The last couple of weeks have left me with some very muddled thinking about life, randomness and impact.
First, my favourite neighbour from our old haunts let me know an older gent on our street was just given six to 12 months to live. Understandably, his wife is entirely beside herself with emotions. Here in our new digs, at the end of September, a beloved businessman went to bed and never woke up. At 48, he had a massive heart attack and left a young wife and two kiddies under the age of ten. Then in the last five days, a beautiful lady at my non-profit group passed after a short bout with cancer. At 76, she died a year earlier than my Mother did.
Trying to make sense of all this is futile. Reading, listening and savouring the kind thoughts of others though made me realise a few things. That is what I want to share with you today.
We are hurtling to the same endpoint
Given the size of the underground economy and the collective disdain for paying taxes, I fear there is now just one certainty, not the two we used to have. Death. And one day, we will all get there. What I find very interesting though is after we are gone,
Our friends and family rarely talk about what was important to US
What has struck me over the last few weeks is that the folks we leave behind don’t spend much time writing or talking about what WE thought was so important.
You already know I look at the world a bit differently. So, it should come as no surprise to you that when someone dies, I look at the dash — between the date they were born and the date they died — as their life. And I am always curious about how big or impactful that dash is.
Do you know what? I have yet to read or listen to others discuss the deceased’s opinions about politics, or views on the world. His or her freak-outs about kids and grands. Their frustrations about business, careers, life and battles with either every day living or worse, demons and diseases.
Nor the number of cars they owned, the big cottage, the size of their bank account, or even the massive designer kitchen they had done to the “T”.
I have never read about the particular battles waged that caused the migraines, anxiety attacks and ulcers, nor have I read about the months deep in anguish agonising over that big move. Or the many fights and emotions about something.
And all those petty annoyances that plagued; nor the visits to the hospital for surprise things. Not even the divorce or two some notched along the way.
Occasionally, we might read about the politely worded ‘war waged’ against disease or sometimes even the huge mental toll the demons took. And sometimes, someone will be incredibly funny or witty or cheeky and completely bowl us over with humour or irreverence.
But in the main, most of the stories, the fond remembrances, the best parts are in the reading, listening and understanding about
Other people’s feelings, thoughts and emotions about US
Yes! We almost always talk about the impact the other person had on us. How the other person (the deceased) made US feel.
Have you noticed it is often something about a specific character trait we admired so deeply – backed up with a story – so endearing, so sweet, so compelling, so whatever. We talk a lot about sharing and caring, support, hugging, laughter, and fun, and fits of giggles, and just profound decency.
Most of all, we try to focus in on the KINDNESS of the person.
Do you see that after we dispense with the bare-bone basics, we zero in on how the other person made us feel? Their personal impact on us! The bigger and more positive the impact, the better the person.
It is because we frail human beings live and breathe emotions that
We really prefer to emphasize the kindness of the person
So, against that backdrop, here is my million dollar question.
How do YOU make a more significant impact with your dash in YOUR (professional) life?
Whether you own your own business or whether you are a mid to senior executive in someone else’s business, you have a fantastic opportunity. Right inside of you. For the eight to twelve hours a day that you work with your team of human beings.
Put your people first!
I can hear some of you scoffing. The tough and respected excellence leader has gone soft and mushy. Definitely not. When you show your employees kindness, your profit doors open wide and your dash makes a maximum impact. Really.
Here are a few very simple ideas to get you started
- Remember the old MBWA? Management by Walking Around? Remember how cool it was to have your favourite boss drop in? Try it yourself. Nab your peeps in the hallway. Or the kitchen. Or by the water cooler. Invite them for a coffee (virtual or real). Just get in front of them. For something as simple as “how’s it going?” You will be amazed at what you learn.
- The phrase ‘thank you’ is incredibly powerful. Use it. Every day. With everyone you meet. Especially when you don’t feel like it. Make it second nature and genuine. Say it with a smile.
- Try avoiding making your next big decisions all by your lonesome. Ask your employees for their input, and then communicate back to them that they spoke and you listened. And while we are at it, talk to the employees who have the right information. If you want to know about the customers, ask the front line. If you want to know about the back end stuff, ask the scheduling or admin staff. Be specific about both the problem and the employees you ask.
- Smile. This one seems so simple why would I even put it on the list? Because far too many of us get so caught up in our ‘stuff’, we believe we don’t have time for a genuine smile to the people we are dealing with. Why is that? We all feel better when we receive a genuine smile. Yet, some of us can be so cheap in giving them out!
- Replace one weekly Staff Meeting with a Thank You Meeting. The only agenda item? Your successes!
- When a new employee starts on Day One, clap the employee out of the building at the end of his/her day.
- Distribute a quiz about every new hire. The person with the most correct answers wins a company T-shirt (or something equally cheap and cheerful) with the new hire’s face on it.
- Allow every employee to self-select their title. What harm could possibly happen if Sally was the Sunshine officer or Harry was the Delivery Ninja?
- Give your employees verbal feedback monthly or every other week. We all know that annual performance conversations NEVER work, right? So change things up and make those out of date processes work!
- Identify people who are low performers or have a toxic attitude. Help them improve and if they don’t within a three to six-month time frame, EXIT them from the business.
- Every employee needs and wants to see that what they do every day has meaning and adds value. So re-write all individual goals to align with both yours and the CEO’s goals. That way, everyone is in harmony and working towards identical outcomes.
- Celebrate! Every day. Throughout your entire organization, there is someone, somewhere who is doing something worth celebrating. (Hint: we humans love to have fun—even for just a few minutes. Giggles and laughter are massively contagious and make the day go quickly. And there is NO law anywhere that says any level within an organization is not allowed to have fun.)
When you review this list, on first blush some of these might go against your grain. Take a closer look. So many of these are easy to implement ideas that show boldly you care, that do inspire more kindness AND most importantly engage your employees – regardless of their age, gender or race.
Engagement is the thing that is in very short supply these days. And in my experience, engagement is one of the easiest things to build into any organization.
No single idea here will do the trick or be the magic bullet. You know that. However, a bunch of these taken together will have a massive ROI on your bottom line. And simultaneously make a significant impact to the size and feel of your dash. Want to know more? Give me a call.
To your success!