Lessons Learned – the opportunities ahead

improve

As a follow-up to my last post, my recent business trips have allowed me to recognize the positives from the work my team and myself have done while also identifying areas where we can improve. Since today is Monday, it is fitting that we start the work week infused with a desire to improve. The opportunities are ahead of us all. Individually and group wise. When reviewing the areas you can do better you have to look outward and inward.

Let’s start outward
From a group perspective, these tend to be more visible.

What is your group doing that is not working? What items are you spending too much time with but getting little to no return on?
These can be strategies that impact the bottom line, or simple tactics that are falling short of achieving the results you intended. Additionally, what parts of your programs can be improved with different features or revamped thresholds. Since I work in a sales environment, these make sense. But I believe the same can be applied in other areas of work.

One of the best ways I’ve experienced opportunities being addressed is by listing each item and analyzing immediate and long term impacts. Prioritizing your areas of opportunity allows you to create a plan of attack for your takeaways. Additionally, it helps you spend you energy with efforts that will start providing you the results you need. Still, don’t forget to list the things you know you can’t implement or change right away. Knowing what these are will allow you to be clear in your approach and be motivated to take the steps you outlined.

Getting follow-up lists done with your work group will also create accountability with your peers. Providing action items with leaders identified with each effort helps you make progress on what you want to accomplish.

Switching to your inward review can be hard. And this is not just at work as it applies to the home front as well; with your family, at school, with your neighbors.

What is slowing you down? What actions do you take regularly that stir you away from your goals instead of getting you closer?
Each person has it’s own areas to improve and they are unique to oneself but I will share for myself what I know I need to improve. I need to say “no” more often. I need to evaluate my work load reality more often and provide realistic expectations to what I can and cannot do. I’m confident in my performance and I love to learn and grow. Still, too much work can stir me away from the very things I NEED to learn in order to grow in my role and achieve what I’m reaching for.

Looking outward and inward is easier said than done. More than recognizing the areas of improvement, it’s what you do with it that truly drives success.

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Lessons learned – recognizing the positives

lessons learned

Just got back from a business trip to Florida where my workgroup got together to review last year’s accomplishments and look at the roadmap to success for 2014. With the growth of our business our meetings have evolved over the last few years. It seems like yesterday that I was sitting in a restaurant having brunch and talking business. This time we had four different sessions spanning from growth opportunities to system enhancements, vendor relationships and marketing strategies. Things have definitely changed and while we still got to connect as a team outside the office, we have truly moved from a start-up mindset to an accomplished business that is legitimately a leader in our industry.

As we closed the last session we took some time to recap our progress over the work we’ve done and what we can do better. Immediately I felt this urge to look at the areas where we are struggling. The areas where we still have much room for improvement. The opportuntities for growth. This is why we met, right? I mean, this is what you would consider a productive meeting. Recognizing what you are doing wrong and address them, right? As each person took their turn expressing their thoughts, I looked at my notes and the faces around the room. It was then that I saw the connection between our commitment, our work and our results. It was time to recognize that we have also done somethings right and we should be proud of our endeavors.

Sometimes, whether at home or at work, we tend to quickly look at the areas we are less impactful. This is especially true in business where it’s almost as if the whole purpose is to find the things you are not doing right. While being productive with planning and review meetings should provide your fair share of tangible improvement takeaways, it’s important to not forget the habits, the tactics, the strategies that you’re applying and with which you are “knocking it out of the park!”

How many times have you addressed the positives? Do you close your meetings that way. Do you recap what you are doing right?

It’s important to have a healthy balance in reviewing both the good and the bad. It sets a tone of motivation and encouragement that fuels the desire to be better and continue to grow. It’s important to recognize and celebrate what you are doing right so you can be confident in overcoming the challenges ahead.

Motivated by the life of Eusebio

Eusebio

My homeland is mourning the death of one of their brightest start. Portuguese soccer legend Eusebio died yesterday at age 71. Now, if you are not a soccer fan or know much about the sport you are most likely ready to close this article and move on to what is next in your day, but I encourage you to read further and understand that the story of Eusebio is much greater than a sport or a country.

While many around the world spent the day googling about the man they called “The Black Panther” my memories reminded me of my father’s tales of the soccer greats he saw playing. Our team, Sporting, was a rival to Eusebio’s team, Benfica. Still, my dad spoke of Eusebio the player as someone truly amazing. A player so fit, smart and skillful that even my dad, who couldn’t stand anything related to Benfica, would recognize greatness. For portuguese people, soccer fans or not, Eusebio is an icon who made our country known throughout the world.

But his story is a source of motivation beyond the soccer pitch. His is a story of perseverance and humility. Born in the country of Mozambique, then a colony of Portugal, Eusebio grew up in a poor neighborhood playing football (as the rest of the world correctly calls it) with a ball made from socks. He moved at an early age to play in Portugal and made an immediate mark. Still, what people recognized in him was the easy smile. Beyond the fame and greatness, he was still a simple man.

For me, it makes me think of my life. What would I have done if I had grown-up with his situation. With poverty around me and little hope. Eusebio showed me that you can have perseverance for a dream and humility in achieving it, no matter the circumstances. See, we don’t choose the country where we are born, the color of our skin or if our family is financially well off; but we do get to choose how we live. The passion with which we approach life and our dreams. I think Eusebio is a great example of this reality.

Obrigado Eusebio.

Being a helping hand and being changed by it

Helping Hand

In keeping up with my theme for this year of being more loving and more generous, this past week I was able to catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in years. While I won’t disclose what he is going through, I will share that his situation is emotionally and physically tough. Still, I was encouraged to see his attitude and resolve to overcome his current situation and be a better man for the people closest to him. He didn’t shy away from the problem and recognized his influence in the situation but made the decision to adjust his course correctly. I was touched to see his resolve.

My role is to be the friend he needs; a brother in arms. To be present in the good and bad times. I want to be that person. I know I can’t change anything, but I can be a catalyst for his motivation to kick-in when needed. I’m being that helping hand but I know that I too am being changed through the process.

You can say it’s a noble act. You can say it shows honor to your friends. You can even say that I’m being an example to my family and the people around me. All of these expressions are true but I tend to see how this process is also changing me. I don’t see myself as better, stronger, smarter, brighter, or more positive. I’m just another person like so many others faced with the opportunity to be present. I know you have had the same opportunity. The opportunity to be that friend, that brother, that source of encouragement and motivation. In looking back at my life I can say that sometimes I took the easy road. But this time it’s different.

In taking the first step to be that someone I have finally said:
“I’m present and I’m willing to take this responsibility. I will be here for you when you need it. I will check in when you least expect it. I will listen to your cry and I will let you vent. I will provide limited wisdom allowing you to see a different point-of-view. I will laugh with you when it get’s silly and things don’t make sense. I will be your helping hand.”

Motivational Soundtrack – My Own Little World (Matthew West)

own little world

My view of living life is much bigger than myself. That is the premise of this blog, the concept that we can only live life fully motivated when we are connected with others around us. The idea that two or more people can motivate each other to make an impact in this world and help us reach our full potential. That can only happen when we give of ourselves to others. When we leave our own little world behind.

That is what attracted me to Matthew West’s new song. The reality that we are just a piece of the puzzle and that with others we can see the bigger picture and find our purpose.

This is my desire for this year and the rest of my life, that I can get outside of my own world and view the needs of others more clearly and be present to help, to encourage and to motivate. At home, at work, in my neighborhood, at the gym, at church, in school or at the playground. I hope you can do the same and join the movement.