The Grasshopper Philosophy

grasshopper8As people we tend to compare our weaknesses to the strength of others. We gravitate toward our faults and shortcomings as we compare ourselves to that perfect creature in front of us.

Let me give you an example. It’s easy to look at a celebrity that has it all. They have the money, the house, the cars, the fame, and the looks. Then we may look at ourselves and think – not rich, small house on a mortgage, five year old cluncker for a car, only a few friends, and below average looks. “Man I really wish I had their life.”

But do you really? If you look below the surface they have made poor financial decision after another and everyone close to them can’t be trusted because each of them are trying to separate them from their money and often do. Often they are in debt up to their eyeballs and have that pent up knot in the center of their chest that never allows any kind of peace of mind. Their looks are all photoshoped and the result of personal makeup artists that must intervene each time they go out for fear of an attack by the cameras of the paparazzi. They can’t even go to the grocery store without protection. Their fame is more of a curse than a blessing and you’re intimidated by that?

I am an amateur on the bible but it says that you will be intimidated by no man. The creator of the universe handcrafted you personally, loves you, and watches over you each day. Who can be intimidated by someone else knowing that. Say to yourself, IF ANOTHER MAN CAN I CAN.  No one can make you feel inferior without your permission. 

When the people of Israel were freed from Egyptian rule my a series of miracles of God, including the parting of the red sea, they came upon the promise land. Moses sent a handful of scouts to explore the area and report back to the rest of the group. When the scouts returned they reported of the bountiful land and the people already living there. They said the people their were powerful and their towns large and fortified. They were even giants living there. Giants so large it made them look like mere grasshoppers.

Most of the people were upset and scared. But there were two who refused to compare their own weakness with the strength of others. Joshua and Caleb told them to not be intimidated they are mere prey to us. (I can almost here Caleb say “do I look like a grasshopper to you?”)

What about you?  Are you a grasshopper?

Vulnerability Based Trust

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People with high levels or character have worked through the process of letting go of their need to be invulnerable.  Being vulnerable requires a high level of maturity and trust.  Being vulnerable means trusting in the strengths you do have enough to overcome your weaknesses and inefficiencies that you admit.  It means trusting the people enough that they won’t be used against you and even if they are, you have the ability to overcome it.

Most people play POLITICS. Politics are when people choose their words and actions based on how they want others to react rather than based on what they really think. You can always feel when politics are being played because you walk away thinking “Yuck, that person is so fake”.

The unwillingness to be vulnerable about weaknesses and mistakes create an absence of trust among the team.

Vulnerability based trust stands in contrast of the normal meaning of trust that says you may “trust” that someone will come through with their assignment because they have a history of doing so but they may be “untrustworthy” when it comes to “unintentionally” bringing up your shortcomings at an inopportune time in order to throw you under the bus.

Vulnerability based trust in difficult because people are naturally competitive and protective of the ego and reputation.

Want to be a good leader?  …. .. . .. .. .. . GO FIRST.

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God doesn’t put on us more than we can handle????

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First, this statement is untrue and not in the Bible. The Lord doesn’t put ANYTHING on us. We live in a fallen world and if anything our hardships are from mankind’s own disobedience tracing it back all the way to the garden of Eden.

There’s a quote in the bible similar to it, but there is nothing that says “God will never give you more than you can bear.”  The quote that is frequently used to back up the idea, from 1 Corinthians, doesn’t really say what people assume it does:

No temptation has seized you that isn’t common for people. But God is faithful. He won’t allow you to be tempted beyond your abilities. Instead, with the temptation, God will also supply a way out so that you will be able to endure it.

Paul is reminding his readers that God will not allow people to be tempted beyond their abilities.  That is, there is no temptation that you should feel you are powerless against, because God would not allow you to be tempted by something you couldn’t resist.  If you’re being tempted, in Paul’s thinking, it’s something you are strong enough to resist.

But that is a far different thing from claiming that nothing will happen to you, that you will not have to bear a burden, that you cannot bear. In fact, in addition to that quote not being in the Bible, we can find plenty of quotes that mean the exact opposite that are in the Bible, including one from Paul himself where he writes:

“Brothers and sisters, we don’t want you to be unaware of the troubles that we went through in Asia. We were weighed down with a load of suffering that was so far beyond our strength that we were afraid we might not survive.” (2 Corinthians 1:8)

The Lord is not our oppressor. He is our relief,our savior, and our Father.  And if you really think about it, of course we can have more on us than he can handle. If we could handle it, why would we need to call on a savior.

The phrase is a nice one-line tidbit meant to encourage someone in pain but it’s not biblical. People in pain need more than that. They need the added perspective and an ability to cope with what they are facing. They need the loving relief of Jesus.

Personal Attacks

unnamedPersonal attacks usually aren’t personal.  Hurtful actions aren’t about you no matter how personal, planned, or curt they feel. They normally reveal something about the other person. An insecurity they have that can’t help but bleed through to the surface. When an attack occurs know that the attacker is just trying to protect them self. It may be childish and immature, but it’s simply a defense mechanism designed to protect their ego, reputation, way of life, or avoiding change.

The next time someone attacks you, instead of fighting back, ask yourself “What are they trying to protect?” It may just give you the insight you need to solve the situation and keep you happy. And that’s why they call it “Emotional Intelligence” .

The most mature man I know had people verbally attack him, beat him, mock him, and eventually killed him all because they were trying to protect their own ego and authority. The person understood this concept so well, that as he hung their in excruciating pain and about to die said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Silos

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A local law office has been growing the last couple of years slower than it had in the early days. Maybe it’s the economic climate causing the slowing growth. Maybe it’s the win percentage that’s gradually creeping down that is scaring off new clients.  Maybe it’s simply bad customer service. Whatever it is, it has to stop. Things can’t continue to decline or everyone in the firm will be out of a job.

The founding partner decides to take action. He goes out and finds a hungry outside salesmen that will bring in new clients and head the firms marketing campaign.  The salesman is energetic and knows he has to be because his pay incentives are set up as a commission for each new client he brings in.

The founding partner is thrilled after the introduction of the salesman to the rest of the partners because everyone gets along so well.  “This is going to work out great and do wonders for our business”, he thinks to himself.

Sure enough the salesman begins to bring in new clients, one after the other.  All the lawyers are getting more business than they’ve ever had before. Business is great. A few months go by and the salesman walks in his office and sits down first think in the morning.

“Here is my letter of resignation,” the young man says.

“What? You’re quitting? Why?” The senior partner asks.

“It’s too much office politics for me. The lawyers won’t accept any of the business I bring in because they are afraid it they won’t win and it will lower their winning percentage, I can’t get the accounts to process any of my work because they don’t won’t to get behind on their daily quotas that are so important to them, and I’m just tired of the fighting. ”

“I’ve noticed a few little spats between a few of you but that’s no reason to leave. Office turf wars develop in every job,” the partner pleaded.

“I know but life is too short to be unhappy and I don’t see it changing any time soon”, the young salesman said regretfully as he left the office.

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This situation plays out every day.   Silos are built in the work environment and ruin organizations from the top to the very bottom.


Silos
are departmental politics, infighting, turf wars, and divisional lack of cooperation that create barriers between departments and even unhealthy rivalry.

Employees notice their coworkers in other departments repeatedly moving in different directions, they begin to wonder why they aren’t on the same page.  Overtime their confusion becomes disappointment, which breeds into resentment and eventually hostility.  The worst thing is they start to work against other departments on purpose.

Leaders also get frustrated with the silo mentality but usually blame it on the immaturity of childish employees who just refuse to work with one another.  The truth is most people have a deep down desire to work well with everyone because they feel the daily pain of departmental politics and are the ones left to fight unwinnable and bloody battles.

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How to be Awesome at EVERYTHING!

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How to be Awesome at EVERYTHING!

Terrell Owens was one of the greatest receivers in NFL history.  He is second in receiving yards only to his long time idol Jerry Rice.  T.O. as many people know him by WAS one of the most talented people to ever play the game.  You would imagine that teams would literally fight to get him on their team, with his physical attributes and skill set.  You would also imagine that in this point of his career he could have his pick of TV commentator positions, coaching positions, or any plethora of business deals. This should be a time harvesting for the great T.O.

But to my sadness, it’s not.  Instead of enjoying the fruits of his years of labor he is being cut from the Allen Wranglers, an indoor football team who have since changed their name.  Why is this so? Because he has been marked as having a terrible attitude.  Teams consider him a poison to morale.  They could look past his antics when he was in his prime because he was so talented (for a little while anyway). But when he began to slip, ever so slightly he was told to hit the bricks.

If you have a bad attitude YOU ARE A JERK and people don’t like working with jerks. They don’t listen to jerks. People don’t do favors for jerks. People won’t go the extra mile for jerks because people don’t want jerks to win.

Whether you are a professional athlete or work at a local carpet cleaning business the truth about jerks remains the same. Extraordinary talent and a bad attitude eventually lose out to mediocre talent and a good attitude.

I’ve discovered this in my own life. Being nice will beat out most of your competition.  When I was young I was arrogant and quickly discovered I had to be on top of my game ALL the time to be successful. After a little maturing mentally, (I use the word little with great care) I became nicer. I would be nice to someone who had a harsh word for me. I would go out of my way to speak to people even if I thought they didn’t think highly of me. I wouldn’t just walk by someone who was low on the social ladder. I would be friendly and speak and honestly care.

Being nice has gotten me further in my career, more side jobs, more clients, better employees, on more teams, a better spouse, more friends, and closer personal relationships than any talent I’ve ever possessed could have.

Proverbs 18:1 Unfriendly people care only about themselves;  they lash out at common sense.

Go the Extra Mile

Originally posted on How Leaders Manage:

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One of my favorite authors I’ve sadly just discovered is the late great Og Mandino. I speed through each one of his books taking diligent notes. The most recent I’ve been learning from is a book called The Greatest Miracle in the World. 

One of the beautiful and simple takeaways was to:

Go the Extra Mile.  The secret that will produce riches beyond your dreams and explainable peace of mind. The only certain means of success is to render more than is expected, no matter what the task is or you can doom yourself to mediocrity by only performing the work for which you are paid.

Don’t think you are being cheated if you deliver more than you receive. There’s a pendulum to all life and the sweat you deliver, if not rewarded today will swing back tomorrow tenfold. Concern yourself not should you serve an ungrateful master. Serve…

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Central Park

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In the heart of New York City there is a large area of grass and trees that sits among the concrete buildings of commerce. To the naive eye, this area is wasted. Think of all the money that could be made in that location some might think. However, that area is it’s own sanctuary.  A place to get away for a brief moment. A break from the hustle and bustle of city life. A place to recharge. New York knows that without Central Park the city would implode on itself.

Most people put concrete buildings on every part of their lives. They think they are maximizing their potential but in reality just dooming themselves to a world of stress, missed deadlines and unhappiness.

Find your own piece of grass.