March 29, 2017 Leave a comment

Today’s Task – March 29, 2017

Derek Jeter was an All-Star shortstop who spent his entire career with the New York Yankees.  He is well known for his polite and respectful manner, addressing coaches and managers as “Mr.” or “sir.”  His father, psychologist Charles Jeter, taught him early in life to be respectful toward others.  Once, when young Derek was in Little League and refused to shake hands with his opponents after losing a game, Charles told his son, “It is time to grab a tennis racket, since you don’t know how to play a team sport.”

What a great lesson for, not only young athletes, but also for their overzealous parents whose primary goal is to see their child be a star.  If individual stardom and recognition is your goal, play golf or tennis or become a wrestler, just don’t play a sport in which respect for others is a key element for success.  NBA Coach Doc Rivers maintains four “Respect Rules” with his teams.  They are: Respect your teammates. Respect your coaches. Respect yourself. Respect your family’s name.”  These are four simple, but powerful rules by which to live.  If you respect your teammates, you will have unity on the team.  If you respect your coaches, you will have harmony on the team.  If you respect yourself, you will have dignity wherever you go.  And if you respect your family’s name, you will have a reputation to be proud of the rest of your life.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to recognize the value of respect.  It is a kind of unconditional acceptance that we demonstrate in order to turn a heterogeneous collection of individuals into a team.  Without respect, teams can’t function.  The purpose of teamwork is not to make everyone on the team think alike.  Teamwork respects the differences between people while enabling them to transcend their differences and unite behind a common purpose.  I leave you with this insight from a Coast Guard Commander at the training facility in Cape May, New Jersey: “The person on your left or your right might be the person who saves your life….We must have mutual respect for each other.”

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized

March 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Today’s Task – March 28, 2017

An atmosphere of teamwork focuses everyone on the team on a single goal.  When the team is aligned in a single direction, the organization moves forward as one.  Teamwork also summons forth every individual’s best effort.  Each team member thinks, I have an important part to play.  I am not a spectator; I belong to this team, and I have a stake in whether the team wins or loses.  Teamwork breaks down barriers and rigid thinking, reducing the tendency for people to say, “That’s not my job.”  When people feel ownership of a team and its goals, they pitch in and do what needs to be done, even if a task is not in their job description.  Here are the essential principles of teamwork:

  • Dream big, aim high – big, bold dreams capture the imagination and fire the enthusiasm. When people believe they are involved in something big, they will sacrifice to make it happen.
  • Think “Yin and Yang” – opposites complement each other, maintaining a dynamic equilibrium. Experience shows us that this concept holds true in a teamwork environment.
  • Make sure your team is well coached – initially this requires projecting the vision, establishing the goals, designing the crucial tasks, assigning responsibilities, and setting a system of incentives and rewards.
  • Reward team attitude and effort – look beyond the flashy accomplishment of the stars and find ways to acknowledge and reward the role players.
  • Decompartmentalize your team – If you understand what I do and I understand what you do, we can communicate more effectively, interact more creatively, and cover for each other from time to time.
  • Make if fun – fun fuels great teams. When team players enjoy their work, they don’t see it as work.  They see it as fun.
  • Think jazz – Learn to tolerate mistakes. The great thing about jazz is that wrong notes don’t always sound wrong; they can even sound cool.  Let people make mistakes, and odds are they will learn from them and become more valuable team players as a result.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to consider the importance of teamwork in all that you do.  Whatever your team’s dreams, you can assemble a team to turn those dreams into astonishing realities.  For this to occur, your players must be willing to buy in to the culture you are attempting to create.  They must feel like they have a stake in the team, and they must be willing to dream big, aim high, and make a difference!

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized

March 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Today’s Task – March 27, 2017

It is much easier to fill a demand than to create one.  Products enjoy longevity when they become an indispensable part of consumers’ lives.  Look at such fads as the Hula Hoop or pet rock.  They each had their fifteen minutes of fame, but would you buy stock in a company built around either product?  On the other hand, such items as telephones, televisions, and computers sell perpetually.  Marketing can accomplish a lot.  But don’t confuse the sizzle with the steak.  You can hire a Ph.D. to drape your business and products with all the latest buzzwords, but if your merchandise doesn’t perform, you won’t last.  Never forget who you are there to serve.  In school, we don’t have students because we have a faculty.  We have a faculty because we have students, coaches because we have players.  You have an enterprise because you have customers.  Lose them and you don’t have anything.  Always keep in mind that pleasing your customer is your primary objective.

I recently read the above observations by former NCAA football coach and analyst Lou Holtz and was struck by the simplicity of two of the statements; if your merchandise doesn’t perform, you won’t last, and never forget who you are there to serve.  Both are powerful statements from which our baseball players might benefit.  As we are trying to find the best nine players to put on the field during the game, each must understand that if they don’t perform, they won’t last on the starting team.  Perhaps more importantly, they must understand that they are there to serve the team and not their own personal goals.  As coaches, we must also understand the impact of our performance and that we are there to serve the players.  That doesn’t mean we are to give them anything and everything they want.  It means we have an obligation to create a culture in which growth and success are not only possible, but probable.  It is simply a matter of service and performance.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to consider these two statements as they apply to your life.  Do you know who you serve?  Are you performing at a level that will keep you on the starting team?  As a master salesman once pointed out, there is not a single successful business in this world that wasn’t completely focused on satisfying its customers’ needs.  If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.  To sell anyone anything, he insisted, you must forget whatever you want.  Find out what the people you serve need and give it to them.  It is simply a matter of service….and performance.

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized

March 24, 2017 Leave a comment

Today’s Task – March 24, 2017

Exhibit a ferocious and intelligently applied work ethic directed at continual improvement; demonstrate respect for each person in the organization and the work he or she does; be deeply committed to learning and teaching, which means increasing my own expertise; be fair; demonstrate character; honor the direct connection between details and improvement, and relentlessly seek the latter; show self-control, especially where it counts most….under pressure; demonstrate and prize loyalty; use positive language and have a positive attitude; take pride in my effort as an entity separate from the result of that effort; be willing to go the extra distance for the organization; deal appropriately with victory and defeat, adulation and humiliation; promote internal communication that is both open and substantive; seek poise in myself and those I lead; put the team’s welfare and priorities ahead of my own; maintain an ongoing level of concentration and focus that is abnormally high; and make sacrifice and commitment the organization’s trademark.

Success is never an accident; there is a plan.  The above was the stated Standard of Performance of one of the most legendary organizations in its field.  Note that these standards are all principles of behavior and action, not skill sets.  This Standard of Performance propelled one of the worst franchises in the NFL to one of legendary status and was the brain-child of head coach Bill Walsh.  Note that there is no discussion of how to block and tackle, how to run a route, or how to pass the football.  Walsh believed that even when you have an organization brimming with talent, victory is not always under your control. There is no guarantee, no ultimate formula for success.  It all comes down to intelligently and relentlessly seeking solutions that will increase your chance of prevailing.  When you do that, the score will take care of itself.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to develop a standard of performance similar to the one created by Bill Walsh.  Experience has taught me that success is a natural response to a positive learning culture and one’s ability to do fundamental things on an ongoing basis.  Your standard of performance becomes a conceptual blueprint for action; a perception of what should be done, how it should be done, and why it should be done.  Your philosophy is the single most important navigational point on your leadership compass.  Which way is your compass pointing today?

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized

March 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Today’s Task – March 23, 2017

In my experience, there has never been a leader who arrived fully formed, who figured it out all by him or herself.  We learn in many ways, from many sources.  One of the most powerful is a mentor, usually thought of as an older, wiser person who takes you under his wing….provides ongoing teaching, counsel, direction, experience, and moral support.  But being mentored can also be simply a matter of keen observation, analysis, and learning by the “student,” whether there is any intent by a “mentor” or not.

In my own growth as a leader, I have had the good fortune of working one-on-one with some incredible mentors.  College professors Don Wilcox and Richard Powell prepared me for the journey that lay ahead of me, high-powered motivators and dear friends Tim Lautzenheiser and Michael Kumer taught me the importance of developing the person, as well as the musician, and LJ Hancock taught me how to structure a program in which students had the greatest opportunity for success.  Perhaps my greatest growth came from mentors I never even met.  I have read hundreds of books on leadership and coaching; people like John Wooden, Coach K, Dean Smith, John Maxwell, Stephen Covey, Daniel Pink, Tom Peters, Simon Sinek, and many others, have all taught me valuable lessons through their writings, yet I have never met one of them.  Ralph Waldo Emerson described a great and creative person as one who “finds himself in the river of the thoughts and events, forced onward by ideas and necessities of his contemporaries.  Thus, all originality is relative.  Every thinker is retrospective.”  We learn from others. There is little doubt that I am the sum of all the lessons I have learned from the mentors in my life.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to seek out mentors; people whose wisdom can offer you ongoing teaching, counsel, direction, experience, and moral support.  You are surrounded my mentors….some official, some unofficial.  We begin our apprenticeship when we are young, and it should continue even when we are old.  A good leader is always learning.  The great leaders start learning young and continue until their last breath.  It is my sincere hope that in some small way, I have been able to mentor my students….and you as well.  Like many of my mentors, some of us have never actually met, yet hopefully, my writings have inspired you in your own life journey.

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized

March 22, 2017 2 comments

Today’s Task – March 22, 2017

People say there are winners and losers in life.  But typically, it is more like this: There are winners and there are people who would like to become winners but just don’t know how to do it.  Intelligent and talented people who are motivated can learn how to become winners if they have someone who will teach them.  Leadership, at its best, is exactly that: teaching skills, attitudes, and goals to individuals who are part of your organization.  Most things in life require good teaching….raising a family and educating children, running a company or sales team, or coaching athletes….so it is unfortunate that more people don’t spend the time and thought required to do it effectively.

I recently read the above, written by legendary NFL coach Bill Walsh, and was reminded that the greatest coaches in sports have also been the greatest teachers.  John Wooden, Vince Lombardi, and Coach K have all been described as great teachers of, not only the game, but life itself.  Walsh goes on to explain that in his experience, this is what it takes to be a good teacher: passion, expertise, communication, and persistence.  Passion is a love for the act of teaching itself….believing in your heart that it is not a means to an end, but an end in itself.  Teaching is not a duty or burden that you get out of the way so you can move on to the important things.  It IS the important thing.  Expertise is the inventory of knowledge and experiences you possess on a particular subject.  To advance in any profession it is imperative to understand all aspects of that profession: Only expertise makes you an expert!  Communication is the ability to organize and then successfully convey your informed thoughts.  Successful teaching is a two-way process.  Just as a pass is not successful until the receiver catches it, successful teaching requires reception, retention, and comprehension of your message.  Persistence is essential because knowledge is rarely imparted on the first attempt.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to understand that great leadership requires great teaching.  As I look back on my own teaching career, there is no greater joy than teaching people how to reach deep within to fulfill their potential, how to become all they were meant to be.  And when you do that with a group, you as the leader, enjoy the thrill of creating a great team.  For me it was like creating a work of art.  Only instead of painting on a canvas, I was creating on the hearts and minds of young people.  Over my forty-year career in education and coaching, a lot of passes were thrown.  It is my hope that most of those passes were caught!

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized

March 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Today’s Task – March 21, 2017

We have all had the experience of going to the store to try on clothes or shoes; we want a specific style or color and we know what size we wear.  What happens, however, when they don’t have what we want, or we are not a good fit for the sizes available?  There are, of course, numerous options; we decide on a different style or color; we accept that we no longer have a thirty-four-inch waist; we decide to look elsewhere to satisfy our needs; or we play the victim card.  Playing the victim means we complain to the sales associate that the store doesn’t have what we want or need.  We attempt to make them responsible for our inflexibility in style and color choices, and the fact that we no longer fit into a size thirty-four.  As the victim, we don’t need to be responsible.  That is someone else’s job!

Yesterday I had the experience of watching two different people respond to adversity in their lives.  Each was upset that things had not gone the way they had wished or planned.  I found the first sitting alone in a room, trying to hold back her tears of disappointment.  She had just been turned down for a summer job; one she held the previous summer.  She felt hurt and rejected when they said she was not a good fit for the position.  When I asked her if there was anything I could do, she looked at me and replied, “I just need a few minutes by myself and then I will be fine”.   We talked about the opportunities that exist in every challenge we face and how she must find those opportunities and take advantage of them.  No victim card here!  The second individual was also disappointed when things didn’t go as hoped.  The difference, however, was in the response.  This individual played the victim card, wanting little or no responsibility for the way things turned out.  Instead of seeing the opportunity in the adversity, he envisioned that the adversity had destroyed his opportunity.  Clearly, the store was responsible for not having the right style and color, and there was something wrong with their clothes because the thirty-fours no longer fit!

Today, no every day, I encourage you to recognize that life will not always offer you the style and color you want and even though thirty-fours have always fit, sometimes we are no longer a thirty-four.  Life is full of challenges and we can either choose to find the opportunity in the challenge or we can play the victim card.  You can send a nasty letter to the store manager if you want, but the styles and colors are still going to be the same and a thirty-four will still be a thirty-four.  Perhaps instead, you might confront your inflexibility with regard to style and color, and change your eating habits so that you can once again fit into a thirty-four.  Just sayin’!

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized