From Depression to Stronger Together

In Shawn Achor’s book, Big Potential, he shares this sobering data:

“The average age of being diagnosed with depression in 1978 was twenty-nine.  In 2009, the average age was fourteen and a half.  Over the past decade, depression rates for adults have doubled, as have hospitalizations for attempted suicide for children as young as eight years old.  What could possibly have changed so much to account for this?”

Achor points to rise of technology and social media.  For kids, there is a never-ending need to announce accomplishments and the whirlpool of competition (from boyfriends to athletic prowess to stupid tricks to selfies) keeps spinning faster and faster dragging more and more people in.  And then there is the pressure that continues to ramp up in schools and on the athletic fields and arts platforms.   Better grades.  Higher batting average.  Flawless performances.  Pressure! Pressure!  Pressure!

For adults, it is not much different.  Promotions, projects, and performance all set the stage for continual pressure points.

Achor’s challenge and call is for us to understand that our potential is “interconnected with others.”  “We need to stop trying to be faster alone, and start working to become stronger together.”

Good words for today, right?

We are about to enter a time when we need each other more than ever.  When the economy opens back up, we face choices.  Everyone for themselves or everyone helping each other to recover.  People want and need to get back on their feet.  Each of us can help someone succeed.  How?

  • Be an encourager.
  • Help someone find work.
  • Listen to a hurting friend.
  • Support a local business and encourage others to do the same.
  • Celebrate someone else’s win.

“Because when we work to help others achieve success, we not only raise the performance of the group, we exponentially increase our own potential…making others better takes your success to the next level.”

happiness Achor

Staying Connected – We’re Better Together

I produced a video yesterday for our local leadership networking forum, First Fridays Fort Wayne.  I wanted to share the text of what I said on video.  This is all about how we can stay connected during this quarantine environment that we are all hoping ends soon.

child zoon

…We’ve moved meetings and events to Zoom and Skype platforms.  We’ve been entertained by the sound of barking dogs, children asking a parent for something to eat, and squealing brakes of a garbage truck in front of our house while these meetings go on.  We’ve hoped and prayed our internet speed holds up.  We’ve been bombarded with emails, instant messages, and more meetings.

And we do all of this in relative isolation from each other.

We are suffering from what someone in our area has called technology fatigue.

Don’t get me wrong.  Technology is great!  But is cannot ultimately replace the face-to-face interactions that so many of us are missing.

So how can you stay connected professionally during this quarantine?

  1. Talk with another leader outside of your company. Pick up the phone, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc. Literally, talk with someone you were connected with prior to the quarantine.  It does not have to be about work or your career.  Just make a person-to-person contact.  A friend called me the other day to ask some questions.  It was SO GOOD to hear his voice.  We need this kind of interaction.  Just like the old telephone commercial says, “Reach out and touch someone.”  (just don’t physically touch them…we’re not supposed to do that!)  You get the jist…

Contact me

  1. LinkedIn connections. So many of you are on LinkedIn today.  This is a great tool to stay connected.  When you read someone’s post, comment on it.  Send them a message.

 

  1. Write a note and mail it. Let me say that again – write someone a note and mail it.  That still works!  Encourage someone.  Tell them you are thinking of them.  Ask them to pass this idea along and to send someone they know a similar note.

 

  1. Email someone. About once a month, I send a few people an email thanking them for their contribution to our community.  I thank them for how their company is positively impacting us all.  It makes a difference in that person’s life.  Try it.

book                                                          podcast

  1. Recommend a book to read or a podcast to listen to. Do this through your socially media channels.  There are many of us out here who are looking for the next book to read or a podcast that will help us grow.  You can be a resource for someone’s personal, professional growth.

 

  1. Even in the midst of a quarantine, you can network. Attend a First Fridays online event.  As I shared earlier, we have some great online events coming in May. Greater Fort Wayne (our local chamber of commerce) is offering a variety of sessions with flexible times/days to connect with others.  Take advantage of these great opportunities.  Make technology work for you to network!

 

  1. Give back. We all know how devastating this quarantine has been.  So many businesses are at risk of closing never to open again. I’ve driven by small businesses in town seeing their site closed with For Sale signs out front.   Support local businesses in any way you can.  Order carry out from local restaurants.  Buy a t-shirt from them.  Buy other products that they offer.  Recently I order a t-shirt and hand sanitizer from Three Rivers Distillery Company here in Fort Wayne.  It was a simple way to support a local company who has pivoted their business to serve the needs of our community.  It was an investment of $24 from me to do this.

three rivers distillery

 

hand santizer

 

I hope that this quarantine comes to an end very soon.  We need to get our economies going and growing again.  But in the meantime, do what you can to connect with local leaders.

Let’s keep our community’s foundation strong.  Encourage one another.  Help one another.

As my new t-shirt says, “We’re better together.” 

Change the Way You See Situations

As I stated in my last post, I have been reading Change the Way You See Everything.  In fact, I just finished it during my lunch break today.  This is probably the fourth time reading through this incredible book.

In the closing pages I read today, authors Cramer & Wasiak challenged me to change the way I see situations.  What is the current situation right now on April 27, 2020?  The ongoing quarantine due to the corona virus.  The economy of the world is crippled.  Millions in the US are unemployed – and this happened in a mere matter of weeks.  Small businesses are closing never to reopen.  There is a lot of depression, fear, and despair.

If we’re honest, most of us focus on that last paragraph.  The 24/7 news channels feed viewers a never-ending diet of gloom and doom.  It seems as if everything is focused on what has gone wrong.

But what if we could see this differently?  

Think back to September 11, 2001.  When that day happened, I’m sure many thought New York would be forever devastated.  But Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided this vision:

“Tomorrow New York is going to be here…and we’re going to rebuild, and we’re going to be stronger than we were before…I want the people of New York to be an example to the rest of the country, and the rest of the world, that terrorism can’t stop us.”

And New York did rebuild.  One year ago, I stood at the World Trade Center Memorial.  I walked the streets of the city.  It has rebuilt.  Our nation became stronger and more vigilant.

How did that all happen?  How will we climb out of the hole we were thrown into these past few months?  Can we?  Yes, we can!

foucsCramer & Wasiak challenge us to apply the 80-20 rule…in reverse.  “Instead of focusing 80% of your attention on problems and 20% on opportunities, concentrate 80% on opportunities and 20% correcting what’s wrong.”

 

So what are your opportunities?

  • Devoting time to invest in your personal growth and development.
  • Investing time to discover a better/more efficient way to get work done (hey, you already changed where you work – focus on how you work!)
  • Ask, “How are my customers interacting with me now?  What is working with this?  What small tweaks can I make that would make it even easier for my customers to do business with me?”
  • Ask, “How can I become more financially fit during this situation so I can better be prepared for the future?  Who can I turn to for help with this?”  (locally, here).
  • Ask: “Who can I help right now?  Who needs encouragement, support, or a friend?”

“…what if you could reach into the depth of that problem and extract a treasure – a wealth of information that could propel the situation forward in a way that benefits everyone involved, exponentially!”

Cramer & Wasiak offer solid advice:

  • Get a new vision of your world today.
  • “Turn yourself on by sharpening your vision” of what could be.
  • “Link your passion, vision, and skill set with the strengths and capabilities of those you have attracted into your circle of influence.”  
  • Change how you think about problems and set-backs.

This is not an impossible situation we are all in.  But those that will rise to the next level and challenge will be those who focus on the 80% of the opportunities this time is presenting to us.

“How can this be the best problem we’ve ever had?”

The Path to Promotion by Jim Johnson

These have been interesting days.  A lot of us have run to frig too often, gotten reacquainted with our families, freaked out our pets for being home so much, missed talking with our neighbors, etc.

I’ve done all of that.

And I also finally finished a book project that I’ve been working on for a while.  Introducing:  The Path to Promotion!

Book Cover from AmazonI wrote this book initially for my staff who would often ask “How do I get to my next level/promotion?  What do I need to do?”

In early 1998, I was was basically unemployed full-time only working a few part-time jobs here and there to make ends meet.  I did land a job with my current employer.  Once there. I worked the process I spell out in my book.  I went from unemployed to Vice President in 5 years.

 

Now, I’m not giving you a magic formula.  But I am giving you a tried and tested process – one that I’ve seen played out in other’s lives, too.

I would appreciate it if you would order my book.  If you know someone who feels stuck in their current role or who wants to make a bigger “splash” at work, share this post with them.  There is work involved.  But as I say often, “it works when you work it.”

Don’t wait for someone else to make something happen for you and your career.  Get on your Path to Promotion today!  You can do this!

To order click here.

Thank you for ordering!

Thank You for the Global Visits!

Where are readers of Go, Leader, Grow! located?  All over the world!  Here’s a snapshot of the readers’ location this month:

Go Leader Grow Global visits

Thank you for visiting, reading, and interacting!  I truly appreciate it!  Leaders everywhere are working to become better.  And that makes a better world.

 

A Heart for People

I think one quality that has always attracted me to specific leaders is this: a heart for people.

My father is almost 89. He’s had a very rough last three weeks. He has been in the hospital and in a rehab facility. We were able to just bring him back to his apartment yesterday. Several times during these three weeks I have witnessed something.

He always takes time to talk with people. He’s always willing to help. He speaks words of encouragement. He asks about others. He smiles at people.

(Dad helping folks at his nursing home find someone – the day he got back to his apartment.)

Granted, physically he has been in bad shape for three weeks. But even during those times, he has found ways to try to brighten somebody’s day or to do something for someone.

(My Dad helping out his friend on a Sunday service at the rehab center)

Leaders demonstrate the ability to care for others. But it’s not something that they have to manufacture. It comes from their heart to another person’s heart. That is my dad. He has been such a great example to me.

(With some of his grandkids and 1 of his great grandkids.)

How to Get out of a Funk

Last week, I had a doctor’s appointment.  I was not happy with my check-up.  Over a year and a half ago, I was diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes.  I began to make life changes.  I lost over 30 pounds.  I changed the way I ate (yes, I cheated from time to time).  I made other changes as well.

From a recent wellness exam we do at work, I saw that my blood sugar numbers actually went back up a bit.  Also, I’m in the middle of some heart tests now.  And I’m back on medication.

This put me in a funk. I was doing things that were supposed to help, but I’ve gone backwards.  I know genetics are at work, but this “set back” has not been good.

So, how do I get out of this funk?  I know the eating regimen I’ve been on is good for me.  I just need to ramp it up.  I need to change my exercise to something more rigorous.  I need to follow my doctor’s orders.

I found the following this morning.  It’s good advice.  I need to follow it.  If you’re in a funk or have been in one, perhaps this may help you or someone you know.  Share this!

  1. Connect with people. As I wrote in a previous post, How To Pull Good Things Out Of Others, who we are and how we experience ourselves often has more to do with who surrounds us than anything else. When feeling low, one of the fastest ways to pick yourself up is to connect with specific people you know bring energy out of you.
  2. Commit to a new goal. Sometimes my listlessness is purposelessness in disguise. Human beings are not only intrinsically driven by a sense of purpose but also seem to require a sense of purpose to lead a satisfying life. It needn’t be a grand purpose, but it must be a purpose that feels important to you.
  3. Read an engrossing book or see an emotionally powerful movie. Both have the power to transport us, to provide a perspective far removed from our own, and in doing so, unlock emotions we want to feel: joy, hope, warmth—even sadness. When in a funk, what we feel doesn’t seem to be as important as finding a way to feel something.
  4. Travel. Though travel has never been one of my favorite things to do, it does accomplish something important when I’m in a funk: it takes away familiar environmental cues and replaces them with unfamiliar ones. And as most of our behavior and emotions are cued by our environment (from turning off lights when we leave a room to the sinking feeling we may get as we approach our place of work), if we want to act and feel differently, changing our environmental cues is a good place start. Not that you can escape yourself by relocating geographically. But you can be helped to access different parts of yourself.  Jim’s note:  traveling doesn’t have to take you far.  It can be traveling to a state/national park and hike.  Just get out of your surroundings for a bit. 
  5. Wait patiently. No mood lasts forever. And life won’t leave you alone but will eventually present you with new challenges that activate you. And even if such challenges are difficult, they will often bring out your best self.

Resource for these steps:  How to Get Out of a Funk

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I am Accountable – are you sure?  by Michael Cahill

All along my employment journey, I have had positions that had varying amounts of responsibility, and I believed I held myself very accountable. If asked in the summer of 2008 (when I became CEO of a publicly traded company), how accountable I held myself, I would have answered that I held myself extremely accountable.

I was wrong.

That is hard to say, and it took me a few years to see the light, and probably another year or so to admit it. What happened?

I was in front of the very same board (I was CEO of the company’s largest subsidiary prior to the summer of 2008). I knew all the details and activities of the company. However, there was now no one between me and the directors. One of the directors sole focus was holding the CEO accountable – period.

At first, I thought it was about blame. Then I thought is was just about picking on me. Then I thought is was personal.

Once again, I was wrong.

This director did not care about blame. It was not personal, and he was not picking on me. He just cared about what I was going to do to correct things going forward and to insure poor results did not reoccur.

He did not care how it happened, or who did it. He did not care if 15 of the 16 key metrics were good. He wanted to know why all sixteen were not good. What was I doing about the one bad metric?

I could not play CYA. I could not say that overall we were good. I could not use any other tactic to get around it. I had to own everything. I was CEO because a great majority of my decisions were good ones. I was CEO because a great majority of my actions were the right ones. I was CEO because I had selected the right strategies. However, as CEO I had to be held accountable for 100% of what is going on. It was the board’s job to hold me to that standard.

A funny thing happened along the way. I became more and more comfortable with this level of accountability. I recognized it was not about blame. It was about always getting better. It was about improvement. It was about be able to face adversity and take on that challenge versus hiding from it. The more accountability I took, the easier it became.

Errors or bad results are just challenges to overcome. Bad things happen – always. It is not about avoidance, but honestly admitting these ‘bad things’ and coming forward with solutions and actions to overcome them.

So how do you respond when bad things happen? Do you blame others? Do you divert attention? Do you CYA? Do you hide, or do you own it, see it as a challenge, and come back with solutions, ideas, and tactics to overcome the issues?

I want to work with people who hold themselves and others accountable. Easier said than done, but it is so worth it!

As an aside, as I was working on becoming more accountable and less defensive, I would sometimes say in a board meeting – “Thank you for pointing that out. I am sure I will appreciate it tomorrow.” I was half kidding, but once I got over my defensive posture, I knew I would be a better person for it.

The cool thing? The more accountable I became, the less fear I had. The less fear I had, the more accountable I was. It was a self fulfilling prophecy.

So next time something bad happens to you or to your company, or division, or team, go down the checklist. Did you hide? Did you blame? Did you CYA? Did you divert? Or did you state the issue and lay out how to correct the problem and keep it from happening again?

Who would you rather be around?






Overcoming by Jim Johnson 

I am continually amazed by my children. They love to push themselves and seem to excel in things that they do. Believe me, they are not perfect in any way. But their resilience encourages me.

Last night my 5th grade son performed the role of Captain Hook and his school’s musical Peter Pan, Jr.  Around Thanksgiving when he tried out for this part, I will admit I was surprised. He has typically been very shy. But he wanted to go for it. Perhaps it was because his sister had a leading role in Shrek the Musical a couple of years ago. Regardless he went for the part he wanted and he earned it.

Last night our elementary school hosted its 36th annual Music Theater. There were a couple of hundred people in the audience. And right before the performance my son got stage fright.
My wife, the principal, his teacher, and I all talked with him. It was a combined effort of encouragement and speaking positive affirmations to him. At one point I told him, “you can do this.” And he looked at me and very emphatically said, “I don’t think I can.”

I reminded him of an incident in baseball last year where he was feeling the same thing about pitching. I reminded him that he faced that obstacle and was able to overcome it. I told him I believed he could overcome this, too. His teacher later told me that she also used baseball as a way to encourage him.

His teacher then asked him to go do his first scene. He did and performed it incredibly well – including a vocal solo. When he walked off stage he told his teacher he didn’t think he could go back and do the next scene. She said, “you’ve got to give me one more.”

He went on to his next scene. He did very well in that one. When he walked off stage he looked at his teacher and said, “I don’t think I can do another one.” She looked him straight in the eye and said, “come on, man. You’ve got to give me one more.”

The third scene he was on stage again, he did great. When he walked off stage, his teacher told me later that he looked at her and said, “I’ve got this.” He went on and had a great performance.

Capt Hook and his teacher

I am so incredibly proud of my son who faced an incredible fear – the fear of speaking in public, performing, of being vulnerable in front of people he knew and people he did not know. And yet he faced his fear, and he beat his fear.

There is a lesson in this for all of us. Personal growth comes when we face our fears head-on. When we step out on that stage and go for it. When we have mentors and coaches who encouraged us along the way. When we realize deep inside that we can do it.

What fear are you facing today? Get with your coach or mentor and let them encourage you. And then jump up on that stage and dazzle yourself and others!
You can do it!