golf

In Giving and Living--Later is Probably Never

Most people I meet think that the life down the road will always be better.  We subscribe to this strange belief that we have infinite time. That the future is when we will focus on what is important, personal, and enjoyable. I guess we think life is like a great multi-course meal. We start off with drinks and some finger food and then you dig into the real food and end up with something really sweet at the end. We know this is not true. All phases of life should be guided by what we want and who you are. Fully contributing our talent and abilities to improving the campsite for the next campers. Whatever that means to you!

At HuffPost we've made theThird Metric -- redefining success beyond money and power to include well-being, wisdom and our ability to wonder and to give -- a key editorial focus. But while it's not hard to live a Third Metric life, it's very easy not to. It's easy to let ourselves get consumed by our work. It's easy to use work to let ourselves forget the things and the people that truly sustain us. It's easy to let technology wrap us in a perpetually harried, stressed-out existence. It's easy, in effect, to miss our lives even while we're living them. Until we're no longer living them. Arianna Huffington 

Life is short. And when you account for life's curve balls, your kids, parenting your parents, and your own health--it is a lot shorter than you think. We all have close friends who died young--who had "untimely" deaths. Do we really know how much time we have?

Just read a tweet from Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square fame:

Jack Dorsey ‏@jack   4:49 PM - 3 Dec 13

I probably have 18,000 more sunsets in my life. One of them is happening now. 

 
I think the spirit of this tweet is wonderful. Time is fleeting and we have limited time and sunsets. I used to count the Sundays left before my kids went to college. Jack assume he will live to 85 in calculating the 18000. He also assumes he will watch all of them. Let's say he only sees one a week  that reduces it to 2471. And once a month would leave only 600. This all assumes he sees and lives for 48 more years. I hope he does. But let's switch sunsets to hugs with your kids? Or one on one time with your mom. Or golf with your Dad. I did not realize that last February was going to be the last time I played golf with my father. I seriously thought I had dozens left. No more.  Golfers
 
"Next time, let's do that." There is no next time. Even if you do cross those coordinates again you will be different, the place will be different, the experience will be different. 

Carpe Diem. 

But the real point is, when we say "later" we mean "never". Because stuff happens.

One of my greatest pet peeves (I have a few:) is when people tell me that they have no time to "give", "volunteer", or "do what I want" because they are so busy. Busy being busy? They have amazing plans for later. --When they are less busy, retired or win the lottery :)

Doing later, being later and/or giving later makes no sense if you believe that our time is limited. 

Steve Davis of PATH: First, avoid the ‘I’m-going-to-give-back-later [to society]‘ trap. I find it offensive. I hope people haven’t spent the first part of their lives just taking. So the first advice is: Think about this as an integrated model. Don’t wait to get involved in your community and to get involved in the world--because you are working.

Second point, if you are in a place where you’re ready to make a really deeper transition to actually moving toward this work in mid-career, the first thing you should do is make sure that you spend some time volunteering, engaging, figuring out where your passion is. Because, at the end of the day, this is work, a lot of work — hard, complex work — and you don’t get rewarded as much; you get different kinds of rewards. It is important to tie to a passion or a skill because that’s what’s going to drive you forward.

The third, to the younger folks in their 20s, I would say remember that we are in a world where cross-sectoral work is vital. We need people who not only have good intentions about the government or public or nonprofit or private sector, we also need people who’ve actually experienced working in more than one sector because you have to come in to bust some myths about the way people behave. You have to come in understanding incentives and intentions. This could actually create great careers.

Let's stop saying what we will do later. Let's make plans to do and be things now and tomorrow. As I say to anyone who will listen, Live your legacy! 

Will your regret be "Needed to spend more time at the office"? "Wish I would have had more stuff?" Really? How many sunsets or hugs do you have left?

Later probably means never. 

Today is a great day to start doing what you know needs to be done--to help yourself and to help others. To strengthen your network and to mentor others. 

Thanks for reading. John


Do I look like my next job?

Was watching the Golf Hall of Fame Induction ceremony the other night. Fred Couples was inducted and introduced by sportscaster Jim Nantz. Jim re-told the great story about the dreams they had as classmates and team mates on the University of Houston golf team. In 1978 Fred Couples and Jim Nantz, a broadcast journalism student at the time, rehearsed many times the scenario where Fred won the Masters and Jim interviewed him holding a fake microphone. On April 12, 1992 this very dream ACTUALLY happened, just like they had planned. Freddie won the Masters and Jim interviewed him in Butler Cabin fourteen years later! 

Fred and jim
Fred Couples and Jim Nantz 1992

Part of looking like your next job means you prepare for it, you envision it, and you have rehearsed it. 

But the salient point here is they had a dream. They knew what they wanted. Their vision proceeded their ambitiousness.

It's never foolish to begin preparing for a transition no matter how many years away it is or where you are in your career. Muriel Wilkins

Amy Gallo advocates these principles in her blog:

Do:

  • Look for every opportunity to demonstrate your leadership potential, at work and outside t
  • Support your boss in reaching her goals
  • Find people in positions you aspire to and study what makes them successful

 Don't:

  • Let your ambitions distract you from doing your current job well
  • Exert authority where you don't have any — use influence to prove your leadership chops
  • Find the right time to openly discuss your ambitions

I was sitting at a career event dinner and a young woman across the table from me blurts out, "Hey, is there any truth that I should look like I want my boss's job?" I paused and asked whether she was talking about dressing for success or was it more than that. She said, "Yes, what I wear, but also what I do." Now before all of you roll your eyes and groan--how naive this young lady is--let me tell you few people, young and more mature, get this. One of the funny parts of this story is I learned later that her boss was sitting next to me!

She clearly had thought about this question and showed some guts to ask it. Here's a brief synopsis of our exchange:

First make sure you know what you want and want what you know. Yes, how you look, act, talk, perform, shapes your brand within the organization. Your brand is what people think about what you bring to work. Your brand is where people think you are going. Your brand is the potential others, including you boss, see for you. (Not what you see for yourself) So, how you look matters. But what you say and what you do matters more. 

I mentioned the PIE research to her. Where your Performance is a given and is the least influential in your promotability. It is your Image (your brand) and your Exposure (your visibility) that dwarf your performance  in terms of your promotability. This surprised her.

We discussed her "managing up" skills. Does she help her boss beyond her job by making observations, preparing thought pieces, giving feedback, and anticipating her boss's needs?

A successful middle manager gets promoted when she takes the right amount of initiative, defers the right amount of credit and orchestrates success. That success might happen despite (not because) of who her bosses are, and that's just fine, because she's leading up.   Seth Godin

And then I said, "You gotta look like your next job." Meaning--if you dress down to your level then people may not see you as a manager or an executive. We all know the clothes don't make the person, but your brand is your brand. If the culture at your place of employment is managers wear suits, then you need to adjust your look. If your culture is the executives get in early or stay late. Or if the culture is reading certain publications or attending certain events. Then you need to adapt to these cultural norms and values.

My favorite story on this topic is when a gang member named Leonard came to Father Greg Boyle to seek his advice on getting a job. Leonard told him that he gets interviews but never an offer. Leonard had tattooed on his forehead in 3 inch letters F#@K THE WORLD. I met Leonard after he had that tattoo removed from his head and now he has more opportunities. 

I know this is extreme but I have seen, worked with, and managed people who discuss their lofty career plans out of one side of their mouth and then they come to work looking like they don't care. Their dress communicates the same phrase as Leonard's old forehead!

Management, the executive team, see potential in the performance and then the brand of the person. 

When the student is ready the teacher appears.  Buddha

Use your network and your mentors to  check your forehead. :) To check your vision. To check what you want. To check your brand. That will help you see yourself and find out if you look like your next job. 

Thanks for reading.  John


5 Micro Habits to Renew Your Networking

We all know how important small things are. Chaos theory asserts how tiny movements create tsunamis. Just think about an atomic bomb. Or consider our DNA. Or the March of Dimes. Think about the advancements in nano-technology. Or micro lending. Little things matter. We ignore these small things at our peril. The details of life. We know how our daily lives are made up of thousands of assumptions, perceptions, and habits that keep us going or hold us back.

Recently, I went through a series of video golf lessons that revealed micro habits and physical aspects of my swing that I did not know were there. Things I felt were the exact opposite of what the video showed. Once I reconciled that my perceptions and feelings were wrong, I could alter my swing. 

We can't see what we are doing or not doing.

There are zillions of examples how micro things can lead to changes or challenges if unattended or ignored. Making a change, getting better at something requires a series of changes in habits, assumptions, and muscle and neural memory. Change it up

In other words, new habits require the breaking of old ones. And at the micro level, you have to be aware of what you do or don't do.

In our minds we have figured things out. We think we are doing things well or the best we can. We are in control of what we do and who we are. If we stop and think about it, we know we are deluding ourselves. Our lives are made up of of thousands of routines that are reflexive and non-thinking moments of reaction. We are constantly disconnected from our consciousness while reality is ignored. Again, like the way I thought my golf swing was dramatically different from my real golf swing.

Sorry I left the planet of concreteness there for a second. I am getting to a point. :) In order to advance your life and your career you need to confront and understand your habits, your micro habits.

HR consultants say they can tell a good resume from a bad one in 8 seconds. Executive recruiters say they can size up a candidate in the first 30 seconds. Scientists tell us that we form an opinion about another person in 100 milliseconds by just seeing their face.

Your face is worth a thousand words. But what does it say? 

So let's consider how you make the initial connection with people. What do you do? What do you say? What does your face say? What is your body language communicate? Sorry to make you self-conscious but taking an inventory by answering these questions is important. 

I am asserting here that you need to adopt several new micro habits to shift your self awareness and your networking---and ultimately your life.

Here are 5 micro networking habits that will change your life, get you to enjoy and appreciate networking and your ability to do it.

  1. Say Hello--You get on the elevator. You meet eyes with someone at the grocery store. You sit next to somebody on a plane. Whereever you are acknowledge the other with a "hello" or a "Good morning." It connects the world for that moment. And often a brief conversation ensues. Force yourself to greet and acknowledge strangers.
  2. Smile more--Really this is a huge change. You think your face always looks pleasant and even happy? Wrong. Not a request to plaster a fake clown face on your mug. My favorite is people who say they are "glad to meet me" with a frown and a scowl. :)When you greet people, when you meet people, smile! Watch the other person's face when you smile, it's contagious. You have a great smile use it! It makes others feel comfortable and it opens up the world. 
  3. Introduce yourself differently-- Don't just mumble robotic words that no longer mean anything to you. Think about a way that engages people and invites conversation. I call this your BIT--Brief Inroductory Talk. Most people provide no energy, no information and no invitation to talk. Don't just utter name, rank and serial number. Reveal something about why you are here. Recently I met a guy that had "Dr." on his nametag. I said, "Nice to meet you Dr. so and so." He said, "I am a medical doctor but now I run a business training immigrants." He anticipated my question about his mdeical profession and gave me a huge opening. I met a woman the other day who said, " Hi I am a lawyer and a soccer Mom." 
  4. Reconnect with someone you care about--This is so easy. Call or send an e-mail to someone you know and like, but with whom you have disconnected. Schedule it. You are not too busy!! I guarantee that your reconnection will be fulfilling and worthwhile.
  5. Say Yes--The next time someone asks you to go somewhere, to meet someone, to experience something new--say Yes! Get out of your routine and  experience new things and meet new people. Don't make excuses to preserve your convenience or your routines. Everyone says they are spontaneous, but they aren't. They prefer plans and limited risk. 

The point here is taking little steps of progress can lead to huge changes. I know this seems simple and intuitive.  Break some little habits and start some new ones. Just try it. New intentional habits lead to new experiences and opportunities. Little changes can push yourself further and further down these paths to connect and reconnect. 

Start by doing what's necessary, then what's possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible. St Francis of Assisi 

Thanks for reading. John

 


Networking with golf balls and bucket lists

Every year I try and accomplish something I have always wanted to do. I have kept a list of places to go and experiences to attempt. Sort of my bucket list, from the great film with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. The bucket list comes from the phrase "kicking the bucket", which refers to the moment the bucket is kicked out from under a hanging man. Despite its morbid beginnings, a "bucket" list is a wish list of things you'd like to see and do before you expire. There is the whole genre of 1000 places to see before you die etc etc. Anyway, I have a list and I recommend you make one too. I have already checked off the typical things like skydiving, race car driving, traversing the Great Wall, repelling a cliff. But it has also included riding the Goodyear blimp, a hole-in-one, attending the world's greatest sporting events.....My golf list included getting a hole-in-one, playing Pebble Beach, and someday going to Scotland to play St Andrews. The list serves as a road map of my incentives for good behavior, something to look forward to AND taking advantage of opportunities when they arise. This last week I played famed Pebble Beach golf course. Glenn bob and jk pebble

My best friend from high school, Glenn Carpenter and I (Glenn's in the middle and that's his Dad Bob to the left) have been conspiring to play the number one course in the world for a couple of years now. Glenn was able to get us on for a good deal on 10 day's notice. So we walked the historic links along the Carmel coast last Monday. Glorious time, no words can suffice! The actual game of knocking the ball around was very challenging, but the vistas and camaraderie were phenomenal. 

Golf has been one of the most powerful forms of networking for me. I feel very fortunate that my Dad taught me the game. Thanks Dad! I have played at least one round of golf with my father for the last 35 years. It is something that binds me to him. All of my kids have had golf lessons, my son Bobby plays and I hope we share this crazy game for the rest of my life.  

Golf has been the subject of great books and movies, Legend of Bagger Vance, Tin Cup, Caddy Shack. Tiger Woods has captured the imagination of the world. It is an unnatural game that either repulses or addicts. It is a game where the ball sits still and motionless and you struggle to hit it. It is a game, like no other, that tests your ability to concentrate, focus, and ultimately to execute. Robin Williams gives the best description of this confounding game and how the Scots invented it. (Warning the routine is filled with profanity)                       

When I was young I never realized the social power of golf. I have met and gotten to know thousands of people on a golf course. Whether planning a round with friends or relatives, or being matched up with a random "stranger" at the course. It is different than many other sports and hobbies. You are outside with nature--you and your colleagues share a desire to conquer the sadistic design and hazards of the course. (This excludes any distracting betting.) And there is always the 19th hole (the after match conversation/commiseration) So you could spend 4-6 hours together. It can be meaningful time. Golf, like no other activity, is part of doing business and fostering business relationships. Every industry I have been associated with (as you know that is a bunch) golf was there and it has helped me. 

Learned a few life lessons from golf that have translated well to my non-golfing life.

  1. Got game?--Golf is about what you have to offer that day. No team to make up for your weaknesses or mistakes.  
  2. We all start out equall--Computerized systems provide each player with a "handicap" based upon their ability and the course. At the outset, we can gauge our progress against ourselves and others.
  3. Positive pre-swing thoughts--The only way to succeed in golf is to envision the best outcome. If you focus on the hazards in front of you, your outcome will fulfill that vision. In other words, the law of attraction, that positive makes positive and negative attracts negative, is a certainty on the golf course.
  4. Etiquette matters--Being polite and respectful of others is an essential part of the game. 
  5. Sportsmanship and the honor system--You have to know the rules and follow them. And at the end of the day you are accountable for your actions. In what other sport do you have a player calling a "foul" on themselves?
  6. The course is not the range  (map is not the territory)--Every course, every shot is different because of the weather, the terrain, the lie of the ball etc, so you have to adapt your swing, your stance, your weight to the circumstances. 
  7. Can't be bad and slow--The two worst things on a course are slow play and bad play. But if you are both, you can ruin the game for everyone around you. 
  8. Keep Score--The only way you know if you are progressing is to keep track of your strengths and weaknesses and how you can improve. 
  9. Get over your mistakes--Have a bad hole, put it behind you as quickly as possible. Tiger takes 10 steps on the course and then forgets the last shot.
  10. Enjoy the walk--As I said golf is outside and usually, like this last Monday, I saw things I will never forget. Nature is so profound and so inspirational. Regardless of the score, you must constantly remind yourself about the special things around you and how fortunate we are to play the game.                                                                                                                               
Golf is a lot like life to me. I think I am a better person because of it. Sounds like a cheezy way for me to try and play more. Seriously, it has helped my career and my networking. You may have seen this one before but it serves as a good reminder to make room for the golf balls first--life, golf balls, and a beer  

What will rise to the top of my bucket list next year?
Thanks for indulging me this week. I will address the topic of "meeting people when you don't know anyone" next week.  Thanks for reading. John