Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"The Sand Beneath My Feet"

I often go to the beach to watch and listen to the waves.  Not having grown up near the ocean, I never knew much about the tides and how they affect the beaches. Now that I’ve lived in Laguna Beach a few years, I’ve begun to notice how storm tides erode and then rebuild these sea-side landscapes: first there will be endless sand and then there will be only the rocks that were previously hidden beneath.

The same can be said about the lives we lead: we think we know what’s going on and then things change.  And like the sand on the beach, most things are not entirely what they seem and subject to change. Take a moment on this Thanksgiving weekend to notice and be thankful for all that you have.  And realize that like the sand on the beach, all that you know and have can change in an instant.

My message this week is about loyalty – something to give judiciously and to then be thankful (especially during this holiday of Thanksgiving) for all that it gives you in return.

“Loyalty is something you give regardless of what you get back and in giving loyalty, you're getting more loyalty; and out of loyalty flow other great qualities.”
 -Charles Jones

All of the great values we read and write about seem to be interconnected and loyalty may be the one at the hub of them all.  Think of the people and things you’re loyal to and then note the other great qualities that come from that loyalty.  Friendship, success, pride, professionalism, integrity, team spirit and passion are a few that immediately come to mind.  These are the qualities and values that you hope to find in others, and certainly they’re the ones to which you aspire.  But to get loyalty you need to give it and that means you must be true to your work, forgiving in your nature and understanding in a complex and competitive world.  Look for ways to give loyalty today and then start to see the loyalty (and all those other great qualities) that comes back to you in return. And if I didn’t know better, I’d swear this was another way to describe and define The Golden Rule.

Colonel Charles Edward ("Chuck") Jones (November 4, 1952 – September 11, 2001) was a United States Air Force officer, a computer programmer and an astronaut in the USAF Manned Spaceflight Engineer Program.  He was killed in the attacks of September 11, 2001, aboard American Airlines Flight 11.

PS: a Google search produced several individuals with the name of Charles Jones, and while I am not exactly certain which one was the author of this quote, my head and heart wanted it to be the adventurer noted here.

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Stay well!

Friday, November 19, 2010

I'm Only Doing This For Your Own Good

I traveled to Phoenix this week to give a speech to a group of hospitality GMs and HR leaders.  The speech was about things your Mother told you that apply at work, like: “I’m only doing this for your own good”.  It’s fun to watch the reactions I get when I ask people to raise their hands if their mothers said this and other things like: “this hurts me more than it hurts you”.  These gems (and lots of others) can be found in a book called Momilies – As My Mother Used To Say by Michele Slung - I highly recommend it as a source of smart things you can say to remind colleagues and friends about what’s important.  But I digress.

In the audience was a woman I recruited 22 years ago to be an intern during the opening of the Mirage.  Back then she was a UNLV Hotel School sophomore who wasn’t sure what she wanted as her concentration; she ended up working for me for the three remaining years of her undergraduate program and then I lost track of her.  Fast forward 22 years and she’s now the Director of HR at a major Scottsdale resort, and she told me she credits her career and success to things I told her all those years ago.  The moral of this story is that you never know what impact the things you say and do might have on someone.  I was thrilled to see the professional she’d become and humbled by the knowledge that my efforts helped in her development.  Take time this week to reach out to someone and help them to find their way.

My message this week has to do with deciding where to go in life:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the one who'll decide where to go.”  Dr. Seuss

To think like an owner, from your head to your shoes, is certainly something that that only the you that’s in you can choose.  For this you’ll need to work well with others and help them succeed, and always be looking to help with their needs. Also you must teach others to shut out the lights when there’s no one around, as you leap over tall hurdles in only one bound.  And at the day’s end when the work is all done, you’ll have steered a steady course for all and everyone – and they’ll know that you know the absolute way to go because you’ll have shown them all everything that they should all know.  So be an owner-like thinker from your head to your feet, and see how this helps you and your colleagues to never ever miss a beat.

Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel was born in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. His mother often soothed her children to sleep by "chanting" rhymes remembered from her youth. He credited his mother with both his ability and desire to create the rhymes for which he became so well known.

Stay well!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Two Heads Are Better Than One

Interesting experience this week: was asked to guest lecture in a class at Northwestern in Chicago; didn't have to travel because they had me "live" on Skype. Been doing some executive coaching: no longer a need to sit with someone, it is so much easier on Skype. Have always talked to my soon-to-be 90 year-old mother on the phone nearly every day: now she Skypes me. Like cell phones, Skype seems to be everywhere. It was founded in 2003 by a Swedish entrepreneur and developed by Estonian engineers - if that doesn't prove that the whole world is connected to this global economy then nothing will. 6.5 Billion people, all connected and working to change things - makes me feel like how my grandmother viewed airplane travel: I don't quite understand all of the wonder that is created around us. But I do know that we all must adapt to these changing times, and learn to use all the new ideas and tools that are available to us. Scary: yes; exciting: for sure; demanding: absolutely. And like exercise, this is what will keep us young and nimble and thoughtful as we bravely face each new day. Take time this week to look at what's coming from over the horizon - and learn all you can to be all you can.

My message this week is about the power of teams and the fact that "two heads are better than one".

“In order to have a winner, the team must have a feeling of unity; every player must put the team first -- ahead of personal glory.” Paul “Bear” Bryant

“Nothing but a winner”: that's how Bear Bryant described himself even before he broke the record that made him the "winningest" coach in the history of big-time college football. Every player on every team that he coached knew what victory demands of you every day of your life.

Big time coaches are always talking about “team”, and how there’s no “I” in team, and why everybody has to work as one in order for all to win. Every kid who ever watched the Three Musketeers learned about “all for one and one for all”. So when you go to work, or take on a chore at home, or play with friends, you know intuitively that it’s best to work together. You understand (like your mother told you) that “two heads are better than one”, and that “the load gets easier when everyone puts their shoulders to the wheel”. You know these things – so accept these truths, live them all the time, believe in them with all your heart, and let them create that feeling of unity that puts the team first – ahead of personal glory. That’s how to be a winner!

Stay well!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Great Mandala

I noticed in last week's local Laguna Beach paper that a group of Tibetan monks were here to create a sand mandala. Always having loved that old Peter Paul and Mary song "The Great Mandala", I ventured over to the church where they were working to see what this was all about. As I sat there and watched, the words from that song filled my head:

Take your place on The Great Mandala,

As it moves through your brief moment of time.

The monks worked without discussion or guidance as the shapes and colors took form - they were into their own thoughts and rhythms as the sand was shaken onto the design. And in the brief moment of time that I was there I began to feel a calm connection to what obviously had been known to them forever; and again, the words from the song:

And it's been going on for ten thousand years!

So take a deep breath, feel and experience all that is around you, and understand that what you do today forever becomes a of the vibrations of the universe. Be kind, respect others, do what's right, and above all treat others the way you want to be treated. That's what came to me as I watched this amazing display of discipline and craftsmanship.

This week's message challenges you to know where you want to go, and how you want to get there.

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” Confucius

Where are you going today, and how are you planning to get there?? Most would say the key to success is based largely on a positive attitude. This comes from believing in yourself, and being prepared intellectually and physically, and then having the courage to give it your all so that when you’re done you have no regrets. Many would call this self-motivation, others might say it’s stick-to-it-tiveness; but really it’s a matter of pride. Being proud of yourself, what you do, how you do it and the effect it has on others. So, whatever it is you’re involved in today – know why you’re doing it, understand how it needs to be done, take your time doing it right, and then finish and present it as if it were a gift to someone you love. Wherever you go today, whatever you’re doing today, however it needs to be done – go there with all your heart.

Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC) was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the ‘Spring and Autumn’ Period. His philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. Stay well!