cried my eyes out uncontrollably. I realize, while I was the beneficiary, we were ALL applauding each other for what we had created. That very experience changed my life.

Key Point: Most people genuinely love to really dance, physically and metaphorically. They want to let go without caring if anyone is looking. Of course, they need music that inspires them to get up and move, an inviting dance floor, others to dance beside and the freedom/safety to let completely go. When a group experiences that recipe, something magical happens.

So fast forward to 2018, to acknowledge my retirement from ATB, a most wonderful group of ATBers (led by Stephanie Horne), brings in a 70-person choir to use music as a way to thank me. In the middle of culture day and 140 new hires, this incredible choir belts out one song after another, and the musical “thank you” feels like a “chair stand.” And once again, decades later, the tears wouldn’t let go. In perfect foreshadowing from decades earlier, I fully understand that while I’m blessed to be a focal point, the celebration is about ALL of us and what we have accomplished together over six and a half years of my tenure. I can tell you without exaggeration, ATB is on the global stage with the greatest of organizations. It took 80 years, and we did it together. We are measurably one of the best companies in the world.

One fun characteristic of the various groups that I’ve lead over the decades, is that we have enjoyed great music and dancing at every stop I’ve been on. Dancing as a team sets the stage for feeling what it’s like when people are dancing to the same music , moving in a uniquely distinctive way while creating magical harmony as a group. Truly something transformative happens. Dancing together at work is hardly a well-promoted or researched strategy. Yet, I know it lets people FEEL what it’s like to be all-in. And, you need to feel the dance to transcend it. Just dance! You’re worth it!

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Find a place to work where you can fully let go and dance your ass off. If it’s too much to expect physically, then at least know you can experience the metaphorical notion of it.
  2. Leave it all on the floor. Dance till you need tissues to wipe your brow, and eventually your tears.

And today, July 31, 2018, I step off the ATB dance floor, leaving the next song for others. How glorious it will be. Thank you for the incredible dance, and the gift of being able to leave both my sweat and tears on that floor!

P.S., the picture above is Emilia, our soon to be 4-year-old granddaughter. The ability to let go and just dance is fully resident in all of us. Go Millie!!

Dancing my ass off in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I mean, how can I not take another opportunity to embed the greatest on-screen dancing to grace the silver screen? Make sure to pick up some moves from the only on-going gag on LorneRubis.com. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Pick Up the Trash!

Contribution Personal leadership Respect

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Story: John Wooden, UCLA’s former men’s basketball coach, is arguably the most legendary hall of famer in the NCAA. One amazing thing about Wooden was his reputation for humility. He was already enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a player, and had an amazing run as a coach (10 National Championships, seven in a row). And what did he do daily? Picked up the trash in the locker room. Why? It was the right thing to do, and modeled the behavior he expected from his players.

Key Point: “Muscle humility”, a term coined by Daniel Coyle, author of the recently released The Culture Code, tells story after story outlining how service driven leaders literally and figuratively pick up the trash as a way of setting the tone for all. A few examples:

  1. There are stories of McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc, who would literally pick up discarded fast food trash every night from the street gutters near a McDonald’s franchise. 
  2. The famous rugby team, The New Zealand All Blacks, have a team value called ”sweeping the Sheds.” The leaders do the menial work, cleaning the locker room and modeling the ethic of togetherness and oneness. (Btw the All Blacks simple but straightforward hiring policy: “NO Dickheads”).  
  3. At the company I work for, we expect each other to clean up after ourselves when we have meetings. Why would we want to have someone else do that for us? 
  4. As part of the interview process for new recruits, some organizations provide an opportunity for prospects to demonstrate how thoughtful and mindful they are about others, by observing how they dispose of what they used post coffee/lunch.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Great and imperfect leaders serve others and recognize it is a privilege to do so. The idea that “Leaders Eat Last” is not an empty metaphor. Rather, as underscored in Simon Sinek’s book of the same title, it is a core value. Be one of those leaders! Be one of those team members!
  2. Picking up the trash frames up the idea that no job is too menial or dirty for any position or title. If you were the CEO of a bank, walked into an area where the ATM machines were housed, and saw the place was a mess, what would you do? I know and have seen what a great CEO does. He cleans up the area. People tell stories of ATB Financial’s CEO Dave Mowat doing just that.

Muscle humility in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I was thinking the other day, one of my least favorite things I’ll hear a co-worker say is, “well, that’s not my job.” 1. Duh. Everyone knows what your job responsibilities usually entail. 2. I’m not suggesting a marketing intern should step in for the legal or accounting team, but that’s not what we’re talking about. It’s usually a small favor to just make things run smoother. Like shutting down a teammate’s computer at the end of the day for them because they forgot. Sometimes “trash” is also just loose ends here and there… One day, you’ll leave a loose end too, and it’s cool if your fellow trash-picker-uppers have your back. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis 

Mundare, Alberta & Self-Efficacy

Accountability Contribution Growth mindset

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Key Point: The story you tell yourself about you is vital. You ARE the author, and like any good tale it usually has a plot with many ups and downs. How will it end?

Mundare, Alberta, has a population of about 800 folks and is the consummate small, prairie town (and as seen above, renowned for producing celebrated Ukrainian sausage). It has also produced one of the world’s most influential psychologists, Albert Bandura. Two teachers taught Albert every course from grade one to 12. Rather than viewing this as a handicap, Albert framed it as an advantage: He reportedly said, “It enabled me to learn to take responsibility for my own educational development.” In 1977, Bandura published a paper on self-efficacy which changed the way much of the world viewed success and motivation. His work sprung the notion that people with high self-assurance approach difficult tasks as challenges, rather than threats to be avoided. If you believe with every ounce of your being, then you’ll go a long way towards achieving your personal objectives.

People with high self-efficacy are very self-accountable and take steps to make things they want to happen. They do not procrastinate. They start NOW. They raise their hands more, practice more, get it wrong, and try it again. They worry much less about who’s watching or judging. What they DO NOT do is equally important. They do not tear themselves down with self-blame, do not quickly lose confidence, and do not avoid risks. They are resilient and realize it’s never too late to start.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. We are all storytellers and YOUR OWN story, the one you tell yourself, is THE most important one.
  2. Great storytellers are made not born. Believe in YOUR story. Write it out! Put it down on paper. Think big and start small… Most importantly, start today.
  3. Work on developing high self-efficacy by being confident and humble. Accept failure and resistance as just experiences that build more confidence, rather than self-defeat. You write a page in your story every day. What will fill yours?

Your story in personal leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I’d like to think I naturally lean towards a self-efficacy lifestyle, but that part of my story would be a bit of a fib. I want to, but for me, it’s a challenge and does not come easy. I have to make an effort to concentrate on these steps. That said, I know it’s worth it. After all, it’s tough to tell your story if you try to fill your pages by tapping your pen on a piece of paper. 

– Garrett

My Message to Students (And You)

Accountability Contribution Purpose

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Key Point: Live the life you want, NOT the life you think others expect you to live. This advice is based on research from the wishes of the dying. The biggest regret or “do over” mentioned by those in palliative care is that they spent too much time looking for approval from others, rather than being fully intentional. This is easier said than done. Parents, teachers, family, friends, all play a big role on what we could and should do with our lives.

If you examine the slide at the top of this blog, you can see the intersection and sweet spot that most often results in the most happiness. Doing what you’re good at, love to do, give and receive value for – is a great spot be in. My argument is to also work on the very core of that intersection. Work hard to discover your purpose or “why.” What is your life’s mission? (I’m not specifically talking about a job, or even career). What are your core values? These beliefs guide your daily behavior. What are yours? Who are your others – the positive impact people that you hang with? Who cares about your well being? Who are your loving critics? This includes organizations you invest your time in. All this is never ending personal discovery, and constant work. Your purpose, values and others evolve. We are never done.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Write out what you’re good at and love to do.
  2. Outline how you give and receive value (including a pay check or monetary gain).
  3. Outline your purpose and values.
  4. Specifically name five others who help you thrive, and how organizations you involve your time at are contributing to you.
  5. Stand back and give yourself some reflective time. What ah-ha did you get from putting this down on paper?

Finding the sweet spot in Personal Leadership

Lorne

One Millennial View: This is outstanding advice. While we may not still spend time in a classroom, I think the point is that we never stop being students when it comes to personal leadership development. We might internally voice what our values are, know who our others are, and spend time reflecting. But physically creating a cheat sheet for yourself, and outlining this on paper may truly deliver that ah-ha moment you’re looking for. This seems to be a homework assignment with no due date, because the final draft can always be updated.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis