Pissed Off For Greatness

I’ve never been a huge Baltimore Ravens fan (partially because they’ve beat up my TN Titans too many times), but I did enjoy watching Linebacker Ray Lewis play. Lewis, a future Hall of Famer and amateur “preacher”, was known just as much for his hard hitting, sideline to sideline play as he was for his “motivational” speeches.

I air-quote motivational and preacher there because while he was great a firing people up, people admit that they didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. It was as if he was speaking in some kind of deep biblical, mythological, gridiron code. Whatever it was, it fired his teammates up to the tune of 2 championships in twelve years…and several victories in between.

In 2012, ol Ray Ray was brought in to speak to the Stanford Basketball team before a game. The greatest line in the sermon…I mean, speech was “I’m pissed off for greatness!” Never lacking in the passion and pissivity department, that line shook something in my spirit. In a sport that requires one to be violent, one must indeed be pissed off to execute. To deliver bone-crushing blows and to put your body at risk the way the players do, one must dig deep, channel something from within and play angrily.

When we go to work, we’re pissed at people all of the time, but we don’t use that to our advantages. We actually let it work to our competitor’s advantage. While I’m not condoning tackling people by the copier (not all the time) or stiff arming someone to get the best seat in a meeting, I am saying that we need to take the stuff that we do not like in our offices and use them to fuel some change. Channel the anger that we feel toward policy, “the man”, or lazy teammates and shake some stuff up!

Are you tired of that lady that meets you at your desk every morning before you can even put your bag down…messing up your morning flow and throwing off your focus for the first half of the day? Take that pissivity and use it to let people know what your boundaries are…because a happier, focused you equals a happier, focused team.

Your employees not performing, thus making you look bad? Don’t just chalk it up. Channel that anger and let it motivate you to do something drastic and different. It’s ok to show emotion as a manager. It’s ok to be tastefully and necessarily forceful. Just be specific, respectful and don’t over do it.

Can’t stand that fact that people aren’t following up with you and giving you feedback? Use that feeling of neglect as the inspiration to get out of the fetal position from under your desk, walk straight into the office of the person in the To: field of your email and initiate a conversation about your opinions and ideas.

Unknown-2Get pissed off for greatness! Get hype and make the play everyone else is afraid to! Because like a former employee of mine once told me, it’s better to be pissed off than pissed on…and by not standing up and putting a foot down we sometimes end up with a foot on the back of our necks. So get out there and tackle somebody (figuratively)! Score a touchdown (in the boardroom)! Knock the ball loose (when someone tries to screw you over)! And like Ray said in that speech,

“…you got to go out and show them that I’m a different creature now than I was five minutes ago…because if you ain’t pissed off for greatness, that mean you ok with being mediocre.” 

Huh? Anyway, get fired up and go make a difference while everyone else is just making noise…and get your celebration dance ready!

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HR Through Rosy Colored Glasses

Working at a University, it’s impossible not to walk around and feel old as you see thousands of young and eager faces going to and from class. While I don’t work directly with students much, I get “drafted” every year by dozens of them to do interviews for their Human Resources or Business classes. I laugh because I wonder if their syllabi say that they must interview an HR professional or if my name specifically is on them. I think I’ll ask next time.

Every conversation I have with them goes the exact same, which shows me a few things. The same, generic interview questions are provided to them and most importantly, hardly any of them really know what they are getting themselves into majoring in HR.

I try to be as candid as possible when I discuss what I do. I also am not one to sugar coat, so I’m surprised that I haven’t gotten an email from the faculty concerned about what I’m telling them. But when you speak to someone that is in “the trenches” so to speak, you should hear the not-so-pretty, non-glamorous, non-text book type of accounts that we’ve encountered since we’ve been out of school.

It reminds me of this song by Bill Withers that was re-recorded by John Legend called” I Can’t Write Left-handed.” In the song, they tell the account of a young man returning home from war. In the conversation Bill Withers had with him, the young man spoke of his experiences and said that “Being shot at didn’t bother him…it was being shot that really shook him up.”

He goes on to account in the second verse:

Boot camp we had classes
You know we talked about fighting, fighting every day
And looking through rosy, rosy colored glasses
I must admit it seemed exciting anyway

Oh, but something that day overlooked to tell me, Lord
Bullets look better, I must say
Brother when they ain’t coming at you
But going out the other way

glassesWhile I’m certainly not comparing our jobs to that of soldiers, because Lord knows I couldn’t be one, our students and young professionals are given these same tinted lenses to wear. No one taught me how to navigate in the business world once I graduated. They didn’t tell me that it would be hell to find a job. They didn’t tell us that dealing with employees and their issues would be stressful. They especially didn’t tell us how the decisions we would make in our HR offices could affect the professional lives of those same employees. The theory around reductions in force, layoffs, terminations, workplace bullying, poor communication between managers and employees and performance issues and self-esteem doesn’t even come close to actually having to deal with it day in and day out.

I remember in a particular job I had that terminations were so commonplace that I almost became numb to them. The more I had to deliver the news, the less and less I thought about what those people had to go through and what they would do with themselves once they left our building. I went from dreading those conversations to executing them without hesitation and with precision. Corrective actions became a habit and a part of my muscle memory.

T’was from these experiences that I began to understand that it was far more productive and humane to identify possible employment issues before they became terminable, and how to keep employees from meeting that fate. Unfortunately it took me having to see it to learn it, as this wasn’t taught. What was taught is that HR is about process, rules and bottom line. I know now that it’s about productivity, development and learning to make the best of the resources that we have.

I honestly believe that if new practitioners and students were shown more realistic pictures of what HR does, we’d have a stronger, better equipped crop of advocates that understand our role in companies…making a difference and not just firing the shots. At the very least, we’d weed out those that didn’t necessarily have what it took to be the right type of leader in our industry…or those that could see early on that this wasn’t the field for them.

So no, I’m not going to paint a perfect picture of what I do, because it is tough. It is oftentimes stressful and difficult. The feelings of guilt come and go as I balance emotion with logic and ultimately decide what’s best for employer and employee.

Unlike the young man in the song that was more than likely drafted to do what he did, we had choices. Those new to this profession have even more choices than we did. So while we speak and share our stories and experiences, we must tell all sides, the good and the bad, to help mold those that are committed to this industry and to give those that are on the fence enough information to make their choice…before they become the poorly equipped and uninformed HR people that we end up complaining about in our blogs and at our conferences.

Follow The Signs

When we want certain things so badly, it’s hard for us to read the writing on the wall that says it’s not for us.

Like in high school, when you had a major crush on that special someone, only to finally get a shot and realize they’re a jerk. Then we miserably try to make it work because that is the guy or gal that everyone else wants. That’s the situation that looks good…but it really sucks. That happens in our professional careers as well. The key though is realizing sooner rather than later that it’s OK to leave. Some things are worth the sacrifice, some things are not.

We are all fighters, and that tenacity that we have (when guided) gets us far. We never retreat when faced with a challenge. We stand for what we think is right and that is how we’ve gotten this far.

But I’ve learned that just because something is wanted, doesn’t mean that it’s needed. That place that would be “perfect if…” may not be worth the time, discomfort or struggle that it would take to make it “perfect”. And honestly, if it were perfect, our imperfect self would mess it up.

My wife and I recently visited a place where we both so wanted things to work out a certain way. Our visit was basically a decision-making one. The funny thing about that visit was that everything that caused distractions, discomfort, annoyance or passiveness over the last few years all coincidentally happened in that one trip. What were the odds? And while she is always quick to say, “That’s a sign!” when things like that happen, I actually beat her to it this time. We looked at each other and agreed, “It’s time to move on.”

There are signs that our tenure at certain places has come to an end:

  • Some relationships don’t seem as natural as they once did
  • You find yourself trying to convince yourself that you should be there
  • It’s difficult to be focused and productive because you are easily distracted or angered over the smallest things
  • Some things just don’t feel right anymore, and what used to feel natural and right has become more of a chore or burden

no-reason-to-stayI believe that the quicker we come to grips that it’s time to move forward in our personal or professional missions the easier the transition will be. When we follow the signs and read the proverbial writing on the wall, we are able to amicably part ways and focus on the future. While there are many things worth suffering and fighting through, there are others things that require us to use the right balance of emotion, logic and intuition to determine when they’re not.

Sometimes the missions of our companies do not align with our personal ones. Sometimes the values don’t mix. Sometimes, we just don’t fit. Sometimes, all parties have gotten what they needed out of the relationship and there is nothing left to achieve. And sometimes we’re all moving in different directions, and while it’s painful to part ways, that pain should fuel us to be bolder, stronger and more committed to those things we deem worthy of the fight.

ADApting To Employee Needs

Please visit Performance I Create for my new post on compliance and decency in the workplace.  Here is a sample…

ada“The very foundation of what HR professionals do is ensure that our organizations avoid risk and stay compliant to not only the policies that are established for the company but to Federal regulations and the laws of our particular States.

…compliance is not only about rules and requirements, it’s also about decency, advocacy and respect for current and potential employees and clients…”

Click HERE for the full article and please share!

Check out my post and those of my fellow contributors for relevant, in-your-face, performance altering insight at Performance I Create!

Embrace the Unsexy Stuff

We all want to be able to say we changed the world from the inside out. That’s cool and that’s a great goal. But there are plenty of things in the world that need tweaking from the outside in as well. And unfortunately, those tasks aren’t sexy. They’re needed, but boring and/or tedious.

I have personally been in roles where I am depended on for things that are clearly outside of my area of expertise. I love gadgets, so people think that means I am an IT guy. I’m pretty good with a screwdriver and pliers, but that doesn’t mean I’m Facilities Management. I like to talk, but that doesn’t mean I’m a speaker or Master of Ceremonies. I’m dashingly handsome, but that doesn’t mean I want to model. I love cigars, but that doesn’t mean…yeah, I do know a lot about CigaHrs.

So I’m learning (and it’s a struggle) that maybe people are depending on us for these things because we’re trusted, because we know how to get stuff done, because if we don’t have the answer we’ll help in figuring it out or we have the right connections to solve it. And that’s a beautiful thing…I think.

It causes extra work. Every issue is critical and can’t wait. I’m realizing that the ability to be all things to all people is a talent in itself, and valuable in any setting, whether I see it that way at the time or not.

Getting Stuff Done may not be what’s listed on your degree, but the ability to do it will propel one far further than what they studied in school. Far beyond certifications. It’s all about talking a good game and backing it up. Or not talking at all because you’re too busy doing!

I-can-doSo I’m working on NOT complaining about being asked to do the unsexy stuff and I’m trying to change my mindset that if I know how to do both the Sexy AND Unsexy stuff, I’ll be indispensable… more than normal anyway, as no one in business is completely indispensable. Plus, that stuff still has to get done so who better to tackle it that me!

No task is beneath us, as they all prepare and elevate us to something greater.

Now What?

I am fresh back from a wonderful conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (LASHRM) and I am still pumped up and excited about my profession.

As I emptied my conference bag and began sorting through all of the pamphlets, pens and notes, I reflected and thought to myself, “Now what?”

We go to all of these conferences for development , fellowship, and to meet our Social Media peers and friends in person, but what good is all of that development and fellowship if the organizations that we return to don’t see and reap any benefit?

What are we going to do? What are we going to change? How are we better and will the colleagues we work with daily see it? Or are we just going to hoard all of the cool stuff we learned and keep all of the free pens and water bottles to ourselves.

I saw something special in that convention center, and because of that I’m motivated to share until my colleagues get tired of me.

I had the pleasure of working with my Performance I Create colleagues as the Social Media team for the event. We had a ball, sharing session content, promoting social media, blogging, etc. As the River Center staff began breaking down the exhibit tables and attendees were clearing out, we thought that our work was done. Just then a volunteer approached us and said that there were a couple of attendees that really needed to talk to us. Agreeing, a couple of us walked out to where our Social Engagement Portal was (that staff broke those tables down fast!) and we were immediately hit with a series of questions about how “Social” could help them in their workplace. They wanted to know how to move their thoughts from ideas to execution…and which tools and mediums would be best for what they were trying to accomplish.

connectAs we engaged them (my colleague did most of the talking, ahem), you could see light bulbs not only coming on but exploding. The concepts we spoke of were not complicated. They just needed some of that stuff that we teach and talk about to come off of the screen, out of the blogs and made plain to them in person…right there in their hands so that they could grab it and implement. What they needed was the knowledge that we had gained from doing…ideas that we got from conferences….strategies that we picked up from our peers. They needed it to make sense and tie in to what they were dealing with every day in their organization…and that if they had questions afterwards that they could reach out and get support.

“Don’t just help light bulbs come on, help them explode!” – Justin Harris, 2014

That’s what stuck with me. That’s what made me realize that it’s not that the people upstairs from me don’t care to do things differently, it’s that they don’t know exactly where to start. They have ideas, but they need help planning. Those of us that say we’re experts are needed to reach out occasionally and break it down for them. Because sometimes our messages are too big and they can’t run with that load. If we break the messages into manageable chunks, focus on process instead of the presentation, we’ll see more people grab hold and put the stuff in action.

So it starts in my shop. Being the change that I talk about and helping others to implement. Helping others to get involved and learn more about the tools of our trade. Because the Resources that we have are no good if we are not sharing them with other Humans.

Unlocking Your Full Potential

I look for analogies and learning opportunities in everything. And while making sure not to miss any teachable moments with my children, I often find myself over-analyzing the shows they watch on television and pointing out the life and work lessons in them. I’m actually amazed that my son is still willing to watch his shows with me.

Saying that, one of my son’s favorite toys/shows is Lego Ninjago. Short synopsis, the four main characters are young ninjas that are charged with battling evil doers trying to take over the city of Ninjago and surrounding areas. Early in their development, their Sensei (Wu) taught that each of them had special and unique powers/abilities that they must find within themselves and tap into. This process was often referred to as “Unlocking Their Full Potential”.

Throughout the season, the four ninjas competed with one another, fought alongside one another, trained and eventually believed in their abilities enough to evolve into the Ninja masters they were born to be. But just like with any team, drama and issues arose because some evolved and unlocked potential before others. So as expected, egos were bruised, jealousies arose and self-doubt set in.

Don’t we all know someone like that? People that are so talented and driven…but never quite realize and/or unlock their full potential. Is that you? Carrying so much promise inside, only to have that potential stifled by fear and uncertainty. Do we too often put our dreams on the shelf and under-perform because we’re worried about what others will or won’t say about us or how are teammates might react.

After 13 episodes, the formula for successfully unlocking one’s full potential looked something like this:

SenseiwuteaAccept Tutelage
When someone is available to teach and mentor, take advantage of it! We miss our opportunities to grow and evolve sometimes because we fail to listen to those that have been in our shoes once before. Sometimes we have to just shut up and listen. There are no new issues, just different people having them. There is wisdom out there to be obtained, we just have to be receptive enough to apply the principles that we acquire from those that have been there before.

Patience Is Still a Virtue
In seeking to unlock full potential, one must understand that just because others around them are moving up and ahead, the time still might not be right for you. Be happy that promotion is in the neighborhood and stopping at your neighbor’s home. Being happy and celebrating others for their good fortune will make your wait better and may even bring about something even bigger and better for you! We must be careful of what we ask for because we just might get it before we are ready for it. But that wait makes receiving it just that much better.

Ninjago GroupThere Is Strength In Numbers
We shouldn’t have to go through everything alone. As strong as we are, we still occasionally need support and someone to help us fight through our development difficulties. From cheerleaders…to people to bounce ideas off of…to people to emulate, we need a good team. And don’t worry about your ideas or opportunities being taken from you, as true potential can’t be stolen from you because it’s predestined to be yours. There is no need to be guarded because those around can’t take what’s rightfully yours…and celebrating your successes are a lot more fun with a great group of supporters.

Each of us has something special on the inside that is just waiting to come out and shake the world up. The only thing holding it back is us. Once we listen and learn how to tap into it, exercise patience and surround ourselves with the right influences, there’s no telling how far we can go and how much evil we can defeat.

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