I came across an article in a local magazine in Colorado and just had to share the “Cowboy Wisdom” within:
“Don’t worry about bitin’ off more ‘n you can chew: your mouth is probably a whole lot bigger ‘n you think.”
This advice is brilliant, isn’t it! We all tend to worry about risks that we do take or need to take in life. We worry that we are taking on too much, whether it is a new job, another child, a move to a new city, etc. We worry about failure. Sometimes in a new endeavor, we do not even know where to start or how we will pull it off.
Just like taking a huge bite of a steak though, we typically can fit it in our mouth and it usually just takes us a bit longer than we think to chew it and swallow. We have to be more focused on chewing so we can get through it, but it gets done.
Sometimes we are hesitant about taking risks in our life, not believing that we can chew through what we will bite off.
What if we took this Cowboy Wisdom and decided to bite anyway? What amazing things could be ahead of us? What incredible impact could we make in our society, in our personal life, or in our business if we just decided to take the bite and work our way through chewing?
I held a webinar on “Envision” at a Fortune 500 client (Western Union), which is based on understanding where you are at, personally and professionally, and figuring out where you are going. We focused on many topics in this webinar, but wanted to share some of the chat responses we received from the participants. Fantastic responses, so had to share! Enjoy!
Please take time to answer the questions for yourself also!
Question: What principles and values have driven you at work and at home?
Excellence , Learning
Individuality / Loyalty / Courage / Dignity
Competency honesty teamwork accuracy quality
teamwork, stepping up, leadership, responsibility
My values are Honestly, Team Work, Respect, Generosity, Persistency
Connected, Driven, Inspired, Game-changer, Responsible :)
Integrity, Ambition, Responsibility, Driven, Game-Changer
Question: What are the best ways to obtain feedback at work or at home?
One on one sessions
Be transparent with others and ask same in return.
When it is confidential
best way for me is face to face, I think it is the hardest one but it works
directly ask the feedback on 1-on1
Ask co-workers for honest feedback
In a conference room, not in front of others.
manager and peers - 360 degree
1:1, face to face, asking for the feedback
unbiased feedback i find is the best
Hi, I think that the best way to obtain feedback is to ask your coworkers and supervisors directly. I have done it a couple of times and sometimes I have not liked what I have gotten as responses but other times I have felt very proud!
Corporations today are under intense pressure to deliver results to shareholders. Increase revenue, decrease expenses...all in effort to grow the returns and beat analyst expectations.
So, the big question really is, “How do we get our employees all engaged to make these goals a reality?”
As I was researching this, I came across the following statistic:
“Companies whose employees understand the mission and goals of the company enjoy a 29% greater return than other firms.” (Watson Wyatt study)
I think this statistic is amazing! Almost one-third greater return? Incredible.
Have you ever asked the employees you work with if they can recite the company’s mission and goals to you? Do they either 1) not know or 2) roll their eyes and say they don’t agree with them anyway?
It is unbelievably critical that employees both understand and actually buy-in to the mission and goals. I believe that employees should be able to recite the mission and goals. After all, how do you know how help the company reach its goals if you don’t understand them.
I love when I walk in companies and see their goals and mission hanging in multiple, visible areas around the company. I love it when employees have the goals hanging in their cubes. It is all about providing constant reminders!
Remind, memorize, recite! Know your company’s goals and see how it changes your perspective...and your company’s return!
Did any of you watch the first Final Four basketball game this past weekend between Wichita State and Louisville? AMAZING GAME!
Some background for those of you who did not know this. Wichita State was a #9 seed in the tournament, a tournament typically dominated by the #1 and #2 seeds. It was highly unlikely that they would get to the final four teams. It was highly unlikely that Wichita State would make it out of the first two rounds. But that’s what is great about this college basketball tournament. Any team can beat the other team...no matter the seed.
So, I guess the question is: How did they make it that far?
One thing I know about Wichita State is that they have great talent. You watch them play one game and you know that they can ball.
I also know that they had one sound strategy in each game, mostly focused around defensive pressure on their opponents. Again, all I had to do was watch one game and I knew this.
But one thing that did not come out until that Final Four game was the confidence of Wichita State.
One of the announcers made a comment during the pregame, where he said that while in Wichita State’s locker room before the game, the players were not overwhelmed by the big stage of the game. He said they were very calm in the locker room, focused on their game plan.
Their focus, well, let’s just say they were focused. And though they barely lost the game, I started to become a fan of Wichita State as I watched them play.
So, how did they get that far? Well, they had talent (the right people), they had a strategy (and an amazing one also), and they had buy-in from each player. I think that’s why they went so far. They were so confident in their team, strategy, and teammate’s abilities, that all they had to do was go out and execute their game plan.
Would you say that you have the same confidence in your workplace? Do you have the talent, strategy, and buy-in so that your colleagues can show the upmost confidence?
Where are your gaps? How could you fix your gaps?
Fix those gaps, and you too can play like Wichita State!
As you know by now, having read my website or hearing me speak, I am a baseball guy. I began my baseball career at age 5 in little league and ended up playing division-1 baseball in college and professionally in Europe. I even coach my 5 year old in baseball now. Baseball is in my blood.
As a child, I had thousands of baseball cards, full of players from all decades and of course, I had my favorite baseball card of all, Ryne Sandberg, who used to play for the Chicago Cubs back in the day. I loved getting my hands on anything that had to do with baseball.
One item which I had always admired was a baseball that my grandfather had. This was no ordinary ball. This was an old baseball. This was a traveled baseball. This was a special baseball.
This ball came into my grandfather’s possession in 1936 after he had driven a successful businessman from Denver to St. Louis. This person happened to entertain baseball players and owners on numerous occasions, so as a thank you to my grandfather for driving, he was presented with a baseball signed by the 1936 New York Yankees. Can you believe that??
Every time I would go to his house, I would ask to see the ball, and my grandfather would willingly show me each time. It was amazing to see! And my grandfather promised it would be mine some day.
On November 8, 1989, my grandfather pulled me aside at his house. He presented me with a letter and asked me to read it. In this letter, he recalled the story behind the baseball, and then wrote, “Enclosed is the baseball I promised you. It’s time you should have it, and my way of saying thanks to you for “winning one for Grandpa”.”
Wow! I was unbelievably excited!
I don’t write this today to make you jealous that I received such an amazing gift from my grandfather. As I was reviewing the letter my grandpa wrote, I was struck by a comment he made in the letter that I wanted to discuss today.
Right at the end of the letter, he wrote, “I hope the baseball brings you much good fortune and that you participate in many experiences which you win - and sometimes win by losing - each one for maybe someone, but mainly for yourself.”
As I read this comment, “win by losing” really sticks up at me.
No one really likes to lose, do they? We all want to be winners in life and business. It is sometimes embarrassing to lose.
I am struck by this comment because my grandfather was trying to teach me when he wrote this. He was passing along his wisdom.
While winning is great, we learn the most about ourselves when we lose...when things don’t go our way. We learn most through adversity.
As I reflect upon this, I can prove that we learn most through struggles and loss. In sports, life, and business, I can point to example after example in my own life where this is true.
Can you think of examples where you have “won by losing”?
We sometimes associate only negative things to losing, but what if you changed your thinking to find the good...the positive...within each loss. What have you learned about yourself? What have you learned about others? What could you do different next time?
Do you know what the best part about that baseball is? It’s not the baseball at all. It is the letter that he wrote me on November 8, 1989. I now hold a piece of history about my grandfather, full of memories and sound advice that I can cherish the rest of my life.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”? Interesting quote that I wanted to take some time to dive into today.
When I reflect on this quote, I see two sides. On one hand, we can get caught up in all the details of our day-to-day life, worrying about the littlest details until it drives us insane. This can be extremely overwhelming.
One the other hand, this quote tells me just to focus on the big items and not get caught up with all the small things that need to be done.
This is an interesting quote when you compare it to business and life. Sometimes, when we ignore the small things, it may cause us to lose business. For example, if we run a website and don’t have a place for people to login to purchase our product, well, no one will be able to buy our goods. Lost business because we didn’t sweat the small stuff.
Sometimes, when we ignore the small stuff, it could cause us to lose a relationship. If we continually forget to call a friend, then at some point, they will stop calling us.
What if we took this quote though, and made sure that we sweat the small stuff in the most important areas in our life that makes the biggest impact?
If you think about this from the business or life perspective, this means that we must first decide on the most important areas in our life or business. Where should our focus be?
Then, and only when we actually understand what is most important, can we shift our mindset to focusing on items big and small to do whatever we can to be successful in that area. We must sweat the small stuff if we are to generate wins in those critical areas.
If you want to grow revenue, understand the steps you are taking to do exactly that...and sweat the small stuff.
If you are trying to develop yourself in your personal life, understand what you are trying to develop...and sweat the small stuff.
Forget all the other small stuff, except for the critical focus areas in your business and life.
Go be exceptional today!! Sweat the small stuff.
I had the most amazing time with my two older children this weekend. I took Friday off to take my 5-year old son skiing, and I then took my 7-year old daughter skiing on Saturday. It was one-on-one time with Dad, with my ultimate goal to ensure that both of them could ski by themselves before we left the mountain.
I expected to have a lot of fun with my children. I expected to teach them what I know about skiing to help them “get the feel” for skiing. I even expected that they would fall, but that they would be greeted with a smile from me when they did, letting them know that skiing is fun.
What I did not expect though, was that I would be taught a lesson in “letting go.”
When I began the day with each of my children, I had them put on a little backpack that held two long straps within, each about six feet long. These straps allowed me to ski behind my kids and help control their speed and turns they would make. As we made our way down the hill each time, I would tell them how to turn and lightly tug on one of the straps (tug on the right strap to help them turn right and on the left one to turn left).
As a quick side note, I watched other parents use this same device on their kids...I got a chuckle as it seemed like I was trying to plow a field.
Anyway, on Friday, after about three times leading my son down the hill with this harness, he said, “Daddy, I want to do it by myself.”
Do you know what I thought to myself? “He’s not ready yet to do it by himself.”
I quickly discovered an internal battle in my mind as I had to decide whether he was ready. Will he hurt himself? Will he get going too fast and not be able to stop? What if he runs into someone, or someone into him?
You can see must by the types of questions I was asking myself that I was struggling with this decision. I was trying to protect him by keeping him in the harness.
At the core of it all, I did not want to let go. I was scared.
So, what did I do? We made our way off the chairlift and came to the top of the hill. I began to roll up the six foot straps and I put them back into the backpack that my son was wearing. I said, “Alright, it is time to do it by yourself. Let’s play follow-the-leader. You follow daddy down the hill.”
And then I started to ski down the hill. I looked back, noticing that my son had started following me immediately after I had skied off. He was right behind me, skiing by himself!
What an amazing feeling it was as a parent to see my son skiing by himself. His confidence was through the roof...or better said, higher than the highest peak on that mountain. Sure he fell, but he got back up and skied again.
On Saturday, I had a bit of a different perspective now, after having skied with my son the day before. So, after three times with the harness, I looked at my daughter, who, by the way, never asked to do it by herself, and said, “Alright, it is time to play follow-the-leader and sky by yourself.” She answered, “Okay, daddy.”
So, off I went down the hill and so went my daughter. She was cruising down the hill right behind me, just like my son. Yet again, I was beaming, as was my daughter.
By the end of Friday, my son was skiing by himself. By the end of Saturday, my daughter was skiing by herself. They are official “skiers” and I could not be more proud of them. I am one proud parent!
Have you ever experienced those feelings of not being able to “let go.” It is a mix of fear, anxiety, doubt, and worry. We want to protect those we care about, and sometimes we make up reasons for someone not being fully ready, even though they may be.
This could be at work with an employee, or at home with a loved one. It is the same thing.
I want you to think, whether at work or at home, whether you are struggling with “letting go” with someone you care about. Is it you holding them back, or is it them? How can you let them go so they can blossom into the kind of employee or person that they can really be.
If I had not let both of my children go down that mountain by themselves, I would have done them a huge disservice. I would have taken something special from them, even in learning to ski.
I am so thankful that I let them go down that mountain...because they succeeded!
Do you ever have those stand-out moments where your priorities are tested, and you know you are being tested as it unfolds?
I was driving in my care the other day, recalling a circumstance where my priorities were indeed tested. We were over at some friends house for dinner on a Friday night. Typical scene: husbands at one table, wives at another, and the all the kids running around like mad. As we husbands were talking, one person mentioned that they wanted to get this group together to play flag football on Sunday. People could not decide on a time, but I just told them to text me and tell me when and where.
Well, Saturday night rolls around and I finally hear about the game time. 1pm...Sunday. All of a sudden, I had an instant dilemma. Flag football was happening at 1pm on Sunday, but the Denver Broncos football game was also happening at 1pm on Sunday. What was I to do.
All of you reading this right now are probably saying, “I don’t see the big deal, Matt. Just pick what you want to do.” Well, my dilemma was based on more than just playing versus watching a football game. What had developed over the previous many weeks was that on Sunday, my son and I would sit down and watch the entire Broncos game together. It became kind of a tradition, if you will, that as soon as the game started, my son and I were glued in front of the television. It was a bonding time for us. When the Broncos scored, we high-fived and hugged. When someone scored against the Broncos, we would give each other looks of disappointment. It was “our” time.
You probably understand my dilemma now...play flag football, or miss out on time with my son.
After I received the text, I quickly texted back and told the person that I would not be joining them for flag football. Even after he texted back and told me to record the game and watch it later, I texted again and wrote in my text that Broncos football games are reserved for my son, and I will not be able to miss that bonding time with him.
And so my son and I watched that Broncos game together...what a bonding experience!
Sure, it was a test of where my priorities were at, but I passed with flying colors!
As you may or may not know, my father was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago and began treatment this past
week. It has been a good week for him overall, thank goodness. My sister had this great idea to begin a website for my father on www.caringbridge.org
, a fantastic site and one, if you get a chance, that everyone should donate to. Just an amazing way to begin to build your team around you and get those vital thoughts and messages.
I regularly read the posts from friends and family on the Caring Bridge website for my father. I came across one the other day that just struck and humbled me. It reads as follows:
“JOIN TEAM CRAIG !!! These tongue depressors represent the Allen family's support of our dear friend, Craig Phillips, as he begins his battle against stage 4 esophageal cancer. He and his wife, Diane, and their kids and grandkids are long-time friends who are so close to us and we hold them close in our hearts. We pray with all our strength for a complete healing and that the Phillips family has peace and hope surrounding them. We believe in miracles because we live a miracle. Because of the astounding prayer and love of so many of you, I,Patti am cancer-free after a grim diagnosis of stage 3c ovarian cancer 4 and 1/2 years ago! This is not a journey we travel alone, and so many of us are beside you, Craig and Diane, as you take the first steps, and every step of the way. So, why tongue depressors? Well, Matt Phillips, Craig and Diane's awesome son, just published a book named "Discovery, How to Become a Champion in Business and Life." He wrote it to inspire athletes as they face challenges in life. In one chapter he tells how he inspired his baseball team, who were experiencing a difficult season, to pull together as a team to improve personal as well as team goals. He showed how individually we have a certain amount of strength, just as a single tongue depressor can hold up under a little pressure, but on its own can be broken without much effort. Then he had each member of the team write their name on a tongue depressor and he taped them together. Unbreakable strength! I thought about this and believe this is a way to show the Phillips that we are part of Team Craig and our prayers, thoughts, love and hope are adding to the hope and healing and peace of their lives. When you read this, "Like" and I will add your name to a "stick" and send it to Craig along with ours. Please "share" with your Facebook Friends and send a bunch of these to Craig yourself. This small gesture is my effort to show in a little way how he and his family are surrounded with support and love beyond measure! May the grace of God which surpasses all understanding bring peace to your mind and your heart through Christ Jesus! (Philippians) We love you, Craig, and your precious family!”
This post took an example from my most recent published book, “Discovery– How to Become a Champion in Business and Life,” and brought it to life. I write in my book about how we must build a team around us that supports us no matter what happens. We need to build a team that walks into battle with us, has our back, and also challenges us to be better people.
I used the illustration of a simple tongue depressor. Alone, that tongue depressor is easy to break, but as we build our team and add more tongue depressors, it slowly becomes stronger and stronger, until it is unbreakable!
Our family friend, Patti, who posted this message on Caring Bridge, is now collecting tongue depressors for my father from people all over the United States. These individuals are writing their names and a special message for my father on the tongue depressor and are mailing them to Denver to my father’s house. What he will realize (and he already knows this) is that he is truly unbreakable because of the amazing team that surrounds him. All someone has to do is to come over and try to break those tongue depressors…it cannot be done!
At 11am tomorrow, my father will begin his first chemotherapy treatment, marking the commencement of the biggest step in battling his cancer so far. As a family, we are at that unknown stage, not fully knowing how he will
handle the chemo or how it will impact him. But, battle ready, our family, especially my father, is ready to step onto that battle field tomorrow and face this unwelcome guest head-on…we’re going after that cancer with everything we
Since my father’s diagnosis of cancer only a few weeks ago, I have found myself continually reflecting on the important things in my life. As we work through each step of this process, I find myself reassessing my priorities. When I think I am done reflecting, then something else triggers me to reflect again, whether it is a
new doctor we meet, or a naturopath, or an acupuncture appointment for my father. These past few weeks have
been full of examination on my own life, my priorities, and what I want my legacy to be.
This got me thinking about the last time I had reassessed the important things in my life, before this diagnosis. I began to think about when it was that I actually took some quiet time to sit down, reflect, and write down my priorities. I began to ask myself how often I should take time to reflect on my priorities. Should it be only when a life-changing event happens, like a diagnosis of cancer? Should it be every week, month, 6 months, or year?
I think the answer to “how often” can depend on the person. Sometimes we don’t realize how often we experience change in our life and how it can alter our daily routines. It could be that uninvited diagnosis, or it could be a child going off to college. It could be a new job, a layoff, or an addition of new roles and responsibilities at work. These are events that cause us to change our priorities.
If I could have you do an exercise for me. Take out a piece of paper and write down changes/events, big or small, that have occurred over the last six months. What changes have you experienced, whether at home or at work?
I think you will find, like me, that quite a few changes have occurred in that short time. As I thought back to my past six months, I discovered that I was reassessing things on a monthly basis. I have been chugging at an accelerated pace this entire year, it seems, and it has caused me to reflect more often than I have in previous
Here is what I discovered. Based on my experience, sitting down, taking some quite time, and reflecting upon what was important in my life on a monthly basis, helped me to continually stay on top of what was most important to me. It was a monthly reassessment, necessary for me to, in some circumstances, keep doing what I was doing, but in others, to make changes.
Looking back at what you have been through in the past six months, how often do you think you could have reflected to help keep on track? Could it have been one month reflections, like me? More often? Less often?
Whatever your time frame is, take time today to establish how often you are going to reflect, so you can keep
yourself focused on the future and learning from what you have been through. Write down your priorities, and then every month, take out your list and see what needs to change.
Oh, and use your technology to your advantage. Put a reminder in your smartphone or computer calendar to help remind you to take time to do this. It will amaze you!