Making a Difference

Do you ever wonder if the fruit of your efforts make a difference? Have you ever felt that you were shouting something of great importance, but nobody was listening? Have you ever been discouraged because you know the solution, but nobody seems to recognize you as an authority? I know I have and I still encounter that feeling on a regular basis.

Many years ago, I was exposed to a simple story that to this day helps me put my expectations in perspective and reminds me why I need to keep going. It helps me keep my perspective even when it seems nobody is listening or I question if what I am doing makes a difference.

In this video I will do a 2 minute summary of the blog post “Making a Difference” on SkipGilbert.com. Join me as we take time to review a few pointers on becoming a more effective leader.

Make a Difference

4 Tips for making a difference

Make A Difference

“If you aren’t making a difference in other people’s lives, you shouldn’t be in business. It’s that simple.” – Richard Branson

Do you ever wonder if the fruit of your efforts make a difference? Have you ever felt that you were shouting something of great importance, but nobody was listening? Have you ever been discouraged because you know the solution, but nobody seems to recognize you as an authority? I know I have and I still encounter that feeling on a regular basis.

Many years ago, I was exposed to a simple story that to this day helps me put my expectations in perspective and reminds me why I need to keep going. It helps me keep my perspective even when it seems nobody is listening or I question if what I am doing makes a difference.

The Starfish Story

A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.

“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” he asks.

“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.”

“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it! You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”

The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.” 

Adapted from the story “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

There is a great lesson available to us from this story. We may not be able to save the world. We may not even have the opportunity to convey our message to a large audience, though we know that others would greatly benefit from the knowledge and experience we could share. Our best opportunity to make a difference is to focus on those that are open to receiving our message and willing to accept our help. These are the people who are ready to listen and internalize our message.

There are many who would benefit from what we have learned through our successes and failures. Whether in our professional or personal lives we have a lot to offer others around us. In many ways as a leader we have a responsibility to develop those around us to allow them to better utilize their skills and ultimately help our team deliver success.

We are most effective when we concentrate on serving each person individually. If we concentrate on serving those who are receptive to our message, we may find that it leads to an opportunity to serve more people in the long run. Just as in the story, while we may not be able to reach the larger population, it may really make a difference to those we are able to reach. Taken one individual at a time over a long period of time, we will find we have made a difference to a large number of people.

I think about this story often. There is an enormous effort that goes into writing books, providing meaningful content in the blog, making videos, maintaining the website and corresponding with our community. There are times when it feels like I am shouting into the wind. Book sales come in one or two books at a time and the number of subscribers increases at a slow steady pace. Large audiences are not formed overnight or even sometimes at all. All of the hard work and long hours that go into writing the books does not automatically put the book in a wide circulation or place it on the Amazon or New York Times best seller list. I am reminded that overnight successes are years in the making.

It is the same when we consider the opportunities to mentor people and change the world around us. There are times when we will feel undervalued and it will be tempting to lose our enthusiasm. As leaders that is just the point where we need to apply our character and drive forward. One person at a time, one project at a time, one obstacle at a time. Over time our success will be measured by the individual successes we have along the way. In the end, we will know we have made a difference.

Here are 4 Tips for making a difference:

Keep Thinking: Thoughts for Success

Available at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle!

As leaders we are faced with many challenges, not the least of which are staying motivated and moving forward. The steady drumbeat of everyday activity tends to rob us of our optimism and causes us to question our capability. Occasionally, we need to regain our perspective by taking a step back to refresh and reexamine our thoughts and approaches.

As smart leaders we know it is essential that we continue to learn. We know we benefit when we take the opportunity to evaluate our surroundings and incorporate the new learnings into our knowledgebase. We have come to understand the value of taking time to review the key principles and experiences that have led to our current success.

Keep Thinking: Thoughts for Success

New Book Release!

Now available from Amazon!

Kindle and Paperback

Keep Thinking: Thoughts for Success

 

Thoughts on Change, Leadership and Personal Development for Smart Leaders

 

Keep Thinking: Thoughts for Success provides meaningful reminders and new insight into the core topics of interest for all smart leaders. The topics are short enough for convenient consumption in our busy days, but deep enough to stimulate real learning and reflection. The topics span areas of interest and importance in leveraging change, building our teams, pursuing our goals and achieving success through Excellence.

Change: A simple but effective formula for planning and managing change and reminding ourselves to be an agent of change.

Excellence: Reminder of the key ingredients of pursuing Excellence.

Leadership: Topics include Being Transparent, Focusing on Solutions, Providing Positive Reinforcement and Being a Servant-Leader

Personal Development: Reminds us to Create a Bigger Vision, Embrace Who we Are, Manage our Self-talk, Rise above the Issues and to Stay Positive and other engaging topics

These along with many other important facets to achieving stronger more capable leadership qualities are included in the compendium of thoughts in Keep Thinking: Thoughts for Success.

A Healthy Perspective

When are we at our best, when we are tired, irritable, sluggish or well rested, energized and feeling good about ourselves? The answer is obvious, when we are rested, energized and feeling good about ourselves. So how can we best take care of ourselves to ensure our peak performance?

In this video I will do a 2 minute summary of the blog post “Healthy Perspective” on SkipGilbert.com. Join me as we take time to review a few pointers on becoming a more effective leader.

A Healthy Perspective

4 Tips for maintaining a healthy perspective

A Healthy Perspective

When are we at our best, when we are tired, irritable, sluggish or well rested, energized and feeling good about ourselves? The answer is obvious, when we are rested, energized and feeling good about ourselves. So how can we best take care of ourselves to ensure our peak performance?

We are constantly under the stress of trying to solve problems, dealing with conflict and making critical decisions without enough information. The everyday stress in our lives takes a hard toll on our mind and body over time. If we do not protect ourselves from being consumed by this constant attack, it will eventually reduce our efficiency and ability to be effective in our role as leaders. If left unmanaged it will ultimately lead to serious relationship and health issues that will severely undermine our ability to succeed.

Poor nutrition, inadequate sleep, the lack of exercise and constant conflict will inevitably take its toll on our mind and body. Typically it sneaks up on us as part of a busy life with many demands on our time.  It may start with not getting adequate sleep as we pack too much into our limited days. That may lead to having to grab some fast food on our way to our next appointment whether that be the after school soccer game, heading to the next meeting or running through the airport. We rationalize that just this time I will compromise on my rest and nutrition, but tomorrow I will do better.

Of course our busyness encroaches on our time to exercise as well as our time to calm down our thinking and process our thoughts. As a result our body responds by storing the extra calories as fat and our mind stores the unprocessed thoughts and emotions as stress and anxiety. Both of these things serve to reduce our ability to perform at our peak capacity. As we become more out of shape we become tired more easily and without time to process we become less able to deal with our emotions and fully apply our thinking. These things accumulate, reducing our ability to perform, and increasing our stress.

As we can see, these challenges build on each other and if not managed only serve to do us harm. So what are the key ingredients to maintaining our mind and body at peak performance?

Sleep:

More sleep tends to lead to better performance. We are more alert and have more energy when we start with a proper foundation of sleep. Studies consistently suggest that as adults we require seven to nine hours of sleep. Even though this is the most foundational part of our performance and stamina, it is the part most often compromised. A recent Gallup poll suggested that 40 % of us get less than six hours of sleep per night. Other studies have found that not getting a full cycle of sleep for even a single night can reduce the effectiveness of our decision-making by a noticeable percentage over those with a full night’s sleep.

It is important that we plan our sleep, just like we do any other part of our busy day. Without sleep as our foundation, we cannot build the structure that supports our activity and provides our success.

Nutrition:

Food fuels our body and without proper nutrition our body becomes unable to support our activity. There are numerous programs available to us to support adopting a healthy nutritional approach to fueling our body. The most important aspect is to purposely adopt a program that works for us and then give it the proper priority. Our performance is directly impacted by the ability of our body to sustain our activity and provide the stamina we need to maintain our peak efficiency across the entirety of our scheduled day. Providing the proper nutrition in the proper amounts at the proper time needs to be scheduled into our daily routine and should receive a higher priority than any other activity as it serves to support our ability to lead.

Exercise:

Exercise is essential for keeping our body healthy and helping to manage stress. Exercise allows our body to maintain and build our strength and stamina as well as circulate blood to better process food and remove toxins. It allows us to increase our endurance and condition our bodies to deliver a consistent level of energy over a longer period of activity, enhancing our ability to remain fully engaged throughout the long work days. Studies have proven that those who exercise on a daily basis rated significantly higher on overall leadership effectiveness than those who do not exercise. Just like the other aspects of maintaining our physical and mental capabilities, this must be scheduled in our day and set as a priority.

Meditation:

Time to think and process are essential to managing our emotional state. Whether through activities like Yoga or meditations such as quiet time or prayer, time to process our thoughts allows our mind to unload and regain our perspective. Studies of leaders considered top in their area across the corporate world universally find that these leaders set aside time to process. These studies find that the benefits include achieving lower stress levels, improved cognitive functioning, creative thinking, greater productivity and even improved physical health. These are all benefits that serve our ability to lead and as such should be considered as part of our daily routine.

Considering that these are all foundational elements to supporting our ability to operate at peak performance, it only makes sense to give these the highest priority in scheduling our daily activities. Not compromising on these activities will in fact support our ability to operate at peak levels of energy and thinking and provide more effective leadership. Compromising on our foundation only serves to diminish our capability.

Here are 4 tips for maintaining a healthy perspective:

Pay Attention

4 Tips for enhancing team engagement:

Pay Attention

“The secret to engaging our people is to pay attention.” — Skip Gilbert

Is our team truly engaged in their work? Do they see their efforts producing success in our organization or are they just putting in their time? Are they contributing with all of their creativity and energy or just doing what they are told? Do they believe we are headed in the right direction? Do they feel appreciated for their contributions? Do they have confidence in their leader? The success of our organization and leadership may be defined by how the members of our teams answer these questions.

In this video I will do a 2 minute summary of the blog post “Pay Attention” on SkipGilbert.com. Join me as we take time to review a few pointers on becoming a more effective leader.

Pay Attention

4 Tips for enhancing team engagement

Pay Attention 

“The secret to engaging our people is to pay attention.” — Skip Gilbert

Is our team truly engaged in their work? Do they see their efforts producing success in our organization or are they just putting in their time? Are they contributing with all of their creativity and energy or just doing what they are told? Do they believe we are headed in the right direction? Do they feel appreciated for their contributions? Do they have confidence in their leader? The success of our organization and leadership may be defined by how the members of our teams answer these questions.

Years of scientific research have provided compelling evidence that engaged employees perform better, are less likely to leave or burn out, and more likely to lead and embrace change. Employee engagement has also been found to correlate positively with business performance and other measures of organizational effectiveness. With the current pace of change, we are all in need of bringing forward the very best our resources have to offer and keeping the activity focused on meeting the current business need. Our best chance for continued success is with teams that are aligned and energized to make a difference.

With few exceptions, individuals want to contribute to and be part of something special, noble, good, and significant. They want to work for good people they respect and who also respect them. The individuals on our teams are human, and humans want a higher purpose in life. As individuals, we want to know that our work makes a difference, has value and that we are recognized for our contribution.

The key to improving overall engagement is to pay attention to the individual and their efforts. People need to be seen and managed as individuals and recognized for their individual performance. As leaders our additional responsibility is to help individuals achieve results as a group focused on the proper goals, while respecting each other as individuals. This is how we build high performance teams.

Vision and performance are the two key factors that drive core behaviors, that reinforce the basic need for recognition and meaning. Vision provides direction to ensure that we can align our efforts toward the corporate goal without having to be told what to do. Performance measures the results of our actions. Contributing to the resulting success reinforces feelings of self-worth and satisfaction that drive engagement. We can see that we are valued as individuals and that our efforts produce success. It takes both vision and performance to produce these results. Either one by itself does not yield the feelings of self-satisfaction that drive engagement.

Individuals who believe the company is headed in the right direction are also aligned around that direction. As they internalize the vision and join in the belief that it leads to a greater outcome, they are naturally drawn into focusing their actions to achieve those goals. The stronger the alignment to the vision, the more powerful the resulting performance will be. The entire organization will be pulling ahead to achieve a common goal. Without alignment in the right direction overall performance will be exponentially reduced as energies are expended in non-contributory efforts. Alignment is a significant factor in achieving the full capability of the organization.

A proven requirement for achieving a high level of engagement in our teams revolves around the team’s belief in our ability to lead. Each of the individuals on our team needs to believe that we are caring and capable leaders. We must demonstrate every day that we are reliable and consistent and share a deep interest in them as individuals and the overall objectives. Any wavering in our behavior will only diminish the strength of their belief.

Gallup has investigated whether leaders are more likely to engage employees by building close relationships and attending to their wellbeing, or simply focusing on their performance. Gallup’s findings suggest that the most effective leaders need to do both. One without the other does not produce the same results. We have to know where we are going and care about the people that are going to take us there to achieve the success we desire.

In the end it comes down to paying attention. Paying attention to the individual. Paying attention to their performance. It is far easier to achieve our goals with an engaged team of individuals than any other way. Smart leaders know this.

Here are 4 tips for enhancing team engagement:

Servant-Leader

Are we leaders or rulers? Do we lead by telling others what to do or support the needs of those producing results? As a leader when we view the hierarchy of our organization, do we see ourselves sitting at the top or bottom of the pyramid?

In this video I will do a 2 minute summary of the blog post “Servant-Leader” on SkipGilbert.com. Join me as we take time to review a few pointers on becoming a more effective leader.

 

Introducing Take 2 !

Welcome to a new feature on SkipGilbert.com. Take 2 ! is a new video feature on skipgilbert.com. It will feature a brief overview or additional information on my previous blog entry. At times I may include other topics of interest or announcements. We are all looking for ways to be informed and save time. These videos will be a maximum of two minutes in length and packed with information to make the best use of your time. Join me on these videos and let’s pursue Excellence together. Be sure to follow me at skipgilbert.com.