What Do You Want to Be Known For?

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Life is complex. Making simplicity out of the complexity is the primary ability of the leaders and we all are the leaders of our own lives.

To proceed better towards our purpose, we ought to also tell others what we are up to.

Personally I’ve struggled with this communication and simplification aspect of my writing for example. It has been hard to say “what I am writing about.” This doesn’t make any sense, shouldn’t I be able to easily tell in one or few words tell what I am writing about? Conclusion is that yes this is exactly how it is.

Same simplicity rule of 1 – 3 words applies to whatever we want to do and achieve in life.

How well what you want to achieve matches with what you are known for?

For longer time and even still sometimes my extended family knows me as the guy who to call when something goes wrong with the IT. I see these people rarely, that they still connect me with an idea and identity that perhaps did better describe me about 10 – 12 years ago. And all the way to the this point I haven’t updated them with what is important to me at the moment and what I am up to in a simple way.

In professional life this is even more important, because meetings are short and memory is short. We need to simplify hard and get the right association. Therefore to be known for one thing that best describes you is the way to go.

What do you want to be known for?

Freedom From and Responsibility To

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With increased power, comes increased responsibility. The moment we forget this, our good deeds start to decay and growth halts.

Victor Frankl said it well that freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. Responsibility is a topic that is too little talked and pondered about.

Once we understand our responsibility and are willing to exert ourselves for it, we gain actual freedom. Freedom to organize the necessary resources to attain a particular goal in life.

There is no freedom, when there is no responsibility.

Leader is willing to accept responsibility of things that they are not directly responsible.

We are all leaders. If we want to be great leaders we need to strive for more responsibilities. Then at times, when everything is alright going as it should we may enjoy our freedom. Usually this does not last very long thought or if it does, then you’ve masterfully trained more leaders.

Influencing with an Impact

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Life feels meaningful when we have a purpose in mind and we are progressing towards the fulfillment of that purpose. On the way to the fulfillment, we already have to make choices: what to do and what not to do. If we do whatever we want to achieve that purpose, then it might feel meaningless, because we haven’t worked to sacrifice for it.

To have something so important, that we are willing to sacrifice something else for that purpose. Fulfillment of purpose feels meaningful because of our values and because we are willing to pay the price for our values both in emotional and real cost.

Meaningful life is despite of these costs, we are progressing towards our purpose. It’s our own choice.

Once we have thought of our values, we start to make these choices, and sacrificing other choices. We become a person of virtue. We should focus to our own doing, in that way we become the shining example for others, the greatest way to influence others is through prime example.

Super Productivity of a Team

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We do not achieve anything worthwhile just by ourselves. Life is a team work, and human being is a social being.

Recently I have been pondering what is the determining factor on how well we work with each other?

We are unique human beings with different strengths and qualities. Yet if we are given X and Y, why is the end result sometime 0,8, sometimes 1 and sometime more than one i.e. 1,2? I am talking about super productivity and what is behind that.

If our neutral state is one, what could be our enthusiastic, open, kind and cooperative state? I would say that would be 1,2. Then again when we are a reluctant, tired and selfish we our input in a group regresses to 0,8.

What factors of our own input are in our own control?

  • We cannot choose our feelings, we can choose how to respond to them. By choosing how to respond to emotions we can set our emotional state which is far more than just the whims of single emotions
  • We cannot choose our circumstances, however we can choose our attitude
  • We may not always decide who we are with, yet we can decide to be present and mindful

Great results are always the result of your best input: you can choose if your attunement , i.e. do you bring something to the table or take something from it.

Everyone is Better Off With Increased Sense of Security

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 Fear is deeply motivating force. We are either safe or we are in danger. And for danger there is danger and then there is life threatening danger.

As a species we have persisted mostly because of this advanced fear motivator. We are risk mitigating pack animals. Sticking to the groups is a way to mitigate the risk.

When the basic security is achieved, then other needs to tend to pop up and through which we start to want to influence through the group and even control the group. That’s when the other motivators come in like having a social status and power.

Because of pack mentality, some kind of hierarchy always exists. A good question to ask is how high the hierarchy needs to be? The higher the hierarchy is, the more likely it is to be used wrongly and unethically. The more involved all the members of the group are, the healthier it is.

Also the lower the group hierarchy is, the better we can use our individual and collective wisdom. Even physically and biologically in a secure environment we can use our higher cognitive functions better and if we can think better and can communicate better the results are going to be better as well.

Humans are risk mitigating pack animals, always creating hierarchies. However in those groups everyone is in the end better with increased security.

How to Succeed with Your Most Important Dreams or Goals

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Strategy, is the ability to lead the strengths so that the decisive battle will not be lost. Strategy is therefore and verb: the act of leading.

So if in your life you are dreaming of something; in fact anything you want to do or achieve for example, you start putting your strategy to action.

Now put your dream or goal into context: what are the priorities at present in your life? List values such as: health, career, family, activities, hobbies,  friends, lovers… Think about all these priorities in relation to your goals and dreams.

What values you do not want to fail at? Do not accept the failure at these tasks. Prioritize the most important things in your life: i.e. if you value your health as you should, then you should ensure that the health will be taken care of no matter what. That’s why many people prefer to take morning for their exercise, they are serving first and foremost themselves with this, so that they may nourish the growth of others.

I repeat: do not fail to do that which matters most to you.

To see what matters most to you, break down your big dream or goal first to a concrete five year goal, then to a yearlong goal, then to month, week and a day goal. Remember strategy is a verb, what are you going to do today to progress at your most important dreams or goals?

Atmosphere Determines the Resistance and Results

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Atmosphere is a magical thing: when people have right attitude and preparation, everything flows.

If on the other hand if something is forced, nothing seems to come out of it.

Some individuals manage to create such atmosphere, if not for others, at least for themselves. Individual atmosphere is called attitude.

When there are group of people, peoples’ attitudes influence each other and create the general atmosphere where the whole group is working on. This can be either self-fulfilling prophecy, positive cycle or an endeavor not worth pursuing (giving up), most of the time it is something from between.

The direction atmosphere is developing significantly affects the results. When atmosphere is encouraging to try to the right things more likely to reduce resistance and get more results.

All goals should be broken down to these most important actions. In sales it could be number of meetings, in marketing and setting up those meetings it is the number of calls made. In achieving my reading goal the reading at least 15 minutes a day is the thing. Right actions, bring the right results.

Sustainable Happiness is Based on Production Capability

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In all leadership including self-leadership or leading others, it is often one thing to get results or to see long term flourishing.

Execution ability and ability to deliver results under time pressure is a crucial skill in professional business life for example, where the time constraints can determine whatever business goes bankrupt or not.

If we are to operate in sustainable manner, of course we would have the amount of proactivity that we could push the immediate threat of bankruptcy far enough so that we do not have to react to these critical events that require immediate attention so much in the present. So that we could focus being proactive.

Proactivity in this case means also building the production capability, means preparing and training ourselves to meet the future challenges.

External motivators such as rewards can be harmful for the production capability yet they are used all the time to get the result. This results in just golden eggs, while we could focus having more golden gooses.

If we want to have more apples, well harvesting them this year certainly gives us X amount of apples. However, in the long term we do not get more, we get less unless we plant more apple trees.

Same is with the people. Unless nurture ourselves and others, we do not produce more, we produce less.

CFO asks CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?”

CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?” – Peter Baeklund

In leading ourselves, we need to remember to develop our production capability. Doing more is only helpful until to a point, where our work starts to exhaust us in the long run. We need to work smarter and to build our capacity to produce in limited time.

With people this means training and nurturing each individuals belief in what they have potential to become. If you treat people as what they have potential to become, they just might respond to that. Nurture their internal drive and remember the autonomy, meaning and mastery.


If you are interested in further about this topic see Daniel Pink’s ted talk, his book Drive and Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for starters.

Summary of Seth Godin’s Linchpin

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Today I decided to revisit my highlights of the Linchpin. It is the book that literally made me to write every day again and I hold it in high regard. Although I had tried with my previous blog writing everyday for month, I didn’t stick with it. And even this time I had from different sources and different reasons to stick with this (Steve Pavlina and Neil Pasricha), Linchpin despite was the book that convinced me to start again.

“Stop asking what’s in it for you and start giving gifts that change people.”

Quite simply and shortly put the Linchpin is a book about being you, and stop hitting your head to the wall. It’s about creating the art (what ever you want to do) that is meaningful.

I’ve found my most meaningful time of the day to be thinking and clarifying my thinking as a text. While the medium might and change from person to person, you should put the effort there. Seth’s advice is to put the hour to your art no matter what. Do not mind the defects, as art is never defect free anyway.

The lesson is to commit to an hour a day to the art and then deliver.

“In everything you do, it’s possible to be an artist, at least a little bit.”

Life is not about the dull work, it’s about the wonderful art. Seth spends quite a lot of time and space in the book to talk about what are the common causes that people do not follow this advice: fear and resistance rise up, which I can totally relate. He had inspirational lines like “I realized that my lizard brain was afraid of this book, which is the best reason I can think of to write it.”

Creating art does require courage and less resistance.

“You become a winner because you’re good at losing.”

To conclude, the key is about creative action that is not just any action, but work that brings meaning to the peoples’ lives. Such action is called art, and almost any action can be art if it’s done with creativity and sense of purpose, not with just the bored everyday routines. What does prevent us from doing to ordinary extraordinarily well is our lizard brain that is afraid of failure. The way to overcome this is through the practice of delivering and doing it because it is meaningful and it deserves to be done and delivered.

Summary of Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family

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About the company and the author Bob Chapman:

Chapman is Chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Companies, a capital equipment and engineering consulting firm with more than 8,000 team members worldwide. After seeing the positive impact of Barry-Wehmiller’s people-centric culture on the lives of his employees, Chapman felt compelled to raise awareness about business enterprise’s opportunity to become the most powerful positive influence on our society.1

Chapman took over the reins of the privately-owned Barry-Wehmiller upon his father’s death in 1975, when it was a struggling bottle washer business. Since then, the single-market company has grown into a corrugating, packaging, and paper converting equipment and consulting conglomerate through strategic acquisition, operational expertise and commitment to, as Chapman likes to say, “the lives within my care.” Today, $2 billion Barry-Wehmiller is a combination of more than 75 acquired companies spread across 100 locations around the globe. Since 1987, it has continued a pattern of 15 percent compound growth in revenue and share value. 1

 

Everybody Matters Summary

Like the book title suggests Everybody Matters is a book about human centric leadership culture, and the beginning describes the uneasy situation where Bob Chapman was put when his father suddenly had a heart attack and he had to take over the company. Also it describes the many challenges that came after that.

In midst of the survival he and his colleagues also had several insights, for example “why can’t business be fun” or “there is no such thing as an underperforming team, only underperforming leaders.”

First they had to find a successful way to stay alive, not to go bankrupt in the near future. Barry-Wehmiller company was still back then in (around 1970’s) in distillery equipment business, which wasn’t so profitable. In short they judged that they need to grow both organically and through acquisitions. Or as Bob put it “We need to start making acquisitions so we can access markets and technology that can give us a better future.”

Once the immediate risk of bankruptcy was dealt with, still getting financing for acquisitions wasn’t an easy task. They recognized that could only afford business that no-one else wanted to buy.  Instead of giving up, they decided to work with this risk position and be creative. With work and creativity they had turned Barry-Wehmiller profitable. Why they couldn’t do this elsewhere too?

At Barry-Wehmiller, they believed that the business growth and people growth are not separate ideas, but complementing each other in a virtuous cycle.

“People were showing us that they were capable of things we hadn’t imagined. All it took was a different way of leading in which people knew their goals and the score at all times and were inspired as individuals and teams to achieve them.”

Take away for any company is to make truly fun and rewarding. Not so that just somebody wins, but the whole team wins. As an example: “Let’s create a game. Whoever sells the most parts each week wins. If the team makes the team goal, the team also wins.”

One red flag, is not truly celebrating peoples’ achievements by this I mean for example exaggerating people’s accomplishments when the whole recognition becomes meaningless. I’ve witnessed and felt what exaggeration can create, it destroys the positive and sends a signal that your accomplishment wasn’t good enough after all.

Bob Chapman also recognized the way bigger picture and responsibilities that the companies have. It is that of the responsibility and how does the leadership affect the emotional lives of the employees. And the families of those employees. Good or bad leadership does affect, how people who go home treat each other after the work day.

One line to get applied to everyday leadership is this:  “Look for the goodness in people and recognize and celebrate it daily.”

This conscious capitalism and responsibility of the world at large, is what I found very inspiring the book. I certainly recommend you to read the whole book as this was, but a rather small dip in the lake.