Season of Service

In San Diego we’re in the middle of a six-month “Season of Service” movement with businesses, civic agencies, and churches all pitching in with community volunteers to serve others. For years I’ve been dreaming about how we can make San Diego a servant leadership town – how in the near future people will come here and say, “What an amazing place to live—just look at the way government and business and education and neighborhoods interact – everyone seems to be out to serve each other and solve problems, not to be self serving.”

My larger dream is that leadership throughout the world will be composed of people who lead at a higher level and, in the process, serve first and lead second. That’s a really tall order, and I might sound like a dreamer. But read this wonderful quote from Harriet Tubman:

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer.

Always remember, you have within you

the strength, the patience, and the passion

to reach for the stars to change the world.”

Why not? What do you want to do to change the world? Remember, you can do it by the moment-to-moment interactions with your family, your friends, your colleagues, and everyone you meet. What’s your dream for changing the world? Go ahead, be a dreamer!

Do you think of yourself as a leader?

Some of you might know that I’m good friends with Colleen Barrett, who stepped down as President of Southwest Airlines two years ago.  It’s interesting – at Southwest Airlines, they say that all of their people are leaders, including those who don’t have management positions. It’s because they think everyone can have a positive impact on others. That’s consistent with the way we at Blanchard define leadership—it’s an influence process. Anytime you’re trying to influence the thinking, beliefs, or development of someone else, you’re engaging in leadership. I think the reason people like the title of The One Minute Manager better than if it had been called The One Minute Leader was that a lot of people don’t think of themselves as leaders. When I do sessions, sometimes I’ll ask big groups of managers, “How many of you think of yourself as a leader?” and less than one-third of them raise their hands. Somehow they think the word leader is reserved for high-level positions like Presidents and CEOs. In reality, when I ask folks to list influential people in their lives who have impacted them the most, they very seldom mention managers or supervisors at work. They usually talk about parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, coaches, or teachers. So there are life-role leadership roles as well as organizational leadership roles. It’s an interesting thing.

So I want every one of you to remember that you are a leader. Each of you has the ability to influence other people, whether it’s a coworker, a kid at home, a spouse, or a friend. Because anytime you attempt to influence the thinking, beliefs, or development of someone else, you are engaging in leadership. So we’re all leaders. It’s just a challenge to get people to think that way. So be good to yourself. Be a good leader this week. Impact people in a positive way for the greater good!

Alarm Bells!

At our recent Client Conference, Garry Ridge, the President of WD-40 and my coauthor on the book How to Win at Work, was one of the keynote speakers. He was just marvelous. The concept he talked about, which is in our book, was alarm bells.

He told how he was in a hotel room in London one evening and was getting ready to watch an English comedy and have a couple of beers when he heard an alarm start ringing. He didn’t pay any attention to it—like we sometimes do with alarms because they often go off by mistake. But all of a sudden, someone was banging on the door and telling him to get outside. So he found himself outside wearing just his shorts and T-shirt and those slippers you get at hotels. He ended up out there for a couple of hours, on a cool London evening.  If he had responded to the alarm right away, he might have had time to put on warmer clothing and maybe a jacket. Later, as he was flying home, he started thinking about that incident and about what alarm bells he may have in his personal and professional life that he may not be paying attention to. Garry asked himself what alarms were going off personally—“Well, I’m overweight and not exercising enough.” And in business—“Am I telling people who really work hard that I care about them enough?”

I think an interesting thing for us all to do is get out a sheet of paper, divide it in half—personal and business—and just think about those alarm bells. Is there anything that’s happening that you aren’t paying attention to because of the noise of life, the busy-ness of life, that maybe could be an alarm bell that, if you really paid attention it, you could be better prepared? I just think it’s a wonderful exercise, both personally and in business. Take a look at those alarm bells. I’m going to do some thinking about this myself—what are the things I’m ignoring, and what am I really paying attention to?

Have a great day. Watch out for those alarm bells—they could be there for a reason and might help you more than you think.

Love to Learn

Not too long ago I was an emcee at a conference in Florida and it was great. There were three interesting speakers—Craig Groeschel, who founded, Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church near Atlanta, and then we had the famous author Patrick Lencioni.

I learned a lot from these guys. It was so interesting – all three of them talked about ego issues.

*   Craig talked about how a lot of people have fear and let that fear stop them. He said you need to push through the pain and do what’s right.

*   Patrick Lencioni has a new book called “Getting Naked,” which is all about being vulnerable. He thinks people in business shouldn’t try to act as if they’re perfect – people will really admire that. Colleen Barrett from Southwest Airlines has also said that people admire your strengths, but they love your vulnerability.

*   And then Andy Stanley talked about how if you do less and delegate more, you are going to get a lot more accomplished. A lot of times people try to achieve things beyond their abilities because they are afraid to delegate to other people. That’s when you end up trying to do everything—and of course you’re going to fall short. Then you’re in trouble.

That sounds like the fear of false pride – where you think more of yourself than you should, and you don’t want to appear vulnerable. The other fear is where you have self doubt – and think less of yourself than you should. This really reinforces the importance of our whole self leadership program—really effective leadership starts from the inside. It starts with you, whether you’re trying to influence kids at home, or coworkers, or as a manager with your people, or what have you. It’s so important that you know who you are, and that you realize that you are NOT your performance or the opinion of others. You can do what’s right. You can also share and be vulnerable. When you make a mistake, you can push through fear.

I just love learning. Make sure this week to learn a lot. Maybe there’s still time today to learn something!

The Golden Rule

I just heard a very interesting theory about the Golden Rule, which is in almost every faith–you know, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s about loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself. This theory was that you can’t really love your neighbor if you don’t love yourself. If you don’t feel positive about yourself, then it’s pretty hard for you to reach out and be positive to other people.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” There was a story about a woman who journeyed for miles with her son to have an audience with Gandhi. She said, “Would you help my son? He eats too much sugar.” And Gandhi told her to come back in a week. She couldn’t quite understand that, but they trekked all the way home and came back the next week. They then sat with Gandhi and he told her son to stop eating so much sugar. She said, “Why couldn’t you have told him that a week ago?” And Gandhi said, “Because I was eating too much sugar myself at that time.”  Ha!

The other thing that’s really interesting is that if you feel good about yourself, it makes other people around you feel good. And if they feel good, they send those vibes back to you and they kind of multiply. Norman Vincent Peale said, “Every day you have a choice. You can feel good about yourself or you can feel lousy. Why would you want to choose the latter?”  If you feel good about yourself, then you’re able to reach out and help others. Helping others is about happiness. The more we reach out and help other people, the happier we get. In fact, most of the time helping other people makes you feel better than if you were doing something for yourself.

So take care of yourself. If you do that, then you can take care of other people. It all starts at home. Confucius said, “It’s self, family, neighborhood, state.” If you want to create a great nation, a great state, you’ve got to start with yourself. So when you’re discouraged, remember that the change we want to see in the world has to begin with ourselves. Be good to yourself.