The unforgivable sin – guessing with certainty

6 12 2016

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” ~ Bruce Lee

“The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

All of the leaders on my team know that the one unforgivable sin they can commit is to represent something as truth to me, when they’re guessing.  If I take your “truth” up the chain of command, and get called out for being wrong on it,  we will indeed have a conversation that you will not forget.  Now, if you tell me you are 99% sure of something, or that you’re “almost certain” of something, then I will represent it that way up-hill, and it gives both you and me a way to save face when we are wrong.

There’s no shame in being wrong, but the only way to be forgiven for being wrong is to admit to it, tell what you learned from it, and to internalize the lesson so that it doesn’t happen again.

Speaking of forgiveness…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.


When you stop learning, you stop living.

29 04 2016

“Study strategy over the years and achieve the spirit of the warrior.  Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.” ~ Miyamoto Musashi

Do you want to be better today than you were yesterday?  Then learn something new!  Education doesn’t only come from going to school.  You can learn from books, you can learn from a daily comic, you can learn by asking or watching.  It’s likely that any person that you see is better than you are at SOMETHING.  When I go fishing with 40 buddies, my goal (besides catching fish) is to learn something from each of those people.  Sitting around the campfire, having one-on-one conversations always means I’m coming home knowing something more than I did when I left.

Leaders, remember that your line staff can improve, too.  Give them the opportunities to increase their skill set.  Whether it’s forwarding along a bit of wisdom that you have, allowing them to lead a team through some challenge, or even attend a training event.  We budget for it, and almost every year, we spend less on staff (off site) education than we budgeted for.  Investing in getting them training will almost always pay for itself many times over.

Speaking of study…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.

My bad. (Full Stop)

26 04 2016

“We count on winning, and if we lose, don’t beef.  And the best way to prevent beefing is – don’t lose.” ~ Knute Rockne

Pretty straightforward, even if Knute started his sentences with a conjunction.  If you don’t want to have to make excuses, wail, and gnash your teeth, then be right!  And when you’re wrong (did you see how I did that?), suck it up, buttercup.  We all make mistakes, and we all have some urge to try to fix it, make excuses, or get angry about being wrong.  Guess what?  You’re wrong, live with it.  Don’t like it?  Try harder next time.

Losing graciously is something that’s hard for most of us to deal with, but it’s something that good leaders do.  It shows class and dignity to say “my bad”, with no excuses following that statement.  When you own your results, you’ll be more respected and admired than those who try to throw blame or excuses.  Leaders, remember that when you have an employee who does or doesn’t own it.  For those that do, cut them a break – they just did a very brave thing.  For those that don’t:  Well, keep on them until they do.  You’re teaching a valuable lesson to a future leader (if they can learn it).

Speaking of beef…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.

Changes in Platitudes, changes in attitudes.

3 03 2016

“Proverbs are always platitudes until you personally experience the truth of them.” ~Aldous Huxley

There are probably 2 handful’s worth of platitudes that you have seen repeated in these daily comics: Don’t take yourself so seriously; Surround yourself with people smarter than you are at x; It’s just a job; Celebrate your mistakes; Walk a mile in the shoes of your employees; Kindness is paid back ten-fold; It’s easier to be nice than be mean.  The list goes on, but you get my point.

Yep, they’re all platitudes (some may be aphorisms), but they also prove out time and time again to be a satisfactory way to get through the work day.  Roll your eyes, or take them seriously.  Either way won’t change the fact that one way will make your leadership life a lot easier, and the other way… well… You’ll gain wisdom that way, too.  It’ll just hurt a little more.  Some people are determined to make the mistakes themselves, instead of learning from the mistakes of others.  Hey, it’s your life… live it as you choose to.

Speaking of platitudes…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.

The integrity of failure

29 05 2015

“Success is not built on success.  It is built on failure.  It’s built on frustration.  Sometimes, it’s built on catastrophe.” ~Sumner Redstone

You’ve heard about the post-it notes that were invented because 3-M engineers created a glue that “wasn’t sticky enough”?  Failure brought success.  Pearl Harbor was, by all counts, a catastrophe, but it woke up the will of America to go overseas and kick some aggressor butt!  I wonder what the world would look like if Pearl Harbor hadn’t happened.

So when you, as leaders, fail, don’t let it hurt your ego.  Learn from it, share the mistakes you made, and what you learned from them, and move on.  Next time you, or someone you shared it with, are in a similar situation, you or they might make a different move, and succeed on the shoulders of your failure.  It’s how we can help each other be better.  That’s why I get so upset when a team member makes a mistake and hides it from me.  Not only are they not showing any integrity, but they’re not allowing someone else to also learn from their mistake.  Show me someone who doesn’t make any mistakes, and I’ll show you someone that never tried anything worth trying.

Speaking of frustration


Rubes cartoons used with permission.