How to be Happier and More Productive

This talk is amazing. We’ve got it backwards by trying to work harder in order to be happier. Neuroscience has shown that if you are happier you will work harder. You might need to watch this a few times to catch all the incredible applications, I know I will.

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The Business of Spaghetti Sauce

Is there anything better than your favorite spaghetti sauce? Ok maybe. But, spaghetti sauce has to be in your top 10 at least! The only question is ……. Prego vs. Ragu?

Check out this informative (if not life-changing) Ted Talk by Malcolm Gladwell and see what conclusion you come to.

Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce

Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith”

Martin Luther King, Jr: The Great Communicator

Leadership Principle
He’s known throughout the world as THE great civil rights leader. He influenced presidents, politics, media, education, and the entire way we think about freedom and equality. As a result we have a holiday and about 10,000 roads (ok maybe that’s an exaggeration) named after him. No matter how you slice it, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an incredible leader. But why was he such an effective leader? He wasn’t the only educated leader of the day, and he certainly wasn’t the only one who suffered in a pre-civil rights America. The answer is, in part at least, his ability to communicate. He caught our imagination and painted a picture of how things COULD be. He inspired us when he spoke and made us want to take action. We can learn a lot from Dr. King and how he communicated.

Communication is a vital (and often overlooked) ingredient for success. Dr. James Wetherbe of Texas Tech University asserts that eighty percent of our problems (individually and collectively) are not problems at all, they’re just MISUNDERSTANDINGS! Think of it, if you could communicate perfectly you would eliminate EIGHTY PERCENT of your problems. The American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) asked the most successful graduates from the top ten schools of business what the single most important leadership skill that lead to their success was. Their answer: interpersonal communication skills.

Scriptural Support
If something is important for leadership then you’ve got to assume that Jesus was amazingly good at it. And that is exactly the case with His communication skills. His teachings, stories and parables were timely, illustrative and inspiring. So much so, that we still quote them two thousand years after His life. And they are as relevant now as they were back then. I’d say that He definitely passed the communication test.

So What?
If you want to be an effective leader, you HAVE to be a great communicator. A fantastic resource for this topic (and my favorite book ever) is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Comments: What do you think? Is communication really that important?

Who’s on Board? Part I

Leadership Principle

I was once working for a very successful organization and had just been made a leader. I oversaw only a small group of people so I thought, “How hard can this be?” It turned out to be much harder than I ever could have imagined. I was younger and less experienced than everyone in the zone that I was leading, and they were all bitter because of that. I tried everything I could possibly think of to boost morale and improve results, but to no avail. The zone members were unproductive, uncoachable and even rude at times. I was incredibly frustrated (especially because I was working harder than I ever had up to that point). Then something happened that changed everything, new assignments were made by the administration and almost everyone in my zone was replaced. These new “teammates” all had about the same credentials as the previous group but there was something different, they were AWESOME! They were hardworking, respectful and coachable. It was amazing to see how all my problems disappeared overnight. Results and moral saw significant improvements and I was happier than I had been in a long time.

Jim Collins in his book Good to Great addresses this issue and calls it “getting the right people on the bus.” He argues that this is the most important thing an organization can do. In fact, the WHO is more important than WHAT the organization actually does. Some companies (like SONY for example) didn’t even know what their core business was going to be at first, they just knew who they wanted to have on the bus with them. Just as important as getting the right people on the bus, is getting the wrong people off the bus. Nothing harms an organization more than the wrong person/people on board.

Scriptural Support
We see this concept very clearly in the New Testament. When Jesus put together His “team” of disciples some of them contributed more than others. Peter, James and John were a solid force for good their entire lives. They worked hard, performed miracles and built Christianity into an incredible movement. And no one can dispute the effectiveness that Paul eventually had when he was made part of the team. Judas Iscariot, on the other hand, was less than effective. He was constantly arguing and criticizing, and eventually betrayed the whole team.

So What?
No matter where you’re working or what you’re doing it’s imperative to have the right people on your team and the wrong people off your team. Nothing will have a greater impact on the organization than the people who are a part of it.

Comments: Is this really the MOST important thing an organization can do???? Do you have any other examples of getting the right people on and the wrong people off the bus?

Play to your Strengths

I recently had the chance to meet with Dr. Tedd Mitchell the president of the Texas Tech University Health Science Center to talk about leadership. Before he was the president of the Health Science Center Dr. Mitchell was the CEO of The Cooper Clinic, an internationally renowned preventive medicine health clinic with more than 550 employees. He currently oversees about 10,000 employees within the Health Science Center programs. Dr. Mitchell knows a little bit about leadership and management.

He told me that one of the most important, and most seldom practiced, leadership principles is focusing on your strengths. You can only become truly exceptional at those things you consider to be your strengths. You have natural strengths with things that you ENJOY doing, so you will naturally gravitate toward those traits when given a choice. Most managers think that they need to identify their employees’ weaknesses and work to improve those weaknesses.

David almost took this approach when he faced Goliath in Samuel 17. Saul was concerned that David was too young and too small beat Goliath. He tried to force David to do it his way by arming him with bulky armor:

“38 And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail.

39 And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him.”

David decided to play to his strengths instead of his weaknesses, and thank goodness for that. He was an expert with the sling and very fast. We all know how the story goes from there. What if David had listened to his “manager?” He would have played to his weaknesses by using that heavy armor. The story would have turned out very differently.

Comments: Have you ever had any experiences similar to this? Have you seen a person or an organization play to their strengths instead of their weaknesses?