Management Potential

Management Potential - Pathmaker Blog“To err is human, to blame it on someone else shows management potential!”

Placing blame certainly does seem to have become the new national pastime. No one, or so it seems, wants to accept the responsibility for their actions and no one, so it seems, is willing to do the necessary research to hold the right people accountable! Rather, we find many a scapegoat being led down the primrose path where they are offered up as sacrificial lambs!

As bad as that may seem, and it does seem bad, if we accept the sentiment found in our statement today we find that the ability to pass on the blame is something that is both lauded and rewarded. How sad that is! The key here, and there is a key, is the fact that we need to hold everyone accountable for their actions, and not allow them to pass off their shortcomings on others. How wonderful it would be if the world, both corporate and otherwise, would be as willing to stand up and take the blame as they are to take the credit!

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Wisdom: Get on Your feet

Wisdom Get on Your feet - Pathmaker Blog“Getting on your feet starts by getting off your butt!”

Here’s an intriguing rhetorical question: “How many get rich quick schemes have you participated in?” Now, this runs the gamut from Lottery Tickets to Publisher’s Clearing House to Real Estate programs to running actual con games! The thing is, the reality of life is the only way we can expect to be successful is through hard work, diligence, and keeping an eye on the prize! When you take the fact that much of our populace lives in a fairy tale land where there is a chance to live happily ever after because of our Fairy God Mother or a genie who grants lots of wishes, and compound that with the fact that we now have a generation or two who believes in entitlement, and you have the basis for a segment of society who has probably never been told “Getting on your feet starts by getting off your butt!”

So, what does that mean to the business world? It means we are left with the task of teaching young people – and some not so young people – that the key to success is hard work, diligence, and keeping an eye on the prize. We need to teach them that they need to establish goals, and plot a course of action that will help them realize those goals. We need to teach them that no one is going to do it for them, they have got to do it for themselves. We have to show them how rewarding accomplishment through hard work, diligence, and keeping an eye on the prize can be. We have to allow them to learn the truth of the statement, “the harder I work the luckier I become.” Then, and only then, will they understand and accept that “Getting on your feet starts by getting off your butt!”

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Wisdom: Skydiving and Parachutes

Wisdom - Skydiving and Parachutes - Pathmaker Blog“You don’t need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive TWICE!

When Frank Sinatra sang My Way, he became the vocal hero of every individual who considers themselves their own man. And, being a little independent myself, I understand the sentiment Ol’ Blue Eyes was conveying. In fact, there are a number of times that I have actually proceeded in that manner, and been somewhat successful along the way. However, as the quote above indicates, there are times when you have to do it the same way everyone else does, or you may not be around to do it again!

It is obvious to virtually everyone that if you are going to skydive you need a parachute, so no one would intentionally attempt skydiving without one – that would be pure suicide! Now, let’s take that thought into the realm of business! With things like the Lottery and Publishing Clearing House Sweepstakes we live in a world where the Great American Dream centers around the idea than we can get rich quick. As a result, we often determine that there must be shortcuts in the business world, ones that will allow us to succeed without having to pay our dues. The reality is that’s not reality! The key to success in the business world is to work hard and follow all of the basic rules for the business you are in. As ever, the name of the game in sales is numbers – the more people you talk to the greater your chance of a sale.  It’s like the old adage says, “The harder I work the luckier I get!”

If you want to “live to fight another day” in the business world you have to make sure that you are following the prescribed rules, sort of like having a parachute to skydive. Now, you can develop a new, better parachute or a smaller, more economical plane – that, after all, is the basis of innovation! That’s how businesses survive and thrive, by employing a variation on a theme – not by skydiving without a parachute!

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Wisdom: I didn’t say it was Your fault

Wisdom - I didn’t say it was Your fault - Pathmaker Blog“I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.”

What a world we live in! Not only does the vast majority of the population not want to accept the responsibility of their actions, they look for a scapegoat to blame their inadequacies on. That’s what makes the validity of this statement so devastating! You see, when Harry Truman put the now famous placard on his desk, “The buck stops here” it was understood that, when all is said and done, the one at the top is responsible for what happens due to what those under them do. Today, however, instead of flowing up, responsibility seems to flow down – – with the lowest person in the chain of command being stuck with the brunt of everyone’s actions/words.

What this does, of course, is create an extreme amount of paranoia and distrust among the ranks of the working populace. People are afraid to make an administrative decision for fear that they will be brought to task and punished if things don’t go as planned. Young, naïve underlings are sacrificed on the throne of corporate advancement while shrewd, manipulative over-lords spend as much time and energy covering their bases as they do furthering the firms they work for. “And,” as Sonny and Cher told us, “the beat goes on.”

If you want to be a successful, and beloved, manager, don’t look for people to blame should things go wrong, spend more time working with people on your staff/team to ensure that the things don’t go wrong! Nurture those naïve individuals who come under your tutelage, helping them to understand the process and showing them how they, too, can be successful. For as ridiculous as this may sound, the more you help others the more you help yourself. Maybe it has something to do with casting your bread upon the waters, or if you want to be great in heaven be a servant in this world, or maybe it just is the manifestation of the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

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Wisdom: Of all the Things I’ve lost I miss my Mind the most

Wisdom Of all the Things I’ve lost I miss my Mind the most - Pathmaker Blog“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.”

As I got older I expected not to be as sharp as I once was. However, while my rememberer isn’t what it used to be, I take great solace in the fact that individuals much younger than me are having the same problem! It seems that I am not alone when I utter the phrase, “Of all the things I’ve lost I miss my mind the most!”

I got to wondering about this the other day, and jotted down a short list of reasons why people feel as though they have lost their mind. And, I came up with some pretty interesting stuff – which I will take the time to share with you here.

We Live with Technology Overload

I do not have a smart phone – mostly because I refuse to spend my time trying to learn how to keep up with it! Friends I know who do have smart phones advise me that they just about figure out how to use it when it will automatically download updates and they have to start the learning process all over again! With some of them, they seem to lose their minds at least once every three months because of this!

We Live with Information Overload

Even our lexicon is growing with leaps and bounds! For example, did you know that conversate is now a word? I’m not even going to get into everything you need to know to text with someone. For example, I got a message from a casual female acquaintance, and she signed off with LOL. I told my wife that was somewhat presumptuous of her, and when asked why I explained that I didn’t think she was in a position to sign off with Lots of Love, at which point my wife was able to LOL as she explained to me what it really meant! Like others, I seem to be losing my mind when all I want to do is communicate with others.

We Live with God Health Overload

I have always been told that coffee is bad for you because of all the caffeine. I just read, however, that it is good for you because of, that’s right, the caffeine. Nuts are good for you because they provide protein – Nuts are bad for you because they have too much fat. Fruit is good for you because of the vitamins they contain – Fruit is bad for you because they contain too much sugar. No wonder we all are losing our minds!

If you have been paying attention you will note that the common element here is “overload.” That’s why, if you want to minimize losing your mind, you may want to implement the old KISS principle whenever and wherever possible – Keep It Simple Sweetie. The simple lifestyle is something we all long for, but so few of us actually strive for! So, next time you are missing your mind and are regretting that you lost it, just KISS and you will undoubtedly feel a lot better about life and about yourself.

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Wisdom: Smiles Wherever or Whenever

Wisdom Smiles Wherever or Whenever - Pathmaker Blog“Some generate happiness wherever they go. Others generate it whenever they go!

I would think that most people, at least if they are like me, would rather generate happiness wherever they go rather than whenever they go! And, in the business world, this is an especially important differential. Whether it be clients, staff, or cohorts, if you only generate happiness whenever you go you have a real problem that demands immediate attention!

The first challenge in addressing this is, of course, is determining if people look forward more to having you walk into a room or walk out. To determine if people do, in fact, dread to see you coming look for the following telltale signs:

  • Do people become surprisingly quiet when you walk in?
  • Do you notice that when you walk in others invariably walk out?
  • Do smiles seem to mysteriously disappear when you are around?

If you answered “yes” to even one of these, you need to work on your office-place demeanor!

If you actually care what others think about you, your next task is to determine why others are less than thrilled when you are around. The most obvious way, of course, is to ask someone – but that is not always the easiest. For the sake of our discussion, let’s suppose that you are able to locate someone who is brutally honest and shares all of your foibles – you will then find yourself at the next step:  Accepting that you need to change!

Unfortunately many who generate smiles whenever they leave tend to live denying the fact that there is a problem. Once this hurdle is conquered the next step is to go about making the suggested changes. No doubt about it, this may take a good deal of time and an even greater amount of effort. It is not impossible to change when you bring smiles, but it won’t happen on its own, either!

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WARNING: Dates on the Calendar are closer than they appear!

WARNING Dates on the Calendar are closer than they appear - Pathmaker BlogOne of the most disastrous things that can happen to a business person is to put a “due date” on their calendar for a project to be completed a couple of months down the road and then not re-visit that page of their calendar until it is to late to meet the deadline they had written down! The question at hand, then, is how does one ensure that this doesn’t happen to them?

The answer is not particularly complicated, nor does it particularly take a genius to figure it out: The key is to break the project down into accomplishable tasks and put each one of those on your calendar as well! This serves several purposes:

  • Makes you evaluate the project immediately.
  • Allows you to accomplish tasks on an on-going basis.
  • Allow you to discover if there might be complications before it is too late.
  • Makes you re-visit the project frequently.

As most anyone will tell you, the older you get the quicker time goes by, meaning that “Dates on the calendar are closer than they appear” is not a joke but a solemn reality!

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“I can explain it to you but I can’t understand it for you”

I can explain it to you but I can't understand it for you - Pathmaker BlogOne of the more exasperated phrases you here at any work place may very well be, “I’ve told him over and over and he still doesn’t get it!” That, of course, leads one to say, “I can explain it to you but I can’t understand it for you!” The question becomes, I suppose, what can be done to ensure that understanding takes place? Or, why isn’t the person receiving the explanation “catching on?” And, some of  the answers may surprise you!

The Person doing the Explaining doesn’t really Understand the Situation Themselves

Paraphrased “the blind leading the blind,” confusion exists because there truly is a lack of understanding all the way around.

The Person doing the Explaining understands the Situation too well

Frequently we often have such a good grasp of an issue, especially its deeper aspects and nuances, that we tend  to forget that those not in the know often need to have the most rudimentary facts shared with them.

The one trying to Understand doesn’t have as much Background Information as is Assumed

You can’t expect someone to understand algebra if they don’t know how to multiply and divide. Before you introduce new concepts to an employee, make sure they know what you think they know!

And one that might really shock you…

The person being instructed doesn’t want to learn the new information

For some reason, in today’s business and manufacturing culture there are some, and perhaps many, who don’t want to learn more for they fear it will result with them needing to assume more responsibility – even if these moves will provide them with a higher income. More and more you hear people say, “I just wanna do my job and go home!’’ Whether learning more puts them outside of their comfort zone or they are truly underachievers is debatable, but whatever the case they just don’t want to expand their horizons.

So, if you find yourself in a position where you feel you have to tell someone, “I can explain it to you but I can’t understand it for you,” do a quick survey and see why, exactly, your protege is having such a problem!

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“You’re a mess, but that’s OK!”

You're a mess, but that's OK - Pathmaker BlogIn his book published in 1969, I’m Ok – You’re Ok, Dr. Thomas Harris did his take on Dr. Eric Berne’s idea of Transactional Analysis (TA). Harris developed four quadrants to :

  • I’m Ok – You’re Ok
  • I’m Ok – You’re not Ok
  • You’re Ok – I’m not OK
  • You’re not Ok – I’m not Ok

Basically, each one of these explains a state of existence that we all find ourselves in. We may fluctuate from one to another, or simply spend our entire lives in one of the quadrants.  Let me briefly explain each.

You’re not Okay – I’m not OK

An individual who feels this way is, without a doubt, the unhappiest of all individuals. They are not satisfied with anything anyone else does, nor are they satisfied with anything they do, either.

You’re Ok – I’m not OK

Here, an individual is content to accept that you know what you are doing and seem to be happy in life, but they, of course, are not.

I’m Ok – You’re not Ok

This, of course, is just the opposite of the prior one. Though self-confident and self-content, the individual here figures you,  no matter who you are, definitely need help.

I’m Ok – You’re Ok

This, of course, is the quadrant we all should strive to be in. Those dwelling in this quadrant know they have things under control and, as far as they are concerned, everyone else does to!

Our “Bumper Sticker Wisdom” for the day, “You’re a mess, but that’s ok” is somewhat of a hybrid version of TA. What it really amounts to, however, is that we need to accept people the way they are and let them know that we accept them as such!  If each and every one of us would do this, we all could go through life knowing that we are, in fact, accepted!

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Indecisiveness

Indecisiveness - Pathmaker Blog“I thought I was indecisive, now I’m not so sure.”

There is no doubt about it, our society, both in the public and private sector, needs to have someone who can make a decision. We live in a world of wishy-washiness, where so much time is spent avoiding the need to make a decision that those decisions never seem to get made. You want to know the reason this is true? Because more and more people are Unable to make the same decree that Harry Truman did – The Buck Stops Here!

I think the thing that may be the most devastating about this is the fact that those who are willing to make decisions and stand by them are known as leaders. And friends, we are dangerously short on real leaders in this country! In business this is not only especially true, but especially sad as well. The sadness is because so many of US fear retribution should our decisions fail. As a result, no one takes the risk of being a decision maker. The real question is, how can we overcome this problem?

The secret here is this: If you have created an environment where people are afraid to make decisions and/or take chances, you are thwarting the very essence of creativity at your place of work. Risk is always an important part of ultimate success, and if you have nurtured fear to the point that no one dares to make a decision and stand by it, then you have already doomed your business to eventual failure!

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