A Fresh Look at Career and Success

Its time to dust off the resume. Not because of a job search, but rather to gain a new perspective on your career and how it lines up with “success.”

Winston Churchill

If you were to take your resume and truly list the successes and failures without all of the hype, what would it look like? Try it. Take out a piece of paper and make three columns. List the jobs you have held in column one. Next list the major initiatives in column two that you tried to accomplish while in that role. Finally, list either the word success, failure or mixed in the third column.

Let me show you an example of Winston Churchill’s executive career (partial list). It might just give you new insight on your own leadership career.

Job Major Initiatives Result
First Lord of Admiralty
(1911-1915)
Power Conversion Project
Naval Air Corps
Tank Development Project
Dardenelles Offensive
Success
Success
Success
Failure
Munitions Minister
(1917-1919)
Streamlining Ministry
Output Increases
Success
Success
Sec. of State Air & War
(1919-1920)
Russian Invervention
Demobilization
Failure
Success
Colonial Secretary
(1920-1922)
Home Rule for Ireland
Middle East Reorg
Mixed
Success
Chancellor
(1924-1929)
Gold Standard Restoration
Income Tax Reduction
Tax Reform
Coal Strike Mediation
Failure
Success
Failure
Failure
First Lord of Admiralty
(1939-1940)
Norwegian Offensive Failure
Prime Minister
(1940-1945)
World War II Success
Prime Minister
(1951-1955)
Cold War Settlement Failure

Do you see the strings of failure in the midst of success? If you were gut honest and laid your career out like this, what would it say?

Here is what Churchill said as he looked back over his career and his many failures and his success:

“Success is going from failure to failure without loss of confidence.”

Fresh perspective is the ability to look holistically over a person’s life without getting absorbed in the minutia of a 2-3 year portion of a career. Think bigger, friends. Stretch your perspective to look at the larger mural of your life as it plays out in this world. It will bring much relief to the moments of insecurity and gloom.

Guard your confidence on the road through failure.

A Conference Call in Real Life

When you’re working with people from multiple locations, sometimes the easiest way to communicate with them is through video conference calling. This is something we’ve utilized with teams stretching across the US, the UK, Romania, and more. It’s made a huge difference in how we do business and has provided us with opportunities to serve more people than we would have been able to otherwise.

With all of these benefits, though, video conferencing is not without its hiccups. Instead of writing about our experience, we decided to share with you a video that wholly captures some of the common pains of conference calling.

Enjoy!

One More Thing

Don’t forget to check out Leadercast! You can learn more by visiting the Leadercast website.

Apprenticeship Squared II

Two years after I’d apprenticed our son Matt in the art of cleaning windows and about the time he started waving nice stacks of checks in the face of his little brother, Michael, that little brother asked Matt if he could wash windows too.

Seeing a business opportunity – to move from labor to management – Matt heartily agreed to teach Michael the ropes. I stepped back and watched, skeptical about how this would turn out.

Apprenticeship Squared II

The Next Apprentice?

It began well enough. Matt did what I had done for him: he took Mic to the back porch, wet the window and demonstrated the simple stroke of pulling a squeegee across the face of the window, turning the other direction, then turning again, right down the bottom. “It’s simple,” Matt assured him.

“Hmm,” I muttered. “Danger ahead.” Read more

Building Confidence in Your Voice

As a young leader and communicator, I allowed the green monster of envy influence in my life for far too long. Everyone was better than me. I spent years comparing myself to others who were more persuasive, who had larger audiences, and were more compelling. These were unnecessary wasted years of self-doubt and I’d like to give you two things that can help you to build confidence in your voice.

1. Don’t underestimate the uniqueness of the voice you bring to the table.

One of the things I am most passionate about in my role at GiANT is the opportunity to help others become aware of the unique voice they bring to the table. We talk about five voices that exist within a team and how we are wired up to access some voices more naturally than others. You have a unique voice and a set of experiences and perspectives underneath that voice that your team needs to hear.

2. Remember that what is obvious to you, is not always obvious to others.

This is one of those understandings that has potential to bring immediate breakthrough in how you communicate on your team. One of the reasons I didn’t always speak out was because I felt that what was obvious to me was obvious to everyone. That is simply not true. While there may be some on the team who share your perspective already, it’s always good to communicate simply and clearly what your perspective is.

Stop looking around at how gifted and confident other people seem to be and trust that your unique voice will make a significant contribution.

What have been early lessons you’ve learned in finding your voice?

Is Corporate Training Working?

I became aware recently of a trend that appears to be the growing norm in corporate training. Most training these days seems to involve gifted, intelligent leaders putting their best thoughts into some sort of presentation and communicating how to do something to the audience. After a skilled trainer masters the basics of the content (s)he delivers, they are likely also to innovate and come up with new and sticky ways to communicate their target principles. The message gets better and better.

Is Corporate Training Working

Or does it?

If the purpose of training is to bring another individual to a level of competence in any area, how can a trainer be sure that their content is actually being transferred? For training to bounce back and forth between instruction and innovation misses a key point in the process-imitation.

How can anyone be sure that the content is truly being transferred into a skill without a process of observed behaviors and feedback. A more productive model involves boots on the ground exercises using live ammunition in real life. This allows the one seeking to grow in competence by hearing the instruction, watching it applied, trying it out, and receiving valuable feedback and coaching. The best innovation occurs in this model, because the student and the leader can both engage in the dynamic of exploring better ways or methods in the context of a real situation. This can guard a culture from becoming eloquent in ineffective practices that sound great but do not truly build a competent leader.

On Culture: Change vs. Innovation

How do you know when something is changing versus innovating?

I am in the innovation business. My personality testing heavily labels me an innovator. So do my friends, family and others.

I am also in the change business. Again, my testing shows that I like change and so does my history.

So how do you know when something is innovating or if something is changing?

The reality is when innovation occurs, change happens in accordance to the scope of that innovation. Similarly, when change occurs, things adapt to the change in the form of innovation.

The secret is in the intent of the leader of the particular change or innovation. And since most people don’t like change I think it is important for you to go through a process of determining which is which. Here is a template that might help…

1. What is the leader or person trying to do? For instance, President Obama wants to reform health care in the United States. Is this innovation or change? He says he wants every applicable American to have health insurance. They currently do not. By asking what the leader is trying to do you can see if it is simply an innovation of an older system or wholesale change. In this example I believe he is seeking change over innovation.

2. What are the positives and negatives of either the change or innovation? I find that, as adults, if we will simply list the positive implications and or negative outcome (almost as a worst case scenario) it will reign in the emotions and exaggerations that typically come from media frenzy or co-worker gossip.

3. What will happen if we don’t innovate or we don’t change? While most people are afraid of change, I believe they would really be afraid of what would happen if no innovation happened. What happens to companies when they don’t innovate to meet the needs of customers or industries? The answer: they go out of business and people lose their jobs. Is innovation or change bad then?

Innovation can be extremely rewarding and it can be messy.

Change can be very fun and it most likely will be frustrating.

The secret to managing your emotions and understanding change is to diagnose the intent of the leader of change, review the pros and cons, and ask the hard questions of what would happen if we didn’t innovate.

You might just find yourself engaged like never before because you understand what people are trying to accomplish and you can choose to follow or protest. In turn, that may cause you to enjoy change and innovation more than you ever thought possible.