Be Thoughtful

People are the most complex part of any organization. If that were ever in question, just take a look around as you watch, listen, feel and understand what people are experiencing.

Situations are Complex

Things are rarely as simple as we’d prefer them to be in our life. There’s no doubt that complex situations are plentiful and simple seems really hard to come by right now.

When perceptions differ, values and paradigms clash. If you’ve ever wondered what messy looks like, pay close attention to what you’re observing take place around you.

Crisis has the unique ability to unify or separate teams. Having a clear understanding of your identity is a large contributor to determining which occurs in your world. If you don’t know who you are, expect to have it defined for you. In these moments, you come to the realization that strength of leadership is a reflection of your strength of purpose. When both are absent chaos is the predictable outcome.

Choose Your Words Carefully

As we celebrated Father’s Day this past weekend, I remembered a piece of wisdom that I’ll forever associate with my dad. “Think before you speak.”  Time and again, we’ve seen what happens when someone fails to consider or reflect on what they’re about to say. There are so many cases where we witness people using words and making statements that are completely disconnected from thought or reflection. Driven by emotion, we’re far more responsive and careless with what we say. Driven by purpose, we’re much more deliberate and intentional in the words we use and the thoughts we express.

To paraphrase the famous philosopher Forrest Gump “careless is as careless does.” Meaning that what a person says matters and you don’t get to stuff words back in your mouth once they’ve been spoken. You’d better know your intent in what you say and why you’re saying it or things are just going to get messier.

This Isn’t a Drill

We operate in the living, breathing organism known as a company where our decisions and choices have definable outcomes. This isn’t a drill. Clarity of leadership and communication must be present, otherwise, chaos and confusion are the measurable results. While it’s not popular to confront widely accepted views or perspectives, leadership means that we must do so with the intent to move forward with clarity and understanding. Universal agreement isn’t achievable. Gaining greater clarity around why we believe what we believe and why we do what we do is entirely possible. The highly aware person is someone willing to admit when they were wrong. They’re also willing to have their mind changed because they know they have blind spots where they need greater clarity and depth. This progression leads to better interactions, relationships, decisions and outcomes.

Thoughtstarter

How you lead in a crisis contributes to the level of respect others have and demonstrate towards you.

  • How is your communication contributing to the clarity of leadership within your company?
  • How are you helping people solve problems as a result of understanding their situation and being aware of the impact it has on them individually and your organization collectively?

Value the complexity of any situation and seek to understand so that you can advance and progress continually.

Brent


The Tragedy After the Crisis

A quick look at my email inbox and you’d see that there’s no lack of content or articles about how we should lead, navigate, communicate or interact during a crisis.

The amount of input providing information on ways to solve problems is overwhelming, exhausting and many times completely unnecessary. I’m a voracious reader and learner.  The fact that I’ve had to say enough is enough is affirming and concerning at the same time. Can you relate?

There comes a point where we simply have to turn off the noise that surrounds us and is continually bombarding our brains. Instead, we’ve got to take a moment to breathe and reconnect with our creativity and originality of our thoughts, ideas and expression.

Beyond learning, the energy of my commitment is grounded in teaching and coaching others and engaging with them around the application required to achieve results. Information is useless when it’s apart from a practical usefulness. Knowledge is only power when it’s applied to a problem or progression.

If the content, blog posts or articles that hit your inbox don’t help you connect the dots in a practical and meaningful way, consider eliminating or changing-up what you’re receiving.

What You Do With What You Learn

In business, the tragedy of a crisis is often discovered in the action that isn’t taken or the decisions that aren’t made that should have been after the crisis has diminished.

After going through a crisis, it’s natural to want to take a breath. There are times that the people within a company want to take a collective breath. This is important for the same reasons that I stated above. This is an opportunity to reconnect with the purpose, strategy, direction and cultural identity that are the cornerstones of advancement.

Reconnecting around a positive rhythm isn’t accidental for an individual or an organization. The same question helps guide and direct the approach and tone.

What am I doing with what I learned? 

Taking a breath and looking at something with a fresh perspective is not only important, it’s essential. Doing that apart from the action required to move forward creates a void. This void offers the greatest potential to become a tragedy after the crisis.

P.S. What will you do with what you learned? Let me know in the comments.


Uncompromising Determination: A Tribute to Family Business

A Thoughtwave hasn’t hit your inbox for 10 weeks. I want to simply say that I’m glad to be back.

For eight-plus weeks, each of us has confronted our own unique situations both personally and professionally. We’ve fought the fight and are still engaged in the battles of now and what’s ahead. This has been a time of extreme learning and expansion.

We have seen commitment defined and demonstrated as people joined together in the trenches to confront the challenges and difficulties with an uncompromising determination. Experiences shared with people allow us to be fully aware and appreciative of what they go through at the deepest levels in their families, their businesses, their lives and their communities.

During this period of time, my focus was less on writing about what we’ve experienced and more on being fully present and participative with the people whose companies and livelihoods have been relentlessly challenged. My emphasis has been, and will continue to be, on moving the information and insight between leaders to help them develop strategies and navigate their situations. This is a time of adaptation, flexibility and stability in the moments, minutes, hours and days. This is about essential decisions made with a real-time focus.

My return to Thoughtwave, and being back in your inbox, begins with a renewed awareness and a uniquely energized focus on purpose. Each of those centers on a commitment to the people who limitlessly dedicate themselves to the privately-held, family-owned and closely-held businesses in this country and around the world.

Please accept my thanks for what you do every day. You have affirmed my purpose to help you think beyond boundaries and maximize your capacity and ability.

With thanks for all that you do and all that you have done to keep this country thriving,
Brent

Please watch my video tribute using the following link:
A Tribute to Family Business

P.S. Want to share how a leader in your privately-held or family-owned business demonstrated uncompromising determination? Do so in the comments.


The Most Talked About and Least Understood Skill Among Leaders

In planning Thoughtwave for the start of 2020, I decided that a large share of content would focus on communication among leaders and within companies. There were five key reasons why.

  1. Communication is the cornerstone of people’s progression and your company’s success.
  2. Communication is the most talked about and least understood skill among leaders.
  3. A leader that believes they have mastered communication, individually or within their company, is a leader who favors delusion ahead of discipline.
  4. Communication is complex.
  5. Communication is what separates exceptional leaders from those that are average.

Minds Run Wild

Fact is, that conspiracy theories are alive and well and living within your organization.

According to Merriam-Webster, a conspiracy theory is “a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.”

Our minds love to fill in the blanks. When minds are left to wander, or wonder, they run wild. Here are some examples.

  • Elvis is still alive.
  • Area 51 is researching and experimenting on aliens.
  • The chamber behind Mount Rushmore holds some big secrets.
  • The Bermuda Triangle is one of the two places on Earth at which a magnetic compass points towards true north.

The assassination of John F. Kennedy was the catapult for modern conspiracy-theory. It was an improbable event that Americans desperately wanted explained, no matter how concerning the truth. There are dozens of theories and documentaries explaining JFK’s passing and they’re only advanced by the fact that an absolute truth is still unknown.

Netflix cashed in on the conspiracy theory surrounding the death of Jimmy Hoffa in their recent hit The Irishman. The movie became the biggest theatrical release both in the United States and internationally.

While conspiracy theories may be profitable for moviemakers, they have no place or purpose in your company.

Communication Requires Commitment

Your people are searching for answers. They want to understand what’s happening around them. If you don’t tell them, they’ll make up their own version of the truth.

On the flip side of understanding, it’s important to note that communication doesn’t mean telling everyone everything. Like shoes, a blouse or pants, communication should be sized to the person or group of people receiving the message.

Questions to Consider

Here are two questions to consider when you favor communication ahead of conspiracy.

  1. What generates curiosity?
  • Unknowns
  • Rumors
  • Misstatements
  • Avoidance of questions
  • Generalizations
  • Silence
  1. What minimizes conspiracies?
  • Shared truths
  • Facts

The Discipline of Communication

The truth can be uncomfortable. It does, however, provide the opportunity to state the facts ahead of letting people randomly fill in the blanks.

Conspiracy theories create chaos. Communication creates the interaction between information and people. The relationship between the two allows leaders to minimize conspiracies, maximize truth and accelerate the speed to communication effectiveness within your company.

#Thoughtstarters

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being ideal, where would you rate the effectiveness of communication within your department, area or company?

Why did you rate it that way?

What would it take to improve the effectiveness of your communication?

What’s your action plan to make it happen?

Final Thought

If communication is consistently random, what would lead you to believe it’s directed by the discipline of a strategy?

P.S. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.


Motivation vs. Clarity

Eric Boles, former NFL player, shared the following anecdote…

He said that when his team was down at the half and came back to win it was not because of a motivational speech provided by the coach in the locker room. When only motivation was provided, the team came back and played the second half the same way they had played the first - only more fired up, and they typically just lost harder. However, when the coach used the half to provide clarity about the strategies used by the other team, his team would return to the field to win.

Boles’ insight is as valuable in business as it is in football.

The people you lead don’t need motivation. Motivation is an internal response to an external influence. What they need is a clarity that drives the flame that fuels their performance. It’s this simple:

A consistent lack of clarity in communication will equal an inability to maximize performance both individually and collectively.

If you think you’re consistently clear in your communication and direction, you should pay particular attention to this post. It’s written specifically for you.

Here are three reasons clarity matters:

  1. Providing clarity in communication to the people you work with is your primary accountability. Fail to do so and you’ll understand first-hand what real frustration looks like and how it negatively impacts performance and results.
  2. Authenticity matters. This means that you’d better be consistently clear in your direction, feedback and interaction. Want to see great people leave your leadership and your company? Take the opposite approach and watch what happens.
  3. Questions connect awareness and action. Establishing clarity begins with being willing to ask questions as readily as you provide direction. Your people know when you’re not knowledgeable on a topic. There’s no negative in admitting this and asking questions to gain the needed understanding and clarity. The problems start when you provide direction with little to no awareness or expertise and you believe your opinion offers the needed/required insight. To this, I simply say... “get over yourself” because you’re creating confusion and chaos ahead of clarity.

#Thoughtstarters

It’s astonishing how many leaders believe that they’re knowledgeable about everything.

How often do people you work with feel unmotivated to start a project because they lack clarity on what’s expected?

Final Thought

What results would be achieved if you valued the clarity of understanding, awareness and communication as the leadership connectors to your people? Take a moment to step back and consider the clarity of your intention, interaction and direction. What would your leadership look like if you boldly asked your team members one, two or all three of the following questions?

  1. How often do you feel unmotivated about your work because of my lack of clarity?
  2. How am I an obstacle to you having the clarity needed to think and act more proactively and independently?
  3. When has my lack of clarity caused us to achieve results that were less than what they could have been? Describe how that made you feel and the impact it had on you.

Bring clarity to your leadership by bringing clarity to your team,

Brent

P.S. Go ahead... share your thoughts in the comments.


It’s a BIG world out there: Five thoughts about people that will shape the year ahead

Last week I talked about expansion and its direct connection to awareness and learning.

My objective is to help multiply leadership mindsets that focus on fueling excellence and the purposeful development of people in the workplace.

What you learn is the direct result of exposing yourself to more experiences, broader mindsets and perspectives other than your own. This quote from last week sums up my thoughts on limiting awareness by limiting exposure and it’s worth repeating.

“In today’s global marketplace and ever-changing business climate, it’s not enough to repeat the same year of experience 25 times and believe that it represents innovation. It’s also not enough to define the boundaries of your world within a 50-mile radius and believe you possess a global mindset.”

Five Important Ideas

Last week I said I’d share five important ideas that you’ll want to consider as you develop people and shape the remainder of your year. Each of these ideas are the result of Johnny C. Taylor Jr., Executive Director of SHRM, helping me expand my awareness.

    1. Defining a business strategy requires that you first define a people strategy. Simple but clear. The right people will help you define the right strategy and the wrong people will help you define the wrong strategy.
    2. Strategy can be broken down into three elements.
      • Corporate Strategy - What business and in which business should we compete?
      • Business Strategy - How do we compete?
      • People Strategy - What talent do we need to compete?
        It’s so logical, it’s painful. How will your people strategy fuel your corporate and business strategy in 2020?
    3. The success of talent acquisition is about three guiding principles.
      • Recruit for competency and hire for fit. Cultural disaster is the result of doing it the other way around.
      • Be clear about what your company is about.
      • Most importantly - Be crystal clear with candidates about who they will be working for as their boss. This is about one thing and that’s the subculture the person will live in every day. (This single thought was worth my conference fee and my time in attending.)
    4. Achieving diversity in the workplace was hard but it has been achieved overall. Inclusion of people in the workplace is far harder and there’s a long way to go. We must stop vilifying entire groups of people or generations. These types of generalizations are fraught with disaster.
    5. There are currently 5.8 million people looking for jobs. There are 7.1 million jobs available. Birth rates are in decline and the number of college graduates is decreasing as well. Leaders need to recognize that this is a math problem. As such, employers need to recognize that turnover is real and something to be predicted and accepted at some level. The most aware leaders recognize that in today’s employment landscape, something like a job offer has taken on a new purpose. It’s no longer serves as an offer; its primary purpose is an invitation into your company’s culture.

#Thoughtstarter - Quotes to Consider

Rick Bowers, President of TTISI offered the following two quotes as a part of our annual conference on realizing human potential. They immediately grabbed my attention. Something to consider in shaping your year ahead.

“It’s the responsibility of leaders to create an environment in which people can be their best. An environment in which they can thrive and achieve results for themselves and their company.”

“Courage is best defined as knowing someone has your back and you having someone else’s back.”

Make your effort purposeful. Shape your year ahead by increasing your awareness and expanding your mindset. Then go do something with what you learn.

Brent

P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.


It's a BIG world out there.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2020 Thoughtstarter Challenge. This has become a yearly favorite for me because of how much I learn as I go through the Challenge myself. The most challenging week for me was looking ahead and considering what the future holds. So many options and so many opportunities to grow and evolve. As always, I had to remind myself of two things:

  1. Focus on the things that I do really well.
  2. Know the things I don’t do well and rely on really talented people to accelerate into those spaces.

This is also the time of year when I join consulting and people professionals from around the world to attend the R3 Conference on revealing, releasing and realizing human potential. The purpose is to discover, learn and connect so that we can help our clients consider, explore and implement innovative approaches to the most complex part of their business - people.

Expansion

Attending conference each year is about my expansion. It’s about increasing my awareness and ultimately the awareness of my clients and you as a part of the Thoughtwave Community.

The discovery of patterns, innovations, relevant information, data and perspectives of other leaders is why this is a “won’t miss” event on my calendar. For 17 plus years, I’ve gained an idea that significantly impacted my thought process, my growth and positively impacted progression and results for my clients.

My objective is to help multiply leadership mindsets that focus on fueling excellence and the purposeful development of people in the workplace.

It’s a BIG World Out There

One of the most valuable parts of the conference for me are the connections and relationships with my colleagues from Australia, Brazil, Holland, Ireland, the UK and Turkey.

It’s a big world out there and people like Trevor, Alex, Jared, Hank, Padrig, Sarah and Hassan all connect to a much larger picture and international ideas related to business and the world-wide dynamics of people. These aren’t just my colleagues, they’re my friends and each year I look forward to seeing and learning from them.

Causing people to think beyond boundaries is a cornerstone of my work and relationships with people. No one person or country has all of the best ideas. Collaboration brings together so much more than the isolation of our thoughts, views and insights.

A Demonstrated Ability

In order to claim a broad awareness and understanding, you must first demonstrate your ability to go beyond the boundaries that you’ve established for yourself.

I applaud the longevity of service among leaders in companies, but not at the expense of ideas generated by a broader view. In today’s global marketplace and ever-changing business climate, it’s not enough to repeat the same year of experience 25 times and believe that it represents innovation. It’s also not enough to define the boundaries of your world within a 50-mile radius and believe you possess a global mindset.

What conference reminds me of each year is that building your brain is a focused and deliberate effort. One worth making because investing in yourself provides the highest rate of return.

Next week I’m going to share 5 important ideas from the R3 Conference that you’ll want to consider as you develop people and shape the remainder of your year.

Final Thought

We’re through the first month of the year and 1/3rd of the first quarter is complete. No time to waste in your relentless pursuit of excellence.

Read books, social feeds, online sources, magazines, newspapers, articles, and whatever else you can get your hands on.
Listen to podcasts, interviews and more.
Watch documentaries, the news, and the people around you.

#Thoughtstarter

What are you reading and listening to as a part of building your brain in 2020? How do you need to expand your view? What steps are you taking to make this happen? What is your single favorite source for information about the world around you?

Let me know, along with your thoughts, in the comments.

With awareness,
Brent


Challenge Yourself to Look Ahead

Measures of success. They’re quantifiable, tangible, and/or visible methods for identifying that your target is being met or exceeded. They’re how I’m encouraging all of you to identify your own excellence in 2020.

You’ve reflected. Now it’s time to plan using actionable steps. How will you be relentless in your pursuit of excellence?

This final week’s questions are aimed to help you develop action steps to achieving a measurable goal.

Get the workbook here.

Relentlessly,
Brent


Challenge Yourself to Reflect

Purpose. It’s the difference between thinking generally and thinking intentionally. Reflecting on our lives allows us to identify both our strengths and limitations. If we don’t take the time to purposefully reflect, little growth will occur. Reflection is our own opportunity to identify areas for improvement. Dedicated reflection is telling yourself, “My own evolution matters.”

Reflect purposefully.
Reflect deliberately.
Reflect intentionally.

This week’s #thoughtstarters are intended to help you reflect intentionally on 2019 so that you can challenge yourself more deliberately in 2020.

Get the workbook here.

Relentlessly,
Brent

2020 Thoughtstarter Challenge


Challenge Yourself to be Relentless in the Pursuit of Excellence

I've provided the Thoughtstarter Challenge for four years now, and this is by far the most exciting. Why? Because I’ve elevated it. Why? Because my community of readers deserves it. I’m on a mission to relentlessly pursue excellence so that I may provide excellence in 2020. The mission starts now.

This week I’m challenging you to define what it means to relentlessly pursue excellence - to define excellence in all areas of your life.

Get the workbook here.

Relentlessly,
Brent

2020 Thoughtstarter Challenge