I took time to read this book between Christmas and New Years, and it provided a few great insights and ideas for me to pursue as I seek to clarify my beliefs, values, and priorities.
While I’m still wrestling with Smith’s assertion that the pursuit of personal inner peace is the ultimate goal of man. I deeply agree with the thought that we can make a big difference in our lives and in the lives of those around us by clarifying our beliefs, by confirming our governing values, and by intentionally managing our time.
The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference?is a quick read that will challenge readers to fill the gaps they may have in their beliefs, values, and time. Personally, I was challenged after reading The 3 Gaps to write my own personal constitution, to define my governing values, and to practice the discipline of daily planning. If you are looking for a book with practical advice to help you stretch, you should consider picking up a copy of this book.
(Please note: I received a copy of The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference? for free as a gift from Becky Robinson at Weaving Influence. I was not required to provide a favorable review. I believe this book can be a helpful tool for being more intentional with your life.
Also to note: There are affiliate links in this post. Should you purchase The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference? by clicking one of these links, I receive a small percentage of the purchase. These funds are used to support The Stretched Blog and to extend ministry and missions to Guatemala. Thank you!)
Last week, I traveled to Phoenix for a management conference for my company. I was asked to present an idea as part of a “Shark Tank” competition. This meant presenting four times in front of the top line management in my company. I spent a week before the meeting preparing my ideas and my presentation. During the presentations, I had the opportunity to ask for an investment to implement my idea. In each session, I had ten minutes to present my ideas and ten minutes to answer questions from the sharks and the audience.
Competing against three other finalists, I was not certain of the outcome. I’m happy to report, my project won the competition and the investment to move ahead.
My experience in Phoenix was exciting, uplifting, inspiring, and educational. Specifically, I learned a lot through my shark tank experience. Here’s what I learned:
1. Be creative. When I was asked to come with ideas to submit to the Shark Tank contest, I had to put my thinking cap on. In order to have opportunities, you have to be creative.
2. Be bold. Dream big, and don’t be afraid to ask for investments. When I initially submitted my idea, I wasn’t thinking large enough. After getting feedback and advice from others, I decided to triple my request for investment. We limit ourselves and the potential to do great things when we fail to be bold in our dreams.
3. Be prepared. To be ready to face a panel of sharks and an active audience, you have to be prepared. You must know your idea. You must understand the math behind your request. You must consider all the questions you will get. In my case, I also had to make sure my technology was working properly before my presentations.
4. Be flexible. Things don’t always go as planned. You might forget a key point in your presentation. The technical side of your presentation make not work correctly. Your demonstration may not function the way you expected. You have to adapt. You have to keep going.
5. Be willing to ask for help. I have been very busy at work, and I had to ask for help from my peers. I tapped into someone to help me with the technical side of my presentation. I asked someone to watch me rehearse. I asked a couple of people to help me with the actual presentation. It takes a village, and we have to be willing to use the village.
6. Be grateful. This was an amazing opportunity. I am so thankful for all the people who made it happen. Over the next few days, I will be writing many thank you notes to express my appreciation.
7. Be friendly. In the green room, I had the opportunity to talk with the other finalists. We shared our ideas. We encouraged each other. There is a tendency to be hostile when dealing with our competition – especially in the business world. In the golden rule of business presentations, we should treat others the way we want to be treated.
8. Be humble. Deflect praise to others. I appreciated the exposure to top line management, and I want the notoriety that comes with this opportunity. But I want to make sure others are recognized for their efforts. It’s possible to be confident and humble at the same time, and humility is an important virtue worth pursuing and practicing in business and in life.
9. Be confident. During the practices for my presentation, it became clear I was not being direct in my request for funds. Thanks to some coaching, I shifted by sales pitch. I was able to be more confident in my presentation when I realized how much I believed in my idea.
10. Be gracious. I had an opportunity to get positive feedback from so many top line managers as a result of my presentation. I also had the opportunity to respond to some tough questions from the sharks and the audience. In all cases, providing a polite and courteous response was the best way to represent my idea, my office, and myself.
11. Be ready to take the next step. After I received the news that my project won the contest, I was initially very happy. Then I realized the work was just beginning. Getting the funding for my project was only the beginning. Now, I have to fully develop my implementation plan and execute on this plan. There is a lot of work ahead.
12. Be inspired. Towards the end of the day, I sat in on the presentation for one of the other finalists. It was exciting to hear their idea. My shark tank experience reminded me that people have great ideas. We just need to stop long enough to listen. As a result of my experience, I’m inspired to promote a local innovation day or experience in my own office.
13. Be inspiring. I cannot tell you how many people came up to me to comment on my idea. They are excited to try something like this in their location. When you put yourself out there, you have the opportunity to inspire. Don’t waste the opportunity.
Now, it’s time to get busy implementing my shark tank idea. It’s also time to continue dreaming. We all have the opportunity to be innovative.
Several months ago, Matt McWilliams encouraged his readers to establish and maintain weekly one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. At the time, I was contemplating what I could do to connect with my team on a deeper level.
As an operations manager in the construction industry, I’m challenged to balance my time as I’m responsible to make sure my group is operating as planned. I meet with my team members monthly on an individual basis to review their projects to review their projects from a financial, resource, risk, and customer perspective. These monthly meetings, which typically last about an hour, provide a pretty good snapshot of things from a business perspective, but they don’t provide a lot of time for diving deeper personally.
I’m also responsible for participating in other department and company meetings. Again, these meetings are important for certain aspects of our business success, but they typically don’t provide opportunity for connecting on a more personal level.
I’ve heard it said that “It’s business, it’s NOT personal.” Well, I disagree. As a Christian leader in the workforce, I have a responsibility (and privilege) to represent Christ well. For me, this means our relationships in the business world are meant to be personal.
This is the question that rolled around in my head as I read Matt’s post. I have so many things on my plate already. One-on-one meetings just don’t fit into my already busy schedule.
But Matt challenged me with this question:
And so…I took Matt’s challenge and encouragement to heart. I’ll confess, I haven’t followed Matt’s recipe exactly. Instead of weekly one-on-one
We talk about business and the challenges that they are facing on a project or assignment. And we also talk about life outside of work. I’ve learned about their interests, their passions, and their families.meetings, I started with monthly one-on-one meetings. For the most part, these meetings have been 30-40 minutes each. I use a one-page outline to guide our discussion and to take notes which helps me capture details of our discussion. With 12 direct reports, these notes have been essential to helping me remember our conversations. And it helps with my follow through on any action items that I have taken from our meeting. (NOTE: You can download Matt’s one-on-one meeting template here.)
It makes all the difference in the world.
The average working person spends 9-10 hours of their days at work – every day. (That’s two-thirds or more of their waking hours). Most people work over 2100 hours every year. If my math is correct, most people work about 80,000 hours in their life time. However you do the math, we spend a lot of time at work.
We are relational beings. We are made to connect with others and to be in community with others.
We are missing a huge opportunity to connect with others if we go to work, come home, get our paycheck, but fail to connect with our co-workers.
My one-on-one meetings have helped me be intentional in connecting with my team. It’s helped my team to feel more connected to me. And it’s also helped my team succeed from a business perspective.
I’m so thankful I listened to Matt and started having one-on-one meetings with my team.
Rewarding employees appropriately is a key aspect of improving employee performance. It’s essential that employees are recognized for a job well done. Sometimes this recognition is tied to a monetary reward, and sometimes it’s necessary to find non-monetary methods for rewarding your team.
Inappropriate rewards could easily work against the overall performance of the business and it’s employees. Rewarding employees who don’t deserve could be argued as grace, but this kind of “reward” sends the wrong message to employees, and it sets teams up for mediocrity.
Appropriate rewards push individual performance to new levels, and they raise the bar on overall company performance. Here are a few reward types for you to consider as you seek to improve your team and company.
I’m sure there are some other ways to reward employees. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above list and your ideas for rewarding employees. Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.
For more great articles on this topic:
When my son was a toddler, he struggled when it was time to do something else like go to bed, take a bath, or get in the car. He was busy doing something else, and he didn’t like an abrupt end to what he was doing. After enduring several tantrums, my wife came up with a plan. She suggested we give Isaac a ten minute warning before it was time to do the next thing. This gave him the chance to finish up what he was doing, and it gave him a heads up that something else was coming. This strategy worked wonders in how Isaac handled transitions.
I was reminded of this the other day when I was talking with fellow youth leaders at our church. We were talking about being ready to interact with students at least ten minutes before our meeting starts. This requires me to put aside my thoughts from my previous appointments.
Too often, I abruptly move from one appointment on my schedule to the next without the opportunity to shift my mindset. If I’m going to practice the discipline of being present, I must learn to first practice the discipline of transitioning well. A solid plan for transition will help me make the most of my experiences before and after my schedule shifts from one thing to another.
Here are four tips for being intentional about your times of transition from one activity to the next:
As I head into a busy day at the office, these are tips I need to remember TODAY.
I spend my “free time” in the car or on the treadmill listening to podcasts, so I can learn more. On my nightstand, I have a few leadership books. I listen to 150 podcasts every week, and I read through (or skim through) over 330 blogs whenever there is a new post.
I stand by the saying “Leaders are readers.”
But I think I sometimes take it too far.
When I say I want to do the right thing, I mean this:
I don’t want to mess up when it comes to these areas of my life (and other areas). I’m a perfectionist. Unfortunately, I get it wrong if these are my pursuits.
I want to be a great Christ-follower. If I can get this right, the other things should take care of themselves. If I’m serious about this proclamation – if I’m serious about wanting to be a great Christ-follower, I should do what God says.
What is the number one way to do what God says?
If you want to do what God says, you have to know what God says.
“But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:9-11
If I want to follow Christ, I have to start by digesting God’s Word. Spending time in God’s Word does not happen with a closed, dust-covered Bible on the coffee table. It happens when I open it up, when I study it, and when I take time to chew on it. Only then can I truly do what God says.
If you want to do the right thing, start with God’s Word.
This week, I’m in the middle of the performance management process for my team members. This is an annual opportunity to provide feedback to my team members on their performance over the past year. I could be easy to rush through this process which is required by my company. I could simply write a couple of sentences about each team member and move on to the next year.
Taking this approach doesn’t do my team members any favors, and it doesn’t help my team or the company get better. A well thought out and carefully executed performance review can be the bedrock of success for your team and your company.
In today’s post, I offer ten ways to get the most out of the performance management process. This is written from a managers perspective; however, this is a great reference for those who don’t manage direct reports. After reading today’s post, you may want to suggest that your supervisor start this type of performance management process for you. You may simply want to tweak what is already happening at your job.
Whether you are a manager of direct reports or not, I hope you’ll find this list helpful in understanding ways to get better. Success doesn’t happen by accident. Success happens by being intentional, and this list offers suggestions – no, essentials – for being intentional with the performance management process.
Here’s an interesting article to go along with this post:
After seeing our nutritionist, I changed by morning routine. I used to do cardio and leave a little time for lifting at the end. Now, I lift first before I do the cardio part of my workout. Yesterday morning, I was at the gym when one of the trainers started watching me as I spent time on a few of the strength machines. He interrupted me a few times to give me tips on how to more effectively use the machines. Then he took me over to a few other pieces of apparatus to show me a few other strengthening exercises. Again, I just needed a little expert advice to get me heading in the right direction.
Last night, I contacted a garage door expert to help me with a problem with one of my garage doors. When he came over, he made a few adjustments and recommendations, and my garage door started working properly again. I just needed a little expert advice.
My natural tendency is to do things on my own. I don’t like asking for help, but I don’t have time to figure everything out by myself. Sometimes it pays to call in the experts. I must learn to practice the discipline of getting expert advice. This discipline will save me a lot of time and aggravation when I hit a roadblock.
If you are like me, you probably struggle to practice the discipline of getting expert advice. Here are a few ways expert advice will help you stretch:
Earlier this summer, I was elected to be president of my Toastmasters International club. It was an honor to be selected for this position, but it also comes with a lot of work. I have to kick-off and close our club’s bi-weekly meetings. I have to plan and lead our club’s executive committee meetings. And I have to interface with fellow officers, club members, and guests.
One of my responsibilities as the club president and member of the club executive committee is to create a Club Success Plan. Essentially, this is a document to record the club’s current status, challenges, and goals for the coming term. And the Club Success Plan provides a place to write down a plan for overcoming obstacles and achieving our goals.
This week spent time completing the Club Success Plan, and I’m excited for the results when we look back at the plan throughout the term and at the end of the term in June.
As I was working on the plan, I reflected on the importance of writing a success plan for other areas of our lives.
What do you want to accomplish this year? What goals do you want to achieve?
Do you have a plan to get there?
Typically, we talk about goals at the beginning of the year. Everyone gets hyped up on New Year’s Resolutions. The enthusiasm lasts for a few weeks or even a few months before we settle back into our normal existence trying to survive the pushes and pulls of our busy lives.
By the time we get to this time of year, our resolutions and goals are long forgotten, and we are trying to make it to the next weekend.
As Benjamin Franklin said, many of us fail to achieve our goals because we fail to create a plan for getting where we want to go.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to fail. I like to succeed. I like to achieve. I like to make progress towards my goals.
Writing a personal success plan doesn’t have to take forever. You can write a success plan for yourself using these simple steps:
If you’ve been hanging around for a while, you know I’ve written quite a bit about delegation over the past year. I wish I had found this quote earlier to include with these posts.
When I did come across this quote, I was reminded how we have the opportunity to stretch our team members by delegating. We do ourselves and our team members a disservice when we fail to delegate. Take time today to delegate.