What are you waiting for? [post by Aaron Powers]

fences w credit

My internet friend Aaron Powers hit the nail on the head with his latest post, “What Are You Waiting For?”.  Since there are no guarantees in life…

we need to consider two important questions:

What fences in your life need mending?

What do you want those who matter most in your life to know?

After losing my mom and my dad within the last year and a half, my wife losing her step-dad last week, and another dear friend losing his wife of 51 years, it kind of makes me stop and think. What legacy am I going to leave behind when I am the one who dies?

Read Aaron’s post here.

After reading Aaron’s post, come back here to enjoy other related posts:

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Making Training Fun

What if something as simple as fun could be the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better? I just watched this video from http://www.thefuntheory.com/.

What if we applied the fun principle to our teaching and training? What if we used fun to change organizational culture?

What making training fun is NOT:  Fun is not the same as funny; it is not having the trainer tell jokes. It is not saying: “OK, now we are going to have fun and play a game.” I am usually looking for the nearest escape when I hear someone say that!

What making training fun IS. It is making training relevant, desirable and interesting rather than boring. Here are a few practical ideas:

Listen for what motivates and drives people. Engage them. My professor and friend, Ray Wheeler, engaged me in class. He spent a half hour of his class time facilitating our cohort in solving my personal question. Ray clued into the emotion behind my question. Too often we hear a comment and begin to judge, formulate a response, or think of our own related story. I was ready to learn anything from him after that.

Teaching is not about the teacher; it is about the learner. Individuals may be auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners. They may process information internally (by thinking and reflecting) or externally (by verbally processing with others). Does our training take that into consideration?

Wrap your training in a metaphor.  I ate grilled dove at a friend’s house this summer. It was OK. It was even more appetizing when it was wrapped in bacon. Just about anything wrapped in bacon is more desirable. The same is true with our training. When you wrap teaching with a story, metaphor or meta-narrative, it is much more interesting. Listeners will remember it much longer. Perhaps that is why Craig Chappelow, a leadership author and contributor on Fast Company says it is better to read good fiction for lasting lessons.

Employ a variety of methods. Are you stuck in the lecture mode? I know we all have information to convey, but minds begin to wander after seven minutes. If you want to convey info, go right ahead. But people will tune out and retain little. Remember these percentages:

learning pyramidUse adult learning methods. See earlier post on 5 Important Reminders for Teaching Adults. Here are a few more practical ideas from some team members (Thanks Terry-her blog, Karen Z. and Barb B!)

  • Post ideas and learning on wall to refer to as training takes place
  • Invite participants to share from their experiences
  • Turn to the person next to them and share or answer a question
  • Use purposeful activities that help to illustrate the content
  • Allow time for discussion at tables or in small groups
  • Facilitate share out loud or in small groups one “take away”
  • Add video clips
  • Use role plays
  • Allow for questions
  • Use problem solving activities like case studies
  • Have participants stand up and/or move around the room to record ideas on poster pages or do some other activity
  • Let them teach you. Give groups a learning task that they present to the rest of the participants
  • Change pace every 30 minutes
  • Team teach
  • Change seating arrangements
  • Use interview style to present information
  • Allow for some silent/reflective time

Use open ended questions that help people discover answers for themselves, rather than being told what to do.

Better PowerPoints. Maybe I’ll write more on this later, but if you have a PowerPoint with all your lecture information crammed into bullet points on slides, you might as well just stay home and send people the presentation to read.  That could save everyone’s time!

Well, that is enough rant for one day. But, I constantly need the reminders to just add fun.  Perhaps you do too.  Just one question:

What have you done to add fun to training?

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Leadership Lessons from Lone Survivor and SEAL Team 10

I am deeply humbled and grateful for Petty Officer 1st Class Marcus Luttrell and Navy SEAL team 10. I was riveted to the movie, Lone Survivor. I had read Marcus Luttrell’s book five years ago and was waiting for the movie to come out. It is intense, inspiring and raw.

lone survivor movieI have complied several leadership lessons from Lone Survivor (the book and the movie):

Look for mentors early in life.  Marcus became a Navy SEAL in part because of Billy Shelton.  Billy was a former Green Beret sergeant who lived near Marcus in East Texas. Marcus sought him out after he heard that Billy mentored young kids to show them what is would take to become a Navy SEAL, Ranger or Green Beret. No matter what age you are, find a mentor or mentors. There are people out there who are willing to help you. Who can you ask to mentor you to help reach your goals this year?

Pay attention to details.  Billy Shelton told his young boys that if someone just mentions an idea i passing, i.e., “it might be good if”, then do it! Pick up on the idea, listen for details. People who truly listen and are observant pick up on clues and details that set them apart from others.

Pay the price physically.  Billy communicated that his boys would be the best trained and physically prepared. When fatigue sets in, his boys would be prepared because they had put in years of grueling training and physical preparation.

Have a high level of integrity and character. [Who you are] is built right here in the first phase. And you don’t want people to think you’re a guy who does just enough to scrape through. You want people to understand you always try to excel, to be better, to be completely reliable, always giving it your best shot. That’s the way we do business here.”  P. 123 “Anything worth doing is worth over-doing.  Moderation is for cowards.” (Lone Survivor movie)

Be self-aware.  “The real battle is won in the mind. It’s won by guys who understand their areas of weakness, who sit and think about it, plotting and planning to improve. Attending to the detail. Work on their weaknesses and overcome them. Because they can.” P. 123

Teamwork is essential.  The Navy SEAL training is so strict on the concept of team.  You never separate more than one arm length from your “swim buddy”- not even to go to the bathroom! If you did in the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) course, you automatically failed and were thrown out!

Keep cause and community central. The team had a clear mission. They were committed to taking out Ahmad Shah, the second in command in the ruthless Taliban army. They were also committed to one another, in spite of the pain.  Danny Dietz was shot four times and kept on defending his team of four against 200 Taliban fighters.  Matthew “Axe” Axelson had half of his face shot off and continued to fire at the enemy. Marcus had been shot in the leg, had a broken back and numerous shrapnel wounds. He continued to fight, encourage and attend to his team’s medical needs in the midst of the ambush.

Serve and sacrifice. The leader of the SEAL team was Lieutenant Michael Murphy. “Murph” laid down his life for his friends when he moved away from his secure canyon wall and into the open fire in order to get reception on his SAT phone.  What meant probable death for him was to be the salvation for his teammates and accomplishment of the mission.

When communication fails, the mission becomes compromised. Because of the rugged mountain terrain and canyon walls, communication with the base for back up and resources was limited.

Honor those who serve in the mission. Three of the four team members were killed. Marcus Luttrell was the Lone Survivor. The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President George W. Bush personally awarded Marcus with the Navy Cross.  Bush also gave Marcus his phone number and said to call if ever needed anything. Murph was awarded posthumously the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military’s highest decoration. Danny Dietz and Axe were also posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest citation for valor.

Never give up. Marcus says, “I will never quit. My nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect against the enemy and to accomplish the mission. I am never out of the fight.”

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UPward in 2014!

stairway to heavenIf you are ready to take things up a notch this next year, then listen up. These tips might be just up your alley! They may help you get a leg up on your competition and lift up your spirits. So wake up and rise up to the challenge…that is, if you are up to it. If not, you may find yourself up a creek without a paddle. You surely don’t want to mess up this year or pass up some great opportunities. So, here we go… up, up and away.  OK, enough already.  I will shut up. Here are 7 UP tips to be upbeat, and move up and upward in 2014.

Shape UP.

Don’t set any New Year’s Resolutions or try any fancy diets that set you up to fail by January 16th.  Begin a lifestyle change that includes exercise and more healthy eating habits. There are some great tips at 5 Proven Ways to Lose Fat. Which ones will you do?

Show UP.

My focus word for this year is PRESENCE. I want to wholeheartedly show up wherever I am. I want to listen with focused attention. “Rarely can a response make something better; what makes something better is connection.” (Brené Brown) Watch her short video here.  I want to be wholeheartedly engaged and fully present in any conversation at home or work.

Clean UP.

There is an ancient proverb: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Many times I have wrong tapes that play in my head about who I am or who I ought to be. I want to renew my mind and live out who God created me to be. The old tapes I listen to about shame, failure, doubt, etc. lead to all sorts of broken behavior. It is the passive listening to those old messages that makes me feel like a victim rather than help me move upward.  Here is another challenge: Clean UP my speech. One leader challenged people: “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

Suit UP.

Try suiting up in this wardrobe each day: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline, tenderhearted mercy, gentleness, and patience. Not that easy to do, but what a difference it would make with your family, kids and co-workers if you intentionally chose to suit up in these each day!

Fess UP.

I constantly mess up in relationships, and need to humble myself, confess and ask forgiveness. Maybe you feel a rift in a relationship right now. If you want to move upward, why not deal with the baggage now before the year begins. Otherwise, the emotional weight of that strained relationship will hold you down. This is one of the actions that requires VALOR.

Look UP.

So often, I don’t have the energy or power to do the best thing. That is why I need to look up…to God. Don’t you sense you need His help to change yourself, a habit, a relationship, an attitude? This takes humility. When I am arrogant, I find I look down on others. I need to look up to God to change me, and others will take care of themselves.

Keep it UP.

The Marine Corps has a motto: “Pain is weakness leaving the body”. Upward is hard. It is much easier to go with the flow. Change is painful. But keep it up. Developing a habit is hard work. Persevere!

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Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net by idea go.
References: Proverbs 23:7, Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 3: 12-13

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A Global Conversation: Learning Together

top 13 countriesI want to thank the 167 countries that have visited and read Leader Impact blog in 2013. (The top 13 for 2013 are on the left.) It is beginning to feel like a global conversation.

Every culture has it’s unique nuances and challenges of living well, loving, leading, and learning. Every culture does well in areas and struggles in others. Every culture adds to the conversation!

Conversation involves the informal exchange of ideas, discussion, exchange, dialogue. Conversation is always a two way street.

Learning is also a two way street. I am grateful for the variety and diversity of readership on Leader Impact.  We all learn about leadership, but the best learning involves one another-learning from and learning with others.

If I could change anything about the blog this next year, I would love to learn more from each of you. I am definitely in the process of learning and do not have this stuff figured out. That is always the danger in writing–it appears official and all together, even when it is not.

I am open to learning with you.  Leaders in other cultures will learn from you as we interact together.

So, I invite you to leave comments and feedback. I hope the blog creates a space for us to learn together. Push back, offer opposing ideas and in the process, we are all sharpened. We all grow and learn from one another.

What causes you to learn? What topics are you learning about this year?

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