Stepping up to the challenge

taking a step

What does work changes, family health and extreme weather have in common? You have no control over either of them. That is basically what I experienced in the last few weeks.

It first started with increase work-related projects that needed my undivided attention as our business grows and reaches for additional success in a new year. My business trips started adding up to my calendar as each day unfolded a new opportunity for me to provide guidance and leadership. While all of this is happening a winter vortex fast approached the southern states that I’ve come to enjoy for their early spring. And because in a perfect storm it doesn’t simply rain, my wife and kids all got the flu at the worst time possible.

In that moment I remember thinking of what I could do to accommodate all the areas that were pulling for my attention. Have you ever had a moment like this? Where when you least expected the perfect plan becomes… well, not perfect at all? In these moments many of us tend to be stressed by the demands instead of being excited by the opportunities it poses for personal and professional growth. The way one juggles all responsibilities does provide a window to share on the demeanor and focus needed to overcome a challenge.

So that was my situation. I won’t deny that at some point I wanted to crawl into the fetal position and simply wish for all to go away. That lasted for about 1 minute… I didn’t have time for much more; in reality there was no time do stand still. My role as a husband, father, family leader, committed worker and team member required me to step up to the challenge. In moments like this I embrace the adrenaline and take in the opportunity to shine and grow. Will I make mistakes? Yes. Could I have done things differently? Yes.

But instead of getting bitter I want to get better.

We all go through moments like this, where our plans don’t go according to our…well, plans. To step up to the challenge all you need to do is take that first step. There are no manuals in handling unexpected challenges and so my main direction in these circumstances is to push through and take that step. I didn’t know all that was unfolding until it actually happened. Still, I took a step. With flexibility I changed by work plans to re-arrange my traveling. With commitment I took the time to be present for my family and take care of their needs. With engagement I made up my work time by working earlier mornings and later nights to handle all my responsibilities at the office.

I didn’t plan my last three weeks to be like this but I took a step to face my challenges head on. What challenges are you facing? You may not know what is coming up but all you need to do is take that first step.


How real change happens


So I was on the road again this week and spent some time reviewing all that I’ve accomplish in my recent business trips. This week’s trip included meetings, project reviews and additional channel management ideas that will help our business grow. I spend much time on the strategy side, but I have to say, my biggest a-ha moments come when I’m connected with the people side of the business: the folks that are actually doing the selling.

I love to coach and inspire people to reach their full potential. This approach is evident in my sales training motivational efforts. My biggest advantage is that I understand life to be intertwined between work and home; for one can only achieve true success and joy when you live life as you are. This is why my message is never just about work. The process of achieving all you can be is not just an exercise to grow in knowledge but it must also include the spiritual and emotional components. These are evident at home, with family, at church, in your community. You have one life. Everything in you is connected and reflected in your multiple interactions.

With work, as with life in general, it’s easier said than done and I know that for every five employees I spend time with, there is always one that is more challenging than others. But that is why I try to really know each employee on a personal level. No, I don’t do it for the sake of knowing exactly what to bribe them with. On a deep level one cannot understand why someone reacts a specific way unless you know what is going inside; behind the mask that many of us put on day in and day out. What I do is connect with the real person and invite them to come out to play, have fun and be successful.

So you have to start with the core; the inside of a person; their belief system. When you understand why someone’s heart beats so strong (or so week) for something can you actually understand the reason for their actions. This model can be applied to any part of your life but I have seen it clearly in the workplace.

I will share the example from my work and unveil a little more of what I do. The majority of the sales channels I’m involved with are Contact Center, better know as Call Centers (mainly taking inbound calls). The majority of people think of this line of work as people that spend the whole day taking phone calls. I was one of those and I can’t tell you how incomplete that simple description can be. The reality is that it takes a special person to listen to customers who are most of the time frustrated and, in my industry, unaware of the basic information when calling. It takes a special skill to hear mixed emotions channelled through a phone line, while still keeping your cool and providing a great experience for the customer. So the role of a Customer Service Agent is more than just answering phone calls. I like to view these employees as Solutions providers.

The problem is that these same employees have fallen in this stereotypical trap; they have believed this incomplete view of what they do as the full definition of their work. Unfortunately for some it goes deeper. Some find that view as their full purpose. It can be a joy killer. So my first step is understand what is in their hearts and minds so I can grasp the reason for their performance. My approach requires them to think differently of themselves. To break the walls of their box and make them see they are free to be whoever they want to be in their life; at home and at work; everywhere. Real change happens when your paradigm shifts. Steven Convey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was anchored first on the need to shift the way you think.

When your belief is aligned with the power you have to achieve your goals, progress happens. Corrective action happens. Doing the right things often turns into habits, which leads to change.

Aligning your beliefs accurately, helps you take the correct actions that create the habits you need to for change to happen.