Food for Thought "If you have the right people, with good, basic values and good work ethic, you can have a tremendous journey."

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June 13, 2013

Motivation : Finding Your Path

There is such a fine line between Good and Great, Good and Evil, NCAA and NBA. Why? One right or wrong step may have consequences. One decision made or not made. Everything has a cause and an effect. Sometimes by chance, more often resulting from a decision.

As a society, we have a rough idea when certain religions began. Christianity, Judaism and Islam all have fairly widely accepted dates of origin. I don’t the dates as much for Buddhism or Hinduism but the point is : Why have some religions stuck? Some have grown, others stopped. Our decisions – or those decisions made as a group – have consequences both good and bad. We can be part of a decision that fall into success or failure by luck. It can feel like the more we follow “the group” we end up falling the wrong way.

We seldom learn or move in a straight line rather we usually move in a spiral pattern similar to a multiple amplitude sine wave. In other words, as we follow the spiral there are times we move closer and sometimes farther away.

What we need to remember, is that the objective is to find your own path! It is not to follow the crowd or group mentality. Your happiness may or may not be where the group is headed.

Think to yourself: Do Good. Practice Good. Do No Harm. Help others on their path. Do all you can do. When you help others along their path, you often discover ways to help yourself.

Now how do we do that and stick to it?

1. Identify the Goal

2. Have a willingness to go there

3. Take action

4. Expect results

5. Check results

6. Evaluate future actions

Stay focused. Continuous improvement in your personal life is like any kind of diet plan, exercise regimen, attitude adjustment or practicing religion. You must stay the path and be committed. You must work at it every day; you must believe in it.

You can’t just “sort of” pursue a goal or fix an issue. You must commit. Beware of the Pillsbury Doughboy Syndrome ( a phrase coined by Terry Allen ). The problem is the Doughboy and if you just poke at the Doughboy, when you push one place he just bulges out someplace else. In other words the problem doesn’t go away, it just finds a new place to settle – your goal is not accomplished. In order to succeed you must put the Doughboy in a box and not allow him to bulge in other places.

May 29, 2013

The 10 Best Days of Your Life

Take a minute think about the ten best days of your life. Why were they so memorable?

Think about three people who had the greatest positive influence on your life and why. You should write these three or better yet, call them and tell them how thankful you are. You may also take another minute and think about your five worst days.

I had a hard time coming up with just ten best days and I would like to think I still have a few of my ten best days left. In every case, my best days were the result of giving or receiving gifts from people as opposed to giving to myself. Yes, my first date with my wife and the birth of our three children make the list. But other best days involve work and friends!

I could not limit my most influential people to three. There were my parents, two high school teachers, a pastor in my youth, an engineering mentor, and a boss mentor among the group of people who had a significant impact on my life. At the time, a few of my worst days were work-related but now, years later, they weren’t really so bad. In fact, as I look back, some of them ended up being a significant positive influence on my life.

What will we remember ten years from now? Will some of these days or these people we work with be our best days or our most influential people? We can’t make influential people or most memorable days for ourselves, but we can for others. To be a better employee (and person) we need to participate in life; be a part of it all. Make a difference! Help someone else. Be a mentor. Be a trainer. Be a positive influence. Share your skill and share your knowledge. Don’t forget to enjoy it!

May 22, 2013

Are You Motivated to Succeed? Or Just Motivated?

Filed under: Food for thought for friends,Motivation,Services — Alec @ 1:53 pm

Motivation by definition means we have a reason, incentive or inducement to take a certain action. The word itself motivated does not qualify how much or how highly likely we are to take that action. We might say people are motivated or highly motivated, but that is still very relative.

So, how motivated are you? Rev. Rob (our son) mentioned on Facebook a few days ago that he, “was getting a lot done, but I don’t know what I am doing.” I can relate. One of Yogi Berra’s famous Yogisms is that “when you come to a fork in the road, take it” and we have all heard the quote, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Seems like a normal day for most of us.

The point I am trying to make is that it takes more than being just being motivated to get things done. We must be motivated to accomplish a GOAL. If there is significant incentive, reward or inducement to accomplish the GOAL, we may become highly motivated to act. If we can visualize ourselves accomplishing that GOAL and receiving the satisfaction, it may stimulate our focus.

Think of dieting. Many people quit after a few days or weeks on a diet. We have become a society of take 2 aspirin and I must feel better within minutes or else I will take 2 more. We make New Years resolutions and quit them by February 1st or before. That is a good example of motivation without action.

How do you do to stay highly motivated? Let’s talk about tools.      

1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses

2. Identify what has made you happy and sad in the past

3. Think about your future and how you can use your strengths and what has made you happy in the past to make you happy in the future

4. Identify some long-term goals; 20 years may be a stretch, so just identify 5-year goals

5. Identify some milestones at 1, 2 and 3 years that are steps to your 5-year goal. Little steps in the right direction will help keep up your focus.

6. Identify a few actions you can take this month to accomplish 1-year milestones

7. On the top of your daily Things To Do (TTD) list, write your 1-year goal and draw a Pink highlighter through it.

8. If you use a computer for your TTD list, set up a reoccurring task to repeat every day reminding you of your goal. Or put your 1-year goal on your sleep/screen saver.

9. Use the pink highlighter to highlight to draw attention to each action on your TTD list that is linked to your 1-year goal – there must be at least 1 item on your TTD that relates.

10. Eat your frogs (do the task you dread) first every day and get it out of the way

11. Visualize the success you will enjoy when you complete 1-year goal

Now you have the tools, can you stay motivated to accomplish your goals?

March 22, 2013

Coaching and Sales

Filed under: Food for thought for friends,Motivation,Sales — Alec @ 11:00 am

We’ve already talked about: Tom Izzo, Malcolm Gladwell and getting “the fire in the belly” as it relates to Green Belt projects. But not all of you are in the midst of getting certified. Let’s take another look at how these themes apply to other aspects of business.

Izzo’s words for Sales

Instead of Practice :: Think about OG Mandino’s character Hafid and adopt his personality. Make phone calls, don’t just send emails. Schedule meetings and ask for referrals. It doesn’t matter if at first you are no good or even bad at sales calls. Just find the passion to work hard, fight, and care EVERY DAY. Make calls and set up appointments, meetings, lunches or coffees every day. As you care more about your customer, they will feel that you care more. As you make more calls and work smarter, you will get better at making calls. Care when you make a sale and care when you lose a sale. I want you to care so much that you ask why you won a sale and why you lost a sale – what was the differentiating factor in each of those scenarios? When you lose a close sale, don’t let it ruin your game. Instead analyze the missteps and work smarter/harder tomorrow.

What were you wearing? Were you distracted? What questions did they ask? What questions did you ask? What time of day was it? Did you ask the value statement? Did you ask “anything else”? Did you set a follow-up meeting?

You will get better. Bill Gates wasn’t born a success, he spent his 10,000 hours earning it. You can too!!

March 20, 2013

Practice Makes Perfect

When Michigan State University Basketball’s head coach Tom Izzo was asked if he thought the players were starting to take on his personality, his response was, “I hope so. Not because I want them to be my personality, as much as I want basketball, I want games, I want playing good or playing bad to matter enough that a guy will fight, cry, care each and every day,” he said. “You’re damn right I’m looking for that. I really am looking for that. And this team is getting better.” He went on to comment, “We’ve had a couple games that weren’t as good as others. But we’ve been in every game with two minutes left, one way or the other. And that’s what’s gonna be important as we move on.”

Don’t you just love it?! Doesn’t it apply directly to almost everything in life that we want to be really good at? If you want to be good at anything you must practice, do it, do it often. Olympic players say they must do something 10,000 times. In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the factors that contribute to high levels of success and hits on the “10,000 Hour Rule”. I guess the old adage of practice makes perfect might actually ring true. If you want to be Hafid from OG Mandino’s Greatest Salesman in the World, you must have fire in your belly.

Let’s restate Izzo’s words as they relate to Green Belt Projects

Instead of Practice :: You must collect data and check progress every day. Don’t just keep your project on the daily Things to Do list, Schedule meetings. It’s not about the quality of work at first – if you’re good or bad, whether you are making progress or have a solution – it’s about doing something on the project every day. Now you are practicing!

Instead of Fight, Cry, Care :: Find the Passion! Get that fire in the belly to work hard, not give up, and care every day about your project. Collect the data and analyze it EVERY day. Just like players care more about the game, you will grow to care more about the customer. As you collect more data and work smarter, you will find yourself getting better at analyzing data. Players care when they win and lose. I want you to care when you find success and when you don’t. I want you to care so much you ask Why?

When you don’t identify the key variation factor, analyze and work smarter/harder tomorrow. Ask Why? Are you collecting data correctly; by hour, by shift, by machine, by day of the week, by operator? What questions did the team members ask, what questions did you ask? Is time of day a factor? Did you ask the charter question? Did you review the problem statement? Did you ask Anything Else? Were you proactive and set up a follow-up meeting?

The first step to finishing any project is the Start and the second step is to Do It Again tomorrow. While working on Green Belt Projects, I see some people get their projects done in 60 days. And I see others that never get done. When I ask myself why, I see a common theme. The people who complete their projects done are working on it a little bit every day. It is on their daily TTD list.

We are all busy, but find a way to work on your project 10 or 15 minutes every day. When it’s all said and done, you will be the winner.

You see, Mister Og, most of us build prisons for ourselves and after we occupy them for a period of time we become accustomed to their walls and accept the false premise that we are incarcerated for life.” Remember, we determine our own success by the limits we place on ourselves.

February 6, 2013

Share Our Information!

I believe almost all employees try to make the correct decisions based on data, input, experiences, and values. Usually we make decisions based on our biases and on the data we have available. In some situations we are tempted to not listen to the customer or corporate leadership because we think we know better based on our data and experiences. Sometimes we do have all the information or we have access to data that the others do not – it may change the decision options.

Problems arise when we don’t all have the same data. Communication is key to smooth business operations. We must constantly share the all the data, information and experiences we have access to. Ideally, most people in our Western culture will come to the same conclusion based upon the same information.

Problems may also result when the customer or corporate leadership has restrictions on information and data sharing (just the facts). Sometimes there are rules of confidentiality and important facts can’t be shared. In those instances, we may have to rely on just asking a few questions and having faith that the client or leadership is making all the right decisions.

If part of protocol includes open communication and information sharing, your decision-making process will be more effective. Teams will build trust with one another that they have explored all options, opinions have been heard and solid decisions are made. When the instance arises that the whole team does not participate, it will create less friction because of the pattern of communication and ongoing trust that has been established.

Just like kindergarten. If you always share your cookies with your classmates, the day you forget yours someone else with share their cookies with you.

January 16, 2013

The Swiss Cheese Theory

Filed under: Food for thought for friends,Motivation,Six Sigma — Alec @ 12:03 pm

It seems sometimes that some things—even great ideas—take forever to implement. Have you noticed that? But if you give up, if you don’t have the persistence to continue to push and ask, it will never happen. Keep asking, keep collecting data, keep looking at the issue from other perspectives, minimize it, magnify it, and keep asking the big Why? Eventually, the light bulb on the porch will come on.

That is why I like Swiss cheese. With enough holes poked in a problem (in this example problems are the cheese), eventually the problem will be solved and the cheese gone. If you have a really big task, poke holes in it until it is an easy task. That is what makes  sense about Six Sigma. While collecting data, analysis of that data often lets the solution jump out at you. Sometimes you need to collect the data at several detail levels you never imagined (e.g., by machine, by fixture, by fixture location, by operator, by shift, by hour, etc.). Your cheese becomes Swiss as the data is analyzed!

So, if you have a problem that you can’t solve, work on it a little piece at a time. Collect the facts and the data and review all that you know. The solution will come.

January 9, 2013

Be Proud (and loud about it)

Filed under: Food for thought for friends,Motivation — Alec @ 4:21 pm

Whatever company I am working for, I make sure I believe in it. I have told many people that “Company X” is the best company that I have ever worked for and I guess that means I have loved every company I have worked for. Of course, I live in my own little dream world. I choose to focus on the little reasons why it is the best company. I include things like the great people I get to work with, a great product that helps people, the fact that this is a growing and dynamic company, or that we are making a profit. I think it is important to tell others where we work and why we are proud of where we work, assuming that you like your company. I would like to think that employers work hard to improve our jobs and make companies a great environment to work. The key is not just saying it—but really believing it. We can’t just believe it—we must LIVE it. Be proud of what you do and where you work.

Being proud is a group effort. We must all work at making our company a better place to work. A great place to work is not good enough unless everyone agrees. We can’t just be proud, we must work together to make it so!

So, what does it take for us to be proud of where we work?

  1. TROOP: Total Respect Of Other People (refer to the 12 Tips to Troop on Facebook if you missed it). We need to respect our fellow employees.
  1. People, Customer, Products, and Community: If a company takes care of these four issues, employees are usually proud of their place of employment. Some examples include: opportunities, job enrichment, involvement, flexibility, fairness, clean and safe, fair pay, share in financial rewards with goal sharing, community service, a product that helps people live better lives, customer focus on quality and delivery, and customer value.

I think these are most of the basics that give us a warm feeling of pride in our jobs. Talk about it. Wear your company T-shirt and cap with pride. A company has to earn the pride, but the pride comes from the employees.

January 2, 2013

Finding Motivation and a Positive Attitude in the New Year

Since it’s a new year and most of us set new goals or resolutions, I am trying to get motivated by reading a book about business. This week I read another book by author OG Mandino The Greatest Salesman in the World, Part II : The end of the story. It inspired me and at the same time made me feel guilty about my lack of “GO” power.

This is a second book that I have read by Mr. Mandino, not as captivating as The Greatest Salesman in the World, but maybe a stronger message. It is still all about sales, how it all starts within yourself, keeping a positive attitude, and working hard at networking but some of the tools are more usable in day-to-day life.

Some concepts that stood out to me are listed below:

Page 9: All wealthy people salve (soothe) their conscience with gifts to the poor. This is an interesting idea, probably true, though I wonder what would happen if all the wealthy people stopped giving?

Page 44: Tell others of your hardships along the way. I think this is so true! Many people we meet have no idea where our roots are or what our background is and vice versa. A great example of this is that my wife, Karen, and I worked our way through college. We each had a small scholarship, but we worked 20+ hours a week. Some highlights of our glamorous early careers include the dorm cafeteria, local stores as cooks and as a janitor. Most summers I worked 2 full time jobs to save enough money so we could pay our living expenses for the rest of the school year. We borrowed lots, although maybe not as much as some students do these days. We owed thousands of dollars in a combination of student loans and money from family that we paid off after college. One winter we were so poor we ate for $1.10 a week for 6 weeks. We lived on Campbell’s Tomato Soup, saltine crackers and peanut butter. So, we definitely both know what it is like to be poor.

Page 79: 3 Classes of People

  • Those who learn from their own experience. They are considered wise.
  • Those who learn from the experiences of others. These people are happiest.
  • Those that learn neither from their own experience nor from the experiences of others. These are fools.

Page 92: Never again will I consider what I do to support my existence, labor. I have usually enjoyed my jobs in my career. This wisdom came from my mother. When I went off to my first job at Chevrolet in Flint she told me, “10% of people really hate their jobs, 80% just exist and then there are the 10% that REALLY love their jobs. Be one of the 10% that love their jobs.”

Page 98: My days of whining and complaining about others have come to an end. In my opinion, I don’t whine much…although I am sure I have my moments!!

It isn’t easy to be a success, but it is possible! When you get off track, remind yourself of these 10 thoughts below. Here is a quick reference to OG Mandino’s 10 Vows of Success, with my own twist:

1. Never again will I pity or belittle myself.

2. Never again will I greet the dawn without a map; for today and the rest of my life. I recommend having a daily Things To Do (TTD) list and a 20-year Life Goal list.

3. Always will I bathe my days in the golden glow of enthusiasm

4. Never again will I be disagreeable to a living soul (oops, need to work on this one)

5. Always will I seek the seed of triumph in every adversity

6. Never again will I perform any task at less than my best. It only takes a few seconds longer to clean and put away a tool after you have used it. Although, I guess I could help Karen a little more in the kitchen with this philosophy…

7. Always will I throw my whole self into the task at hand

8. Never again will I wait and hope for the opportunity to embrace me

9. Always will I examine, each night, my deeds of the fading day

  • Did I survive the day without pitying myself?
  • Did I greet the dawn with a map and a goal?
  • Was I pleasant and agreeable with all I met?
  • Did I attempt to go the extra mile?
  • Did I search for the good in every problem?
  • Did I smile in the faces of anger and hatred?
  • Did I concentrate my strength and purpose?

10. Always will I maintain contact, through prayer, with my creator. Pray at every stop light, or while you wait in line; say a little prayer of thanks for all you have will help you remember all your blessings.

November 21, 2012

The Pumpkin Pie Parable

Filed under: Leadership Skills,Motivation,Professional Development — Alec @ 2:31 pm

Picture the scene: It’s Friday. You are attending a 6pm Dinner/Auction Fundraiser for Cancer. The tables are all set for service by the conference center, but the caterer made a mistake and scheduled the meal for next Friday. A quick phone call and the caterer brings carrots, celery and coffee but no dinner.

There are exactly 101 people in attendance including Joe Kibitz and his wife. Joe is the president and owner of Kibitz Manufacturing which the largest, most profitable business in town. Joe has donated a new washing machine and dryer to the auction. And he usually buys about an equal dollar amount at the auction. He and his wife are considered the biggest contributors to the auction.

So the event is now underway and the live auction begins promptly at 8pm. Everyone is hungry and anxious to go home and get something to eat. The second auction item up for bidding is 12 Homemade Pumpkin Pies freshly baked by Debbie Delicious Bakery. Mouths are watering. Joe has been planning on buying them to give away the pies tomorrow at the company picnic as a reward to employees with perfect attendance. Joe bids and wins the first Pumpkin Pie for $55, and the auctioneer, mistakenly, asks, “How many do you want?”

Joe replies, “All of them!” And the auctioneer says, “Sold!”  Someone from the back of the room calls out, “Hey Joe, let’s eat them now! There is just enough for one piece each.” His wife yells, “Let’s take a vote.” They don’t know what Joe plans to do with the pies, they only know that they are hungry and he can’t possibly eat all those delicious pies. Joe goes along with it saying, “Ok, we can certainly vote. But I had plans for those pies.” Everyone in the room votes.

How many people do you think voted to eat the pies during the event?

The vote is counted. 70 people vote to eat the pies now and 31 people vote not to. Majority rules so, they eat the pies. And they are delicious! When the pies are all gone, the auction resumes. Joe and his wife left shortly after the pies were eaten and did purchase any other items. The auction comes in thousands under last year’s total.

What is the moral? It’s never wise to kill the golden goose, even if the majority wants goose for Thanksgiving. In business, you can’t overwork your best employees and let everyone else have time off with pay.

Let McPherson Lean Partners help you with Leadership Skills and Professional Development so your golden goose is always…golden!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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