Rekindle, Reinvigorate, and Recharge—It Works at Any Age

Ken BlanchardOn May 6, I turned 75 years old. In today’s society, most people would be retired at 75—or at least thinking about it.

But did you know that the very practice of retirement was designed for the industrial world? During that era, people were physically tired by the time they reached 65 and needed to rest.

Things are different now—we have more options. My goal in life is to be a loving teacher of simple truths. I’ve always searched for methods to improve the skills of leaders and to communicate those methods in a way that makes it easy for people to understand and practice. That doesn’t make me tired—it refuels me. So, I’m adopting a different approach. I’m focusing on an attitude of refirement instead of retirement.

I first heard this word from Zig Ziglar, the great American author and motivator. When he would run into friends who hadn’t seen him for a while, they would ask if he had retired. He always answered this question the same way.  “There’s no mention of retirement in the Bible. Except for Jesus, Mary and Joseph, David, and a few others, nobody under 80 made an impact. I’m not retiring, I’m refiring! I’m not gonna ease up, let up, shut up or give up until I’m taken up. As a matter of fact, I’m just getting warmed up!” Zig lived his life that way until his death in the fall of 2012.

Norman Vincent Peale was another of my mentors who helped shape this idea. When I first met Norman, he was eighty-six years old. What most amazed me about him was that he was excited about every single day. Why? He couldn’t wait to find out what he might learn. He often said, “When I stop learning, I might as well lie down because I will be dead.” He was learning right up until he passed away at age ninety-five.

Learning is more important today than it’s ever been. In the past, if people were loyal to their company and worked hard, their job was secure. Today, the skills you bring to the party constitute the only available form of job security. People who are continually learning and upgrading their skills increase their value—not only in their organization, but also in the overall job market.

So don’t count the days until you retire. Start refiring now and look for new ways to rekindle, reinvigorate, and recharge your relationship with others. I guarantee you’ll have plenty to celebrate each and every day.

Five Keys to Great Customer Service

Legendary Service Book CoverThink of a time when you experienced really excellent service. Now compare that to a time when the service you received was just acceptable—okay, but nothing special. Which organization do you want to do business with again? I’ll bet it’s the one where someone made you feel valued and cared for—someone who understood the true importance of Legendary Service.

That’s the central message of my latest book, Legendary Service: The Key Is to Care. It’s a story that I think will change the way people look at service. I wrote it with my colleagues Kathy Cuff and Vicki Halsey, two experts on customer service. As coauthors of our Legendary Service customer service training program, Kathy and Vicki have spent years teaching the concepts of Legendary Service to clients in every industry.

What we know from working with companies of all sizes is that most organizations recognize the necessity of offering great customer service, but few really get it right. They zero in on specific tactics or trendy catchphrases, or they provide training to just a small number of people in customer service roles. They don’t understand that the best companies work to create a true service culture—where taking care of customers is everyone’s responsibility, not just the job of the people in the customer service department. These companies look at service from three equally important perspectives:

  1. Frontline service providers, who play a critical role because they are the ones who have direct contact with the customer.
  2. Managers, who not only empower their frontline people to provide exemplary service, but also act as role models for both internal and external service excellence.
  3. Senior leaders, who fully embrace the service initiative and communicate desired behaviors to the entire organization. Their goal is to create an environment where associates feel that they are valued internal customers of the organization so that they, in turn, want to take care of external customers and make them feel valued.

Legendary Service is really an inside-out issue—in two ways. At an organizational level, creating loyal external customers begins by taking care of your internal customers—your people.  At a personal level, providing great service begins when you realize that, as an individual, you have control over the service experience each of your customers receives. You can create a loyal customer by the service you provide.

To get at this dual focus, we use a model we call ICARE. We believe that there are five steps to becoming a Legendary Service provider:

  • Ideal Service: Meet the customer’s needs on a day-to-day basis by acting on the belief that service is important
  • Culture of Service: Foster an environment that focuses on serving the customer
  • Attentiveness: Know your customers and their preferences
  • Responsiveness: Demonstrate a genuine willingness to serve others as you fulfill their individual needs
  • Empowerment: Take the initiative to implement the service vision

We’ve found that the lessons of this simple model, when applied, will have a profound impact on the service experience your customers—both internal and external—will receive.

You can find out more by joining my coauthor Kathy Cuff on April 16 for a free webinar called Creating A Customer Focused Organization, where she will be sharing some of the book’s key concepts. We have also created a special web page where you can take an online quiz about your company’s service mentality and read an excerpt from the book. I hope you’ll check out both of these resources and discover the value of creating a Legendary Service culture in your organization.

Business Man At Starting Line Road PathI was on the phone with my friend Phil Hodges the other day talking about contentment. Phil believes that contentment can only happen in the present, and I think he is right. Contentment doesn’t happen in the past by remembering the good old days.  Having nice memories is pleasant but doesn’t necessarily offer contentment in the present. Also, contentment is not in the future because we don’t know what that will bring.

Real contentment, enjoyment, satisfaction, and happiness happen when we are fully present and living in the now. If you have a positive feeling that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to be doing, then you experience true happiness.

Spencer Johnson, my coauthor of The One Minute Manager, also discusses this in his brilliant parable The Precious Present. In this story, an older man’s wisdom launches a young boy on a lifelong search for the precious present. Eventually the young man discovers what the old man was trying to teach him all along: what you have and what you do in the present is a gift. Living in the past can be destructive or demotivating and can hinder your journey to happiness. Likewise, planning for the future is good but it is impossible to live there. And if you focus only on the future, you miss opportunities right in front of you.

Living in the present allows you to focus on the important and to cherish the moment. I encourage you to consider moments when you were at your best. I’ll bet you’ll recall that you were right there in the moment, fully committed and fully present. If you dwell on what was—the past—or what will be—the future—you’ll miss the power of contentment, happiness, and success in the present.

Contentment, Happiness, and Living in the Moment

The Power of Clear Values and a Trusting Environment

bigstock-Core-Values-Concept-53563306I’ve talked often of the importance that values play in achieving your corporate vision. Your purpose as an organization tells you where you want to go as a company, but values tell you how you are going to get there.  Clearly defined values provide guidelines for how to make daily decisions that impact your future success—or failure.

I recently had the chance to hear Stephen M.R. Covey talk about the impact that the lack of trust has on all of us, and I realized something: there is another layer of underlying behavior that impacts our ability to live by our values. Trust and values actually work hand in hand to create a strong company. Continue reading

It’s Time to Commit to Your Commitment—Once and For All

bigstock-Pin-On-Calendar-Pointing-New-Y-55756751Why don’t New Year’s resolutions work? When I ask people how many have made a New Year’s resolution they haven’t kept, everyone raises their hand.

The reason for this is, after you announce your New Year’s resolution, everyone who is important in your life laughs, says, “We’ll believe it when we see it,” and goes to a delegating leadership style where they leave you alone to accomplish your goal.

But if you could handle a delegating leadership style, it wouldn’t be a New Year’s resolution—you would just do it. Therefore, it’s the wrong leadership style. Continue reading