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Category: Career

What’s in Your Playbook?

Maps. Navigational systems. Playbooks.

Getting to our destination requires using one of these tools to make it happen. So what’s in your playbook?

What books do you have listed to read next year that will get you to the next level in your career, or help you expand you business? Or how about books for being a better spouse, parent or friend?

What courses are you planning on taking to learn a new skill or sharpen an old one? Maybe a course on health and wellness?

Do you have a mentor or coach that can help you see the blind spots in your life or push you become a high performer in your life and career?

What tools have you invested in to track your progress? (Note: investing could mean just downloading an app)

You rarely get to your desired destination by chance. Setting up your playbook in advance is the prerequisite for ensuring you get there.

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Accepting Roles We Don’t Want

I’ve had to let go a hand full of employees in the last 3 years. Mostly due to poor performance.

The most difficult was letting go an individual who arguably was one of the highest skilled professionals on my team.

Though highly skilled, before I took over management of the team, he accepted the position for which he was overqualified for with the previous manager. He constantly struggled to stay on task for the daily duties and lacked discipline to focus on the details.

Ultimately when we sat to go over his exit interview, his response to the poor performance was, “I joined the company in hopes of eventually getting a role in my specific professional background. The role I’m doing now is not what I’m interested in”.

My response to him was that approach wasn’t acceptable based on the needs of the role, his coworkers and our customers. He seemed disinterested in that response and for that reason I had to let him go.

The growth potential from taking on diverse roles and functions in route to our ultimate goal can be limitless. Sometimes it’s a painful road. It takes shutting down our ego sometimes to be open to these possibilities.

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Change the Energy

About 8 or 9 years ago, the company I worked for held their annual event for all employees, highlighting major accomplishments from around the company, as well as future business strategies.

It would typically take pace at a fancy hotel or country club with speakers schedule throughout the day. Each department usually had to share a slide deck or give some sort of presentation about their individual successes and everything else related.

That year my manager picked me to speak for our team even though I had never done so in previous years. Before I went on my manager introduced me, and in a strange way referred to me in reference to my faith.

“So I’m calling up Sheldon who will of course be in heaven one day…” A little embarrassed by such an awkward introduction, on the fly I decided to change things up.

“You know my manager says I’m going to heaven. That’s funny because right now I’m nervous as hell.”

The entire audience blew up laughing like I had just told a joke on Showtime at the Apollo. That one comment completely shifted the energy in the room and I immediately felt comfortable sharing my presentation.

Being your authentic self shifts the energy and atmosphere in a positive way to those around you. It cuts tension and gives others the courage and permission to do the same.

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Reshape What Failure Really Is

When I had to execute 60 presentations in about 4 weeks there was bound to be times when I would go brain dead, have my voice crack and for technology to betray me in the form of multiple glitches.

When any of those unfortunate events would happen, I would continue with the presentation and wouldn’t give attention to the obvious mishap.

Our culture has defined failure as anything less than perfection and we’ve bought into it. It’s the reason we stay in comfortable, repetitive, well paying jobs we loath instead of pursuing meaning work and fulfilling life projects.

Doing what we love opens up too many opportunities to fail, because when we start something we often have no clue what we’re doing. That of course gives license for those around us to criticize.

Our cultural understanding of failure needs a major shift. It’s not the absence of perfection, it’s our response after making mistakes and the underlying lesson we can take from it.

How do we forge ahead? What changes will we make to our process? Is this worth pursuing after our last results?

Ultimately failure isn’t an absolute. It should always be a gateway to infinite continuous improvement in every area of our lives.

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Everyone Doesn’t Know Something

For those times you feel intimidated in meetings, not fully comprehending what’s being discussed.

For those times when you start a new role and are not sure where to turn for resources.

For every email that comes through from corporate but you were never trained on the company process being addressed on the message.

For all those awkward situations, there will always be moments where you’ll be the sole source to answer some of the most critical issues facing your company.

At any given time in your career you will inevitably fall on either side of the knowledge scenario. It’s important to remember that everybody does.

So be honest when you don’t hold the answer and uphold confidence when you do.

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Projects Come in Many Sizes

Why do we need Project Managers when we have corporate VPs, directors, managers, assistant managers, coordinators and other skilled associates?

Because some projects take longer than others to execute and require the skill set of being meticulous when everyone else wants immediate results.

Project Managers are really architects of patience. They understand results mean more than just getting it done. The slow grind is essential to ensure the job is done with excellence.

Like Project Management our lives and careers need to be centred on substance and not speed. That can only be done when we focus on our singular purpose and not look to keep up with the pace of those around us.

Building bigger, better, stronger, more effective, and sustainable comes with an awareness that the most important projects are the ones that will need a deeper investment in time and patience.

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Match the Right Intensity

If you’ve ever played organized sports at any level, you would have experienced your coach telling you to “match the intensity level” of your opponent. If they played hard in the trenches, you would need to do the same. If they trashed talked after a play, you’d trash talk back showing you aren’t intimidated.

Physical displays of domineering fortitude are commonplace in the athletic field of play and often provide a physiological advantage against your adversaries.

The same can’t be said in the professional workplace or when engaging in entrepreneurship leadership.

Contrary to popular opinion, matching the intensity from a physical or vocal standpoint in the boardroom is more of a sign of insecurity than it is a display of strength.

Stirring you passions away from an emotional reaction, and into making a strategic impact should be the focus. A well developed strategy that highlights the disadvantages or weaknesses of other suggested options (fact based of course) is the best way to match the intensity of your professional opposition.

In other worlds, intensity in the the workplace is more about brains than brawn.

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Take Time to Be Meticulous

When great ideas come we tend to put our focus on the end results. The idea of what we want to see. The picture perfect manifestation of what it should look like.

As is the case since the beginning the 21st century, how fast we can complete something seems to be just as important as completing the project itself.

Our preoccupation with being the ‘first‘ almost always leads us to skipping important details along the way. Or wanting a title because it assumes a specific social status (entrepreneur or CEO) but not being meticulous enough to understand all the prerequisites required.

But that’s just it. As much as we aim to avoid the rat race we still subconsciously compete with one another and over look some of the most important life details that need to be considered.

As I’m writing this I’m 2 months into a new role with a new company. In an effort to prove myself to my new colleagues, jumping into projects and issues before understanding all the specific nuances and inner workings of the company is something I’ve fallen prey to.

Luckily I’ve had support from multiple executive level associates, including my manager, tell me to take time to learn and don’t feel pressured to jump right in, right away.

It’s not just in business or your professional career. In the many facets of life, taking the meticulous approach in all things will provide you with the insight to make better decisions and ones that ultimately will last longer.

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Venturing into the Unknown

Advancement and promotion comes to those willing to venture into uncharted territory.

Taking such a step displays a willingness to fail. To look weak. To feel inadequate and ill prepared to face what’s coming.

It’s also a confirmation to the important decision makers that you’re committed to growing and increasing your value to the organization.

At a deeper more social level, venturing to the unknown can look like being open to objective conversations with those who hold an opposing point of view.

When we continually open ourselves to learn, understand and discover the world beyond the knowledge we currently have, we are saying yes to a richer life experience. Tangibly and metaphorically.

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Personal Career Choices Are Just That, Personal

On the much anticipated ESPN documentary about the championship season for the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, it was revealed how heavily one player was underpaid.

Scottie Pippen, who was famously known as ‘Robin’ to Michael Jordan’s ‘Batman’, had agreed to a multi-year contract early in his playing career.

When asked why he accepted such an undervalued contract, Pippen reflected back on the need to take care of his large family. Pippen grew up relatively poor and knew he finally had the means to provide for them, especially in the area of healthcare.

After his time with the Bulls Pippen would eventually sign a contract with another team that was more representative of the current market value.

It’s important to note that the decisions we make need to be based on our own personal situations and don’t need to necessarily reflect what’s happening in the marketplace. More money or compensation doesn’t always equate to a better decision or life.

Starting a business, or selling a business. Jumping into management or resigning for something less demanding. Accepting less money for less stress. All decisions are good ones if they are aligned with the internal building principles you live by.

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