I’ve been back from an assignment in London for three months now. WOW. Time has flown.
In that time, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to reengage with clients, pick up my executive coaching and join some amazing conversations. I am about to lead a CEO Peer Advisory Group for the Austin Chamber of Commerce (this ain’t your mom and pop’s chamber… super progressive and really involved in responsible growth in Austin). I also was just asked to be a mentor for the amazing CPG accelerator, the Incubation Station. What an great group of people. I am so inspired by the entrepreneurs in the current track and humbled by their courage.
As I’ve been going through this time of growth, I knew I would start to experience what many of my clients do… some growing pains. So often my clients reveal their fears and together we undercover the blind spots that get in their way. These can create really unhealthy soundtracks in our minds. If they get on a continuous loop, watch out.
Last week, we had a health scare with one of our sons and while it was fleeting, it took me out of commission all week. (He’s 100% fine by the way. I blamed it on the Monster Moon that all the astrologists were fearing.)
Coming off a week of zero sleep and poor eating, I found my own inner soundtrack kicking in… My super shield of courage was really weakened. Gone were the “this is amazing!” “you can do it” and in slipped the “are you kidding me?” “who do you think you are?”
So I started writing it all down in the black notebook I’ve been using for brainstorming. I started writing down all my fears. All of them. I listed every single self doubt and ugly statement I’ve ever made about myself. It was a full on purge.
While I didn’t have full relief, I knew that getting these fears out and deciding whether I wanted them to be my truth would be an important exercise and give me some calm. I knew this was a safe way to explore my vulnerability as a leader.
Until it happened… the black notebook went MISSING. That’s right MISSING. In the midst of waking back up this week I inadvertently left the black notebook SOMEWHERE. Where was it?!?!
The real purging began. I felt sick. Sick to my stomach. It was one thing to be fully vulnerable with myself, it was another to know that pages of my vulnerability were laying around somewhere for someone, anyone, to read.
The next day, I had a full day of meetings and I couldn’t even begin to look for the notebook until 4 pm. I checked a couple of spots and I found it. I picked it up silently from the nice folks who collected it for me and my mind started racing.
The notebook was filled with a lot of benign musings on business development, branding, etc. That was fine. However, I had conveniently tabbed the “you suck” page of vulnerabilities with a blue sticky. It’s like I put a neon sign pointing to the page, screaming out … hey you! Read here! This is some juicy stuff! Linda Glass in the raw!
I didn’t ask if it was read. I just thanked them profusely and went on my way.
Did they read it? Raced through my head. I have no way of knowing unless I ask. And if they did, I began to wonder… what would it matter? Would they read the statements and one by one confirm them. Check! Check! Check!
I decided to use one of my lifelines and called my dear friend Stephanie. She said, “Linda they’re human and have those same fears and feelings. If they did read it, they probably appreciate knowing you are human too.” And to quote my favorite line from When Harry Met Sally… “You’re right. You’re right. I know you’re right.”
She is right.
It’s important for people that I work with and that I coach to know that I, too, am human. I have fears and vulnerabilities. And through that, I can truly sympathize and offer the right guidance and support.
I remember a meeting once at Starbucks when the president at the time said to our team, “I’m afraid I’ll be found out. Do I have what it takes to do this job? Do I really deserve this position?” It was empowering for all of us. He let us in… we connected around the fact that we all have fears. In the end, we all felt we could be open about our challenges and insecurities. We were tighter as a team.
So, while I’m not quite brave enough to publish the whole list… I will tell you that sometimes, even the experienced coach has fears… I fear I’m not enough. I fear I might fail. I fear I might be judged.
And today, I’m choosing to not let those fears take over my soundtrack. Today, my soundtrack might be sung to my fears by Gloria Gaynor…
Go on now, go, walk out the door, just turn around now
‘Cause you’re not welcome anymore
Weren’t you the one, who tried to hurt me with goodbye?
Did you think I’d crumble? Did you think I’d lay down and die?
Oh, no, not I, I will survive!
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Your company may be getting sabotaged… Think of it this way: your company is like a house. Whether big or small, it’s your dream house. You know it will be amazing and you believe, believe so strongly with all the passion in the world, that this will be something great. Whether it’s a service or a product, the world will benefit greatly and you can’t wait to get it built, maybe even add-on or sell it one day to the highest bidder.
You set out to build the house and slowly start to bring others along, but unknowingly you may be sabotaging the dream. Something doesn’t feel right. You don’t feel like you’re spending the right time in the right place and the people you’ve hired? They’re not happy either. You feel more pressure than ever because you’ve already told the world that this amazing house is being built. In fact, you’ve been working on it for five years and from the outside, everything looks perfect.
There are cracks in the foundation.
You may start to realize you need to make a change and fix what’s being built on the inside, but the question is… what do I need to do and is it too late? And to whom can I possibly confess this?
The greatest saboteur is an undefined culture.
Let’s stop there for a second… culture. Who has time for that? Isn’t that an HR program or something? Or as I heard one executive recently say, “that’s just a buzz word that companies are saying they are working on to gain attention from the street.”
Call it culture, call it whatever you like, but would you be interested in having
- Revenues increase 4 times faster
- Job creation rates grow 7 times higher
- Stock prices increase12 times faster
- Profits climb 750% higher
- Net income grow 700%
- Customer satisfaction-Double
Source: Professor John Kotter, Harvard and Coauther James Heskett
There are four cornerstones to every company that form the cultural blueprint… they will always be there, whether you define them or not.
So the question is… do you want to leave these critical pieces, the pieces which determine whether you are structurally sound and sustainable, up to happenchance?
THE FOUR CORNERSTONES:
VISION: This is your aspirational statement that informs everyone where you are dreaming and daring to go… people want to get behind something bigger than them. A paycheck is only a piece behind why people join and stay with companies.
VALUES: This is all about behaviors. What do you value most and what will help you achieve the vision? It’s it fortitude? Integrity? Optimism? It starts with the leader. You must define your values, so that you can hire people aligned with them and fire them when they aren’t. It’s that simple.
YOU: Hey, it’s your dream. You were the one audacious to dream this pig could fly! It’s of utmost importance that you lead with a great deal of self-awareness… where do you play best? Where are your core strengths and what skills do you need to compliment you? Where do you have blind spots or behaviors that may be limiting your ability to lead and inspire others towards the vision.
YOUR PEOPLE: It’s critical to really determine, based on you, the vision, values and purpose… who do you need and want to join you in building your dream? Don’t take this lightly… identify the skills, ask questions to determine values fit and organize your company so that you can be most productive.
At the center of it all? Your purpose.. Your “WHY”… if you haven’t seen this video already by Simon Sinek, I highly encourage you to watch it: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html
At their annual meeting this week, Starbucks executives discussed the company’s $1.4 billion profit for the fiscal year ending last September. When I started with them in 1997, there were over 1400 stores and over 25,000 employees… now there are over 20,000 stores and over 200,000 employees. My last role there was to lead a team to figure out how to hire 8 people an hour and get them to stick. I can tell you it wasn’t because they all knew how to make coffee or foam milk. But, they all resonate with the vision, they live the values, they believe in the why, they are suited for the jobs and the leaders get out of their way. It’s not the buzz of caffeine. It’s the buzz of culture.
Oh, and that company with the executive who thought culture is a “buzz word”… they just reported a 96% drop in profits. Think I’d sign up for the buzz over the saboteur…
Need that confidante to help you with one of your cornerstones or know someone that does? Please email me at Linda@GlassTalent.com for a free consultation.