Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude. Excellence comes not from education, money, ability or connections alone. It comes from a commitment to do the very best with whatever you have available.” ~ Ralph S. Marston Jr.
Are you struggling with the results of your recent efforts in business, in fitness, in relationships? Maybe it is time to stop and take inventory on what you are truly putting in to those efforts and what your expectations are for the outcome. Sometimes we strive to reach an ideal, and we forget about the journey. Instead of focusing on accomplishing the tasks necessary to reach our goal, we focus on why we are not reaching that goal. Are you honestly each and every day doing your very best and taking the steps to get closer to your results? Do you have a specific, measurable plan to get where you are going? Have you revisited your plan and modified it based on what you know today vs. what you thought when you created the plan? If you are not doing your best, what can you do differently today that will help you get there? If you are honestly doing the best you can and your goals seem unattainable, have you considered revising your goal? Do your goals cause you to sacrifice what is truly important and satisfying in your life? Are short term sacrifices worth the long term gain?
These are just a few questions to ask yourself. Try and set goals that will help you find joy and contentment in your everyday life. Each day, work towards being the best you possible. Remember what you are trying to achieve and make sure that the goals you have set for yourself are realistic. If the end goal seems too hard to reach, try breaking it down into smaller steps and then celebrate the milestones! Don’t focus on the fact you haven’t finished what you set out to, but instead, focus on the reasons you want to get there in the first place and what the steps are you need to take in order to get there.
If you have reached your goal, Congratulations! Now ask yourself, “Do I have a plan to maintain the success I’ve worked so hard to accomplish? What do I need to do next to be the “Best Me” I can be?”
Thanks for reading!
When we work on large projects, creating a set of documents and files that can easily be followed from beginning to end is critical. It’s so easy when working through the project to just grab the data needed, save it and move on. But what if each time the data changes, you create a new file. Or you copy the data to a new tab in Excel and modify it, without labeling the tab, or including any headers or descriptions in the file? If your naming conventions aren’t disciplined, you’ll end up with multiple files named data 1, data 2, data 3, etc. with multiple unlabeled tabs that may at first glance all look the same.
If you created this and you’re trying to wade through it, you’ll have enough challenges remembering which version to use, and how to locate it. This lack of discipline often leads to errors, and certainly inefficiencies. It really doesn’t waste time to take a minute to label your work. And just think of the lucky person to pick up this project for the next update – they’ll probably have to spend double the time to get through the project in order to decipher the prior data set. Of course, you’d never think “not my problem,” but what if you’re that lucky person who needs to deal with the unlabeled puzzle of another mind? Even if you completed the first version, how much will you remember if you have to pick it up a year or two later? For that matter, even six months is a challenge – you’ve moved on, and flushed the memory banks by then.
A disciplined approach to data should be a given. Take a few minutes to label your work. Include reference notes so data flows can be followed. Please – do yourself and everyone you work with a favor – leave a trail of breadcrumbs. Thank you!
All the past nostalgia and anticipation of the coming season, erupt with Vin Scully’s “It’s time for Dodger Baseball!” Cue crowd noise. Cue organist.
The excitement of Opening Day, like spring, centers on rebirth and potential. Every player, fan and coach believe that “this is our year.” This faith is actually closer to superstition, because if you waiver for a second, it may set of a chain of cataclysmic events, forever changing the course of season. As we slide into our seats, donned in blue, there is a sense of camaraderie amongst strangers with shared chants, heckles and cheers.
Similarly, camaraderie in the work place can create a productive environment. We have shared in previous blogs that we have a weekly Happy Hour in the office to promote this team mentality. One hour a week is dedicated to establishing relationships, creating inside jokes and stepping away from virtual interactions for some good old ‘round the table family time.
After doing some research, here are some suggestions for building a team:
1. Establish your team.
Amongst the hierarchy of company positions, it may be necessary to be reminded that everyone is on the same team. If productivity or morale is lacking in your office, it may be helpful to create a consistent culture of solidarity. Annual picnics and conferences can be great, but every great team needs practice. Frequent opportunities for insight into coworker’s personalities, drives and preferences may improve the communication within daily work interactions.
2. Give your team wins.
Nothing shows appreciation more than acknowledging small victories and celebrating larger ones. Champagne showers atop sacred electronic equipment may not be the best choice, but start a tradition in your office that makes your team feel like they won the World Series.
3. Provide Stats and Award MVPs.
Depending on your line of business, providing statistical analysis of outcomes may point out team’s strengths and weaknesses. Be careful when highlighting individual weakness publically, as this may be counterproductive to building up the team. Conversely, point out the qualities that brought home the “W.”
4. Fashion a Uniform
Clothing adorned with the company logo is not only a walking advertisement, but can give employees a sense of belonging. This tactic is very helpful with welcoming new team members.
5. Create Pre- Game Rituals
It is unreasonable to think that every team member is going to work at 110%, all day, every day. Therefore, if there is a huge project or particularly busy time of year, get the team pumped up before. Mentally preparing the team and vowing to work together may help to reduce some of the stress leading up.
Let this week inspire a season of growth within your work environment. Creating an all-star team, may recruit more customer fans!
I put two bows in my daughter’s hair today. She – being 15 months old and not inclined to making my life easier – immediately pulled them out. She said they were “cute,” and sat looking at them in her hands. I put them back in her hair, and told her “no touch.” She pulled them back out. I put them back in. You see where this is going.
Somewhere along the way (after, admittedly, far too many attempts for a reasonable person), I started to realize the futility of my position. She was going to be alone with her hair and her arms at some point during the day. She had made her desires clear and, through persistence, she won.
I wonder if this quiet persistence might be the answer to more serious problems – the way to enforce your position without triggering defensiveness. Making your voice heard does not equate to screaming, elaborate protestations, extremism, or brute force (though these things may be called for, in certain circumstances). Your voice is the difference you make by being true to yourself, saying what you have to say with certainty, and repeating it until you wear down the opposition. In this battle, the Irresistible Force Paradox trumps the layman’s definition of insanity; you may think that repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is crazy – until something gives.
Be irresistible. Say what you have to say. Then say it again, if you have to. Be sure of yourself, and persist.
This past week one of our employees celebrated her first year anniversary – congratulations Ashley! So, I thought it quite ironic as I finished typing up her annual review that I received a LinkedIn Top News email and the first article was “My Plan to Replace the Dreaded Performance Review” by Ron B of VeraSage Institute. The article had many great points – especially pointing out that rather than focusing an evaluation on what was done in the past, the focus should be on what is to be achieved in the upcoming year, how it links to the business plan, and focus on improving the work not just completing the work.
Another concept that was mentioned in the article was a Key Predictive Indicator called the High-Satisfaction Day (TM) – “An HSD is one of those days that convinces you, beyond doubt, why you do what you do.” I think that this is a very important indicator to keep in mind when reviewing an employees performance. Not only is this an important aspect of a business for the owners, tt is my belief that if your employees are gaining satisfaction from the work that they do, their happiness level will increase and this adds to the overall success of your business and improvement of the culture within. Like the article mentions, it is difficult to measure Pride, Passion, Attitude & Commitment, but wouldn’t you rather have an employee that exudes these with confidence than rather someone who is simply skilled at their job skills?
So next time you are in the position to evaluate the performance of either yourself or one of your employees, keep these points in mind, and hopefully this will help everyone happier in your organization.
Thanks for reading!
I started my foray into the world of programing at a young age. I think I was about 10 when I wrote my first “real” program. It was a text based trivia game written in basic. Of course the trivia questions the game asked were such that I was probably the only person who knew the answer. Most of them were akin to Bilbo’s question to Gollum “What have I got in my pocket?” I wanted to make sure that I could beat my own game. But regardless of how silly my little program was. I was able to create it. I figured out how to make a program! From that point on programing was not only a skill and tool I had at my disposal but it helped teach me to think, solve problems, and understand that there are always more than one way to approach any situation. Beyond all that for me programing it has grown into not only something that I love to do but also the means in which I make my living.
What I find interesting is that programming is still not really taught in schools until the college level. Think about how much technology in general has taken over our lives. It is everywhere. We carry computers in our pockets. My iPhone is exponentially more powerful than the computer that I wrote my first program on (and yes I have written code from my iPhone). Last year I was camping in the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and was able to watch the Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the NBA playoffs on my iPad. The point is that technology is everywhere and it is a part of everything that we do. That is not going to change. In fact it is only going to become more integrated in every facet of our daily lives. Wouldn’t it make sense to expose everyone to programing? Beyond that wouldn’t it make since to do so at a young age when we are most able to learn? I think so. And so do the people at code.org.
Take a look at the below statistics from the code.org website:
Think about it. Every day technology becomes more and more embedded in our everyday lives and yet fewer and fewer people are choosing computer science as a career choice. According to the above statistics 2% of all math and science students go into computer programing and yet 60% of the math and science jobs are programing related!
As a society I think we need to do a better job of recognizing growth areas in the workforce and make sure that we at least expose our children to those areas.
I for one have volunteered over at code.org to help do what I can. I would encourage each of you to at least check them out. Perhaps together we can help fill a market place with not only skilled individuals but also with people who enjoy going to work and who can with he help of technology carry us into the future.
Excerpt from last week’s SNQ Plus 1 internal meeting. 2/21/13: “There are many more complicated solutions than there are complicated problems.”
This was an outstanding thought provided SNQ’s own Jeff Dillehunt. It really embodies a concept that is critical to all aspects of business, but something that is the life blood of complex software development.
Frequently in business we make problems more complicated than they really need to be. I get frequently get harassed about my proclivity to “simplify” things and make them as black and white as possible – i.e. eliminate the grey area. We discussed this internally last Thursday at SNQ, and one of the main takeaways was the need to continually break a complex task or problem into smaller and smaller pieces, until you reach a point where you can “get your arms around it comfortably”.
If you’re facing something that seems bigger than life, simplify – by repeatedly breaking it into smaller chunks until you get to pieces which are manageable. This can be applied to just about everything.
General Note: every week SNQ has an internal company meeting to address one topic that helps us to stay focused on going above and beyond the stated objectives – even if it is just 1% more.