The Pain and Promise of Goodbye

Gratitude Respect

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Story: I have been at hundreds of airports around the world, experiencing more than 10,000 or so trips in my life. That’s an opportunity to observe a lot of “hi’s” and “goodbyes.” And like most business travelers, I’m head down, focused on getting to and from my next obligation. Yet, one cannot help but notice and be touched by the tears of departure and arrival that make up every airport scene. Perhaps it’s an excited child running to mom who’s been on that road trip, or a long hug from that aging parent, barely letting go of a grown child living too far away. If a person is present enough to really notice, it is one poignant scene after another, each meant to be felt and watched.

Today I’m saying goodbye to my children and grandchildren after a wonderful family celebration. The pain of that soft kiss and extra long hand-hold is so bittersweet. Knowing that adventure is in front of all, yet not wanting to let go for even a second. If only that embrace could be eternal. Each goodbye is a process of grieving.

It is also a season of goodbye’s at work. Our exceptional CEO, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with the last six years, and a number of other colleagues whom I’ve come to appreciate so much, are all leaving. And I will be retiring from the company before too long as well. It is such an emotional roller coaster to deeply commit, and then one day, literally close the door for the last time. Organizations, as they should and must, swiftly fill the void. Someone steps in and carries on in their own unique way. We are all irreplaceable and replaceable at the same time.

Key Point: Something very important happens at the moment of greeting and leaving in both our personal and professional lives. We have to be exceptionally present and self-aware to fully ingest the experience. What am I feeling? Why? What about the other or others? What am I bringing of myself and leaving behind? What am I receiving from the other(s), or having to give up? Why does it matter? While our work is so important to us, I remind us all of a searing message from a former colleague, living his last hours in palliative care. He notes that in lying and waiting to die, he hardly thinks about work and people he toiled with at all. It’s family and friends that appropriately take up the dwindling space that matters most.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Relish the genuine beauty in each greeting and exit. The experience associated with both emphasizes and confirms that we are truly alive.
  2. Remind yourself that work and those associated, while important and deserving of our genuine care, will more rapidly come and go from both our experience and memory.
  3. The best long-term investment for our total wellbeing is in family and friends. That means making the most of what happens between each greeting and goodbye. To be fully loved, we have to love FIRST. Do so generously, and without expecting anything in return. Perhaps, that is a perspective we need reminding of, and that’s what the pain and promise of “hi” and “goodbye” presents. 

Loving abundantly in personal leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: It’s too true. I can confirm that saying goodbye to a large number of loved ones can certainly leave its mark, especially after a great celebration. However, thank goodness for the capability to use FaceTime, and a variety of other forms of communication to see and speak to those far away and in different time zones. Thankfully, a “goodbye” is far from a disconnection in 2018.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

I Want to ‘DWD’ You!

Abundance Gratitude Kindness

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Key Point: Being abundant through appreciating and recognizing other people is so gratifying. We are all rich and our “giving checking account” is flush, when it comes to acknowledging others. The beauty is that this personal bank account for giving and sharing our caring observations is infinite. We are all recognition “billionaires.” Even better, giving recognition is scalable and we never have to worry about getting “appreciation fatigue.” Genuinely recognizing others is an energy booster.

I’m not sharing anything new with this blog. You already know this. I’ve written about it many times. My sole purpose with this post is to encourage each of us to examine how we’re currently doing in this regard, and to take some action today. However, no guilt trip is intended, just a nudge. (I need a self prompt too).

When we think about it, there are so many people that we can acknowledge. This has nothing to do with whether people deserve it, have earned it, receive too much or too little. This is much less a statement about the people we are recognizing than the self-awareness to observe that people do something every day to make our lives better. And we owe it to ourselves and others to SEE these people. One way to confirm our sight is to sincerely let others know. Acknowledging others in a fully abundant way does NOT include “matching,” expected reciprocation, or anything else. A true gift of appreciation comes with NO strings attached. None. Zippo. It is not dependent on anything other than the idea that you and I simply and purely want to acknowledge. It is all about taking action on something we see as the right thing to do. We are the sole determiner of who, what and how. We are simply the givers.

For more than 40 years, I’ve been sending out DWD’s (Darn Well Dones). It’s not my idea. I heard about someone doing this and shamelessly applied the practice. I used to even have a “DWD” stamp that I put on hand written cards. For the last few years it’s been mostly digital. People have come up to me years later with a crumpled DWD card in their wallet or purse. We ALL want to be seen and appreciated for our contributions. It’s not that we need it in an unhealthy way, but we do in our simple human desire to be loved.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Before the day is out, find some way to recognize, appreciate, and acknowledge someone. Sincerely tell them what they do to make your life better. It may be the everyday smile they give you in the morning, and/or something with more heft.
  2. And DWD to all of you for reading this blog, encouraging Garrett and me to keep writing, and telling us we have somehow connected with you, often just when you need a little extra juice for your day.

DWD in Personal Leadership,

P.S. if everyone reading acknowledges someone today, we will have embraced more than 5,000 people. Imagine if we could keep the chain going. We could literally change the world.

– Lorne

One Millennial View: For better or worse, there’s reportedly a biological and scientific reason a “like” on social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) is desired by us humans. Apparently, it delivers dopamine to our brains. It doesn’t take much to click a “like” button, but a DWD… That kicks it up a notch. So, it’s no surprise people keep DWD’s crumpled into their wallets as keepsakes. They are a harder earned “like.” 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Dad’s Day… The Gifts We Leave Behind

Accountability Gratitude

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Key Point: Many of us celebrated Fathers Day in North America last Sunday, and a great number of us fortunate enough to be fathers were recognized by our children, grandchildren and partners during the day. The most fortunate rejoiced together in person, while others apart hopefully benefited from the connections made possible by modern technology; FaceTime, and the like. Some unfortunately have little or no connection with their fathers. The designated day invited me take a moment in the quiet to reflect, enjoying the thoughtful gifts I received from my wife and children, on what “gifts” I’ve given them by word and action. What have they really learned from me? I certainly know that I’ve given them a full slate of imperfections; ways not to be or behave. I wish I could have done better, and of course, as long as I’m living there is still time to give more and do better as a Dad. 

I was reading a story in Forbes and this was the summary reflection of the most precious fatherly gift from the writer regarding his Dad: “It took me back to the questions my father had asked, 48 years ago. Do you love what you do, are you helping others, are you learning? My Dad has given me the gift of three powerful questions that have been in my heart since then. This has been my compass of success.” These are certainly three great questions and solid guidance to give our children and certainly ourselves. In my case, I’ve also committed to living the attributes of Character Triangle: Self Accountability, Respect, and Abundance. I am always humbled as to how easy the words roll off the lips when describing each value, yet how daunting it is applying consistent action on each of them.

Perhaps another important value worthy of teaching our children is personal adaptability. Indeed, some organizations are looking at measuring AQ (Adaptability Quotient) at both a company and individual level. Consider this note on organization adaptability: “… Forbes article highlighted that 50 years ago, the life expectancy of a firm in the Fortune 500 was around 75 years. Today, it’s less than 15 years and declining. The ability for people, teams and organizations to adapt to changes in their environments, stay relevant and avoid obsolescence is the defining characteristic between success and failure, growth and stagnation, business and bankruptcy.”

Adaptability Coach, Jeff Boss, also writes in Forbes: “To stay relevant as an organization you need to think and act adaptively (is that a word?); you need the right people in the right places which only comes from how leaders shape their environments. However, the internal processes within that environment are driven by individuals who are willing and able to adapt to that leader’s directives when called upon… The trend I see is common: An unwillingness to adopt something new simply because of all the ‘newness’ surrounding it, and this unwillingness typically stems from a number of factors: Lack of self/situational awareness, poor communication, unclear decisions, ego.

So, what does an ‘adaptable person’ look like? 

  1. Adaptable people experiment.To adapt you must be open to change, which means you must have the will—emotional tolerance, mental fortitude, spiritual guidance—to not only face uncertainty but smack it in the face and press on.” (My note: Be curious).
  2. “Adaptable people see opportunity where others see failure. To adapt is to grow, to change, and to change you must forego what you once believed to be ‘right,’ classify it as ‘wrong,’ and then adopt what you now believe to be the new ‘right.’ If you don’t, you stagnate.” (My note: Adaptable people always ask “how might we?”).
  3. “Adaptable people are resourceful. You can take away a person’s resources, but you can’t remove resourcefulness. Rather than getting stuck on one solution to solve a problem, adaptable people have a contingency plan in place for when Plan A doesn’t work. In other words…” (See next).
  4. “Adaptable people think ahead. Always open to opportunity (see below), adaptable people are always on the lookout for improvement; minor tweaks that will turn ordinary into extra-ordinary because they’re not married to the one-size-fits-all solution.” (My note: They think “Big” more than just ways of improving sameness).
  5. “Adaptable people don’t whineIf they can’t change or influence a decision, they–yup, you guessed it–adapt and move on.” (My note: They are self-accountable).
  6. “Adaptable peopletalk to themselves. But not in a weird way. When they feel their blood pressure rising, their teeth coming together and their fists clenching, they flip the ‘mental switch’ through self-talk. Engaging in positive self-talk is the single greatest habit you can learn for yourself.” (My note:  They can rapidly reframe situations).
  7. Adaptable people don’t blame. They’re not a victim to external influences because they’re proactive. To adapt to something new you must forego the old. Adaptable people don’t hold grudges or eschew blame needlessly but instead absorb, understand and move on…” (My note: Be Self Accountable).

Character Moves:

  1. To my kids and grandchildren: Consciously and continuously work on developing your Adaptability Quotient. Add a little grit and perseverance. Learn how and when to change your perspective as a way of increasing your intelligence. Be Self-Accountable, Respectful and Abundant. Seek heat and love more. Do what you love. Help others. Learn all the time.

Well that’s about it, kids and grand kids. It’s as “easy as that,” haha; a lifetime of continuous pursuit in one character move. I love you all more than you could imagine or reimagine. I’m so fortunate to be your Dad, everyday. 

Dad in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I think I can speak for my sisters and I when we know darn well we have the best Dad someone can ask for on this planet, and huge shoes to fill. We’re very lucky, and learning lessons through this bi-weekly blog experience is just a fraction of what I’ve been fortunate enough to gain in support, motivation and top notch guidance. I hope to never stop developing my “adaptability quotient,” and I look forward to the continuous pursuit to better character with an incredible leader. Thanks, Dad.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

‘I’m Burying My Husband Today’

Books Gratitude Respect

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Key Point: Contribution awareness and action builds and rebuilds self-confidence! The title of this blog refers to a journal entry by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, four days after her husband suddenly died. She and one of my favorite academics, Wharton’s Adam Grant, have just published a book titled, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. Sandberg tragically lost her husband, Dave Goldberg, while they were celebrating a friend’s birthday at a resort in Mexico. Goldberg went to the gym, had a cardiac arrhythmia, and died.  Option B, with superb guidance and contribution from Grant, is Sandberg’s journey through the sadness and anger, to her choice to find happiness again. 

I’m just starting the book and flipped to Chapter 4 on “Self Compassion and Self-Confidence.” I was immediately captured by a very important insight regarding that condition and characteristic we all deserve: SELF-CONFIDENCE. Sandberg was struggling to regain confidence upon returning to Facebook after this shattering experience of suddenly losing her husband. While she was challenged to appreciate what to be grateful for, she was stymied even more in regaining confidence. Adam Grant and a colleague, Jane Dutton, pointed out to Sandberg, that gratitude lists were helpful but served a different purpose. What she really needed to do to rebuild confidence was the act of daily journaling “contribution lists.” Gratitude lists make us thankful, yet are primarily passive in nature. Contribution journaling on the other hand, refers to how we are active and make a difference in our daily lives. Sandberg now encourages friends and teammates to regularly write down contribution lists every day, and the overwhelming feedback from people who take her advice is: “I wish I would have started this sooner.” As Sandberg notes, empathy and compassion are important and from her perspective, encouragement is even better… Especially when it starts within. 

I feel self-confidence is so very important, yet so elusive for far too many people. Finding and expanding confidence is so much more in our control when we think in terms of acknowledging small, valued contributions every day!

Character Moves:

  1. Every night before you wrap things up and close your eyes, write down and/or recount to yourself what contributions you made that day, however small. Over time, you will build a wonderful summary of how you make a positive difference. This builds well-recognized and earned self-confidence.  Please do this!!
  1. And then write down a few things you are grateful for. Doing both will make a difference to the most important person in your life… YOU. And you are so worth it. 

More self-confidence in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I think most Millennials learn that confidence is one of the most important things we can possess. Whether it’s job interviews, presentations, proposals, or even socializing outside of the office: Confidence is key. I guess, if you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to? Hey, I might even try journaling a daily “contribution list.” 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Darn Thing About Feedback

Accountability Gratitude Growth mindset

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Key Point: The darn thing about feedback is that when you ask for it, you are likely (assuming people have the care and interest) to get it. And even though we want it, and appreciate it, it’s not always easy to receive. But the key is to really listen, say thank you, and take it under advisement.

As I write this, we just finished a leadership conference and I did the wrap up session for the event. My colleagues and I (the top executive team of the company) got on a bus on our way to the next conference (we’re doing a short tour). My team is responsible for the conference, so in the spirit of learning and improvement, I wanted to know how people felt about the day; which involved about 500 team members. Using a feedback model that usually works well, I framed up our discussion:

“Ok all, lets debrief. What went well? What was tricky or could be done better? Suggestions for improvement?” We had a productive discussion following that outline. Now it came to feedback on the wrap up (my personal part).

Overall, I thought my wrap up was adequate, although sternly not exceptional.  I can usually tell when I’ve hit a home run, and I didn’t in this case. Following the same feedback framework, the following comments flowed from my teammates:

“I thought it might have been a bit too long.”

“I thought you didn’t need the slides.”

“I think you should have focused on three things, wrapped up with a better video.”

“You introduced three new things and phrases, and that might have confused people.”

“Why didn’t you just summarize on three things that we focused on during the day?”

Etc.

Ouch! Now it’s how one frames up the feedback that will take you to a constructive spot or not. Being defensive and/or discounting the insights of others usually isn’t helpful. That often involves your ego telling you that you’re right and others are wrong. Of course, this can the become more about winning and proving you’re correct versus doing the right thing. And my experience is that embracing that perspective is likely to end badly for all. On the other hand, feedback isn’t always accurate. Sometimes we can agree to disagree. However, there is usually much wisdom in the collective view of others assuming you trust and value their insights. So tomorrow, I will punch up my wrap up, reinforce themes that were introduced during the day, and not introduce new language. It will be a stronger overall presentation.

Character Moves:

  1. If you ask for feedback and get it, there is only one thing to say after clarifying to ensure you understand: “Thank you!”
  1. Recognize that it’s ok to feel a bit disappointed after some feedback. Most of us like to hear we did great, and even though we genuinely want the feedback, it doesn’t always feel very good to hear where we missed the mark.
  1. The most important thing is to filter through the perspective of others’ and thoughtfully take feedback under advisement. Ultimately, you have a voice and independent view. The single views of others’ are often distinct data points and may not represent a true collective view. However, in that feedback is often one or two gems. All we have to do is put our ego back in its place, open ourselves up to really listen to the underlying insight and act accordingly.

Darn feedback in the Triangle,

Lorne

P.S. Today my wrap up at the conference after employing the feedback I received was much more effective. Another example where openness to self improvement just makes us better. 

One Millennial View: Ever heard a successful person present the idea that “if you’re doing something someone dislikes, you’re doing something right.” You can’t please everyone. Some people say, “If you have haters, it means you’ve made it.” Those cute little quips can make eyes roll, but there seems to be some truth in that. Yet, it’s not all black and white, there’s a ton of gray. All we can do is perform our best, put our strongest work forward, tire ourselves with effort, and guess what? You’re probably still not going to blow away everyone. Since we’re likely all our own worst critics, how do you feel about how you did? If you’re brave enough to ask and be honest, your gut likely knows the truth. 

– Garrett