Oh cool you have Camry?…I have a Lamborghini!

shutterstock_124609282.jpgQuestion for the audience. When did we become a society of constant one-uppery? Now it is certainly subtler than the title suggests but let’s look at a hypothetical. It goes something like this:

“Hey guess what, I had my performance evaluation and I got great feedback from my manager.”

“Yeah, those are such a waste of time. I get good remarks every time but I’m not sure they even really look at your performance.”

We have all had these and they can go a thousand different ways,. You excitedly tell friends that you got a new car and hear, “Oh me, too” or “Mine is a 2016”.   Maybe you share that you took your kids to Disney this summer only to quickly get back, “Oh that’s nice we took our family to Italy.” These one-up comments are demoralizing, infuriating, and for the most part unintentional!

I don’t think anyone starts a conversation with you looking for ways to one up you or to shut you down, but they do so out of 2 very human characteristics. 1) Our desire to hear and tell stories, and 2) personal insecurity. Self-admittedly I am terrible about this. You can ask most of the people that know me well and I have a story for just about anything and I have a really bad tendency to hear your story and then immediately want to tell you my story. If you fall into this category, STOP!!! This act, however innocent, destroys connection.

Most people will be gracious in the beginning but if this is a habit for you, it will not be long until the people around you start resenting the fact that you are stealing their thunder.

shutterstock_311648258I think this topic, which I classify as a connection issue, can be resolved by practicing intentional or active listening and becoming aware that you’re doing it in the first place. Intentional listening is an art form and one that you can practice and have to practice to master. My colleague James told me one time, “God gave me 2 ears and 1 mouth, and only one of those closes.” There is a lot of wisdom in that statement but let’s unpack the underlying meaning of what means to be an active listener the Caleb Bagwell way. *Warning, I neither confirm nor claim these are the best techniques for active listening. I just know they work for me.

  1. Stop preparing your rebuttal: I think it’s like this, when someone is talking, especially in a business situation or when meeting someone new – you are so concerned about making a good impression or sounding smart that you start preparing your response in your head after you hear the other person’s first sentence. I believe that we also have the unnecessary fear of awkward silence.   Would it be ridiculous to listen to the full statement and then take 3 seconds to formulate your response? NO. It makes sense.   Active listening means that you need to stop thinking ahead and immerse yourself in what the other party is saying. Focus and be patient.
  2. Ask questions: When someone is sharing news with you or engaging in a conversation, make a conscious effort to ask questions. This will automatically stop you from injecting your stories into their moment. It also helps you dig deeper and makes your speaker feel that you are really engaged in their story.
  3. Give them their time: Not all conversations fall into this category but when you have a coworker, friend, spouse or employee that comes to you with exciting news or a good story, say to yourself, “Not my time.” I literally have to do this to remind myself that regardless of how good my story is or even how similar, I need to let them have their time. You can tell them your story later or wait till they ask you about yours but giving people the attention they deserve without making it about you is important. It builds rapport and respect.

There are many more tricks to active listening, in fact there are entire books written about it. Another quick trick is counting how many time you say, “I” in a conversation. This one made me feel bad when I tried it, I will be honest. The point to all of it is that in a world where everyone is becoming more self-absorbed than ever, it is necessary to make sure that we caring enough about the people around us to listen intently, give them their deserved moments, and try connecting deeper with people by listening and not one upping!

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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What’s the point in winning?

shutterstock_122081617I am competitive.  There I said it and I’d like to enter that confession in the running for “Understatement of the Year”.  Recently, I have been analyzing that truth.  I have always said that I was competitive with a certain amount of pride as if it were an attribute to be sought after, but is it really?  In Hebrews 12:1 Paul says, “…Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” For most of my life I have read that verse and only focused on the word “race”.  If this life is a race, then there will clearly be a winner and then everyone else loses, right?  But what if that was not the keyword; what if the key to the statement was something else entirely.  Nowhere in Paul’s verse does he say, win the race that is marked out for us.  Friends, this where we are going to talk about the Holy 2×4.  In my life, from time to time, God decides to hit me with the Holy 2×4 to wake me up to something He has been trying to teach me that I just missed, sometimes for decades.

So why is winning so important; is competition healthy in the workplace; and how then do we balance the competition, with the pursuit of excellence, with the character of a Saint?  In reality,  I think that is what the verse is really saying.  After meditating on it for a while, I concluded the key takeaway is that you, whoever you are, are in a race; that means it has a beginning, and whether you like it or not, it has an end and our God is more concerned with how you run it than if come in first or last or in the middle. He just wants you to run to best of your “given” ability while loving thy neighbor and working as if you were working for Him.  So in the office or the warehouse or the production floor, how do we harness the competitive nature of so many of our employee and direct it, in a health way, into productivity?   Let’s take a look at a few principals that we believe will make a difference.

Principle 1: Create the Competition

I walked through a manufacturing company the other day as I was preparing to give a shutterstock_181242095presentation on the company’s 401(k).  I saw pictures on a big bulletin board for “Outstanding Employees”.  Displayed here were accolades for their “Employee of the Month”, an award for the employee who caught a mistake in shipping, another award for an employee that refined a process and made it more efficient.  Another company that we work with also highlights an accomplished employee every month and then chooses an “Employee of the Year” who gets a trip to Disney World! These companies created the competition to strategically benefit the employees and the company. This is a brilliant way to motivate and harness the competitive drive in your employees, BUT there are a couple of things that are must-haves in this principle.

  • The rules must clear and definitive: the employees must understand how you win and the variable must be trackable. If this area is vague, you risk your employees accusing the company of playing favorites.   Remember this isn’t a popularity contest.  The winner shouldn’t be the person you like the best but instead, the person who meets the quantifiable goals you set forth at the beginning of the competition.
  • Incentives must be appropriate for the effort required. If you want employees to refine a process that will ultimately save the company thousands of dollars per day and you give them a keychain and pat on the back as a reward, you should expect their effort in finding that solution to be worth about as much as your keychain.  I’m not saying buy them a new car, but know your workforce and choose an incentive that will be meaningful and big enough for them to want to compete.shutterstock_129517958

Principle 2: Build Team Competition

I know this one will not work with every company, but when possible organize all of the teams within your company to compete together. Collaboration is big desire for your millennials, but I think all ages enjoy a good strategy session on how to overcome the competition. Note: When you do this you should be very observant.  In this process you will watch your leaders emerge.  Watch how some people have the ability to align interest and influence their team to moving as one unit.  This can be very helpful in raising up management.

Principle 3: Adopt a Zero Tolerance Policy for Unsportsmanship

I don’t watch a ton of sports but I was at a minor league baseball game in Birmingham recently and one of our home team players was ejected because he took off his helmet and slammed it on the ground.  I questioned the decision and someone I was with informed me that the rule was “no tolerance because the act was dangerous and trashy”.  If you are going to harness healthy competition, the standard of excellence and sportsmanship can never be in question.  If you cheat, you’re done.  If you lie, you’re done.  If you sabotage someone, you’re done. Zero tolerance and swift consequences are necessary, but so are swift praise and good rewards.

Competition can be a great driver but the truth is you, your team, and your company have to know why it’s worth winning. The principles above are important for the process but don’t forget to show employees why you’re competing in the first place.  What difference are you trying to make in the company or even in the community? You have to show people that the race is worth running and then you can guide them through competition to make a difference.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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Is Passion Enough?

shutterstock_214581778I think the appropriate follow-up question is, “For what?…Is passion enough for what…?” Guys I have to be honest with you, I struggled with this one a lot. The way I asked the question to myself was, “Is passion enough to change the world?” After internally wrestling this ideal for a long while, I am convinced the answer is undoubtedly NO. Passion alone is not enough for me to change the world.

That bothers me, it literally offended me at first because I’m an idealist. (I’m not sure that acknowledging that you are an idealist makes it better but I feel better about it so there.) I wanted desperately for the answer to my passion question to be yes. I wanted to be able to stand in front of a crowd and look them in the eyes and say, “ALL YOU NEED IS PASSION!!!” I could say that, heck I could probably write a book about it and sell a million copies if I got the right agent and hyped it up enough but it wouldn’t stick. The truth is passion is nothing more than an emotional catalyst. DO NOT misunderstand, if you intend to build something successful, something substantial and something with impactful, passion is 100% necessary but it not enough.

Guys hear me here, my heart literally hurts writing this because I meet people all the time that have the passion to change their lives, to change their career, to change their community. It breaks me to know their passion alone won’t get them there. It takes other character traits and while the recipe is not simple, I want to cover 4 that I think can turn your passion into change.

Tenacity, Courage, Discipline and Community

Tenacity: You see by definition tenacious means, “not easily stopped”. I think this is pretty clear. Impacting your world, by changing your health, changing your career, changing your community will never be easy. No impact worth making will ever be easy. You have to have tenacity, you have to be able to get hit again and again and again and keep going. You will receive setbacks from those close to you and from total strangers but you have to build rhino-thick skin! Andy Mineo, a Christian rapper has a song called, “You Can’t Stop Me” and I think it embodies the reaction you must develop to doubt and hurdles. You put a bolder in my path and I will not turn around; I will find a way to move it! James in my office mentioned the other day that no success story that you read today ever has a chapter about how they didn’t face any obstacles. PASSION + TENACITY

Courage: This may be a sub characteristic of tenacity but in order for your passion to become change you will have to have been courageous. One of my favorite quotes is, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to continue in the presence of fear.” When it comes to a journey of following your passion, it will be scary. It may require you to quit your job, or even totally change the way you live. It will undoubtedly cause you to have to “rock the boat”, but true courage requires you to harness your fear and keep going despite it. Embracing fear can save your life. Think about the gazelle running from a lion. Fear is the difference between the gazelle and the lion. The lion is running for lunch the gazelle is running for its life. Chasing passion is like that. You may very well have an entire world working against you and without courage your passion will become something’s lunch.   PASSION + TENACITY + COURAGE

Discipline: I thought about calling this section consistency or having a plan but I think discipline can include both of those. Rarely ever will impact come overnight, and since deep passion is extremely volatile, we should be aware that even the most passionate of people can vary in their degree of passion at different moments. This is where discipline comes in. You must have the discipline to keep following the plan, following the process, and approaching each day as if it matters. Discipline is what guides and drives your tenacity and courage into the direction your passion wants it to go. PASSION + TENACITY + COURAGE + DISCIPLINE

Community: You could also call this help or accountability. You will not start your passion journey with a community, most likely the first few chapters that your write will be solo, but as you go you will need to figure out how to build your community of support. This is totally dependent on your ability to communicate clearly the vision you have painted in your head to others. I do this terribly, a lot! I have had hours upon hours of thinking of my passion and the plan I have to succeed, then someone asks me about it and I word vomit for 3-5 minutes and they look at me like I have 3 eyes. John Maxwell says that, “Leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less.” Visioneering and influence will allow you to build your community to make your passion a reality. You have to have a clear vision and the ability to influence people along your path to join your cause and help you along the way. For more on this section read my post. from a few weeks ago: If you get me there, I will change the world . PASSION + TENACITY + COURAGE + DISCIPLINE + COMMUNITY = UNLIMITED POSSIBILTY

Becoming a person that leaves an impact in the world is certainly reserved for the passionate, but the success stories you hear have much more depth than what we see on the outside. My dream is to help people see their potential and chase their passion. Imagine with me what a world full of passionate, tenacious, courageous, and disciplined, accountable visioneers. The possibilities are endless.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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Leadership Vocabulary

Increase productivity and employee engagement TODAY by integrating these phrases into your daily vocabulary.   Leaders have to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk“.  Make sure you are talking the right talk.

 

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

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3 Words That Will Make You a Better Leader Today!

3 wordsCould it be that simple? Could there really be 3 words that I don’t have to get a dictionary to understand and that can actually make me a better leader? Well…Yes. It is that simple, but I must warn you these words are powerful and if used correctly will most likely change YOU so be prepared. Now as I reveal this list to you, you must realize that 2 truths: 1) You have to use these words for them to work, and 2) You have to be genuine when you use them. If you can get that, then you will no doubt, be a better leader because of them.

  1. We: Yes, in fact most of these words are short, but we is one of the greatest words a leader can use. A leader recognizes 2 things distinctly – All success comes from their team, and they are a part of their team, not above them. When you as manager or boss start using the word we to describe your success, “Were you able to land that big account, Ted?” “Yes. We were able to show them great value” to describe your challenges “I know you are frustrated, but we can figure this out together” and to describe your vision or mission “We want to change lives by providing them with a strategic path to becoming better leaders”; then people start to feel like they belong. This raises engagement, purpose and tenacity as we as humans (see what I did there) are much more willing to fight for a team that they feel connected with. Using we sends a clear message to everyone on your team, “I am on my way to the top but I’m only going if you come with me!”
  2. Let’s: I know I know this is technically 2 words but keep it down. Let’s, as in ‘Let’s go’, ‘Let’s do this’, ‘Let’s get started’, signals to your team that you are going to be a part of the trial and error, the not-so-fun part of the project as much as you are a part of the completion. Now I know that everyone has distinct roles within a team, but saying something like. “Okay well it looks like we will need to rerun those numbers and get them out by Thursday. Let’s start on that today and review them together on Wednesday. Will you let me know if you need my help on that?” sounds much better than, “Okay well it looks like we need to rerun those numbers and get them out by Thursday. Tim, you get those done and get them to me by Wednesday so I can critique your work.” Simple yet effective.
  3. Will: No not the name and not the estate document, I’m talking about the verb connotating a request. Will you be able to do this by Thursday? Will this be a problem for you? Will you please start working on this pronto? “Will” is a softer deliver. I know that my high D’s on the DISC scale are yelling at me right now. Those are the ones of you that send 1 word emails and want bullet points on everything. You are all saying, “Caleb that stuff is just fluff! Just say what you need to say and get it over with.” News flash! That makes you a boss not a leader. Leaders understand that while they should have a certain level of directness, it also takes a bit of finesse. Starting your request with will gives the feeling of free given effort, which is important to people. It is ultimately important your team has that. There may be consequences if they exercise that freedom to choose not to comply but still they have it and giving them a sense that you are genuinely requesting their assistance is much more palatable than a direct order.

These words or descriptions are not ground breaking or magic, but these three simple words send a clear message to your team that you understand their importance and your role in the team and they are a constant reminder that even as the boss or manager you are still a part of the team. These simple emotions will allow for deeper connections, higher engagement and lead ultimately to raising your leadership lid.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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The 4 Generations of Employees Who Work for You

The 4 Generations of Employees Who

Work for You
and How to Communicate with Them

4 gen

 

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

Contact Caleb

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Are we getting better?

shutterstock_148727033.jpgCalling all Millennials, again. This week has exposed some serious concerns that I would like to address. You see I am an eternal optimist. I try and usually succeed at finding the silver lining in all situations but at some point I have to begin questioning my own perspective. Today I had the incredible experience of meeting with one of Birmingham’s greatest up and coming CEO’s. We discussed many topics on employee engagement, retention and development. It truly was one of those once-in-a-journey opportunities and I am extremely grateful for his willingness to mentor me on theses subject, but it raised some serious concerns for me. Here is the meat and potatoes of the issue. Millennials have stereotypes; that’s nothing new, but are we doing anything to overcome them? Has my generation, with all their head starts and technology, really just accepted that we are lazy, underachieving and ENTITLED! I hope not, but I’m growing worried.

You guys know my 90/10 rule right; I think that 90% of Millennials are making the other 10% look bad. Sidenote: If you are offended by that, you are probably in the 90%. Seriously it’s like we are wearing those stereotypes around like a medal (note this would just be a participation medal that you didn’t actually earn because that is one of the many things we are stereotypically famous for).

Okay, okay, I’m sorry that I am hating so much on us today but I am frustrated. After my meeting today, it was recommended that I read a blog post written by Jim Cavale, President of Iron Tribe Fitness. Jim’s blog was great and extremely well-written about the difference in generations that you guys have heard me mention so many times before. The jist of his blog was that Millennials are entitled. The CEO I spoke with today recommended the article because he agreed with Jim, and I have been working with companies and their workforce all over Birmingham. Honestly, to some degree I agree with him. So here is what got me on this soap box today, the blog was written in 2013. 3 years ago! Do you know how long that is at the speed our world moves at today? I am alarmed and kind of want to shake someone because it seems like nothing has changed for our generation in that last 3 years to overcome negative traits that we possess.

It is okay to not be good at something at first. It is not okay to keep doing something poorly just because you are not good at it. That’s called settling and it is for chumps. You have got to adapt and overcome. Hear me here, I am not saying that you need to make your weakness your strengths; but I am saying that if multiple people tell you that you stink at follow-thru then you need to do something to improve that. (Thanks for telling me I’m bad at follow-thru, JAMES!) I am bad at follow-thru so I have surrounded myself with people that are really good at follow-thru. I adapted. Do you think it would be okay to go into one of my client meetings and say, “Oh by the way I’m really bad at follow-thru so don’t expect much from me outside our meeting times?” No Way!

shutterstock_305140163.jpgSo it boils down to this, when someone makes you aware of a negative trait or habit that you have, I would recommend that you seek wise council as to whether it is true. Don’t ask your friends who only tell you what you want to hear.   Seek out the people who will be candid with you.   If it is true, then you need to assess how to adapt and overcome.

Well guess what…we are entitled. I prefer to say that we are impatient but it comes across the same to your boss most likely. We get it honestly from our childhood. We grew up in a world of instant gratification (i.e. Instagram sold for a billion dollars!), but what the world is trying to tell us is that it is not okay. It is time (actually past time) for us to adapt and here are some adapting strategies that I recommend.

The fact that you have a job at all suggest that employers are trying to understand you and want to work with you, so you have to give them something to work with.

  1. Stop expecting titles: I don’t know why our generation is so fixated on titles but we all want to be “Director” or “Senior” or “Chief”. I want to make 2 points here.
    1. Titles mean nothing! They don’t change your ability to influence people, and you do not need a title to change the world.
    2. Titles are given in response to actions, not given to create action. If you want a certain title, then you need start acting the part now and then hope the title comes. Act like the Senior Manager, perform like the Senior Manager and one day, YOU WILL BE the Senior Manager.
  2. Stop asking before you think: Repeat after me, “I, {state your name}, am not special.” That’s it. If you can get that, you’ll be set. You or I not being special doesn’t mean we can’t impact the world; it simply means that the change we create was done despite our lack of specialness. So before you go ask for a raise, a promotion, an extra benefit, think about this, “If I were the boss and I had and employee identical to me, would I give them what they are asking for?” Answer it honestly then make our decision on whether to expect something or not.  Think about your actual performance. Analyze your actual productivity levels.   Assess the goals that were set for you and be darned sure you blew them away. Do not ask for anything from management based simply on the internal voice in your head (that sounds an awfully like your Mom) telling you, “You are the best! You deserve everything everyone else has.   You are the most special person in the world. There is no one else like you. “
  3. Start recognizing that it’s about value: You will probably hear me say this a million times if we stay friends long enough but I really do believe you get where you want to go in life by helping others get where they want to go. You job, your company is no exception. How can you add so much value to your company that they would want to give you the things you expect? If you want to be a manager and there is not a position currently available, be patient waiting for an opening and use the time while you are waiting to shine.   Show your management just how valuable you will be as a manager for them. If you truly work to your full potential, then it will be a no-brainer for them to give you that position when the time comes.
  4. Start being patient: Last tip and I’m sorry this seems a bit preachy, but I really recommend this one. Hitch your wagon to a company that you believe in and would want to work with for 40 years and then be patient. If it is a good company, run by good people, allowing you to do what you love, then waiting 5 years for something will be much easier. If your employer aren’t those things I just mentioned, then DON’T WORK FOR THEM! Go find a good company and then be patient with them.

Millennials are entitled and that has to change. Stop accepting this as finite truth. We can change this trait, we should change the trait.  We will benefit in the long-term so much more once we lose this entitled attitude and recognize we have to work for what is worth having.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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If you get me there, I will change the world

chnage.jpg

To digress from the point in the title for a moment, I wanted to share with you why I think I really enjoy blogging. It clearly has nothing to do with my writing ability, instead I think it has everything to do with my inner monologue. In first grade I got in trouble a lot for talking in class. Mrs. Kelly, please accept my apology. 23 years later I believe the reason I talked so much was because if I am awake there is always a conversation going on in my head. Question after question rolls through my head, epiphanies make me smile as I work out problems and to some extent I have learned to keep the talking to appropriate times. I believe the conversations in my head have caused me to ask enough questions that every once in a while I come across one that is worth answering and so I write about them.

The latest came from a fictional, although great, movie called World War Z (yes I’m aware I have poor taste in movies). Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry, has just figured out how to save the world from this horrible contagion but he is on a plane. He approaches the pilot, tells him his plan, and then asks, “Can you get me there?” The pilot nods in agreement and then Brad returns to his seat. For all intents and purposes, “Gerry” is the man with the plan, but for the next 4 hours (played out onscreen in 30 minutes) the pilot was the most important person in the world! In that moment it was totally irrelevant how awesome, hardworking, brilliant, likable, handsome or even how good Gerry’s plan was, he was totally dependent on the pilot.

How often do we find ourselves in this situation in our daily life? As a business owner, manager, parent or pastor we find ourselves with the right plan, the right work ethic, the right material, but we are in one way or another totally dependent on someone else for a part of our journey. I feel like many entrepreneurs may hate this fact but it does not make it less true. This is where your ability to connect and influence people comes in. There is an old saying, I’m not sure who said it first but I heard from Rory Vaden so I am giving him credit, “If you want to go somewhere fast, go by yourself. If you want to go somewhere far, go with others.” In my limited experience on this earth, I can tell you with certainty that anywhere worth going is far and you will undoubtedly need others to get there.

I urge you, no implore you to be mindful of this truth as you move through life and never feel the burden or the falsehood that you can or should do this on your own. You can’t. You were never intended to, so stop trying. You may have to go on parts of your journey alone while you are convincing people of your dream or purpose, but eventually you will need to engage others.

There is no magic mojo that makes you special. This is another fact I think many entrepreneurs will hate. We are all subject to life’s unfairness and trials yet I hear stuff like this all the time from business owners, “Everyone in the company could leave and long as I am here the company would continue.” Really?  How utterly wrong, how arrogant, how sad because the truth is if you build your company that way you probably aren’t going very far. Employees – You wouldn’t be able to pay your bills if it weren’t for your boss.   Bosses – Your widgets don’t get made if it weren’t for your employees so we have to start acting like we all depend on one another. Our individual importance will vary at different times in our lives and in different relationships, but it will never be true that we don’t need others.

I think it is funny to watch people’s reaction when I say I plan to change the world. Generally polite acknowledgment is the response but behind their eyes you see their thoughts. “Awww, that’s nice. He thinks he can do that.” I can, I know I can and I also know that I cannot do it by myself. I need you, whoever you are, to join me in your workplace, at your home, in your church or community to start realizing that we can change the world through the way we interact with one another. My focus will be on your workplace because I want to meet you where you spend a lot of your time, at work, but it will be up to you to take it from there. I can see the difference we can make, I can see the happiness that can come from a good company culture and I can see the ripple effect to the world. So today I say let’s start acknowledging those around us and saying, “If you can get us there, we will change the world!”

Warning this last paragraph is about my faith. If you don’t want to hear about it, you can stop reading now. My intention is to never to offend anyone.

“Woe is he that falls and has no one there to help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:10

The fact that we will always need others was made clear 2000 years ago when the God of the universe sent His son to die on a cross for you and me. Don’t you see the message in that? Our sin had separated us from God and there is nothing we can do on our own to reconcile ourselves with God. Without His sacrifice there would be no path for us to spend eternity in heaven. We are divinely created to need something we cannot provide on our own.  God programmed us this way.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

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Finding and being a mentor

mentorA mentor is kind of a weird thing for a leader to seek out, don’t you think? Most leaders are so focused on looking like they are in control that the thought of someone mentoring them is almost offensive. “I don’t need a mentor, I am the mentor”, “What would my team think about me if they thought I needed a mentor?” Both of these are common for leaders to say or think and both are not entirely bad thoughts, but I think they generally come with a negative mindset that should be reversed. I was told a long time ago that I should always have a mentor and I should always be a mentor, so to the comment “I am the mentor” you are right, as a leader you should most definitely be a mentor to your team, but that does not mean that you wouldn’t benefit from having someone to speak truth into your life. “What would my team think?” Hmmmm….maybe that you are human, you are always looking for ways to better yourself, that you are humble.   That wouldn’t be so bad would it?

The purpose of having a mentor is to help you grow and mentors come in all shapes and sizes. My father is a mentor, my bosses are mentors, my co-workers are mentors, and some of my friends and family are mentors. I am mostly likely the only one in those relationships that view it as formal but you better believe that I treat their advice and wisdom as gold. Imagine a mentor as someone who is watching a horror movie. From outside the situation, they may be able to see what’s happening in other rooms, piece things together that give clear pictures of what about to happen next, and they may be able to yell at you to not open that door because the killer is in that room. Ever the heard the expression, “I couldn’t see the forest, for the trees”?   Well, mentors are there to help you see the forest.   I take notes, I call with strategic questions, I seek objective, non-biased feedback on any situation that I think carries risk and above all, I LISTEN! In almost every situation mentees will have opinions formulated about the topic they need to discuss, and in doing that they are coming in loaded. Trying hardest to seek advice without projecting and desiring totally honest feedback, even if it is not what you want to hear, is the best way to approach your mentor.   It is the only way that really pays off.

WARNING: Not all people are good mentors! (There I said it.) The art of “projecting” goes both ways and you may run into “mentors” whose advice is coming solely from their opinion or personal experience and it may not be the right solutions for you. Do not confuse their passion for a certain situation for factual advice. You have to use your brain in this as well. Now if you have multiple people telling you the same things, you need to listen.

So what should you look for in a good mentor?

  1. Look for someone who has been where you want to go: Wisdom = Knowledge + Experience if you can find someone that has already achieved many of the goals that you have set for yourself and they are willing to share their experiences with you, you have a heavyweight contender for your mentor! Seriously think about it. My dad always taught me, “A smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” Can you imagine the wisdom you can gain from talking to someone that has driven the road necessary to reach your goals and they are willing to warn you where the pot holes are?
  2. Look for someone that will be honest: My mom and I joke about the TV Show, “The Goldbergs”. It’s about this family in the 80s and the mom is always accused of having “Mom Goggles” on. Basically it means that in this mom’s eyes, her kids can do no wrong. In one episode the son wants to be a singer and the mom is nothing but encouraging; but the truth was that he stunk at singing. My mom and I have this relationship, I could call home and say, “Mom I’m going to buy a Subway Franchise on the moon” and she would say, “Aw sweetie that is so great, I’m so proud of you!” Mom I love you! The point here is that kind of encouragement is not always helpful. IN that same lunar Subway situation, a good would mentor would say, “Interesting Caleb, can I ask a few questions about that, like how do your customers get to the moon?” Side note: My mother is brilliant and when her “mom goggles” are not on, she is a great mentor to me.   She is an amazing school teacher and guidance counselor and for 30+ years, she has change the lives of hundreds of people!
  3. Look for someone with your common core beliefs: I think this is very important, while I think you should always be humble enough to accept advice from anyone willing to give it; you should carefully consider their advice before you use it. The biggest consideration in my opinion is, “Does this person share my convictions and beliefs?” I had the opportunity to meet with a young man trying to make his way into the real estate world. He sought the advice of an older more experienced developer as a “mentor”. It was not long until he realized that their views on the appropriate way to do business were very different. The young man definitely wanted to make money but not at the expense of anyone else, and his so called mentor felt that each person was responsible for taking care of themselves and so if someone else let him take advantage of them then it was their own fault. Needless to say that relationship did not last long.

The mentor/mentee relationship can be a very powerful tool. Imagine if that is the way your department worked. Every new hire, every mid-level manager, every supervisor was being mentored and mentoring for someone else in the office. Zig Ziglar said it best, “The best way to get what you want is to help others get what they want.” To the wise, how can you help someone without as much wisdom? To the inexperienced, how can you humbly ask someone to share their wisdom? Answering those questions my change your life.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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