40,000 College Students and One Great Reminder

This past New Year’s was a first for me. It wasn’t the first time I fell asleep before midnight on New Year’s Eve. (That’s the norm since children became a part of our family.) It wasn’t the first time I’ve been out of town over New Year’s Eve. But it was the first time I spent New Year’s Eve asleep before midnight, out of town, and prepping to spend the next four days as a volunteer.

In late 2015, my wife and I decided that we’d kick off the new year by volunteering at Passion 2016. Passion Conferences are gatherings of 18 to 25 year olds (aka college students) specifically for the purpose of their spiritual development. Attendance at this year’s Passion Conference: 40,000. A small army of more than 1,000 volunteers was utilized to pull off the multi-day event. As a member of that army, I had the opportunity to observe some of Passion 2016’s behind-the-scenes leadership. As I did, I was reminded of an important leadership practice that is often neglected when the pressure and pace of leadership increases.

That Obnoxious Dad at My Kid’s Basketball Game Might Be On to Something

line up blurredMy oldest son is 6 years old. This winter I’m coaching his first foray into the sport that has been a deep passion for me, basketball. As you might guess, this team of little boys produces only a dim reflection of actual basketball. It’s a herd of 10 kids running up and down the court, barely dribbling, and failing to make more than a few baskets over the course of an entire game.

At the start of our second practice, before we’d played any games, the father of two kids on our team approached me. He didn’t approve of the way I’d taught the kids to shoot a basketball during our first practice. I explained why I was teaching the boys as I was. I couldn’t tell if he was satisfied with my answer or not. Nonetheless, I felt confident that I was doing right by the kids in teaching them proper technique.

Then came our first game. (Enter ominous music: Du, du, duuuuuuuuh!)

What’s Your Perspective on Motivation? —
Motivation, Part 5

ball top of hillI want to challenge your perspective on motivation.

Perspectives are powerful. Our perspectives color everything we see, think, and experience. They decide whether we focus on the path toward winning or the roadblocks in our way. They determine whether we see failures or lessons well-learned. They dictate whether we live in hopefulness or fear. Given the power that perspectives hold, it is important that leaders be conscious of their perspectives when it comes to the issue of motivation.

Throughout this series on motivation, there has been a subtle but consistent perspective baked into each blog posting.

Free, Simple, Effective, and Forgotten —
Motivation, Part 4

Yesterday I got a text from a good friend, trustworthy leader, and A+ communicator, John Ott. He wanted me to check out a website focused on leadership development. I did so and immediately started kicking myself.

The website was GreatLeadersServe.com. It is hosted by Mark Miller, VP of Leadership Development at Chick-fil-A. Mark has been writing books and helping develop leaders both inside and outside of Chick-fil-A for many years. His website was clean in appearance and easy to navigate. It had a nice video promoting his most recent video offering. Overall it was extremely professional and full of good content.

So why was I kicking myself?

Do You Know Who You’re Motivating? —
Motivation, Part 3

Last week we looked at a epic sports turnaround that leveraged an underappreciated motivational tool. This week our series on motivation turn its attention to a simple 4-step application that enables us to motivate those we lead more effectively.

Last Thursday I spoke to a group of people who lead the financial functions within their companies. There were about 80 people in the room when I asked them to choose the most important leadership capabilities from a list of eight possibilities. For what felt like the millionth time in my experience as a speaker and consultant, the most popular category selected was that of motivation. No matter the conference or leadership team with whom I’m engaged, everyone seems to value the leader’s ability to motivate those he/she leads.

At times we can be tempted to rely on organizational systems that bestow recognition, champion accountability, and censure poor performance as key motivational drivers.

Do You Have the Guts to Share It? —
Motivation, Part 2

Schnur's PlayLast week a conversation between two disengaged employees kicked off our series on motivation. This week we’ll use the way-back machine to examine a key driver of motivation that doesn’t get nearly enough airtime in discussions about effective leadership.

It was 1995 and Gary Barnett was entering his fourth season as head football coach at Northwestern. (That’s American football for our non-American readers.) In the 24 years prior, the Wildcats were the laughing stock of the Big Ten Conference and, at times, all of college football. During that span Northwestern had not a single winning season as it amassed a record of 46-207. Between 1979 and 1982 they lost 34 games in a row. In one five year stretch, they lost every single Big Ten Conference game.

Barnett was hired in 1992. His first three years hadn’t yielded much progress in terms of the team’s record. The team won just 8 games during that time. But Barnett saw something brewing.

September 29, Disengaged Followers, and Human Nature — Motivation, Part 1

coffeeYesterday morning I was in a nationally known food establishment whose profits are highly dependent on coffee sales. I won’t say who it was exactly, but I will say #1) it wasn’t Starbucks, and #2) it’s name rhymes with Unkin’ Onuts.

So there I was, minding my own breakfast, when I heard a couple of the establishment’s employees talking about a quickly approaching date.

Getting “Dollhouse Engagement” from Those You Lead (re-post)

dollhouseBelieve it or not, today marks the start of 2015’s 3rd quarter. Roughly once per quarter we revisit some older blog posts so as to get good-but-already-posted content to our newer subscribers and offer some helpful reminders to more longstanding members of The Aperio community. Today’s post was originally shared just under a year ago.

A couple of summers ago, I helped my neighbors, Matt and Meredith, move into their new house. A group of us had gathered to lend a hand because, well, that’s what you do for your friends. You lovingly help them move (up two flights of stairs) their disassembled Bowflex home gym that they bought and swore they’d use every day.

In the midst the loading and unloading, Meredith caught my attention and made a special request related to a prized possession of her two-year old daughter. She said, “Tim, I trust you to move this dollhouse. I don’t trust those other guys. But you, I trust.”

Two More Truths —
Setting Standards, Part 3

barometerIn the first week of this series, we were introduced to the role that standards play in helping leaders set direction for their followers. In last week’s posting, we looked at two truths that need to be considered before leaders set standards:

Truth #1:
Standards are About Culture, Not Goals


Truth #2:
Standards are Often Expensive

To see both of these truths on display from Duke Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski, one of the most successful leaders ever in the world of collegiate athletics, check out this story (especially Krzyzewski’s comments) which broke late last week.

With that real-time example in our pocket, let’s move on to truths #3 and #4 about standards.

Are You Leading a “JJ Fast” Team?

JJ Fast cNot long ago I found myself in the drive through of a certain fast food…I mean “quick service”…restaurant that specializes in serving chicken. While sitting by the drive through window, I noticed they had a board on the wall tracking their goals. In the blank where they write in their “Speed of Service” goal were the words “JJ Fast.”

Just to make sure I wasn’t assuming too much, I inquired if the “JJ” stood for Jimmy John’s. Indeed it did. I knew there was a better than average chance that “JJ” referred to Jimmy John’s (as opposed to JJ from the 1970’s sitcom Good Times). Why? Because the Jimmy John’s sandwich chain has an uncanny ability to make their sandwiches fast. And by fast I mean nearly instantaneously. Which leads us to a few questions today…

Getting to “Dollhouse Trust”

Child's doll house with furniture on whiteA couple of summers ago, I helped my neighbors, Matt and Meredith, move into their new house. A group of us had gathered to lend a hand because, well, that’s what you do for your friends. You lovingly help them move (up two flights of stairs) their disassembled Bowflex home gym that they bought and swore they’d use every day.

In the midst the loading and unloading, Meredith caught my attention and made a special request related to a prized possession of her two-year old daughter. She said, “Tim, I trust you to move this dollhouse. I don’t trust those other guys. But you, I trust.”

I have never moved a piece of furniture so carefully in my life.