What Have YOU Learned from the Incredible Hulk?

July 14, 2012 § 2 Comments

I watched The Avengers with my son. After the movie we talked about different scenes on the drive home. (ATTENTION: Spoiler Alert!) The scene that caused the most curiousity was toward the end where the Avengers were fighting the alien army of flying Goblin-link machines and their flying giant eel-like machine companions. A giant eel was flying down the streets of New York directly at the Avenger team when Dr Bruce Banner started running directly toward it. Captain American called out, “Dr Banner, now might be a really good time for you to get angry.” Dr Banner turned around and said, “that is my secrect. I am always angry!” and he immediately turned into the Hulk and kicked the giant eel machine’s mechanical ass! Great movie!

My son and I wondered how Dr Banner was unable to control turning into the Hulk when he got mad and then when was not mad, he could Hulk-up on command. After we talked about this phenominon, we realized the same thing happens too often to people every day.

How often have you known people in business to lose control when something upsets them? Or send a scathing email without thinking of the fall-out? Too often I must say. It is OK to be forceful, firm, or even yell. The key with communicating this way is doing it because you intend to, not because you lost control and you had no choice.

The Incredible Hulk is my new favorite hero.  So, which one describes you? Are you another Incredible Hulk or are you unable to control your emotional reactions?

Keep your eyes open. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

This post was inspired by a The Avengers movie. 

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Are You In Control?

March 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

In all areas of our lives, both personal and professional, it is very important to retain control. When people say things they don’t intend, they have lost control. 

I tend to think less about being in control and more about being intentional. There are situations where it is important to be pleasant and other situations where it is important to be firm. Knowing when to use the correct emotion and response is being intentional. Actually using the intended emotion and response is retaining control.
 
Keep your eyes open. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

This post was inspired by a LinkedIn Group post from Chris Tompkins, CEO at Go! Media International.

I’ve Fallen and I CAN Get Up – Part 2

October 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

In our current political environment, I could easily write about the candidates that are falling. But I don’t think I want to go there right now.

About a month ago, I published Part 1 of this series. It was inspired by a Sanchin Ryu karate workout where we learned to fall. Falling is something that will likely happen if someone is attacked and forced to defend themselves. Since it is inevitable, we wanted to learn how to properly fall so we could make getting back up as quickly and easily as possible. But what if you cannot immediately get back up? What if you are surrounded by “bad guys”? You are on your stomach or your back. All of the “dark temple” stuff may not be effective. In our Sanchin Ryu class this week, we worked on going back to the basics in order to defend ourselves while we are on the ground. These simple, but devastating punches, elbows and kicks provide us with a plan to defend ourselves while on the ground.

Many times in our professional lives we fall and Part 1 of this series describes what we can do to lessen the blow. But what happens when we are on the ground from the fall? Many of us have been there. The stress is ultra high and we are at a low point. You don’t know how to deal with it. I can tell you from experience there is only one thing you should NOT do…that is nothing. Doing nothing never makes your situation better, whether you are in an altercation and forced to defend yourself or you are at your maximum stress level. And staying stressed out is not good either. When we fall, we must do SOMETHING to get ourselves back up on our feet.

I spoke with four separate people over the past week that have been stressed due to various reasons. With each, I encouraged them in different ways and always came to the same approach – go back to the basics. In one case, we talked in detail about the frustration. I asked him to identify the root cause of the frustration. After identifying it and talking through it, he now has a plan to deal with the root causes. His stress level almost immediately went down after developing his plan to deal with the issue and he was able to start picking himself up off the ground.

In another case I was talking to someone about the large personal debt load they had. It was lurking over their head and causing a lot of stress because it was a large number and they did not know what to do first. We talked about going back to the basics. I asked, what is the worst thing that could happen in this situation. The answer was they would have to sell some of their possessions to pay off the loan. Now they had a plan for the worst possible scenario. Anything else that happens will be easier to deal with. Immediately they felt better and were able start getting off the ground.

A plan leading to a solution is such an important step, it cannot be overemphasized. Once the plan is in place, you will immediately begin your assent to a better place.

Keep your eyes open. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

This post was inspired by Sensei Scott.

Teach or Learn? Why Not Both?

October 3, 2011 § 3 Comments

Recently I had a conversation with Josette Rider, Executive Director & CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana. We talked about the inefficiecy in the constant exchange of emails back and forth between others in the office – sometimes people who work just a few feet away from each other. People rely on email too much for communication and dont simply talk to others. Why do people constantly email instead of getting up out of their chair and talking to the person or picking up the phone and calling the person?

Talking to people who communicate mostly with email and describing the inefficiencies is a good start. Inevitably, they have a laundry list of reasons why they should send emails out instead of talking. Since people do not develop habits overnight, they will also not get rid of those habits overnight. One conversation will probably not change behavior. It will likely take two or more conversations to change behavior, unless…they TEACH.

Josette had a brilliant idea that I have seen work in other scenarios, but never connected it to this one. It was to ask one of her managers (one that is a heavy email user) to present and instruct ways to reduce email and improve verbal communications to the other managers at the agency. To help this instruction, I sent Josette a blog post from Seth Godin that was posted on June 9, 2011. It is titled “Email checklist (maybe this time it will work)” and addresses this same email problem in a humorous, yet insightfull way.

The brillance in this coaching action lies in the fact that teaching reinforces the topic that is being shared, probably more so for the instructor than for those being taught. In fact, it reinforces what is already familiar and forces the instructor to work through the topics of uncertainty. 

There are many areas I have experienced where it is understood that learning will happen when we teach or instruct. In Sanchin Ryu karate, the leader of a small workout group often reinforces in his own mind the strikes he or she shows the group. Managers in business often have to think through a concept or topic before leading a meeting about the topic. As a CPA, I have also discovered that instructors of Continuing Professional Education courses receive credits for the time instructing as does those CPAs that are listening to the instruction.

When you are asked to lead a discussion or to train a group, it will be difficult to say yes due to nerves or uncertainty, but always remember…it will likely beneift you more than anyone else.

Keep your eyes open. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

This post was inspired by Josette Rider, Executive Director at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana.

I’ve Fallen and I CAN Get Up – Part 1

September 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

We have all fallen before. We fell off our skateboards as kids and we have even fallen over the stray household item that was never put away. It is going to happen, right? It’s inevitable. In a Sanchin-Ryu karate workout, the Sensei had us work on falling. Strange huh? Many of us wondered why we would work on something like falling. As I said before and as Sensei reminded us: falling is inevitable.

If we get into an altercation, the chances are pretty good we are going to fall. If that is the case, we are better off if we shorten our fall. That is what we worked on. We shortened our fall by bending our knees. This simple reaction brings you closer to the ground so the fall is not as great and the impact is softened. This was the key to making the fall a little easier on all of us.

Thinking about my professional career, there have been many times where I have “fallen”. In fact, many of us have “fallen” at some point in our professional lives. In other words, we have made a mistake, screwed up or failed at a task.  You know what?  All of this, including failing, is OK.

Too often failing is considered taboo and as a consequence avoided at all costs. When we fail or make a mistake we learn something from it. That new nugget of knowledge, no matter how tiny or monumental, is what makes failing valuable and worth allowing to happen.

The most important part of failing is to “bend our knees” to shorten the fall. In other words, you need to realize that a mistake has been made and realize it quickly. It could be a new IT project that did not deliver the intended results or an idea on a new product that ended up being a bust. Realizing the failure allows you to learn what you need to learn and correct the mistake. Realizing it quickly, minimizes the impact of the mistake and allows for a fast correction.

Always remember, when you begin to stumble, bend your knees to shorten your fall.

Keep your eyes open. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

Inspiration for this writing came from Sensei Scott.

Listening to the Quiet

July 20, 2011 § 1 Comment

Sometimes we all need to stop, regroup and recharge our professional batteries.  I was at a Cubs game on July 15, 2011.  Carlos Marmol came into the game with a two-run lead in the 9th inning.  He was only able to get one out before he was pulled and replaced by another reliever to finish out the game.  Marmol was very inconsistent and unable to pitch strikes.  The team manager, Mike Quade, asked Carlos Marmol to take the weekend off to regroup and regain his exceptional ability to get outs at the end of the game.

There are times when we all need to regroup and regain our passion for our work. I experienced this first hand.  The first part of my “down time” I went to see the Cubs victory I briefly described above.  The rest of my time was been spent by the water swimming, fishing, having a few adult beverages and Listening to the Quiet.

The Quiet.  It is something many of us have never experienced or have not realized the experience.  If you know this expience, you know what I will attempt to describe. 

Sitting outside, many times you hear birds chirping, kids playing and lawn mowers roaring.  Imagine if all of those sounds went away – or at least two of the three.  All that remains is the Quiet, true quiet. 

If you have experienced Quiet, you know what is meant by the saying “silence is deafening”.  Phones are not ringing and business associates are not asking questions.  Quiet.  What happens next is up to you and is the most important.  Your mind begins to wander and/or wonder. This is always important regardless of the profession you are in.  You begin thinking about life’s challenges and how to resolve those challenges.  It is also a great time to generate ideas for the next blog you write. 

In addition to providing high-quality think-time, the Quiet allows you to do the opposite – think about nothing.  Thinking about nothing provides a relief of stress and improves your overall emotional well being.  It other words’ it recharges your emotional batteries.

I have found it very difficult, but vitally important to take a break from the always on, always connected life.  Make the time to do nothing and listen to the quiet.  How long has it been since you have Listened to the Quiet?

Keep your eyes open.  Inspiration can come from anywhere.

Inspiration for this writing came from my dad.  He always reminds me to  take some time off from the fast-paced world of business and enjoy doing nothing.

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