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.


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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When The Wheels Fall Off

Check out my latest post over at Performance I Create, where I highlight the unsung heroes of our organizations. Here is a sample:

Pit Crew…you never really pay attention to them. Names unknown, they focus on doing their job so that others can do theirs. They don’t get the credit they deserve. They are forgotten about in victory and only thought about when things go wrong…Unsung heroes that keep organizations running, on track and winning, while all of the praise goes to the high-profile employee…

Please click HERE to view the remainder of the 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!

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Professional Irrigation

According to Justin’s Labor Statistics, a lot of people get unhappy with their jobs during this time of year.  Holiday sadness and stress can make people feel as if they need a change and the cold and blahness outside affects everyone’s moods.

The-Grass-is-Greener-on-the-Other-SideBut the worst thing to do when feeling blah is to make dramatic, life-altering decisions, like leaving a job just because something looks a little greener across the street.

I liken it to the grass in my yard. I know that during this time of year my yard looks like crap. Everything is brown and dead. But as I drive through my neighborhood, there’s this one house where the landscaping is still immaculate, despite the climate. The yard is full of color and all kinds of pretty crap (I’m a yard hater). While I never see the residents actually in the yard, it’s evident that they are doing something that I’m not. But yet I use their end result as a barometer to measure my success, not fully considering their effort and struggle to achieve the results.

If I want my grass to be green like theirs, I have two choices…take over their house or figure out what it takes to improve MY yard. Notice I didn’t say “figure out what they’re doing and replicate it at my place” because my grass might need different care than theirs.

Even if I were to kick them out and move in, I’d soon learn that if my habits and actions do not change, that once green and supple yard will begin to look just as dry and brown as the one I so eagerly ran from. Just wanting it to be a certain way isn’t enough.  It’s about the work we’re willing to put in to something that yields the results we seek.

Hate your job? Are you watering YOUR grass!?!? Are you tilling the soil, researching what it needs and caring for it properly? Are you investing enough time to make it work or are you just doing the bare minimum that just keeps it presentable? Are you spending the time to get to know it, what it reacts to, much like the relationships with co-workers and clients? Are you tackling your issues with a one-size-fits-all solution (like a mower) or are you using a variety of tools and focusing on details.

Man-watering-grass-in-desert-550x550Picking up and moving without a plan doesn’t fix the issue, you fix the issue. And if it’s deemed unmanageable after you’ve tried everything, by all means, call in the experts or relocate.

By watering your own lawn (current situation), it can be just as green and productive as the next person’s. We can’t prosper always worrying about what someone else has and always thinking that you have to find something else to be happy. The reality is that if you do something different or creative where you are, you’ll create something that others will want to emulate…and there will be no reason or time to hate on the plush greenness in someone else’s yard.

Don’t Tebow Yourself

The old saying “Pride goeth before the fall” helps remind us that we should be careful not to be too proud and overconfident.  Misplaced or ill-timed pride causes us to make mistakes that ultimately lead to our defeat or downfall. This isn’t the “take pride in what you do” kind of pride; but the “You can’t tell me anything…I got this…I’m too good for that…My stuff don’t stink” kind of pride.

New York Giants Vs. New England Patriots At Gillette StadiumRemember Tim Tebow?

  • Heisman-Winning Quarterback
  • 2-time National Champion at the University of Florida
  • Poster boy for good behavior
  • Ex-Denver Bronco
  • Ex-New York Jet
  • Ex New England Patriot.

All of these “Exes” have led him to be an Ex-employee of the National Football League. Not because there weren’t opportunities to play (offers from NFL teams at other positions, The Arena League and The Canadian Football League), but because Timmy has a pride issue.

“Past accomplishments do not guarantee future successes. We must always adapt and be flexible with our plans.”

Mr. Tebow is like many of us today that have our minds made up too early and get stubborn. We are determined to do things our way, even when our way may not be the best for the situation. If it’s not my dream job, then it’s beneath me and I’m not taking it! As a professional athlete, he clearly has talents and abilities, but he wants a position that all 32 of his potential employers don’t want him in or think he’s ready for…right now. He wants to be a quarterback, typically the highest paid, most influential, critical and high profile position on a team. Games are won and lost at this position. Owners invest in and rest the future of their entire company on the skill, decision making and leadership qualities of this one person.

3t0rvwWe want positions or jobs right now that we are not ready for…right now. It may be that we need to learn a different skill, grow to become more familiar with that particular organization and how they do things, or we may quite frankly need to take what we can for now, show our value and move up in the company! Who does that anymore? Right, that’s the problem. Everyone wants to graduate and move straight to the C-Suite. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

To help put things in perspective, as a Nashvillian, I’m a Tennessee Titans fan. On game day, our “reserve” or 3rd quarterback is Damian Williams, a Wide Receiver who has admitted that he has no interest in playing that position and hopes that he never has to! All it would take for him to assume the quarterback position during a game is 2 bad plays; one injuring Jake Locker (the starter) and another injuring Ryan Fitzpatrick (the backup). But he’s there, he’s dressed for the game (being paid) and while his chance of taking the reins on game day is minuet, he has one. And isn’t it better to have the chance of winning a shot at the position you want while being employed, than to be sitting at home (not being paid) hoping that someone will bring your name up when there’s a need or an opening.

The bad pride will cause us to be underemployed and unemployed. Everyone can’t start at the top. Somebody has to occupy the other roles on the team and those roles are critical to the team having depth in case something happens. And when that un-glamorous work is done well with the good pride, people take notice and opportunities come available. Decision makers in your building will see and recognize your character, work ethic and commitment to the company, along with your willingness to help in whatever capacity to help the team win. A position may even be created FOR you if you make the most of your opportunities, but there are NO options if you’re not even on the roster.

“Get on the roster and then we can talk about dream jobs.” – Justin Harris, 2013

Job Security Is A Choice

One thing I’ve notice concerning organizations that have long tenured employees is that all of the knowledge is bottled up, not to be shared with new comers. When succession planning is not a concern…and when the information “Haves” are not willing to share with the “Have Nots”, chances are that the knowledge and foundation of the company will die or retire with the exiting employee.

job-securitySad really, because one would tend to think that the longer an employee has been with a company, the more they would love it! When I love something, I want it to last. To carry on and prosper when I’m gone. Am I questioning the love some tenured employees have for their organization? Yep. I question it because when information is not shared and passed down, what the “love” actually amounts to is insecurity and a selfish desire for the organization to fail without you. The misguided love fuels the misconception that keeping knowledge under lock-and-key increases one’s job security.

The worst thing that this employee experiences after they leave is that they don’t get that phone call begging for info or for assistance. At that point, they start to think, “Was I really as valuable as I thought?” The answer is yes, but what we have to realize is that to be successful, we have to put our trust in systems, processes, not individual egos. The people in the systems are critical to the execution, but the system has to be strong and sound enough to work for the employees that are remaining.

A perfect example of this is the New England Patriots football team. One philosophy that they preach and practice is that no one person on the TEAM is more important than the TEAM. The moment a player shows that they are more concerned with self, they’re cut. The “Patriot Way” outweighs how great and wonderful any individual thinks they are.

brady to teamWhen star quarterback Tom Brady went down with a season-ending injury early in 2008, the #2 quarterback, Matt Cassel, stepped up and helped lead the team to an 11-5 record, hardly missing a beat. Could they have done even better with the star? I’m almost certain they would have. But because a strong system and philosophy was in place, the mentee was trained, knowledgeable and ready to go when his number was called. It was missing a major contributor, their star, but the show had to go on without him because games still had to be played.

To be a real star, it’s not just about how you are performing during the game or while you’re wowing your clients or solving problems like only you can. What makes you a star is how you are sharing that knowledge with those around you. How you are working to help your department or division to solve those same issues in your absence. It’s about how much better you make your teammates. True stars don’t have to worry about whether or not their job will be taken. Job security is not about how much you know, but about how much value you are adding to the team. Hoarding doesn’t add value, so you’re more expendable than you think.

Tom Brady, once healed, was right back at the helm to lead his team. Because his presence off the field was just as valuable to the organization as his game-day performance. He made and continues to turn unknown players into valuable commodities by tutoring and developing…adding value. The actions of true stars prove their worth daily without the need to hoard information and organizational secrets. Let those that are coming behind you have that piece of info or that particular responsibility, as that should free you up to be a star in another needed area, thus truly showing your worth to the organization.

Stop being stingy and start sharing. You might last longer.


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Blogaversary | Holy Grail

In May of 2012 I was forced to make many tough professional decisions. While trying to find my way, I did what self-help folks have been preaching for years…make goals, write them down and post them where I can see them everyday.

Holy GrailI accepted the challenge. Because these goals were being drafted at a professionally unfulfilling time, it was difficult planning long-term while short-term hell was all around me. To escape the hell, I had to run toward something, not just from something. I had to make sure that the goals I set were not a destination, but a never-ending journey for sustained success. I needed a “Quest” to prove myself to myself, but I didn’t want to find comfort in achievements as we often times do.

I wrote 20 goals in all, 12 of which I actually accomplished. 4 of the main goals/checkpoints for the year were:

  • Start and maintain a blog
  • Get a twitter account and attract 500 meaningful followers
  • Get more involved with SHRM, locally and nationally
  • Attain HR certification

Checkpoint 1: Blogging
I barely knew what a blog was a year ago. On July 16, 2012, I started ruHRelevant.com because I couldn’t let my thoughts and philosophies be buried in the bureaucracy and routine of “traditional” HR. My first post was Are You Listening To Your Body, addressing the lack of communication I saw coming from management in these traditional environments.

My little blog now has a regular following and I also contribute to a multi-contributor site called Performance I Create with 9 other rock stars. But I’m thirsty for more.

blog picCheckpoint 2: Social Media
This time last year I had a barely active twitter account that I hardly looked at. It was hard for me to get into it and I couldn’t figure out why everyone was using “pound signs”! But I was amazed at the number of practitioners that were willing to teach and share their expertise with me through this medium. When people down and across the hall would hold back info and knowledge, my connections around the world poured into me directly and indirectly. In one year I’ve obtained over 900 meaningful followers and I’m learning from them daily. But I am still thirsty for more!

TNSHRMCheckpoint 3: MTSHRM and SHRM
Having never attended a SHRM conference, I’ve been really looking forward to opportunities to meet many of my fellow practitioners face-to-face and to soak up as much knowledge as possible. Shortly after rejoining my local chapter, I was given the opportunity to join the Social Media team for the TNSHRM13 state conference here in Nashville. I’ll be treating my time there like I’m headlining…and ensuring that everyone there knows how to do the Wobble. It’s still not enough though. I want more.

phrCheckpoint 4: Certification
At the time I had written out my goal list, I had already failed my Professional in Human Resources (PHR) once. So that was my grail of grails. I spent an insane amount of time preparing. Maintaining balance was extremely difficult…family time, work, and my new writing commitments. On June 8, 2013, after 2 years of attempts and exactly 1 year to the date of putting the goal on paper, I attained my HR certification. I learned a lot not only from the books and tests but also from the process itself. Though the PHR has been attained, the desire for more knowledge and understanding cannot end with the letters.

This post serves as a challenge, and a reminder for myself that we cannot get complacent when accomplishments are marked off of our lists. Our goals should merely be checkpoints and rest stops along the way to bigger and better things. Reaching one grail must motivate and propel us to the next.

This has been a great year for us. And I will continue to chase multiple grails, because they can only hold so much at a time…and my thirst for impact and achievement in this world can’t be contained in just one. And while the cup runneth over and I drink, I’m already planning for the next…and I believe that we will all benefit from the overflow.

Stay thirsty my friends!

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