I’m writing 30 Words for 30 Days, one topic per day. Find out why here.
Today is my dad’s birthday.
Yep, April Fool’s Day. No kidding.
Of all the years of pranks, the best one ever would have been for him to wake up today and realize that this whole last month had been some kind of prank. Some kind of twisted joke being played on the world that had now been revealed.
Maybe, too, that it was 76 degrees outside, sunny and with a slight breeze blowing out of the west, perfect for RC airplane flying. Rarely happens at the beginning of April though.
Unfortunately… instead he’ll be ordering take out and celebrating with my mom and sister at home as they try to steer clear of the virus and party like it’s 2019.
So, while I can’t change any of that, what I can do is help celebrate him by sharing some of my favorite memories with you dad. So, here goes…
Of course, one of my favorites has always been time shared flying together, such as in this post about 5000 feet. Growing up, I can remember heading up to Marion, OH on some Saturday morning with the warm summer air blowing across the field. Riding shotgun with you in the tow plane as we towed up countless sailplane riders and cut them loose and dove back down to grab another. And then getting our chance to fly the sailplane together as well, searching for those thermals, gazing down on the world below as if in slow motion.
Whenever I work on home projects, I’m so thankful for all the things you showed me growing up. How to figure things out, use the right tools, not give up. I remember working together fixing a toilet, getting my hands dirty working on the car (even though I used to hate the feel of grease on my hands). Household assembly projects, working in the attic or or wherever. You taught me to be curious and do what I can for myself.
I’m thankful for all the hours you spent watching me play sports… badly. Honestly, I was pretty awful. But you sat through all the soccer games, the basketball (briefly), the track meets and more. You were there when I missed the mat (but cleared the bar) in high jump and went home with a concussion. You were there when I tripped over the first hurdle in my regional 300m race, hit the track and then got up to come back and finish strong. You were always there.
You were so instrumental in teaching me how to really care about others. I can hear your voice sometimes echo in mine with my own kids. But you challenged me to think more about others than I was about myself. To put myself in their shoes. It always bugged you when I would just be selfish in how I responded to someone or treated someone. And even though, especially as a teen (what is it about those teenagers? :), I often didn’t want to hear it, those words sank in deep and made a difference.
You gave me a love for video, writing and creativity. From those stop-action super 8 movies you made of the Fisher Price airport set to the countless projects we worked on together, I know now you were enjoying them as much as I was. And when I write an ode or craft a video or do something creative, I’m thankful for those seeds and encouragement and your vision.
You taught me how to work hard and were my partner in lawn mowing and paper routes. One of my favorite snapshots in time is how you’d pick me up at the bottom of the street on my paper route on those cold winter mornings, we’d stop to get doughnuts and then eat them at the top of the next street in the car before I stepped back out into the cold. White frosted raspberry filled is still one of my faves.
Finally, I’m thankful for showing me how to be a dad. As I’ve passed through the stages of new dad, dad with young kids, teenagers and now with an… yikes… adult in the house, I’m thankful for what I’ve learned from you in the past
about how to build into my kids, encourage them, and help spur them on to do what God has called them to do.
So thanks dad, for all the ways you’ve built into me and memories you’ve given me to cherish. I look forward to being able to celebrate together when all of this is over. Let’s find a nice open field and a warm summer morning….
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?
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…