Discovering Inspiration

The past few weeks I have been working with my church for a program called Angel Tree. We deliver Christmas gifts to children from a parent that is in prison. I woke up one morning intrigued about the level of gratification I felt from being involved.

I have helped with this program for a few years, and I will help again next year. Why? Because I am motivated to do so.

I have been contemplating what factors have led me to this level of commitment. If I can define them, will I be able to apply them to other activities? Can I use them to increase my motivation for another goal?

I have discovered many factors that have impacted my inspiration, my commitment, and my gratification.

1. Helping others – I am driven by the ability to help others. Doing something without reward is usually not motivating. However if other people are able to reap the reward of my effort, and I am able to participate in the process, it is highly rewarding.

2. Personal impact – I am emotionally impacted by the gratitude expressed by those we serve. It drives me to want to do the best I can to meet their needs.

3. Supports by my core values – We all have gaps between who we want to be and who we actually are. Just like we have differences between our intentions and our actions. The role with Angel Tree helps me close my gap.

4. Sense of urgency – Each year the time between receiving information on the children in the program and delivering gifts is short. It creates urgency, and a fixed timeline to which we are committed.

5. Effort – The amount of effort I need to invest to support the program is known in advance. Each year, I know approximately the number of hours and days to schedule.

6. Supported by othersThe program is supported by a team of volunteers. I would never be able to achieve the goal by myself.

7. Accountability – People are counting on me. My assigned tasks assigned are only going to be done by me. My actions affect the team. My actions affect our success.

8. Clear Goal – We must deliver gifts to the assigned children before Christmas. Our goal is clear. There are hundreds of obstacles, but the desired outcome is unmistakable.

9. Personal growth – I grow from being involved. Each year the challenges we face are different. Usually unique to a family we are serving. Overcoming challenges is the basis for growth.

The next step for me is to discover how I can connect these factors to a different goal. For the last couple of years, I have wanted to exercise more. I go through periods of success and then allow myself to drift away. It has been clear as I reflected this week, that these factors are not linked to my goal for exercising.

If I can establish the links, I think my outcome would be very different. That is my challenge. What challenge do you have that can benefit from discovering your inspiration?

Boost Your Team’s Performance

Sometimes we are so busy, we forget to pay attention to the basics of teamwork. From my experience, here are three things you should be doing consistently and constantly to maintain a high-performance team.

1. Be transparent and explicit about expectations. When we get busy, we assume our team knows what to do and that they are busy also. The busier we get the less we communicate. If you want your team to be fully engaged, you must continuously communicate about the goals and their responsibilities. Being able to link an employee’s responsibility directly to a goal is powerful.

2. Provide feedback to individual team members at least weekly. We improve when we take time to reflect and adjust our actions. Your team is no different. Feedback will trigger reflection and help them improve. Work to provide feedback that is supportive and challenging.

3. Help your team achieve the goals. Be a part of the team. Do not isolate yourself as a leader. You can help with the required tasks or you can help by removing problems and roadblocks for others. Contribute as much as you ask others to contribute.

Even if you feel you are busy, these activities should be on your agenda. They seem very basic, but I have seen many times leaders that drift away from these basics. Try to boost your focus on these actions, and watch your team overachieve!

Loyalty

Loyal is defined as giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution. A pet dog is a great example of loyalty. Your dog always greets you when you arrive in your home. It happily displays its love and loyalty.

We can be loyal to a person, an idea, a custom, a cause, or a duty. We would like to believe that loyalty does not waver regardless of the situation. We cannot be partially loyal to something, can we?  How should we handle loyalties that are in conflict with each other? The truth is a situation can affect your loyalty.

In my experience, I find it useful to always step back and view things from the perspective of my values. Loyalties develop based on external factors and experiences. But values are more basic. they have already been internalized and built into your daily actions.

If you find yourself in a situation where your loyalty is being tested, be sure to reflect on your values before you decide your next action. Be authentic. It helps.

Being a Leader in the Workplace

As a leader, defining organizational values and culture is part of your responsibility. How do you define values to your team? Do they understand the expectations of their work?

The controversy this week between the President and the NFL has captured many headlines. Reflecting on this issue, how do you feel leadership in the NFL has responded? As a leader, would you want your employees to publicly protest in their workplace? How steps would you take to resolve the issue?

I admit, I do not know enough to help negotiate through the NFL issue. But it is a great case study.

I believe that defining the culture and the values that you expect of your organization is the first step. The more difficult step is being a living example of the culture you define every single day.  Isn’t it true that your leadership is tested the most, when you least expect it. Are you ready?