Blind spot!

If your company is selling services and knowhow, your biggest asset are the people who serve and bring in their knowledge. If your people leave, your service leaves.

Sales. Revenue. Profit. The reason business is done. But what actually impacts the financial success of a company?

Just recently I heard a conversation in the train going like this: “I would have loved to pitch for that project! It’s totally our topic! Unfortunately I had to withdraw from the request for proposal because the key resources on that topic just left the company and we had no one with the same knowledge.”

I was stunned. How would you even consider a topic to be “yours” if there is no one available in your company!?

This obvious mismatch wasn’t visible for the business man in the conversation. He was convinced that his company was selling topics – and didn’t even consider that people could be the key for financial success.

Blind spot!

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a blind spot an area you cannot see and draws an analogy to driving a car. It is quite obvious how dangerous it is when you are entering a part of the road you were not able to see and all of a sudden there is an obstacle. The realization of that danger makes your heart bump and you are bright awake and ready to change directions.

blind spot

noun [C usually singular ] UK /ˈblaɪnd ˌspɒt/ US /ˈblaɪnd ˌspɑːt/

an area that you are not able to see, especially the part of a road you cannot see when you are driving, behind and slightly to one side of the car

Cambridge Dictionary

This awareness in context of companies and people is rarely given. You seldom see managers make a mayor change in their people management even when they see obstacles ahead – e.g. declining of sales or rise of attrition.

There is another definition for blind spot that is quite helpful in bringing in a new perspective.

a subject that you find very difficult to understand at all, sometimes because you are not willing to try

Cambridge Dictionary

When you are facing failure in business, e.g. the missed proposal of the mentioned story, it is easier to focus on aspects that you are familiar with [“that is our topic”], than on aspects that are much harder to understand [“we missed to keep our key resources” or “we missed on training new people in that knowledge”]. But an honest reflection in the sight of failure can work miracles for you.

If your company is selling services and knowhow, your biggest asset are the people who serve and bring in their knowledge. If the people leave, your service leaves. If your people are not trained, your company will deliver poor quality. Ultimately you will see the effect in your P&L.

Let me challenge you a bit:

  • How do you see your people?
  • Do you think they actually like working for you?
  • What could you do to keep your people in your business?

We all have blind spots every once in a while. Let’s make sure that we don’t keep them due to laziness to check on them and unwillingness to change. Because when it already has an effect on your P&L, it is quite late to take turns.

Get into first row!

When you are standing at the shore of your comfort zone, you will feel the waves of fear clushing to your feet. That is the moment when you have to make a decision whether you take the challenge.

When was the last time you left your comfort zone and how did it make you feel?”, my colleague starts our weekly team meeting with this thought-provoking question.

One teammate shares her last attendance at the sports lesson. Being quite new to the course she thought about staying in the last row, giving her the chance to check on the sport mates and copy movements quite easily. But before the class started, the trainer asked her up front since there was some space left and so they wouldn’t have to squeeze themselves in the back. She took heart and moved to the first row. Now being in sight of everyone and role model herself for the following rows of sport mates who cannot see all movement of the trainer, she even invested more power, strength and preciseness in all poses than she would have staying in the last row.

She smiles while she is telling the story and you can tell that she is proud of her accomplishment despite the uncomfortable first feeling of walking into row one. The whole team is cheering with her and together the discussion evolves into being in row one in the job as well.

Everyone agrees that getting out of the comfort zone first feels very insecure, vulnerable and crazy. But with each time you step further outside, you learn that actually leaving the comfort zone is a good thing because you are rewarded with success and an enormous powerful feeling of accomplishment.

While I am writing these lines I am feeling the result of a successful walk out of my comfort zone as well. I love to hold meetings, teach and moderate even complex gatherings – but when I have been asked to speak in front of ~400 people it was outside my current comfort zone for sure. Nevertheless, I took the challenge and it went quite well.

“Take the challenge” involves an inner fight that each one of us has to fight for him/herself. Usually the comfort zone is surrounded by fear. Fear of disapproval, fear of rejection, fear of failing. So it is pretty easy to tell when you are standing at the shore of your comfort zone – you will feel the waves of fear clushing to your feet. That is the moment when you have to make a decision whether you take the challenge.

When you walk towards your fear, you are leaving the comfort zone.

The reward for taking the challenge and overcoming fear is personal growth. Additionally to the immense feeling of accomplishment you will soon see the growth in your character, personality and life. And this growth will have a positive impact e.g. on your relationships and job.

The team meeting ended with the insight that you can even become comfortable with leaving the comfort zone. When you overcome fear on a regular basis and learn that you have the ability to handle all situations you become strong and bold.

Are you ready to leave your comfort zone?

Ask! Thought-provoking!

“What is the favourite question when starting a feedback session?”, curiously I throw this question into the discussion. We are having a chat with several mentors working with their mentees for quite some years now. “What rhetorical phrase works well for you?”, I continue. I don’t get an answer straight ahead but rather an “uff, good question. I think I have never thought about it.”

I smile. As a coach there is no bigger nor better compliment than “that’s a good question”. Being thought-provoking is the key element in coaching – and throwing a question into a discussion that cannot be answered right away feels awesome.

But aside from having fun in asking good questions, the thought process that is triggered by a good question is so valuable! People start thinking new thoughts, walking on new path and getting a new perspective. A thought-provoking question can inspire your friends / team / colleagues / boss.

When was the last time you asked a thought-provoking question?

Even as the youngest team member you can influence a whole discussion by asking a good question. For sure you have to put some thoughts into the creation of a valuable question – just a plain “why” helped you when you were a 2-year-old toddler.

Therefore, let me ask you this: Which question made you think intensely? What did you ask that made your boss/team go “uff, good question“?

I am looking forward to read your thought-provoking lines.

Am I a leader?

Leadership starts with self-leadership.

Being known for values, having a vision for one’s life, being self-confident and caring about others are a good foundation to build on.

A leader is someone whom people follow.

Many years ago I heard this statement in a leadership coaching. And it hit me. I was troubled. If this was true, it wasn’t so much about me and my qualifications but rather about other people to see something in me worthy to be copied and followed.

It put me to thinking. Whom do I follow? And why?

Leader display values

People I follow have clear values and they express their values in every moment – especially when it is getting tough.

Lets take honesty. Everyone can be honest when it doesn’t cost anything – but what about being honest when it actually costs you time/money/privileges and no one would notice if you lied!?

What about friendliness and value people. Monday, 10 o’clock in the morning, sunny skies and clients meeting – easy to smile and be friendly. But what happens on Wednesday night, damn tired and stressed out!? How do you act towards your team after an exhausting day!?

Leaders have a vision for their own life/career

Leaders can communicate effectively what their vision is. They know why they are doing their job, share their rationale for their decisions and inspire others with their life.

Leaders are fun to be with

Usually, it so much fun to be with them. From what I have been seeing in people around me, leaders tend to like themselves. They are comfortable who they are. They are aware of their strengths, weaknesses, flaws and genius ideas. And this self confidence creates an atmosphere that is just compelling.

Leaders see the life/career of their followers

It’s not the most important part but if a leader wants to win my heart, he/she must see my stake in the whole endeavor as well. If this part isn’t given, the person might be a strong inspiration for me – but not a leader I am following.

Coming back to the question of the beginning: How can I determine whether I am leader? First of all you probably have followers that somehow let you know that you display certain trademarks that identify you as a leader.

If you are yet too young to have people following you or you are not sure whether there are people seeing leadership potential within you, start working on the named characteristics.

Start by answering these questions for yourself: Which values do you live? Which value could be added? How would you know that you have lived the value? Do you have a vision for your job? Why are you doing what you are doing? Do you like yourself? And last but not least: in whom do you see leadership potential that you can help to unfold?

Finding passion

If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.

I love my job“, the young lady smiles to me. We just got to know each other and while sharing our current work environments, she smiles, speaks enthusiastically and beams. You can tell: she. loves. her. job. “This hasn’t always been the that way”, Alice continues. “After my first graduation, I tried to fit into my workplace, lost the job, was unemployed and tried to find something suitable for my educational background. But actually I didn’t want to work in that area anymore.”

I guess, a lot of people can relate to Alice. For some reason you choose your studies and start working in your job. You try to fit in but somehow the days pass by in a meaningless stream of unfulfilling tasks. Every morning it’s getting harder to get up and get going. You just feel that you are not doing what you want to be doing.

One day I was wondering when I had the best times of my life“, Alice adds to her story. “It was in school and in my year abroad. And then I knew what I had to do: find a way to get back into school ministry and work with kids. Fast forward: it is what I am currently doing. I become a special type of teacher for which I need my professional background. And now I have the third time the best time of my life.”

I love the focus, determination and courage in Alice story. Coming from a time of unemployment, getting finally a job again, one could think to just be thankful and live with the unfulfilling but rent-paying job. But instead setting the focus on a potential solution, be determined to change one’s future and to be bold enough to walk the talk – thats an inspiring and truly life changing attitude.

If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.

Emanuel James “Jim” Rohn, Author & Motivational Speaker

Focus

What are you focussing on in your job? My bet: you rather speak about the bad things than on the positive aspects. This misbehaving colleague. That nasty client. People tend to focus on the problem than on the potential solution. And with this focus the problem even becomes bigger. And I get it: it so easy to speak about the negative things – because they are there. They are real and they influence your emotions.

But what if you wouldn’t spend so much time on describing the problem to everyone around you and rather think about a solution!? Turn your focus away from the negativity. Start describing the changed situation to yourself. How do you feel? With whom do you work? What tasks do you do?

Those questions are not easy and they might take months or even years to be answered – but nevertheless, take the effort. Search for your sweet spot. Look for the role and position you were meant to fill in.

Determination

How intensely do you desire change? How much longer do you want to stay in your complaint-corner? Do you really want to change your focus?

To be determined

– having made a firm decision and being resolved not to change it

Dictonary

Determination is needed for any change. You need to be convinced that you want to be in a different position/mindset/state in the years to come in order to leave your status quo. You need to find the next steps that will lead you to your new place. At this point you don’t need to know everything about your destination but rather having the firm decision that you do not want to stay where you are right now. Are you determined?

Courage

Are you ready to leave your status quo? This is the moment when your heart starts beating. “What-ifs” start flashing through your mind. Without knowing the outcome you need to take your first step. And that takes courage.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.

Mark Twain

Your change might require to move to another city, quit a job, get out of certain relationships and live through financial insecurity. Are you brave enough?

I can still recall Alice smiling face. Smiling with focus, determination and courage. Inspiring.

Empowered by Laughter

“Laughter is fireworks for the soul”, they say. Enlightening this powerful resource at work, will make your day easier.

London. I am in a pub with colleagues. One of them just shares a hilarious story. Everybody laughs. A good laugh. A freeing one. Times flies, stories being shared and as soon as I am inhaling the rainy fresh air of the night, I am feeling energized and reloaded.

What a good laughter is capable of. Its amazing.

I should laugh more. Especially at work. This thought creeps slowly through my mind and I am realizing what has been missing the past weeks. A strengthening, energizing laugh. Running from meeting to meeting, creating tons of slides, squeezing in emails and calls just took too much attention and power.

But actually, when is it easy to laugh at work?

Recalling from experience it is easiest when I know “why” I am there. Working with purpose, knowing there is a goal I am heading to and I am enjoying the ride – with colleagues having a similar mindset.

Let’s take a closer look.

Laughing because you have purpose

I sit in a room full of inspiring motivated people. Everyone is sharing one’s story. Everyone is quite honest. Even with hopes and fears. One cite of a well-situated woman strucks me at heart. She seems to have everything. Being healthy, living in a wealthy environment in a spectacular scenery, having time and money for travelling … the whole package – but she admits the absence of meaningful work and purpose in her life leaves her desperate and empty. And hence, with less laughter than she’d like to have.

My life is nice. But nice isn’t enough.

A lady

Her statement resonates within me. I’m a big fan of living my life outside the comfort zone. Only in a stretch situation I am one step closer to my goal. Although this stretchy moment can cause some fear, the joy that rushes in when I have grown, mastered an obstacle and overcame fear leads to a massive smile and satisfaction.

Where are you just playing „nice“? Remember: you are missing out on a good hero’s laugh.

Laughing because you have people to laugh with

Is it just me or is a day easier when you are with the right pack!?

Luckily I get to work with great colleagues a lot – some becoming friends over time. And I see there is a certain dynamic when a good mix of people is together. Even if a task is hard to manage, a tight timeline needs to be met or a client is getting crazy – with the right team you can handle everything and feeling energized despite stress.

If you haven’t found your tribe yet, continue searching. Some people are meant to work together. In the meantime invest in your mindset and become the best colleague you want to work with. [You might get some inspiration in this classic book from Dale Carnegie (1936) which is used in all US elite universities in the general curriculum: How to win friends & influence people]

Colleagues are key. Make yours laugh today.

Thanks at this point to all my colleagues who are laughing with me. I feel blessed and privileged to have you in my life. 

Putting values on laptop screens is bullshit

Let’s take the challenge to define your very own set of values and how you want to act upon them. Then find a company you want to influence. And if this company writes the values on screens, be the one example that is living the words.

„Putting values on laptop screens is bullshit“, my colleague explodes. We are in the middle of a heated discussion whether a company should communicate its values or not. While he is convinced that managers do “business as usual” without considering values at all – and hence, values don’t need to be listed – , I am arguing that the transparency about values is needed in order to get into this valuable conversations. Especially when there is a discrepancy between words and action.

I guess, you have been part in such a discussion as well – or at least bystander. Let me share some thoughts with you.

Leaders need to act first

I am convinced that leaders need to take the first step. They are the ones forming and building the culture for the whole team. Therefore, if you are a leader already, be aware that you are an example. Accept it.

I have heard many bosses say that they don’t consider their behavior and opinion as important – but this is a wrong perception. As a boss – even if you haven’t chosen that position by yourself – you are watched by your team. And they will check on your values. If you model a law-and-order-mentality, they will use it on their subordinates. If it’s fine in your team to talk behind people’s backs, this behavior will spread. If you are leading by sarcasm, don’t be surprised if your team doesn’t take you seriously.

In turn, I have seen positive values spread as well. Integrity, honesty and appreciation are forceful values that will lead your team to success and prosperity.

Since we are all human beings, we will make mistakes. We are not perfect. And we don’t have to be. If you have failed, admit it. Be open and ask for forgiveness when needed. This will also model your team in a positive way.

Follow your leader

If your leaders act upon their values, follow them. Copy their behavior and see if it works for you as well. By doing so, you are modeled and you will find your own emphasizes and core principles.

Also get into discussion with them and your team mates. What should be part of your culture and what can be adjusted? Use your time as a team mate as a “leader-in-the-making”-phase and define gradually what should be part of your personal value card.

Act as a leader – even when your boss doesn’t

“My boss isn’t a good role model”, is an argument I love to discuss about. Let me ask you this: “Do you believe, that you are (or: will be) a leader?”

Do you believe, that you are (or: will be) a leader?

If so, find your own values and act upon them. You can model a culture around you even if no one else does. This is the very core of a leader: good self-leadership. And it is independent from your current position in the company. You have to find your own way to express your values.

Getting back to the argument with the colleague about putting values on screens. We found common ground in the inner longing for alignment of words and action. And this includes our very own behavior. Instead of complaining about other not following certain values, let us be the ones led by inner principles.

Therefore, let’s take the challenge to define your very own set of values and how you want to act upon them. Then find a company you want to influence. And if this company writes the values on screens, be the one example that is living the words.