So, there’s a lot going on in the world these days.
If you just woke up from hibernation, the last few weeks and months has been a whirlwind of change, uncertainty, and unprecedented measures to fight a new world enemy — COVID-19, the coronavirus.
One day has sort of blurred into the next, not knowing where we are in any given week not to mention what huge announcement might come on that given day.
There have been multiple tug-of-wars going on inside my head: worry vs faith, depression vs hope, wandering vs leading, anger vs understanding.
In the midst of it all, I’ve bounced from one thing to another as I’ve lost a sense of normalcy and routine.
A few days ago, it was announced that the lock-down that we’re in has been extended another 30 days in an effort to combat the virus, save lives and get our country on solid footing again.
Honestly… and maybe you’re like me… before that happened I was thinking “OK, we’ve been at this for several weeks and things have been rough, but we’re almost done.”
And then the extra 30 days order came down and there was a collective sigh at the thought of the long road ahead.
As I struggled with the idea, I was thinking about how to find something to keep me going through all of this.
Something for me, but hopefully something for you as well.
Enter 30 Words for 30 Days: Thoughts from six feet away.
It is my attempt to do something I love (writing) to allow me to get some thoughts out onto a digital page (this blog) and in the process start some conversations, offer some encouragement and hope, and collectively get through this together.
Each day a different one word topic.
Pretty simple. I hope you’ll join me.
It’s one way we can stay connected during this time of isolation.
Right now, as you read this very sentence (or skim past it to the next headline), there is an business office that is struggling. Maybe it’s yours.
You’re struggling to find the right team member. You’re looking for someone with confidence, curiosity and determination who can come in and transform the way you do business.
Meanwhile, across the country (or maybe just around the corner), there is a young mom of a toddler that is also struggling.
She is struggling with the tiny human that has come in and turned her life upside down… both with his cuteness that melts her heart and with his insatiable appetite for destruction that melts her energy and hope.
It’s not hard to look at these two situations and see that there is a perfect solution for both parties staring us, defiantly and with a little jam smeared on his cheek, right in our face.
What if that toddler is exactly the kind of worker that your office needs?
And what if the toddler being out of the house is exactly what that young mom needs right now?
I’d like to propose 3 reasons why the toddler would be a great fit for any office… and 1 reason why they wouldn’t
1. Toddlers ask a lot of questions
The very thing that drives every parent of a young one crazy is the exact same skill set that is missing in so many workplaces.
They’re willing to ask “Why?”
It’s the power of asking questions that is so often missing in our current workforce.
Good questions are preferred, but in this day and age, any questions will be accepted.
We live in a world where fewer and fewer people know how to dig deeper, to do a little investigative work or to solve a problem or come up with something new.
Often, when encountering a roadblock or just a tedious task, typical employees just rely on their own personal Google (read “supervisor”) to solve everything for them.
Rather than ask “why didn’t that work?” or “why do we do things this way?” or “what would happen if…?”, they just plod through and try to get things done, inefficiently or not at all.
But that toddler… oh man… what that little boy could do for that office.
From day, one he’d stagger in there, look around and start firing off “Whys” like bullets from his pint-sized six-shooter.
“Billy, you need to fill out a PRN before you can do the TFSP, but you need to use that computer there…” “Why?”
“Billy, that’s just the way we’ve always done it…” “Why?”
“Billy, you can’t just eat the sugar right out of the packets…” “Why?”
A toddler would be that disruptive force that would bring about real change by questioning the status quo and allowing people to re-imagine what their work could be like.
He would be awesome.
2. Toddlers are willing to say NO
If asking “Why” is a toddler’s peanut butter, then loudly proclaiming “No” is their jelly.
Like a 25 pound prize fighter, “No” is like their upper cut to their question-asking jabs. “Why, why, why….NO!”
One skill that can be hard to master for most people in the workplace is this very ability to say “no”.
We all want to be helpful, to go the extra mile, to do our part.
But along the way we add on extra tasks to an already full plate, thinking that we can do it all.
Or we agree to a deadline that we know we can’t meet to try to make someone happy or to look good in their eyes.
But too often all of this leads to the opposite. Deadlines get missed, workers get stressed, the workload falls off the overloaded plate and onto the floor.
And that’s where the toddler comes in.
First, they will eat that workload straight off the dirty floor because that’s what they do.
But then, they will begin to do one of the things that they do best. Say “No”.
They’ve been practicing this skill since they could first speak the word….
“Billy, let’s get your shoes on…” “No!”
“Billy, stop throwing spaghetti on the wall…” “No!”
“Billy, it’s time to go to bed…” “No!”
Drop Billy into that office and he’d have no problem working efficiently and staying focused and on-time.
“Billy, I know you’re trying to finish the Miller project, but can you give me a hand with this?…” “No!”
“Billy, I need you to come to this two hour meeting where we’re going to plan out what we’re going to discuss in our four hour meeting next week…” “No!”
“Billy, we just had to order another case of glue because you ate the last one. We need you to stop…” “No!”
Billy would be the “Noer” that you’ve needed in your organization, to
Billy would rock that.
3. Toddlers are persistent
Often our greatest breakthroughs come right after we’re about to give up… but don’t.
Unfortunately, many workplaces like yours can struggle to build that into the culture. To not give up when things get tough.
That’s when the best ideas often come — when we’ve exhausted the “logical” solutions or feel like there just isn’t a solution at all.
That’s when innovation dips into our decisions, our conversations, our meetings and when change truly happens.
When that persistence is missing, things just stay the same, productivity slowly takes a nose dive and companies aren’t as able to offer their best to their customers.
But where can you get someone with that kind of “not-back-down” attitude?
Enter our little friend the toddler.
Toddlers have a will like no other and will keep banging against that wall until it comes down or they get what they want.
They’ve never met a roadblock that they didn’t think they could get past.
Drop them into your office and sick them on your toughest project and they will push and strain and plug away until it gets done.
Barriers, rejection and resistance just seem to melt in the wake of the determined toddler.
They will get their way. And if you can get them on board with your company’s mission, they will wear down anything that opposes them.
Just ask anyone in your office who has ever had a toddler taking up residence in their house, or holding a standoff in the busiest part of the mall… or at bedtime.
Yep, toddlers have exactly the type of “don’t give up” attitude that is needed today to keep your team and initiatives moving in the right direction.
Okay, so, even though toddlers bring with them these three awesome strengths, there is still one big drawback:
Toddlers are messy
I’m not exactly sure how to put this, but toddlers like destruction.
Imagine a tornado meeting an earthquake and having a baby. A literal baby.
Unleash that offspring into your office and within minutes every drawer will be ransacked, every door opened, office supplies everywhere, plugs unplugged coffee spilled, and more….
That new little teammate will jump from one crime scene to the next, giggling all the way.
Oh, your vendor brought in donuts? Oh, I think you meant sugar-coated, smashed up floor pucks.
New box of paper clips? Wonder how many can he stick into your USB ports at once.
New cartridge of ink toner? I won’t even describe what’s about to happen there.
You get the picture.
If you can survive the mass destruction and weather that storm, the upsides will far outweigh the mess. I think.
Well, there are still some barriers to all this. Child labor laws, ADA for toddlers in the workplace, purchasing all shatterproof equipment.
But, boy, once those are in place, just find your nearest frazzled toddler parent and you’ve got your next great employee ready to come in and make things happen.
Just make sure you get stocked up on the Cheerios first.
There are only two types of people on the first few days of the year: those who have created goals for the new year and those that haven’t.
In a couple of weeks, that will change. There will be three:
Those that didn’t create any goals at all (“Nah, I’m good”)
Those that created goals and are sticking with them (and posting them on Instagram)
Those that have crumpled up their list of goals and thrown them into the trash, as they go back to watching TV and eating donuts (“Only 355 days until next year!”)
A Recipe For Goal Disaster
When it comes to the complex relationship between Shawn and goals, there are two things you need to know — 1) I’m a natural optimist and 2) my brain is ADHD wired.
Put those two together and I usually make goals that are way too big and I lack the discipline to follow through with them anyway.
That’s why I’ve never been great with goal-setting in the past, even though I’ve tried really hard.
Recently, I’ve been thankful for books like Jon Acuff’s Finish, that has a lot of practical tips in this area of accomplishing what we set out to do.
I read it a few months ago and highly recommend it. Solid book, super entertaining, chock full of mindset-shifting ideas and freedom from goal-quitting guilt.
It definitely got me thinking more about why I fail so often with goals.
I’m so optimistic that I tend to lay out an insurmountable but idealistic goal that would require the perfect settings and a more perfect me.
So, it’s usually been Set, Fail, Wait, Repeat.
Until this year.
This year I’m doing things a little bit differently.
I’m going to use Progressive Goals.
“What are Progressive Goals?”, you ask?
I’m calling them progressive because, instead of laying out something for “the year”, I’m laying out goals (daily, weekly, monthly) just for January.
I’m starting with goals that are slightly ahead of where I am right now. Goals just for the next month ahead, no more. My plan is to aim to meet those for January and then bump them up again heading into February. And so on.
Some are daily goals (such as drinking a certain amount of water for the day) while others are weekly or monthly.
For example, in the area of fitness I’m currently… okay, I’m actually doing almost nothing right now for fitness. Basketball here and there, but that’s it.
In the past I might have gone from nothing to exercising 5 days a week (in my goal world, mind you). Although that might be possible, schedule-wise, it’s just not going to be sustainable.
So, this year, I’m looking at my current state and picking something that’s currently just out of reach but will get me moving.
One fitness goal is to go from my current state to doing 25 push-ups and sit-ups each day.
I know, I know. Sounds ridiculously easy to most. But, here are four reasons why I like this goal:
There are no excuses for why I can’t do it. No unforeseen scheduling issues or other conflicts should impact it
I have everything I need to do it. Hands, triceps, abs, body weight, floor. Check. Check. Check. Check. And Check.
It’s an easy goal to stack on top of. The plan would be to at least get going with this over January and then bump at for February or even earlier if I feel like it.
There’s nothing about it that sounds too idealistic. Really. It’s just 25 push-ups. But it IS something and something that I need to jump up to.
So, what about you? If you’re not a goal setter, I challenge you to try setting a few for the next month. Seriously, if I can do it, anyone can (do I need to remind you of my eternal optimism and ADHD brain).
Or, if you’re someone who has given up on goal-setting because you usually set the bar too high and continually fail, I urge you to try Progressive Goals.
Here’s how to start… today:
Pick a category. Here are some of mine: FAMILY, FINANCES, FAITH, FITNESS, FUN (yes, I have goals for having fun), HEALTH, GROWTH
Under one of these categories, just think of some area that you’d like to grow in. Common goals tend to be around health and fitness this time of year, but yours could be spending more time with your kids or getting out of debt or organizing your sock drawer (trust me, I’ve seen it… actually, might be too big a goal at this point 🙂
Now, for the tricky part. Set a goal only for this next month that is achievable. You need a win in this area, some encouragement. Something to stretch you but that can get you on track.
Then, either at the end of the month (or earlier if you’re feeling good), bump the bar up. Make that the new goal.
Track your progress
You can write these goals on paper and tape them up on your mirror to see every morning. Or create a spreadsheet with daily boxes you can check off (for something like drinking 3 glasses of water each day or running 2 miles or cutting down on your screen time).
I love to have something to check off, to keep it visual. But do what’s going to work for you.
And to make it even better, find ways to reward yourself or congratulate yourself. That could be buying yourself a little gift or doing something special. Anything like that.
So, I’d love to know your goal-keeping secrets.
What have you found to work best for you? And what are some of your goals for this year?
It seems just yesterday I was scared to death as we left the hospital and I wondered if I would have what it took to take care of this precious little human.
He’s the one who first gave me the title “dad” and I’ve watched him pave the way over the years, as we’ve added two more sons and a daughter to the mix behind him.
I watched him learn to say “NO” (pretty easily), learn to walk (not as easily), and learn to laugh (a lot).
And yet it seems like I blinked and my little dude holding his favorite stuffed dog as he drifts off to sleep has turned into a grown man who is bigger and stronger than I am (I’m still trying to hold on to the smarter category…).
As this day has been approaching, there have been so many thoughts in my head, so much I want him know as I can feel the next chapter coming on him quickly.
And though I’ll never be able to get it all down in a post like this, I thought I’d at least give it a try.
So, here are 18 Thoughts For My Son On His 18th Birthday:
I love you
Maybe you won’t ever truly understand the depth of this until you’re a father as well, but I love you deeply and would do anything for you.
Being your dad is one of the highlights of my life and I’m so blessed to be able to call you my son. Know that whatever happens in your life, I’m here for you, I am for you, and I love you.
I’m proud of you
As I see the man that God is growing you into, I’m thankful to have been able to play a small part in that but know that it is God who has made you into the leader that I see before me.
I’m proud of the way you live your life, how you inspire and share with others, care for those around you and pursue life with a passion. Your smile is a reflection of the the big heart that is inside.
I pray for you
One thing I’ve learned is that God not only knows you better than I ever will but He also has the power to be what you need in your life. The more I’ve felt inadequate over the years as your dad, the more I’ve been reminded that pray is my first priority with you.
God knows what you need and the plans he has for you. My role is to pray for you, love you well, and trust Him with you. I pray that you will trust Him as well.
Use your gifts
God designed you uniquely with things you do well. Take advantage of those and use them wisely and often. When you do, you’ll be energized and will know that you are doing what you were meant to do.
Your gifts are God’s unique investment in you. He loves to see you using those both to enjoy life and to pour out into others.
Love others well
You’ll never regret the investments you’ll make in others. Look for ways to lift others up, go the extra mile, and defend those who can’t defend themselves. Speak words of life and encouragement to ears that desperately need to hear them and offer your time, energy and heart to a world that is hurting.
I already see this in you and get excited for the lives you’ll impact in the future.
One of my favorite things as a dad is to watch you enjoying life. Whether it’s watching you hit a jumper in basketball, spike a volleyball or down a box of mac-n-cheese in one sitting, you make life fun. Continue to pursue things that you enjoy and have fun with those around you.
Live life to the fullest and bring others along with you.
Go make a difference
You aren’t here by accident. God has so much in store for you. New stories to tell, places to discover, memories to make. Along the way, make your mark and make a difference. Whether in big ways or small, the lives you impact will cause a chain reaction.
Don’t give up
Life can be hard. You’ll face setbacks, disappointments, pain, frustration, depression. There will be times when you want to give up, when you don’t feel like it’s worth it. Don’t give up. Press through.
Trust that each day brings a new hope and often the breakthrough is just on the other side of the wall. It will be worth it. Don’t stop.
Do life with people who appreciate you
Life is too short to invest it in relationships with people who don’t get you or are secretly out to tear you down. You are worth more than that. Find those people who understand you, who encourage your passions and celebrate you. And who are willing to tell you truth when you need it as well.
Let them into your life and trust their wisdom and thoughts, both in their encouragement and in their constructive criticism.
As you go through life, you’ll be presented with countless opportunities. And usually there will be a safe option and a riskier option. Make sure to do your homework to weigh them both out and know what you’re up against.
And whenever you can, take a risk. It will be stepping into the unknown and maybe you’ll fail. But be willing to take a chance and go for it.
Be someone that listens, takes comments to heart and is approachable. There’s always something you can learn, whether from those closest to you or from those who don’t like you. It starts with a heart that is open and transparent.
You will be able to learn and grow so much when people feel like that can come to you and share what’s on their heart.
Ask for help
Be honest with yourself and be willing to ask for help when you need it. I’ve often struggled with this and carried burdens that I didn’t need to carry. Give others the opportunity to pour into your life, to lend a hand or a word of encouragement.
True strength comes from knowing that you can’t do it all on your own. You need others in your life.
Live full out
One thing that I’ve always admired about you is how you live life full out. When there’s something that you’re passionate about, you go after it with everything you have. Never lose that. As your passions change and life turns pages, continue to follow your heart and pour yourself into what you love.
Not only will you enjoy those things, but you’ll help others to enjoy them as well.
This may sound strange, but don’t beat yourself up. There will be plenty of times that you’ll be disappointed in yourself, doubt your worth, get frustrated or wonder if things will ever change or even if God can forgive you for something. Be willing to listen to His words and love yourself.
When you love yourself and value yourself, only then will you be able to fully love others as well. God’s love for you is deep and unconditional.
Take time to rest
Sometimes, in the busyness of life, you may find yourself running ragged, pulled in many different directions. Know that God designed us to rest, to refresh, to recharge. Allow yourself to do that. Maybe it means getting away by yourself, relaxing, unplugging.
Trust yourself and fight for the rest that you need. It will help equip you to be your best.
This one shouldn’t be hard for you as one of your trademarks is your smile and your laughter. Never lose these. When you laugh, it’s infectious. Even if I’m having a rough day, your laughter has a way of lightening my load and I know it does this for others as well.
Your laughter is a gift to others in many ways, a powerful medicine that can brighten a day or bring joy to a heart.
Trust your gut
Life will throw you curve balls and there will be times when you just don’t know what to do. Take time to think through, get wise counsel from others and pray. But in the end, trust your gut.
More often than not, you know the right decision. Be willing to go with it and not second guess yourself.
When it comes down to it, you are here because God put you here. He created you. You were His idea, His unique design. He takes pleasure in you, delights in you and has plans for you.
Don’t wait until you don’t know what to do to reach out to Him. Instead, keep short accounts with Him. Make Him a part of your joys as well as your trials.
Trust Him with your future, with your career, family, friends, plans, goals, dreams, setbacks, disappointments.
Trust Him with everything. He knows and He cares.
Eli, I’m so proud of the man God is molding you into and thankful to celebrate with you today as you take one more step into manhood.
Go take hold of life and live it to the fullest. I love you.
But I realized that for the segment out there trying to get the least out of your team, there just aren’t a lot of great resources.
If that’s you, read on. I’ve got some practical ideas just for you below.
So, here are 3 Killer Tips For Getting The LEAST Out Of Your Employees:
#1 Make Them Feel Lost
There are certainly a lot of ways to do this, but UEA (Un-Explained Acronyms) are one of my absolute favorites.
Now, when used properly, acronyms certainly have their place and can save time (who wants to say “Research and Development” when you can just say “R&D”?).
But UEAs are when you use lots of acronyms often but don’t make it easy for people to find out what they mean.
In doing so, your team member ends up feeling like an outsider who’s not allowed into the exclusive club.
This is especially true with new employees. They come in all ready to jump in and make a difference and are instantly bombarded with TPSs, OMLs, FMEAs and FIFOs. It sometimes makes them want to QUIT ASAP.
They don’t want to ask what the acronyms mean because they assume they must be the only person who doesn’t know. And so they just keep quiet, feel lost, and wonder.
Newbies certainly aren’t the only ones though. I’ve seen plenty of seasoned vets (myself included at times) who still have no idea what a term stands for even after all those years. But you’ll never catch them fessing up to it.
It doesn’t have to just be acronyms though. You can make employees feel lost about a number of things just by the way you communicate to them.
It could be in a presentation, an email, a meeting, you name it. The possibilities are endless. Just make sure your words convey that employees should already know what the “thing” is and you’ll be sure to keep them feeling lost.
This one works really well for helping to get the least out of them.
Our next tip is right up there with it….
#2 Don’t Value Their Opinion
There are few ways to really miss out on an employee’s potential as good as this one. To explain, let’s use Bob.
Let me introduce you to Bob. Bob… reader. Reader… Bob.
OK, that was a little awkward when you went in for the virtual hand shake there and Bob gave you the fist bump instead… and you wrapped your hand around his fist. Weird….
Anyway… you hired Bob because you liked him. He was sharp. He was someone you felt you could trust.
You brought Bob onto the team because you thought he could make your company better.
And he could. He certainly has that potential.
Now let’s pretend that Bob has been working on a project and has spent a considerable amount of time with it.
He knows it inside and out, has ideas on how to make things better, what should be changed and more. Some of Bob’s ideas could have a huge impact on not only his project, but the way your company runs things.
But over and over, when Bob shares his ideas they go nowhere.
Sometimes, he feels like he’s just not being heard. Other times, he’s told flat out that “that won’t work” or “we’ve tried that”
Other times, Bob is flat out left outside the loop on discussions related to his area and then forced to deal with decisions made that he knows aren’t going to help.
So Bob gets the message over time and begins to just keep his ideas to himself, even as he sees what could have been with his projects.
Want to get the least out of Bob? This formula is a can’t miss.
#3 Keep Changing Things Up On Them
This one is a classic and sure to drop your productivity like a rock!
Let’s revisit our good friend Bob.
Bob has been working hard on a project and has a big due date Friday.
Because he’s not a shlub, Bob has been planning things out and is on pace to meet the big deadline.
That is, until the email.
What email, you ask?
Oh, the email that Bob just got on Monday afternoon changing up the requirements and moving the due date up to Wednesday.
Now, Bob can understand that sometimes things will change with a customer and he’s learned to roll with that.
But this email represents what has become more of a pattern for Bob. He does his work and stays on task but then has to pay the price for poor planning and communication from elsewhere in the organization.
But now Bob has to fill in the gaps, move around other priorities and then impose on others who are working on the requirements for him to let them know that they have to do the same.
Bob feels disrespected and small.
He doesn’t like being yanked around. And he doesn’t like doing the same to others.
But both of those are great ways to get the least out of Bob.
#4 Add Unnecessary Steps
Yep, surprise! One more bonus tip.
Unnecessary steps can weave their way into processes, procedures, standards and more.
They can come from “the way things have always been done” or from a specific team member who dictates things have to be a certain way.
But while order and uniformity are essential in some areas, many businesses are bogged down with outdated ideas or processes that just suck time out of the company.
And when an employee comes along who has ideas for how to trim some of that but is forced to just conform… you will begin to get less and less from them.
Less productivity because of the extra steps and less of their heart as they realize they are powerless to make a difference.
When you add unnecessary work onto the backs of your hard working employees, it is a no-brainer that you can get less and less of them.
So, want to see your productivity soar, your employees happy and thriving and the morale improve in your organization?
Stay as far away from these tips as possible!
But want to get the LEAST from your workforce?
Start implementing these four tips today! You won’t regret it.
What about you? What can you add to the list? Share below in the comments…