What the World Won’t Tell You

Whether you realize it or not, you are constantly bombarded with messages from the World around you. Media, movies, advertisements, entertainment, etc.

Our culture is noisy and the messages are relentless. Some of the classic messages address our views on money, power, and love.

Money = Security (have you seen how many ads there are for financial advice?)

Power = Control (have you seen the ferocity of our political environment?)

Love = Emotion (have you seen a single episode of the Bachelor? Strangers falling in love all over the place)


I grew up with these messages and honestly they have been around long before I showed up on the scene. However, there are some new messages being shared to my generation and the next.

Activity = Achievement

“If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” has been replaced with “If you do something but don’t share it on social media, did you actually do it?”

Our culture is teaching us to derive a lot of short term satisfaction from the approval of the masses at the expense of our presence in the present.

Political Disagreement = Disdain

I am politically Conservative. I have friends that are not. Do we hate each other? No.

If you turn on the media for a nanosecond or hop on Twitter for a minute then you would think that we should. I understand the media needs to generate interest, but the polarization as a result of generating interest is infecting our society.

Digital = Social

A couple of quick questions:

  1. How many friends do you have?
  2. How many of those people would help you in an emergency?

The answer to question #2 is probably a more accurate representation of the answer to question #1.

We ARE more connected now, but I am not sure our digital connections translate to real relationship. BUT I think the world is telling us that they do. Hence our struggles on the social media front. We surrender the “here and now” for the “there and then”. I don’t think that is a wise tradeoff.


I have spent all this time identifying the messages the world tells us but the title of this is What the World Won’t Tell You. Here are a few truths correcting the messages above –

Money = Tradeoffs

You CAN make a lot of money if you pursue it. You just have to be willing to give up other facets of your life in order to do so. What are you willing to lose in your pursuit of money? Is it time, your health, your integrity? Life is all about tradeoffs and this is never more true than when it comes to money.

Power = Temporary

Nobody stays at the top forever and the illusion of control through power fades away when you realize this. Political winds change direction often, businesses rise and fall, leaders are replaced in short order. Pursuing power is like chasing the wind.

Love = Hard Work

Emotions are great, but they can never form the basis of Love. Don’t believe me? Think back to your first relational/emotional experience growing up. Okay, now fast forward to today. Do you think that feeling could sustain a marriage, family, and career ALL at the same time? Of course not. (Sadly the often quoted divorce statistics of our nation prove this as well)

Love is only sustained through hard work and the decision to commit regardless of the presence or absence of emotion.

Activity = Habits

What you do repeatedly WILL determine who you become and where you go with your life. This fact is inescapable because we cannot escape our habits. This quote (often repeated in different formats) comes to mind –

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;

watch your words, they become actions;

watch your actions, they become habits;

watch your habits, they become character;

watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Political Disagreement = American

To disagree politically is to be American. Enjoy it. There are some nations where dissenting opinion can lead to death and we are over here blasting our government on social media with no consequences whatsoever. How awesome is that?

And while we are on this topic: we are not as divided as the media says we are. Don’t fall for that and don’t allow a disagreement to destroy meaningful relationships in your life.

Digital = Distraction

This is an easy one and I will end on it. The next time you are in public, I want you to take a moment to see how many people are looking down at their phones.

We are a distracted people, and our social framework is diminished because of it.

Thanks for reading.

– Brian

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A Few Thoughts on Life and Leadership

A Note on Elephant Consumption

What is the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

I believe this to be true-ish. You may have heard this before. This is the metaphor for accomplishing a large task. I want to make one key change to the idea.

So, what is the best way to eat an elephant? One (high quality) bite at a time.

Why the difference? Because we often lose sight of quality in our steps towards a larger goal. I think it is important to prioritize better before bigger.

In my occupation, I work with a lot of young adults who have very bright futures outside of what they are doing right now. In some cases, they choose to perform at a high level where they are. In other cases, they do not. This is a missed opportunity. A low quality bite of elephant.

In my own life, I have large goals but I know that I will never reach them if I accept mediocrity in the interim. I am a firm believer that our habits eventually catch up to us.

Focus on cultivating great habits.

Focus on quality every step of the way.

Managing Expectations

Do you know where disappointment comes from? It comes from the difference between reality and our expectations.

Unmet expectations.

I think a critical responsibility of a leader is to manage expectations.

Now, please do not think I am an advocate of setting low expectations. Quite the opposite, but here is where I have seen some people struggle.

High expectations do not equal realistic expectations.

The people you lead and the people you serve come with a set of expectations. It is your responsibility to effectively understand and manage those expectations.

How?

Here are a couple tips –

  • Consistent Communication
    • A consistent flow of information helps you maintain control of expectations.
    • Nature abhors a vacuum and people do too, so in the absence of information they are left to their own conclusions, assumptions, and biases.
  • Honesty/Transparency
    • A bad situation does not get better with time.
    • In my experience, people have appreciated my honesty and transparency in leadership.
    • Again, this helps remove any assumptions or biases from developing (and getting out of control).
  • Practice Empathy
    • Put yourself in their shoes and consider what their expectations might be. This can help you in many ways, but most importantly you can anticipate their needs and perhaps move to meet them.
    • Just ask yourself, “If I were in their shoes, what would my expectations be?”

Pessimism = Rust / Optimism = Oil

Let’s say your team is an engine, and as a leader you are a mechanic. Your job is to make sure the engine is taken care of so it can perform at the highest level.

So you coach and monitor progress. Try and hire the best people, set high expectations and enforce them.

When things are great, the engine runs fine. You can even step on the gas a little with no issues.

Then one day you notice performance declines unexpectedly. You take a look at the engine and notice some corrosion has occurred. You see some rust developing.

In teams, rust is pessimism. And pessimism will DESTROY teams from the inside out.

As the leader, you need to address pessimism when it manifests. Pessimism is a consistent negative outlook. In this sense, it differs from negative feedback.

Pessimism tends to show up with a lot of complaints and few solutions.

To combat pessimism, I recommend the following

  • Model optimism
    • Do not allow the snowball of pessimism to turn into an avalanche by continuing to pile on. You have to think differently and teach your team to think differently (especially in the midst of negative situations).
  • Address honest concerns quickly
    • Often times pessimism comes when issues/concerns are not addressed.
    • Trust and confidence are lost when a member of your team brings something to your attention repeatedly and you take no action. This is very discouraging.
  • Push for solutions/create buy in
    • When a problem is brought to your attention, push the person bringing the problem for a solution ESPECIALLY if it is a complaint
    • In some circumstances, you will have to handle the problem
    • However, in other circumstances you can create buy in by allowing your team to pursue a solution. Often times, the best solutions come from those closest to the action anyway.

Stick-To-Itiveness

If you had a choice between a person with higher intelligence or greater self control, which would you choose?

I hope you would choose greater self control. Someone with a high level of self control is more likely to have an asset sometimes called “Stick-To-Itiveness”.

Persistence. Discipline. Determination. Optimism. (Some may say a little stubborn).

This is a quality I want on my team in large quantities because these individuals are more likely to get things done.

History is filled with examples of individuals with this uncanny ability to just keep moving forward and now we read about them.

You know what we don’t see in history?

People who made a difference because they consistently quit.

 

 

Thanks for reading.

– Brian