Have You Got It in You?

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    If you ask an adult, “Can you play the piano?” Unless they professionally tickle the ivory, they will probably say, “No.”

    Sing? Ride a horse? Dance? You will probably get answers such as, “Kind of,” “Not really” and “Not in a long time.”

    Ask a Kindergarten student those same questions, and the answer is “YES!” to every single one. Ask that same five-year-old, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” And you know the answers — astronaut, doctor, fireman or President of the United States. So what happened between being the best ballet dancer in the whole wide world to where you are today?

    When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and thought, “Sure! Why not?” Kevin Carroll wrote Rules of the Red Rubber Ball. Carroll says that taking risks are “just part of a regular day on the playground. You have to be willing to skin your knee.”

    Unfortunately, many of us suffer too many knee scrapes, so we leave the space shuttle and the White House behind us. Before we know it, we’ve created a way of life for ourselves where we are too tired to run and get the phone, much less run for office.

    What’s going on in your life right now? Too busy to live up to your potential? Or should the question be asked, “Are you too scared/nervous/apprehensive to find your inner winner?” And what about those around you? Are you helping them live up to their potential? Are you being a catalyst or are your actions causing someone else to lose their confidence?

    “Greatness is not in where we stand,” said American poet Oliver Wendell Holmes, “but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it — but sail we must and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”

    Feeling a little lost at sea? Let’s talk about how to build some inner strength, enhance that confidence and maybe find that childlike spirit of play again. Let’s also spend some time on how to help our employees and teams create quality and meaningful opportunities for themselves as well as your company.

    For Your Employees

    Being the boss isn’t always a fun gig. With a trillion things to do a day, instilling personal confidence in your employees isn’t on your daily agenda. You have to think that producing a good product is helping in building a trust in you and your company, but there’s more to it than that. As their leader, it is your responsibility to make sure that your employees feel confident working there, and working for you. You can help them in this with just a few simple (and subtle) adjustments.

    1. Recognition
    Thank your employees. Sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised how many bosses don’t offer gratitude on a daily basis. “They should be grateful to have a job,” or “They get paid to do this, I shouldn’t have to thank them,” is probably the thought process here. As your employees leave today, say, “Thanks for everything. Have a good night,” and see what happens. Yes, it’s nice to get a certificate as Employee of the Month, but that’s not as long lasting as your boss going out of her way to say and show that she sees what you do, and that she takes pride in having you work for her. The ever popular Zig Ziglar calls it being a “Goodfinder.” Zigler says to “seize the opportunity to share a sincere compliment. Praise in public and censure in private. Catch them doing something right.” Just give it a try.

    2. Communication
    Allow for an innovative, creative environment. In comedy improvisation, players live by several rules in order to create quick, smart, funny scenes. There is one rule, however, that can never be broken. That rule is called the “Yes, and …” rule. Agree and accept whatever anyone brings to the table. Now that doesn’t mean that you personally have to like the suggestion, but it does mean that you are graciously going to take the idea given and do your best to expand upon it. If you are constantly abiding by this rule, then others feel safe in bringing anything to you. How are you responding when people bring new ideas to the table? Accepting their idea, and thanking them for their time, will make a huge difference. The person will be all right if you choose to not implement their concept. The whole point was that you were listening, and they were protected in bringing their thoughts to you. You will have gained their respect as someone who in turn respects them. Your employees will then feel confident enough in their own ability, and will want to work harder for you.

    For Your Team

    We’ve all heard there’s no “I” in team: President Dwight Eisenhower said it best when he told us that leadership is “the art of getting someone else to do what you want because he wants to do it.” Again, as discussed earlier, not an easy task.

    World renowned business leadership guru Marcus Buckingham says “The chief responsibility of a manager is to turn one person’s talent into performance. You speed up the reaction between the talents of the person and the goals of the team.”

    Take the time to find the special talents of each of your team members, then enhance upon them. Maybe one member of your team is constantly questioning how and why your team does things a certain way. Yes, it is possible that person is a whiney, nosey, complainer. It is also possible that you aren’t seeing what they are truly capable of and aren’t moving the spotlight over to them to allow their talent to shine. Maybe their constant questioning is because they are a mature process person with the ability and capability to use whatever is needed to finish a project exactly, yet can see far beyond the resources given to vision a greater ending. Where you think you hear a complainer, you may also be squashing and discouraging innovation and creativity.

    Buckingham states that “Great managers look at people as an end unto themselves.” Helping someone grow is a great source of fuel for not only the person trying to expand, but also for you as coach and teacher.

    So ask yourself the question, “Is my whole team invested in the dream?” How are you nurturing creativity in not only your employees, but yourself? One of the first things to try would be to have each member of your work team take a, for lack of a better term, “personality test.” Not the Cosmo kind, but a true and tried, legit personality profile. There is of course the Myers-Briggs test, but there’s also the Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid Questioner and the Johari Inventory among others. Once you pinpoint a person’s style, fit your communication to their channel. This is how both parties will get the results they need. Remember, ships don’t come in, they are brought in.

    For Yourself

    Ready to be an astronaut again? Muhammad Ali has a famous quote with a very profound message. He said, “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses — behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” We are our own worst enemy, and we are going to have to risk something to make things happen. So don’t chicken out now. Let’s take one more step — a step inward — and work on you.

    Try this: Before you go to bed each day, write down three or four things that went right. Go to sleep feeling accomplished. And if it helps, channel your own Stuart Smalley, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.”

    Create your own mission statement. Your friends at Franklin Covey do more than sell personal day planners. This Web site will help you step by step in order to write about and learn to live your dream. No, it won’t make you the next Nadia Comaneci or Sandra Day O’Conner, but it will help you move forward in discovering who you are, and help you see whatever happened to that little ballerina. Creating your own mission statement will also help you search for and explore that freedom you forfeited some time ago. Keep in mind that a person who takes risks is the only one who is truly free.

    While you’re at it, download and sign your own personal copy of Kevin Carroll’s brilliant “Adult Resignation." Once you have read it, you will see that snow angels are still possible at your age. So go lie in the snow and create the coolest, sharpest, most unique snow angel. You can do it, because like snow flakes, each one of us is different.

    And once you’ve resigned your adult status, and are ready to live in the moment and believe as a child once again, you will know that Carroll has only one thing left for you to know …“Tag! You’re it!”

    Model: Amy Storer