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Loving Those Who Served

shoppinghat

 

Methodically and precisely the former fighter pilot in World War II steered his grocery-cart scooter into the checkout lane. He grimaced as he gripped the soup can in his cart. The pain shot through his frail 85-year-old hand like so many bullets. Wincing, he dropped the can of soup on the conveyor belt with a thud!

The sound caught the attention of the customer in front of him. The 40-year-old abruptly turned his attention from the cashier scanning his groceries to the elderly man behind him. The younger man seemed captivated both by the cap the octogenarian wore and the compelling message it bore:  WWII Veteran. Something stirred deep in the soul of the younger man.

Continue reading

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From To Do to DUE To

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

                   Here’s an idea to better align your goal-setting. Reading time 3:07.

             Goals. The leader scrawled the word—goals—so quickly on the marker board the “a” and the “l” fused together to look like a “d”.

           a roadThe word –goals – looked very much like the word –gods. That Freudian slip was not lost on the leader and her strategic planners conducting a goal-setting business meeting.

    Like religion, goals are often infused with a dogma and a fervor that inspires a martyr-like dedication to the hallowed script of goal-setting: the To Do list.

            But the most effective leaders realize you commit first to a DUE To list, long before you develop a To Do list.

            A DUE TO list is comprised of long-range commitments that bring goals into a clearer, more realistic focus based on well-defined values.

           A DUE TO list keeps your goals on track: well connected to the Train of Thought and fully linked to the Engine of Purpose.

              Like a train, effective goal-setting is a process of linking not listing— linking a list of things To Do to a clearer rationale that is DUE TO a higher purpose. Continue reading

Wearing Your BVDs in Public

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to help you strengthen the power of your beliefs. Reading time: 3:34

     Leaders are willing to wear their BVDs in public for all to see. Your BVDs are who you are underneath it all. B for Beliefs. V for Values. And D for Disciplines.

        beliefs2As Max De Pree writes in his book: Leadership is an Art: “Managers who have no beliefs but only understand methodology and quantification are modern day eunuchs.” Ouch!

      The dictionary says that a eunuch is a man who has had his sexual organs removed. Secondary definitions underscore the political futility of a eunuch as one who lacks virility or power.

     Even though De Pree’s observation some 25 years ago is obviously sexist and hardly politically correct, the concept is still valid. Leaders without beliefs call into question their manhood, their humanity.

     BeliefsIf they can’t stand up in public for something—in their BVDs—then no one can stand with them. Without people standing with you or following you, you are no leader.

     So the most effective leaders grow their beliefs, their values and their disciplines (i.e. a regimen that develops or improves a skill) in their gardens of curiosity. There they learn what interests them, what sparks their passion, what drives their thinking, what heightens their vision, what invigorates their involvement and what ultimately validates their existence.

    Continue reading

Change Only What Can Be Changed

                 By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s a reminder that your span of control is limited. Reading time: 1:24

 a swim        Try this says one leader to the other: “Lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles with it. Now, draw the number 6 in the air with your right hand.”

          The second executive tries to comply but to no avail. As soon as she tries to draw the number 6 and twirl her foot clockwise, her foot changes direction.  She tries again. Same result.

          Doctors say this is a pre-programmed response in your brain. No matter what you do you cannot override it.

       You can’t outsmart your right foot when you are trying to write the number 6 in the air. You’ve been preprogrammed. Your response is always dialed in. You have no choice.

          Doctors also have studied a related exercise: try to simultaneously rotate the index fingers of both hands in the same direction (clockwise or anticlockwise). Do it slowly at first, then faster, and faster. Pretty soon, they’re going in opposite directions.

          The twirling legs and fingers exercises illustrates a leadership thinking tenent: that some things are so hard-wired, it makes no sense to try to change it.

      The most effective leaders focus only on what they can change, what they can influence. Naturally. The leadership lesson is clear: Pick your fights– strategically —with a credible vision and an achievable mission.

      That’s what leaders do. Then they will  more readily get a leg up on the competition.  Then they will more readily circle the competition — clockwise or counter-clockwise.  And then they will more readily achieve their objective: Twirling a  Deep Six weapon of choice in any direction.

Today’s ImproveMINT

Beware of predictive thinking to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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7 Leadership Lessons from Moby Dick

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to strengthen your conviction Reading time: 2:46

      Call me Ishmael. Leaders echo that famous first line of Moby Dick.

     whale book cover After all, leaders are wanderers. Ishmael in old Hebrew means “wanderer.”

       Like Ishmael, the most effect leaders wander into the choppy seas of change in quest of their supreme challenges that look like so many white whales, often as elusive as that great white whale —Moby Dick himself.

      Indeed all leaders —all wanderers like Ishmael— are curious and “tormented with an everlasting itch to things remote” as author Herman Melville observes.

      Ishmael’s wanderings –focused on Moby Dick –give us an insight into Seven Leadership Lessons that we can apply in our businesses:

1. Interdependence

      Ishmael notes that even the mighty white whale is limited in its powers. It must surface to breathe air through its spout.Are you too busy to let your employees take a deep breath? Continue reading

Breaking Out of Paradigm Prison

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to focus your commitment to a mission. Reading time: 4:05

     In the 1980 movie–The Blues Brothers — Elwood assures Jake with all sincerity:  “We’re on a mission from God.”

    blues-brothers-Indeed in this mission, The Blues Brothers were specifically deployed. Not generally employed.

     They were virtually thrust into a targeted and timed problem-solving role that challenged them to lead –NOW–or else suffer the consequences beyond frayed friendships and scarred relationships.

      And in the process the Blues Brothers illustrate the ennobling might and majesty of leading from the heart, for the heart and by the heart over and through obstacles to complete their mission. No matter what!

     Let’s see if we can capture the Blues Brothers magic formula of Deployed Leadership and make it work for you.

Deployed Leadership

     Deployed,  the Blues Brothers bubbled with enthusiasm for achieving the objective: raise $5,000 in 11 days to pay off back county taxes OR ELSE the orphanage where the Blues Brothers grew up would be foreclosed. They  focused on achieving the objective BECAUSE of  — not in spite of –the deadline.

     Deployed, the Blues Brothers faced a broader challenge to redeem themselves from a life of crime (Jake had just gotten out of prison) and both had not lived up to the expectations of the nuns –the only real family they ever knew –who cared for them as children in the orphanage.

     Deployed, the Blues Brothers mission was personal: Keep the head of the orphanage –Sister Mary Stigmata —from losing her home and her leadership role. She told the Blues Brothers she wanted to stay in Illinois as head of the orphanage instead of being shipped off to Africa to do the Lord’s work. Continue reading

Running: An Exercise in Leadership

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to stay focused on your primary goal. Reading time: 3:09

     He was content –if not happy– with himself. Content to stay in the background, hidden from any and all leaders or leadership opportunities.

     Life1He settled for less than his personal best.  And he did even less.

     Lifting the pop-top of a beer can was always enough exercise for him. And dieting? Well for all he knew Count Calories was some monarch in a far off country.

    By settling for less, he didn’t flirt with the frustrations of failure or threaten his couch potato comfort.

     In fact, being a little chunky gave him an excuse when he played his usual lousy game of tennis or golf or when he failed to win the bid or get the promotion.

    He was like T.S. Eliot’s Hollow Men:

  “Shape without form,
shade without color.
Paralyzed force.
Gesture without motion.”

   ????????????????????????? He was like the Beatles’s Nowhere Man:

  “A real nowhere man,
living in his nowhere land,
making all his nowhere plans for nobody.
Doesn’t have a point of view.
Knows not where he’s going to.
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?”

    But then he became a leader. With a vision.

    He decided to add form—a muscular form– to his shape and color—a vibrant, lively brilliance- to his shade. He accepted personal responsibility. He renounced the status quo. He established a goal. He created a compelling plan that shaped the future. And he colored his present behavior to stay on track. One step at a time.

   The newly-minted leader took his daily dose of exercise as if it were medicine that tasted so bad it had to be good. Continue reading