I am an Idiot, plus Inspiring Action with Why’s not What’s

Today I learned:

1. I am an idiot: Admittedly, some may tell me this should not be news or at least it should have been an assumption going in. Regardless, I didn’t make it past 7:15am before the label was applied this morning so at minimum this is earlier than usual.

As I prepared for work , 7 days post ACL-reconstruction, my wife looked at me like I was nuts.  This in itself is not unusual, but she is a physiotherapist so when rehab is concerned I need to listen (even more than I usually do, of course).  I continued to prepare until, as I struggled to pull my socks on, she muttered “you’re an idiot.

This helped snap me out of it, and we had a good discussion on surgeon recommendations, rehab principles and recovery.  Suffice it to say, another day at home for me. A good reminder that I don’t always know best, but at least my wife does.

2. Inspiring Action with Why’s not What’s:

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

– Simon Sinek

The goal is to sell people on why you do what you do. What you do is simply the proof of what you believe. Within Simon Sinek’s Ted video (linked below), he draws together this concept with several engaging examples – Apple, TiVo, and the Wright Brothers – but for a business leader or manager the most tangible example from my perspective relates to Martin Luther King Jr.

In jest, Mr. Sinek quips “He gave the I have a dream speech, not the I have a plan speech.”

This struck a cord and immediately made me consider how I have addressed my team in the recent past within activities like staff meetings, project planning sessions and 1:1’s.  It served as a good reminder that too often we emphasize what we are doing – what the plan is – not why we are doing things.  This is not to say we ignore the why, but rather we don’t always lead with it, and perhaps don’t give it the time and credence it deserves.

Importantly, in management the why must be tailored to individuals and the team.  For example, when I think about one large project I worked on in the past, our why messaging was at a corporate level, and it didn’t sell the goal at a personal level.  In the end, people follow for themselves – not solely for the money but for whatever else is intrinsically driving them. Selling your staff needs to get personal, in terms of why it is good for them. Get your Why right and you will have no trouble getting your team on board for the How and the What.

Link to Simon Sinek on Ted.com, plus graphic from guidedinnovation.com.

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Eating local and Is ‘Temporary’ pain worth it?

Today I learned:

1. Eating local: We stopped by a farmers market this morning and ran into a friend helping out with her dad selling locally produced sausage under the name Chef’s Natural.  I have to admit 99% of our meat and fish comes from places like Costco and Safeway, but today we bought a few meals worth to support a friend. Dinner tonight was exceptionally tasty, and with no chemicals on the ingredient list I even felt watching my kids chow down.  Surprisingly, it was not much more costly than the something similar from a big box retailer. A good lesson in eating local and supporting the little guy.

2. Temporary Pain: I spent a chunk of my day working on planning staff resources for 2012 projects. Realizing workload will exceed resources, I started thinking how I could utilize temps to offload some tasks.  This made me reflect on past experience and reminded me of a quote I wrote for myself one day last spring:

Keep your enemies close, and the temps you hire to do menial tasks even closer.

The motivation for that came from a day lost dealing with two temps hired to do a time sensitive task.  That experience taught me there are few things you can actually pass off to a temp to save your staff time.  If your operation is lean enough those tasks either don’t exist, or they are done more efficiently and with less supervision by those who already work for you.  A good reminder and an opportunity to rethink priorities for the year ahead.