Slow Build – Rapid Demise

It takes time to build in life. 


Or as they say:

“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”


But it’s not always easy to have patience. 


We all have to start somewhere and usually it’s at the bottom.


And then we have to claw our way up (like Rocky).


Unless of course, you’re one of those people born with a “silver spoon” in your mouth. 


The funny thing about building and climbing is that it can all be destroyed in a split second. 


One silly mistake, one stupid word, one indiscretion, one lackadaisical moment, a turn of bad luck…or a series thereof. 


It takes so much time and effort to build as we lay one brick of success upon another. 


And it takes just a split second to destroy it all. 


So watch-watch-watch your steps, because they can so easily turn into a rapid, spiraling, and even most deadly a fall.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Motivation, Hard Work, and Blessings

So I am incredibly impressed at how talented so many people are. 

And I’ll tell you, people are motivated to get ahead and they are working hard to do it. 

I took Lyft to a couple of destinations down here in Florida. 

Two drivers that I had just yesterday were both from relatively poor backgrounds in Jamaica. 

And both were incredible in what they’ve been able to accomplish for themselves.  

One was a senior communications technologist with a large cable company.

Another was a pretty impressive and successful Reggae music star. 

Both had come to this country and made amazing lives for themselves. 

In meeting these incredible people, I learned that everyone is driving Uber and Lyft now-a-days. 🙂

Both were driving as they told me just to keep busy on their days off–because they “hate being bored!”

More importantly, I learned that despite whatever background, hardships, or adversity you come from or have experienced, you can make it in your own way! 

Motivation and hard work coupled with mercy and blessings from, and faith in the Almighty Above are an incredible combination that can propel people towards incredible levels of success in life that maybe many would’ve never even really dreamed of. 

There is no easy road–just one filled with trying your best, plenty of obstacles, stumbles, and falls, and then picking yourself up and trying again and again until hopefully and with G-d’s help you break the bonds and chains keeping you from your amazing levels of potential and contribution to this world. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

This House Is For The Birds

Birdhouse.jpeg

Beautiful simple birdhouses in Downtown DC.


We all need to live somewhere.


Too many people in shelters and on the streets. 


Started giving money to some of the homeless on the way to the Metro. 


My friend’s father used to say, “If they ask then they need it.”


Perhaps what’s needed is a little more kindness, TLC, and compassion for all G-d’s loving creatures. 


While it’s nice to look up to aspire and climb the next rung of life, it’s as important to look down and remember from where you came and where you can still go again. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

STEM Lost And Found

Discovery

ASPIRATIONS.JPEG

So this was a shirt of a local college campus that I took yesterday. 

It shows aspirations to be all sorts of things…from a doctor and lawyer to a cowgirl and princess. 

However, in this list of  22 professional aspirations there is a noticeable lack of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

Yes, doctors do have to know science, but not necessarily the type that opens up the world of discovery and innovation like a researcher or scientist!

STEM are the fields that over and over again have been reported as grossly lacking in this country. 

America Desperately Needs More STEM Students” (Forbes 2012)

Americas Lack of STEM Students is Bad News For National Security” (US News and World Report June 2015)

Another article in IEEE Spectrum (August 2013) claims that while the “STEM crisis is a myth,” still “we should figure out how to make all children literate in the sciences, technology, and the arts.”

From my experience, while I certainly get to see a lot of awesome technical talent, I also see and hear too many moans and groans when it comes to a lot of basic skills in STEM.

One colleague said the other day (and in a public forum), “Oh, don’t depend on my math skills for that!”

Others that I know have difficulty with everything from simple spreadsheets, backing up their computer files, or even balancing a checkbook, and other such fundamental skills. 

Growing up with a dad who was a math whiz, a sister with a PhD in bio-medical science, and me majoring in accounting, business, and later diving into IT, I learned to appreciate, on many fronts, how important basic STEM skills are, and I in turn used to drill my own kids with workbooks and worksheets–and they perhaps at the time resented me for it, and maybe only later in life, started to love me for caring and trying.

In school, I found a lot of the education in STEM to be lacking coming across too often as esoteric and disappointingly devoid of day-to-day meaning and application in the real world for the regular people not building bridges or spaceships, so I certainly understand the frustration of young people who while they may be interested in pursuing these critical areas of education, may be turned off at the way it’s being presented to them. 

We need great teachers who not only know the material, but love what they do and know how to make the material come alive to their students. Also, we need jobs that pay commensurate to the value of the talent and not nickle and dime the developers, researchers, and engineers while lining the pockets of the executive suite. Finally, we should focus the hearts and minds of our people on the real meaning of the work they do and how it helps people and society, and not just on what often comes across as isolated tasks or the organization’s free dry cleaning and all you can eat buffet lunches. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Who Do You Want To Be?

Who Do You Want To Be?

Walking through the halls of one of the local schools, there was this awesome display of cutout hands.

Each hand, done by a student, was supposed to represent who they wanted to be as people.

In the center of each was a core saying/belief of the student written on the palm.

And then on each of the five fingers was their personal aspirations:

Emotionally
Physically
Socially
Intellectually
Spiritually

I thought this was a really cool assignment to think and focus on where we’re going with our lives and what our personal goals are.

Like a mini-personal architecture, these hands are the hands of our young people who have their lives ahead of them and the energy and opportunity to shape their futures.

No, none of us has control over the future, but we can do our part to shape who we are as human beings, as this student says:

“I am who I want to be.”

Of course, we have to choose wisely, work hard, and go for it!

We never know if there are any true second chances. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>Raising the Bar By Aligning Expectations and Personality

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I always love on the court television show Judge Hatchett, when she tells people: “I expect great things from you!”

The Pygmalion Effect says that when we have high expectations of performance for people, they perform better.

In other words, how you see others is how they perform.

While behavior is driven by a host of motivational factors (recognition, rewards, and so on), behavior and ultimately performance is impacted by genetic and environmental factors—“nature and nurture”—and the nurture aspect includes people’s expectations of us.

Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, people live up or down to expectations.

For example, studies by Rosenthal and Jacobson showed that if teachers expected enhanced performance from selected children, those children performed better.

When people have high or low expectations for others, they treat them differently—consciously or unconsciously—they tip off what they believe the others are capable of and will ultimately deliver. In the video, The Pygmalion Effect: Managing the power of Expectation, these show up in the following ways:

  • Climate: The social and emotional mood we create, such as tone, eye contact, facial expression, body language, etc.
  • Inputs: The amount and quality of instruction, assistance, or input we provide.
  • Outputs: The opportunities to do the type of work that best aligns with the employee and produce that we provide.
  • Feedback: The strength and duration of the feedback we provide.

In business, expect great things from people and set them to succeed by providing the following to meet those expectations:

  • Inspiration
  • Teaching
  • Opportunity
  • Encouragement

Additionally, treat others in the style that is consistent with the way that they see themselves, so that there is underlying alignment between the workplace (i.e. how we treat the employee) and who the employee fundamentally is.

Normally people think that setting high expectations means creating a situation where the individual’s high performance will take extra effort – both on their part and on the part of the manager.

However, this is not necessarily the case at all. All we have to do is align organizational expectations with the inherent knowledge, skills, and abilities of the employee, and their individual aspirations for development.

The point is we need to play to people’s strengths and help them work on their weaknesses. This, along with ongoing encouragement, can make our goals a reality, and enable the organization to set the bar meaningfully high for each and every one of us.

>Who Are Your High Potential Employees?

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It is easy to confuse high performing employees with high potential employees (HIPOs), but they are not the same.

An article in Harvard Business Review called “How to Keep Your Top Talent” (May 2010) states that “only about 30% of today’s high performers are, in fact, high potentials. The remaining 70% may have what it takes to win now, but lack some critical component for future success.”

According to HBR, the litmus tests for discerning which high performers are also your high potential employees, are as follows:

1) Ability—High performers need to have the ability to not only do what they are doing now, but to take it to the next level to be high potentials.

2) Engagement—High performers must have “commitment to the organization to be prudent bets for long-term success.”

3) Aspiration—High performers who aspire to more senior-level roles and “choose to make the sacrifices required to attain and perform those high-level jobs” are aligned for future success.

These three traits together help to pinpoint the genuine HIPOs—those who have the ability, the engagement, and the aspiration for probable future success.

Of course, having these traits does not guarantee success, since leadership development is tested “under conditions of real stress.”

Many organizations test their HIPOs by identifying risky and challenging positions—developmental opportunities—and putting their rising starts in these positions to see who can meet the challenge.

These stretch positions are what I would call “the moment of truth” when people either sink or swim.

In some extremely competitive organizations, employee failure (contained of course in terms of organizational damage) is just as much valued as their success—because it weeds out the true stars from the runner-ups.

This can be taken to an extreme, where even strong performers are managed out of the organization simply because they didn’t win the next round.

However, rather than weeding people out and treating employees as gladiators—where one wins and another loses—organizations are better served by helping all their employees succeed—each according to their potential.

So instead of an “up or out” mentality, the organization can value each high performing employee for what they bring to the table.

Too often we only value the highest achievers among us and we forget that everyone has an important role to play.

While organizations need to differentiate their high potential employees—those who can really do more—to meet succession-planning goals—organizations will also benefit by nurturing the potential of all their high performing employees and taking them as far as they can go too.