Modeling Excellence

I always felt that it was my job as a teacher to help kids feel empowered and encouraged. I would tell them that I saw them as bright, capable and terrific young people. And as a group, my students were people who I respected, admired and wanted to do well.

I treated the people who worked for me the same way. I wanted them to know that they are incredible people and that I appreciate and notice all that they do.

I found that when you make people feel like this, when you show them all the goodness they possess, they want to do the right thing.They have the feeling that they are going to do their best because that’s the standard.

As a teacher I told my students that excellence was our minimum standard. They knew that we would do excellent work.

When I took trips with our high school band, I told the kids that I expected the hotel manager to tell me what an incredible group of people I had. And when we stopped at McDonald’s for dinner, the students should step aside for any couple that came through the door because they shouldn’t have to wait for a group of students to get their meal.

When you encourage things like that, they become the standard. The students or the employees want to do these things rather than thinking of it as something they have to do.

But this only holds true when they have a leader or teacher who models these qualities for them. I didn’t invent the wheel; these characteristics were modeled for and expected of me when I was a student and an employee.

And I’m just glad I could model them for others.

The Practice of Listening

I heard someone say the other day, “Have you ever noticed people won't let you finish your sentence before they jump in with what they are going to say next?”

Conversations like these are hard.

I’ve found that it is much more compelling to talk to people who really want to know what someone else is thinking, and want to listen to what someone else has to say more than wanting to reveal something about themselves or make sure that I know how they feel about issues.

The truth is those opportunities will come when you take the time to listen to a family member, a friend, neighbor or colleague.

We are all able to do it. We are all able to close our agendas and listen. Unfortunately, those who can’t let others finish their sentences are completely unaware of the power of having conversations like that. Many of them go through their lives blissfully unaware, wondering what is wrong with everybody.

I think it’s a very simple exercise to just allow people to finish what they have to say before you jump in. You will become someone who people feel comfortable with, and you’ll be surprised to learn how much more people will share with you then.

And you’ll also be surprised how much more others want to listen to you, too.

 

We Can't Change Others, We Can Only Accept Them

I have been so blessed to be married to Beth. We have been married for 36 years, but known each other for 40 years. She said she knew I was different when she met me, but being with her has helped me succeed because she has accepted me for exactly who I am instead of trying to change me.

 

I think sometimes we want to control other people. Maybe we wish they were more productive or that they wouldn’t work so hard. Maybe we wish they would connect with family more or that they would not be so overbearing on people. We want to make corrections to their life, so we try to adjust their behavior so that they fit into the box we want them to.

 

When we accept people where they are, we try to understand who they are, where they are within their life circumstances and where they want to be. And then we encourage them to continue on their path.

 

When we accept someone where they are, when we say, “I understand you have flaws. I understand that you see things differently than I do. And that’s okay. You’re perfect just like that,” we also open the door for people to understand and accept us in return.

 

Being in a relationship where we wake up everyday, ready to sacrifice to so that the other can feel this type of love has been the greatest blessing of my life.

How to Get Through the Fog

This is the time of the year when CEO students feel particularly overwhelmed. At the beginning of the spring semester, they have new classes starting, their class business is coming up, they are thinking about their college plans and just beginning to establish their personal business.

They are feeling the weight of all these things. Often, when we are waist-deep in thick of life, the weight of the world can feel so heavy that we can’t even move. We can’t do anything.

It’s like being in a fog where you can only see 30-feet ahead of where you are. But the good news is that you can see 30-feet ahead. Once you move that distance, you will be able to see the next 30-feet. And the next.

 

It’s important when you feel overwhelmed like that to break your next steps down, looking at the next thing to do while still keeping your sights set on the outcome of all you are doing.

When you think about the 5 things you have to do 100 times a day, it seems like you have 500 things to do. If you take the time to just write out what you need to do, you'll look at this little bit of chicken scratch, and you'ill say, I sure feel busier than that, but this list is manageable!

Making Little Changes

With the turning of the New Year, it’s a great time of year to reflect on where you are and where you want to be in your life.

Some people may set a New Year’s Resolution to eat less sugar so they lose weight. Other people know they want to spend more time with their family, so they decide not to work on weekends.

When we set our sights on the future, whether we call it a goal or a resolution, we are looking towards a larger picture that can guide the smaller choices we make in our lives.

Maybe you want to become a better basketball player than you were last year. The answers to your small questions, your daily routine, then become obvious. You shoot free throws in the driveway. You get to practice early for an extra workout. You watch, read, learn and practice because you said you are going to be a better basketball player. And that’s what makes you better.

Let’s say you want to become a better person by accepting others right where they are. Then you can start immediately doing that the next time you meet someone by not placing judgement on where you think they should be, but by meeting them for who and where they are.

You can do the same thing every time you interact with someone: family members, friends, colleagues, everyone. There are all kinds of opportunities to practice that every single day.

And then, after time, that bigger picture becomes a reality because it changes who we are and it becomes natural in what we do every day.