Why Reading Requires Focus

You can’t believe everything you read. True statement. Here’s an even truer statement. You shouldn’t act on everything you read.

As a leader, reading is imperative. Reading engages your brain and sharpens your perspective. Reading is a great way to expand your awareness and knowledge. It’s about developing the ability to consider ideas that go beyond the scope of your own thinking.

Common Sense Before Book Sense

You’re never too young to read or too old. Reading something is better than reading nothing. From blogs to books, feeds to articles, online sources to print publications, short form or long form, reading is more about what interests you than what bores you.

There are two perspectives about reading that must be understood.

  1. Reading offers a distinct competitive advantage for leaders.
  2. Leaders who don’t read limit their capacity for growth.

This is about common sense more than it’s about book sense. It goes beyond the belief that knowledge is power. It’s about recognizing that the application of knowledge is where the real power of reading is discovered.

Seven insights about how I focus my reading:

  1. I read relentlessly.
  2. I read practically.
  3. I read beyond the boundaries of my preferences.
  4. I commit to reading something that expands my view every day.
  5. I set a goal for the number of books I want to read in a year. (This year that goal is 8).
  6. I don’t read about things that don’t interest me.
  7. I read with focus because I can’t, and shouldn’t, act on everything I read.

BTW -  Right now, I’m reading a book titled The American Entrepreneur by Willie Robertson. This is a book about the daring movers and shakers who dreamed big and risked everything to build better lives.

Thoughtstarter: Adapt, Adopt, Abandon

Reading requires focus because every idea read isn’t a call to action to change something within yourself or within your company. Sometimes reading is simply about…well... reading.

Let me encourage you to start reading if you’re not and keep reading if it’s already become a habit. Saying that you don’t read because you don’t like to read is about justification ahead of development. Think of it this way…

Would you want a surgeon to operate on you that hadn’t expanded their view both intellectually and experientially on surgical techniques and methods over the last 25 years?

Before you read, understand whether what you’re reading is more about your enjoyment or your education. Sometimes you won’t know until you’re done reading. Regardless, any reading expands your awareness.

When you read for insight and knowledge, ask yourself this question to help bring clarity to your reading.  “Should I adopt, adapt or abandon this idea?” Think of this like your reading filter.

When you choose to adopt an idea, it’s because it offers you something. It’s like a best practice that fulfills something you want and helps to generate a result. In the same way, it’s okay to acknowledge that someone else’s good idea doesn’t have to immediately become your best practice. It’s okay to recognize that what worked well for someone else may not be the best option for you, but you can adapt it to work for you. Perhaps most importantly, it’s okay to read something and realize that what worked for someone else won’t work for you and you can abandon the idea.

The most important thing to remember? Read.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. What are you currently reading? Let me know in the comments.


Remember, There Are People at the Other End of Your Decision

Your decisions matter and the impact of your decisions almost always extends beyond you.

Click on the following link to understand in 15 seconds exactly what I mean.

The Impact of Your Decisions

Why This Matters

Someone I respect once said, “Brent, always remember at the other end of your decision there’s a human being. Every single time a decision is made, SOMEONE is impacted.”

His inference was clear, concise and directed and here’s my interpretation:
Don’t let your decisions get so far beyond the people you lead that you forget about the impact to the people you lead.

This is one of those “nuggets of wisdom” that you want to keep top of mind. It’s so powerful that it should cause us to constantly evaluate our decisions and not just from the view of our own lens.

Consider the Context

A decision made in isolation is a decision destined to create some dynamic of disruption and I don’t mean a positive disruption.

Every decision has context. Each decision has reach. Decisions are connected to impacts and outcomes. When decisions are made in isolation, it’s often because we fail to consider the context, reach or impact on others.

This is why, on so many occasions, leaders are left wondering how one decision could have such a devastating impact on so many people.

The answer… a failure to consider the context.

The Benefit of Context

We’re all guilty of failing to consider context at some point or in some situation or around a specific decision.

Typically, 90% of my day is invested in listening to leaders and asking the questions that reveal context. The benefit of context is the ability to assess our decisions more completely before we make them and yet, purposefully understanding context is a work in progress.

Before there was experience, there was inexperience. Before there was understanding, there was a lack of understanding. Before there was wisdom, there was less insight. Before there was listening, there was talking. Before there was attention, there was distraction. Before there was awareness, there was a lack of awareness. This is the progression of my growth related to context. Can you relate?

Early in my career as an advisor I was introduced to a really bright business owner. As a person eager to make his mark, Jared had his company on the grow and had decided that it was time to take his company to the next level. He asked for my guidance and input on the addition of sales staff. The conversation was fast-paced and driven. Jared was intent on building the base of his business by building a sales team. What Jared needed was the consideration and questions that would lead him to context. What Jared got was the support of his idea because I believed he was on the right track and our conversation revealed that he had thought it through well. With the exception of one critical question related to how he was structuring the two divisions of his company.

After a lot of time and work had been invested on both our parts, I asked Jared a question about how he planned to handle the separation of the divisions. His comment was telling. “Why didn’t you ask me that question before now? That question would have been really useful before we got to this point.”

Lesson learned - Always work to consider the context!

The impact of your decisions almost always extends beyond you. As an advisor to leaders of businesses, experience has shown me that when context is considered deliberately, the development of people and results achieved are both exponentially impacted in a positive way. This awareness leads me to this question. “How is your leadership expanding the context and understanding of the leaders you’re developing?”

#Thoughtstarter

As you go through your week, invest the time to consider your awareness around the context of your decisions. Consider the impact of your decisions so that they are fully understood. Ask yourself this question:

What’s the impact that extends beyond you?

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


Why You Need To Have A Real Conversation With Yourself As You Start The New Year

"Once we realize that fear is normal, then we don't have to wait until we aren't scared to do the thing we want to do. We just do it scared."
-Christy Wright

“Direction not intention determines your destination.”
― Andy Stanley

“You’ll become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
― Jim Rohn

Nearly 20 years ago I was working with Carlton Masi. Life was good. Carlton was a mentor and like a brother all in the same package. Then the unimaginable happened. Carlton’s life came to an end far too soon.

It was time to have a real conversation with myself about my perspective and what I needed to do to move forward with clarity and conviction. That conversation took place on October 27, 2002.

Welcome to 2019 and the time of year that I continue to have a real conversation with myself. A conversation about what I need to do to move forward with clarity and conviction in the year ahead and beyond. Interestingly, I personally answer each of my own questions. Here’s a sample of the kinds of questions I ask and answer with myself:

  1. What are my hopes, goals and aspirations?
  2. What are the goals that I expect to accomplish this year?
  3. Where can I stretch myself to achieve something that would seem unlikely?
  4. What do I need to do to be a better husband? A better father? A better leader?
  5. How will I challenge myself this year in ways that are different from previous years?
  6. What do I need to change to be the best version of me?
  7. Who can I invest in and help to achieve their goals and ambitions?
  8. What was the most significant change about me personally or professionally in the previous year?
  9. How did that help or hinder me?
  10. What new experience can I expose myself to this year that will help me think beyond boundaries?

One Simple Question

I figure that since I’m the one that asks and answers the questions in the conversation I have with myself, I’m also the one who’s accountable for my progression. I measure that progression throughout the year by asking myself one very simple question:

Am I getting where I want to be on purpose?

At the end of the year I ask myself one more series of simple personal accountability questions:

Did I end this year where I wanted to be? Why or why not? What’s next?

I want to challenge you to have a similar conversation with yourself and I also want to challenge you to be personally accountable in measuring your progression. If you know that won’t work, find an accountability partner who can support and help you along the way.

Don’t Be Surprised

My hope for you in the year ahead is that you will get to where you want to be on purpose, because that’s far more invigorating than getting their accidentally. When you get to the end of 2019 I don’t want you to be surprised; I want you to be accomplished. Why? Because there are plenty of people who have learned to be content with going in the wrong direction. As Joel Thomas says, “When you’re going in the wrong direction you can be happy, but you’re still going in the wrong direction.”

Ask For Help

I used to think that asking for help was a sign of weakness. Experience has shown me that there’s wisdom in asking for help where and when I need it. If you don’t, you’ll pay the penalty for not paying attention to the fact that everything wasn’t meant to be accomplished alone. Not surprisingly, people want to help other people. Sometimes the ASK is all they need to be mobilized to support and assist you on purpose. Likewise, in the year ahead, look for opportunities to contribute to others and help them. There is an inspiring and energizing power in creating a positive impact in someone’s life simply by helping them.

Unnecessary Compromise

Buckle up for what comes next.

Underperforming people would prefer that high achieving people lower their standards of performance so that they don’t have to raise theirs. We live in a world where compromise is necessary. However, your hopes, dreams, goals and ambitions aren’t the place to make unnecessary compromises in your life. It’s taken me years to learn that the limitations that someone places on themselves aren’t allowed to become my limitations. I’m unwilling to apologize for being driven towards accomplishment and achievement. That focus is my choice and in the same way I have to be willing to accept that everyone doesn’t share the same view. Here’s a key point to consider as a part of your conversation with yourself: Choosing to ignore what you see underperforming people doing isn’t a formula for your success. When criticism comes, because it will, for your energy and direction in your life always remember this thought: There’s a difference between being judgmental about other people and using good judgement regarding myself. I own me, they own them.

In the year ahead, challenge yourself to move beyond the boundaries of your own self-imposed limitations and knock-off with any unnecessary compromise you’re making that marginalizes the power of you.

Be authentic. Be purposeful. Make it meaningful.

Brent

Final Note: As I’ve mentioned here and in my social feeds previously, I’m continually refining my writing focus. My purpose is to write in an authentic, purposeful and meaningful way on topics that are impactful to you as a part of the Thoughtwave Community of Readers. Your feedback along with analytics have shown that most of you have joined Thoughtwave through a direct or indirect connection to Perpetual Development. With that information provided, I want to let you know that the Thoughtwave blog has been moved from my personal website BrentPatmos.com to my company website PerpetualDevelopment.com. As we progress, both of these sites will serve unique purposes, writing focuses and areas of emphasis. More about that in the year ahead.


Out of Your Control

I like to control what I can and don’t much care for the things that are beyond my control - particularly if I’d prefer that they were.

Realistically, doesn’t everyone want to control the course of events in their life?

When we are in control we feel energized and empowered. When things get beyond our control we may feel frustrated, confused or even overwhelmed.

Growing up as the son of a science teacher, I would often hear my dad talk about the controlled environment that was part of an experiment. As a part of the experiment, he would reference the control sample. The common reference point to both was rooted in stability. The ability to create an environment of equilibrium. “A fancy word for balance,” he would say. “The relationship between the internal factors and external factors and their impact on something.” Note: This exact bit of fatherly science teacher wisdom on equilibrium helped me win a blue ribbon in the 7th-grade science fair.

In business today, we face a constant battle of equilibrium. The relationship of balance between internal factors impacting our business and the external factors. That which we can control and that which may be beyond our control. Forces working collaboratively to our benefit and at times working in direct opposition to our detriment. This is the scientific state of business that demands our agility to achieve stability.

This all gets very real when we understand that at any given moment there are external forces that are more than willing to challenge our business balance or, worse yet, our very business existence.

The belief that external factors or forces will never impact you or your business is unrealistic. Just remember that your competitors would have no problem taking your business if you or your company ceased to exist, or became irrelevant, in the mind of the customer or client.

Beyond Your Control - What Would You Do? #Thoughtstarter

You're driving a car at 70 mph on a crowded freeway with cars in front of you, behind you and to each side. You’re listening to music and doing your own version of carpool karaoke. Suddenly, a large piece of cement debris falls from the overpass and lands on the freeway just a couple of cars in front of you. What would you do?

Prior to leaving for work, you’re catching-up and reading the latest Google Alerts on several of your customers. While reading, you discover that your largest customer had a major fire at their only manufacturing facility and the owners have decided to cease operations and shut down the business. What would you do?

You arrive at work only to discover that the EPA has shut the doors to your energy plant for unsafe operating practices. There has been no communication to the employee team and you are all arriving at work only to find that this isn’t a business as usual day. What would you do?

As the famous philosopher, Mike Tyson says, “Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.” A good friend and colleague of mine put it another way. He says, “Watch out for the sucker punch. It’s not a matter of if it’s going to come but when.”

The sucker punch is the unexpected blow. The punch that you didn’t plan for. In that moment; when we confront things that are out of our control because we will, we all have a choice. What will you do?

Until Next Week,

Brent

P.S. I'd love to hear what would you would do in the scenarios above. Let me know in the comments.


Perspective

My week didn’t go the way I expected it to go last week.

Whatever my plan was, events mandated a new plan.

Life’s experiences have a unique way of conditioning you into a new state of normal.

You can theorize or intellectualize leadership and then you confirm that what’s most important is the living out of leadership.

Does this sound like a week you’ve ever had? Can you relate?

This past week highlighted 10 important leadership lessons that have further shaped the importance of my view on awareness and an eyes wide open perspective.

  1. You truly don’t know what you don’t know. You can only control what you can control.
  2. No matter what you know, there are moments where that knowledge is both completely relevant and irrelevant at the same time.
  3. No matter what you know, there’s more you don’t know that can, and must be learned.
  4. Smart, intelligent, intuitive and wise are uniquely different characteristics and well-developed leaders possess a balance of all four.
  5. Pressure will reveal the true nature of a person.
  6. People are the most complex part of a company. Empathy makes people less complex.
  7. Building relationships and developing teams is the result of the experiences you share together.
  8. Relationships inspire commitment and commitment is your currency.
  9. The character of your leadership when no one’s looking, had better be the same as when everyone’s watching.
  10. Growth, development and awareness, beyond what we know right now, most definitely matters.

#Thoughtstarter

Reflect on how these lessons relate to you, your experiences and your growth.

With increased awareness,

Brent

 

P.S. Have you ever had a week like this? Share with me what you learned from it.


Identity: Overcoming the Age Objection

“How do I overcome the fact that I’m young in the eyes of my customer?”

This is a question that’s asked of me repeatedly. It’s a question I hear from young professionals across all areas of an organization and it isn’t a question that’s exclusive to family-owned or privately-held businesses.Read more


Simplexity and The Importance of Focus & Critical Thinking

Simplexity and the importance of critical thinking

To all of you fellow dads, I hope you have a great Father's Day. In keeping with family-business on a day to celebrate men who influenced us as children, I want to tell you about my grandpa.

My grandpa was a simple, yet very complex guy. Part hard-working farmer and part deep-thinking philosopher. That made him simplex. He had such a unique way of making poignant, simple statements that also held a much deeper, complex meaning to them.
Read more


Have you defined your value?

Image of Keith's Thank You Note

Houston, we’ve had a problem here.

There’s a major disconnect between the definition and delivery of value by salespeople.

If a salesperson can’t define and deliver on the value they represent as an individual, they shouldn’t expect their company’s product or service to define or deliver it for them. If value is the exclusive property of the product or service being sold and someone exists only to complete a transaction, then we have to ask an alarming question. “Why do we need salespeople?"

Read more


Three C's

Cooperation the Mortar that Binds and Builds

The last, yet certainly not the least of the Three C’s is cooperation. Cooperation is a person or group working together to achieve a common goal or benefit. Although it sounds simple enough in theory, the act of cooperating in our day-to-day interactions can be complex and should be carried out in a deliberate and thoughtful way--cooperation is simplex.

Cooperation in its simplex form is the desire to draw the best from each family or staff member, and the capacity to value the skills, talents and abilities they add to the organization. Where collaboration is the building block of a high-performance company culture, cooperation is the mortar that holds the whole thing together. No company becomes successful without frequent, purposeful cooperation between everyone involved in the business.

Not Like the Other

Although cooperation and collaboration are similar, they are not the same. For example, in the game of tug-of-war the team members collaborate—through discussion and skill assessment--to decide on the order of the team lineup. Once an order is determined, the team members line up in order and cooperatively tug on the rope to try to muddy the other side and win the game.

Sharing the Load

Cooperation does not mean being free of disagreement, and it is more than someone just doing what they are told. It means understanding that sometimes we must set aside personal bias and be bigger than the disagreement or opposing view in order to promote the common good.

Cooperation means sharing the load with those around you that have a vested interest in the success of the company. It also means that family members or people within the business are fully contributing their mind share, heart share and hand share.

Mind Share

We must rid our mind of mental baggage and be intellectually prepared to cooperate with others. Resentment is a barrier to cooperation and letting go of the anger and hurt will not only facilitate a cooperative mindset, it will also improve our relationships with others.

Heart Share

We must believe to our core that cooperation is the best option in achieving results through people. We also have to open ourselves to trusting people around us to do the right thing for the company. This may mean setting aside our ego and giving up control in order to allow others to take the lead.

Hand Share

We must commit to take on the heavy lifting, and take the actions that are in the best interest of the organization and mutually benefits others. No job is too menial or insignificant when it contributes to the success of the company.

Don’t be Annoying

As leaders it is critical that we develop an awareness of self in order to bring out the best in those around us. Antagonism, pettiness, and egotistical behavior are barriers to cooperation and exhausting to others. Most people will avoid spending time with people that consistently exhibit these traits. Reflect on whether any of these behaviors are limiting your ability to encourage and produce a cooperative company culture. If they are, then take action to change or minimize the behavior to encourage a high performing culture in your organization.

If you truly want your business to maximize performance, then develop family leaders who understand the value and importance of self-awareness in the form of transparent and authentic communication, collaboration and cooperation.

 


Brent Patmos is the founder and President of Perpetual Development, Inc., an organizational performance company serving the exclusive needs of privately-held and family-owned business leaders. You can contact Brent via email: ContactPDI@perpetualdevelopment.com or by phone at 480-812-2200. You can follow Brent on twitter -  @BrentPatmos and connect with him on LinkedIn.

 


Three C's

Collaboration, the Building Block of a High Performance Culture

Once you have established a firm foundation of effective communication in your family business you can focus on the second of the Three Cs—Collaboration.

Creating and fostering collaboration in a family organization goes a long way toward minimizing the dysfunction. A truly collaborative company respects our input, values ideas, and appropriately rewards contributions—things we all crave.

Collaboration Is

Collaboration means to work jointly or together. In its simplex form, collaboration is the relationship between multiple ideas that contribute to a better result or outcome for the business. Collaboration is the foundation of a high-performance approach within a family company.

Collaboration Is Not

Collaboration doesn’t mean consensus--general agreement and harmony. In fact, consensus is the antithesis of collaboration because meaningful, productive collaboration requires diversity of opinion and approach. Collaboration is based on working jointly toward common goals while respecting opposing views and engaging in respectful dialogue that values perspectives other than your own.

Capitalize on Diversity

Left to our own approach, the people we choose to collaborate with are people we know well, which can be deadly for developing new ideas. In order to leverage the power of collaboration, we must purposely seek out and welcome the divergent opinion and viewpoint.

Diversity is more than the color of someone’s skin or their ethnic background. Look around and consider the diversity that exists in your own family. Even though you may have been raised with similar values and beliefs, each family member comes with their own behaviors, motivators, experiences, capacities, and competencies. We are all gloriously unique in how we approach life and work!

Collaborative Pitfalls

Collaboration isn’t without its pitfalls. We need to be conscious of the challenges to working in a collaborative family company.

Over Doing It

There’s a reality that must be acknowledged—there can be too much collaboration! Collaboration can quickly become the brakes grinding advancement to a hard stop. When we try to collaborate on everything, we can find ourselves in endless meetings debating ideas rather than finding solutions.

It is important to focus collaborative efforts on projects that need a creative solution, rather than attempt to work on every detail of the day-to-day business. That is not to say that daily tasks won’t benefit from a team approach. Process analysis of small details can result in tremendous efficiency gains, but it’s critical that your collaboration efforts are focused on solving problems and don’t increase dysfunction or create inefficiency.

Disagreement does not Equal Disagreeable

The foundation of collaboration is discord and disagreement, but it is not okay to become disagreeable. When you become irritated or overwhelmed by negative emotion, take a mental step back and assess the situation. Is your irritation the result of something other than the current situation? Are you allowing family bias to influence your attitude?

Collaboration Killers

I am often confused when otherwise bright people place self-interest ahead of a collaborative outcome. Yet many limit collaboration because it requires them to step outside of their bias; set aside their ego, and leave their emotional comfort zone.

Eliminate Silos

Silos are not only collaboration killers, they can kill a company. For example, if a company’s manufacturing department finds a critical flaw in a part and no one tells sales to stop selling that part due to an organizational silo it could destroy the business.

Do Not Kill the Messenger

Trust and transparency are crucial to creating a collaborative organization. Few of us enjoy delivering bad news, and many of us won’t give bad news when we know that there is a “kill the messenger” culture in our company. Punitive behavior when someone brings bad news is the fastest way to destroy a person’s will to offer their opinions and ideas.

Make it About the We

Collaboration is about achieving results as a team. To maintain a collaborative culture we must prevent any one individual or group of collaborators from benefiting so much that others feel their inputs are being exploited.

Build a Culture of Collaboration

Building a culture of collaboration in a family company means taking the time to understand and inspire people. We must demonstrate that collaborators are vital to the organization.

The results of effective communication and a collaborative family company culture are cooperation, which is the topic of our next article.

 


Brent Patmos is the founder and President of Perpetual Development, Inc., an organizational performance company serving the exclusive needs of privately-held and family-owned business leaders. You can contact Brent via email: ContactPDI@perpetualdevelopment.com or by phone at 480-812-2200. You can follow Brent on twitter -  @BrentPatmos and connect with him on LinkedIn.