Leadership, Vision, and Grace by Jim Johnson

As I wrote earlier, one of my leaders invited me to lunch with Mayor Tom Henry of my hometown, Fort Wayne, Indiana.  We just returned from this private luncheon.

mayor henry

Mayor Henry is a genuine leader with a gracious spirit and a keen vision for our city.  His strategic plan for growth has seen our downtown begin to be revitalized.  Our city is experiencing growth in new businesses which creates jobs.  His plans have created wonderful family attractions.  His plans for the future will do even more of this.  He openly shared his vision for more growth and expansion – and exciting days are ahead for Fort Wayne.

At the end of our meeting, we gave him our gifts and he also shared gifts with us.  He was honestly thrilled to receive the books.  We were honored by his gifts.

Mayor Henry’s family has been a part of our city’s history for over 100 years now.  You can easily perceive his passion for Fort Wayne.  While the Mayor is no longer a young man, he was energized when talking about the future.  Investors are seeking Fort Wayne out – great things are in store for us!

Our Mayor is a busy man. He is the leader of the 2nd largest city in the state of Indiana.  But he took the time today to have a relaxed lunch with the two of us.  There were no politics at play.  No trying to sell us something.  He genuinely loves what he does and loves to hear how his vision has positively impacted our city.

Leadership.  Vision.  Grace.

May we all embody those attributes as we seek to influence others to success.

People Follow Leaders with Vision by Susan M. Heathfield

​”When leaders share out a powerful vision and organize and staff the workplace to accomplish it, a powerful dynamic drives employee performance. When leaders walk their talk, it’s a demonstrated motivator for people. When leaders  share a strong vision, employees flock to it – even choosing the job in the company over other options.

These are the fundamentals necessary for a vision that excites and motivates people to follow the leader. The vision must:

  1. Clearly set organizational direction and purpose;
  2. Inspire loyalty and caring through the involvement of all employees;
  3. Display and reflect the unique strengths, culture, values, beliefs and direction of the organization;
  4. Inspire enthusiasm, belief, commitment and excitement in company members;
  5. Help employees believe that they are part of something bigger than themselves and their daily work;
  6. Be regularly communicated and shared, not just through monthly announcements and reminders at the company meeting, it must permeate all communication at every level of the organization;
  7. Serve as the reason courses of action are chosen, people are hired, markets are selected, and products are developed; 
  8. Challenge people to outdo themselves, to stretch and reach.”


Read the entire article here:  https://www.thebalance.com/leadership-vision-1918616


Beyond Cool: Jamal Robinson by Jim Johnson

I had the privilege to have lunch with Jamal Robinson of Desiar at the end of October.  What is Desiar (pronounced “desee-aire)?  Here’s what Jamal says from his website, www.desiar.com:

“a new revolution of eyewear for the fashion-forward who want to become style legends”
“progressive eyewear line for the bold, the confident, the expressive”
“Desiar is the framework for individuality”
“FUTURE CLASSIC”

desiar 1

desiar 2

Jamal and I met at a mentoring program hosted by IPFW (Indiana University/Purdue University at Fort Wayne) where business leaders (Jamal and I) spend time with IPFW business students to help them connect, network, and create a context for their current learning journey.

Jamal began Desiar in 2011 after early adventures into entrepreneurship.  He has designed clothing for a magazine in Florida before he began to focus on eye-wear.  As the idea for Desiar matured in his mind, the designs moved from “glitter” to working with mediums not normally seen in glasses – wood.

So how did Jamal create and develop Desiar?  He used his resources to figure out how to start up this growing business.  He worked for an import/export company here in Fort Wayne and learned valuable lessons that he has directly applied to Desiar.  His work/mentoring experience here helped lay the foundation for Jamal.

I asked him how he came to find the overseas factory.  “The internet.”  Jamal is genuinely curious.  He is not afraid to research and learn. In fact, that is a primary characteristic of this young business man.  If he didn’t know something, he jumped in and found the answer.  Not knowing did not create obstacles that stopped him.  He pushed and climbed and questioned and researched.  He found his answers, and he moved forward.

He didn’t stop there.  As he developed his eye-wear line, Jamal would go to concerts and get back stage to meet the artists (if possible) to present his product and simply ask if they would wear them.  He asked for the business.  But he did it intentionally.  He would approach the artist and say, “I design glasses. If I gave you this pair, would you wear them?”  They did.  His “fashion-forward” eye-wear had to be in the hands of individuals who were already setting fashion trends – people that other people would and do take notice.  Smart, smart moves.

Those first glasses were made by Jamal himself.  But he soon he realized that he could not keep up if he wanted to broaden the scale of his business.  He knew he had to go overseas to bring scale to his production.  So how did he find a production company on the other side of the world?  “The internet,” Jamal answered.  He did his research.  He spent nights reading, talking with manufacturers, making connections. 

His fashion line developed into glasses made of wood and other mediums.  His business grew.  But now, he is about to launch (first of November) a new line of eye-wear made solely of wood.  And they are beautiful!

So did Jamal look overseas for a manufacturer to make these all-wood glasses? No.  These are made down the road (from where we ate) in a small town.  Who makes them? A furniture maker.  Only 2%-3% of eye-wear is made in the US.  And to Jamal’s knowledge, none are made in Indiana.  But he just changed that.

As he met with potential investors, he explained that his glasses would be “made in Indiana.”  They didn’t think that marketing line was a good idea.  Who would buy glasses from Indiana? It’s a state of farms, race cars, auto manufacturing, and Amish.  Wooden glasses exist in a different atmosphere, right?

wooden glasseswooden glasses in a row

Made in Indiana?  Jamal is “pretty pumped by that.”  He’s proud of this.

“By fate and a blessing”, he was called on by a company to help them. In doing research for them, Jamal learned about the kind of machinery that HE needed to produce his all wood glasses.  Through this experience, Jamal shared his vision and his designs and this company was able to produce the necessary machinery needed to manufacture the new Desiar line.  He then found a furniture company who is now producing his wooden eye-wear.

CollaboratePartner with Talked toLearned from.  This is Jamal’s path to success.  Just 15 minutes into our interview, I heard these words over and over again.  Sure, Jamal is incredibly gifted in the creative process.  He has a very strong vision for his business.  He is passionate about it.  But he knows that HE must work with others. HE must find partners to help him fulfill his company’s vision.  HE must do the hard work of research to find the answers to his questions.

Jamal explained to me how the wooden glasses are made.  He knows the process.  He knows how the wood has to be manipulated to form the correct bend. He knows what kind of machines are needed to do this. He is intimately aware of his products processes.  He knows his business.

Jamal is currently in China to meet his overseas partners.  Knowing Jamal, he will come back with more ideas, improved processes, and new connections.  It’s not a sight-seeing trip.  Jamal will turn it into gold.

I asked Jamal if he ever wakes up in the morning to ask himself, “how did this become my life?”  He reflected on his China trip.  “The world has become smaller.  I find it easier to make connections.”  He uses those connections to build his business.

Did Jamal begin Desiar as his sole source of income? No.  He bussed tables at a restaurant.  He worked a year and a half with one of his mentors who runs an import/export business.  He got a “real world perspective” from this.  And all from our town, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Jamal has mentors from all over.  Import/Export.  Online music equipment sales/service.  He’s learned why they are great at what they do.  He’s captured why they do what they do.  His desire is to have Desiar known just at Sweetwater is known in the music business.  Jamal listens, absorbs, and applies.

What keeps him up at night?  Not much. He’s not worried about tomorrow.  Jamal shared with me a question he asked himself – “what are you doing today that made the business better than yesterday?”  It’s about positive movement forward.  It’s about not settling.  His agenda daily must be involved in the things that truly help his business to grow.

He sets goals with his team.  But it’s not about the goals.  It’s about results.  What did they learn from their results? Did they miss the goal? Why?  What do they need to do to hit the results the next time.

I asked Jamal if he ever struggles with self-doubt. He stated that he wouldn’t be human if he experienced “hesitation” from time to time. He listens to a lot of motivation podcasts and videos.   He explained that he has learned some techniques over the years to deal with this.  When a self-doubting thought comes up, he simply says, “Thank you, but I’m not on the list for you today.” 

He explained it’s good to have a dream/vision.  But you have to write it down.  Look at it.  Talk about it. Bring life to it.  Always learning.  Always willing to be stretched.  Always being positive.

This young business man is grounded.  Solid family.  Solid beliefs.  Confident in his abilities.  Faith.  A vision beyond eye-wear.

This is Jamal Robinson.  This is Desiar.

Discover Desiar here:  www.desiar.com

Jamal Robinson

 

Passion – the fire within by Jim Johnson & others

flame

(Here is the next section in my L.E.A.D. (Leadership Effectiveness and Development) initiative that I’m doing with my team here at work.)

For a team to succeed every member must know and understand their specific role so that you are united in working to achieve the team’s goal. It’s the bigger picture that drives your actions. While this is broadly understood in most businesses, it is usually approached in a purely practical way by determining SMART objectives or establishing clear KPIs. And there is nothing wrong with that, but for best performance it lacks a vital ingredient: emotion.

Emotion is the extra gear, or passion, you need to go from cruising speed to take off. When teams have an emotional bond, members understand each other better, know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, support each other through tough times and enjoy celebrating successes together.    (Marianne Hewlett)

PASSION

Definition:  noun – a strong and barely controllable emotion.

 

“Passion is the energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do.  Simply put, it’s being who you are and doing what comes naturally.  When what you do is in alignment with who you are, you get energy from doing it.  It’s like water flowing along its natural riverbed.  It actually gains energy from the path it’s taking (compare that to what most people experience in their work, which is more like trying to force it up and over a mountain).”

(http://mapmaker.curtrosengren.com/what-is-passion.html#kkXUyc4j.dpuf)

Points to Ponder:

“Passion is infectious…and the catalyst leaders use to excite others.  Passion is what others view as strength and confidence as they’re led down a path full of obstacles and danger.  Passion makes you brave (some might say stupid)…Passion is what helps you up after a fall.

The role of leader doesn’t come easy because you have passion.  At first, many people will be skeptical, even afraid, to go along with you.  Leaders don’t go where everyone else has already been; they go where no one has gone before and that is what makes them leaders.

Passion is always shown, not told….do what you’re passionate about and it won’t feel like work at all…There’s an added bonus because passion is an adventure so you’ll never be bored!”

(Al Borowsky, from http://changeyourgamebealeader.com/2014/02/07/making-passion-navigator-towards-success/).

“I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn.” John Wesley

Yes, that old English preacher said that. He would ride around the countryside on horseback to preach at different churches. And people did go to hear this man preach. His preaching changed lives. It created a movement. John Wesley was on fire.

How about you?

Leaders are passionate. They are passionate about their business, about their products/services, about the differentiation, about their staff. You can tell when you’re around a passionate leader, can’t you? Even if you don’t know much about their expertise, you can get caught up in their enthusiasm. They are infectious.

Have you ever been around a person who is in charge and it is clear that they are not passionate? Can you image the organization that they lead? I have a feeling that few others are showing any kind of passion either. Status quo probably rules the day. “We’ve always done it this way” is their motto. This type of leader and organization aren’t necessarily like Eeyore, Winnie the Pooh’s sad friend. But they aren’t Tigger either. They just are.

If you want to see results and motivate your team, check your passion. If you want to move on to the next level, check your passion. If you want to achieve, succeed, and grow, check your passion. Don’t lament about where you are today. Take what you know and where you to grow to the next level – and do it with passion. Rick Patino, basketball coach/guru said this:

“It doesn’t matter whether you are a crossing guard, a schoolteacher, or a basketball coach. It might not be where you want to be tomorrow, but it’s where you are today. Seize the day.” (from Rebound Rules)

Passion moves you to change. Passion is showing up and continuing to show up.

“But I’ve been at this same job for a long time and I’m not getting anywhere. They (corporate) don’t recognize me and my skills,” you say. What to do, what to do?

Passion says “I will not surrender”. Don’t get caught up in a pity party. Nobody wants to attend that. And you’ll go no where focusing on poor-pitiful-me. “Never complain about your problems because 95% of the people don’t care and the other 5% are glad they happened to you” (Lechter & Reid in Three Feet from Gold). Hopefully, not all of that is true. But the point is this: refuse to surrender your dream of the next level.

So how do you live in passion? Here are some ideas that I think are worth acting on:

1. Keep your dreams and goals in front of you all the time. Write them down. Do the things that will get you to your goals.

2. Be enthusiastic. Facing a tough challenge? Jump in and tackle it. Learn from it. Use your resources. Master it. As a leader, others will see your passion as a beacon and will follow. They will!

3. Don’t seek recognition if you’re not in the position you desire. Learn your profession. This will lead to mastery and will build your confidence.

4. “We have one chance to do our best on each given day; don’t waste that chance.” (Patino in Rebound Rules)

5. Never let mistakes define who you are. Learn from them and move on. Or as a wounded soldier said when asked how he faces life after being seriously injured on the battlefield, “I F.I.D.O. – forget it, drive on!”

You can approach your business, your department, your branch, your personal life with the same-ol’-same-ol’ attitude. You might grow new business. You might see success. You might achieve. But there’s a good chance that you won’t.

Or you can set yourself on fire. Know, really know, your business. Look for opportunities for your business to grow whether you are in the office or not. Throw yourself into the development of your staff. Be a cheerleader for them. Love every chance to talk with potential customers about your business. Be enthusiastic.

People will come to watch you burn – and they just might catch on fire, too!

(https://goleadergrow.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/passion/)

What Passion Does for Us:

“1. Passion produces energy. 

A leader who has passion is driven forward from the energy it produces. When it comes to leading yourself and others, passion and energy are essential. Donald Trump said, “Without passion, you don’t have energy; without energy, you have nothing.” Leaders who have passion also bring energy into what they do.

2. Passion drives vision.

If a leader wants to see their vision and goals being accomplished, then the leader’s passion is the fuel that drives the production and results of the vision. The vision of the organization or team should be frequently and passionately communicated to others.

3. Passion ignites others.

We have all seen or been around a passionate leader. I personally know after I’m around a passionate leader their energy and passion rubs off on me. This causes me to feel more energized and motivated. A person’s passions can ignite other people’s passions and bring energy into their lives.

4. Passion raises influence. 

John Wesley said, “When you set yourself on fire, people love to come and see you burn.” This is what happens when a leader has passion. The leader starts gaining more with others, and people want to be a part of what’s going on. If you want to raise your influence, then you need to be a passionate leader.

 5. Passion provides potential.

I have observed that a leader’s passion brings new opportunity and opens the door to success. This is because when you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it moves you closer to your potential. Moving you closer to your potential causes you to be moving into the next level within your career and personal journey.” (Dan Black, http://danblackonleadership.info/)

Something to think about:

“Without passion, man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.” – Henri-Frederic Amiel, Writer

Here at work:

  • What makes you spark?
  • What inspires you?
  • What gives you so much satisfaction or/such a buzz that you would do it for free?
  • What role does passion play in your working life?

 

VISION – Into the Impossible! by Jim Johnson

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What got man to the moon?  What drove explorers to risk all to sail ships to the New World?  What gets an athlete up before the sun to train?  What creates movements?  What builds businesses and brands?  What changes people?

VISION

Definition:  “VISION is a clear mental picture of a future desired state, preferably in writing” 

Vision begins in the Mind

Peter Stark created that definition, and I like it.  Let’s break it down a bit.  A vision is “a clear mental picture”.  Vision begins in the mind of a leader.  Leaders dream, think, image, and create what they want to become – what they want their teams to become – in their mind first.  A vision can become that all-consuming passion that creates filters through which they see most everything in life.

Vision is about the Future

“…of a future desired state…”  Vision is future-focused.  I’ve heard it said that one of the leader’s primary duties is to go out into the future, see where he/she needs to go, and then returns to lead his/her team there.  To launch this idea, think about these things:

* What do you want to be known as?
* What do you want your team to be known as?
* Why does my company need leaders?
* If we are wildly successful, how would we describe that success? (Joel Dobbs)

Vision is Communicated

“…preferably in writing.”  What good is a vision if it is not shared with your team?  And if you cannot put your vision in writing, perhaps it’s not clear enough.  When you have a vision, communicate it!

In my February 22, 2013 post in “Go, Leader, Grow”, I shared a quote from a book entitled, “Leadership Excellence”.  Authors Pat Williams and Jim Denney said the following about vision:  “the purpose of leadership is to organize and motivate people to do the impossible and unthinkable.”  I love that!  This first requires a vision.  A vision that is thought-through.  A vision that is a bit scary and uncomfortable.  A vision that is about your future desired state.  A vision that makes you and your team say (or at least think), “This is crazy!  Can we really pull that off?!”

So how does a leader create a vision that can transform people and organizations?  Peter Stark has a great article on this that I posted back on February 18, 2013.  You can find that post here. https://goleadergrow.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/how-to-build-a-vision-for-today-and-tomorrow/

As you work on creating a vision for yourself, your team, and your company, it’s important to understand some things:

* Vision is created within your context.  The world around us is changing all the time.  Pay attention to trends, news, people’s behaviors, etc.  Read.  Read articles, blogs, books.  Read to expose yourself to new ideas.  You won’t necessarily find your vision there, but what you expose yourself to will help mold your vision.

* Vision is captured in reflection.  I still struggle to journal consistently.  But when I do, I tend to produce better results in my personal and professional life.  Do you carry a smart phone or tablet?  Try using Evernote – a free app.  I am writing this blog post on it right now.  It’s the best way to capture and organize your thoughts.  You can later retrieve your notes on your smart phone, tablet, or PC.

And if possible, get away from the “noise” in life. Reflecting in the quiet can sometimes help in clearing your mind and gain new focus.

As my L.E.A.D. team discusses the why, what, and how of vision, we will then find our ONE THING to begin applying.  Vision is not just for the C-class executives at your company.  YOU need to have a vision.  Your success depends on it!

“Vision basically answers the question:  what does success look like?”  Joel Dobbs

What are your thoughts on vision? Share them!