Monday, August 30, 2010

Your Greatest Investment

Not long ago I attended the funeral of a man I have known for over 25 years. One by one, people shared stories of how Steve had touched their lives. His 75 years on this earth were well recorded with memories of his generosity, kindness, loyalty and love. As I glanced over to see how Steve’s wife was holding up I could see that she was filled with joy to hear how her husband’s most important investments in life were paying off.

When we hear the word “investment” we automatically think in terms of money. However, there are other things in life we can invest with the hope of experiencing a significant return. Far too many people find themselves at the end of their life realizing that those things they invested their time, talents and resources in had little, if any, meaningful impact.

As you go through life, give thought to where you are placing your investments. Are you spending time with your family? Do you help those less fortunate then yourself? Are you compelled to correct injustices? Do you consistently demonstrate forgiveness, compassion and love in tangible ways? It’s important to remember that a life lived selfishly will leave little evidence that it ever existed, but one that is invested in the lives of others will reap returns that can last an eternity.

Live, Work and Relate Well!
Dr. Todd

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Is Your Stress Level Too High?

The demands of life can at times be overwhelming, making it nearly impossible to avoid stress.  Although brief periods of high stress are a normal part of life, many people endure unhealthy levels of prolonged stress leaving them vulnerable to mood swings, physical symptoms like headaches and stomach discomfort as well as serious disease.

If you have experienced a prolonged period of high stress you may have become habituated to it and therefore consider it as normal and even tolerable.  In order to avoid becoming accustomed to high levels of stress I recommend that you monitor your stress level on a regular basis.  This self-assessment can be done in three steps:

Step 1:  Take an honest look at your behaviors.

Examples of behaviors influenced by stress:

Engaged in wasted motion and busywork
Irritability – critical of others
Not pleasant to be around
Agitated by little things
Caffeine and/or alcohol consumption increased
Diminished work quality
Unable to make decisions

Step 2:  Identify your physical reactions.

Examples of bodily reactions induced by stress:

Various aches and pains, such as headaches and neckaches
Stomach discomfort
Insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
Skin rashes
Irregular breathing
Tense or tight muscles
Heart disease

Step 3:  Identify your emotions.

Anxious, timid, or fearful
Angry, resentful, dissatisfied, or bitter
Confused, overwhelmed or swamped
Helpless or powerless
Fear of inadequacy or failure
Tense or tight
Depressed, weary, or fed up

Once again, if you usually maintain a moderate to high level of stress you may have grown used to behaving and feeling the way you do and you explain it by saying, “that’s just the way I am.”  The truth may be that you are that way because of too much stress and you could experience positive benefits by consciously taking steps to lower it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Words to Remember

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” Thomas Jefferson

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day America!

“This will be the best security for maintaining our liberties.  A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins.” Benjamin Franklin

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

Monday, June 28, 2010

Leadership Lesson from General McChrystal

I must admit that I have not been very familiar with the career accomplishments of General Stanley McChrystal, but I know that you don’t become a military General unless throughout your career you have consistently displayed extraordinary courage, intellect and leadership.  So I’m confident that many valuable lessons could be learned from studying his life and career; however, it’s sad to say that most Americans will likely remember General McChrystal for the one lesson he never intended to teach.

By now, most people have heard about General McChrystal’s recent White House meeting with the President and his subsequent firing over comments made by him and his staff in a recently published article.  In the article, General McChrystal, the commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and some members of his staff were quoted as saying some rather negative things about the current Administration and its handling of the Afghan war.  Regardless of your political party affiliation or personal view of the war, many Americans agree that the General needed to be relieved of his command due to what amounted to blatant insubordination.

I agree with many Americans that President Obama made the right decision in demanding the General’s resignation.  I also believe it could be the right decision for any corporate leader facing similar circumstances with one of their executives.

Is it wrong for employees to voice their disagreement or opposition to a leader’s strategy or plan? Of course not! In fact, the best and most respected leaders expect – and even require – team members to discuss their opposing views and opinions.  This is healthy for an organization when it’s done in an appropriate setting. However, the nature of the comments expressed by General McChrystal and his staff should never have been made in a situation where

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Wisdom of a Champion – Part V

At the top of Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is what he referred to as Competitive Greatness.  He defined Competitive Greatness as “A real love for the hard battle, knowing it offers the opportunity to be at your best when your best is required.”

He stated, “Competitive Greatness is not defined by victory nor denied by defeat.  It exists in the effort that precedes those two ‘impostors’ as well as their accomplices: fame, fortune, and power…”

Coach Wooden believed that Competitive Greatness is described in the poem written by sportswriter Grantland Rice, “The Great Competitor”:

Beyond the winning and the goal,

beyond the glory and the fame,

he feels the flame within his soul,

born of the spirit of the game.

And where the barriers my wait,

Built up by the opposing Gods,

He finds a thrill in bucking fate

And riding down the endless odds.

Where others wither in the fire

Or fall below some raw mishap,

Where others lag behind or tire

And break beneath the handicap.

He finds a new and deeper thrill

To take him on the uphill spin,

Because the test is greater still,

And something he can revel in.

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Wisdom of a Champion – Part IV

Near the top of Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success are two leadership characteristics, poise and confidence, that emerge as a result of having successfully applied the qualities of the first three tiers of the pyramid.

POISE – Coach Wooden defines poise as “being true to oneself, not getting rattled, thrown off, or unbalanced regardless of the circumstance or situation.”  In his book, Wooden on Leadership, we read, “Poise means holding fast to your beliefs and acting in accordance with them, regardless of how bad or good the situation may be.  Poise means avoiding pose or pretense, comparing yourself to others, and acting like someone you’re not.  Poise means having a brave heart in all circumstances.”

CONFIDENCE – the firmly held belief that you have achieved a high level of competence through dedicated study and preparation.  Confidence is the awareness of having consistently made the sacrifice and effort necessary to turn personal and team potential into high level performance.  Coach Wooden warns that confidence must regularly be monitored so it does not turn into arrogance or a feeling of superiority.  It is this sense of elitism that discourages continuous hard work and effort and ultimately leads to mediocrity and failure.

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Wisdom of a Champion – Part III

Today I want to introduce you to the middle, or as Coach Wooden often referred to it, the “heart” of his Pyramid of Success.

In order to be successful in any area of your life, Coach Wooden believed that you must possess the qualities of Condition, Skill and Team Spirit.

CONDITION – In addition to possessing physical strength, Coach Wooden believed that individuals and teams must also have mental and moral strength.  Mental and moral strength is a byproduct of the consistent practice of moderation and balance in all you do.  Coach Wooden often cautioned his team by saying, “…when moderation and balance are lacking in their choices and subsequent actions, the team can be damaged; dissipation is destructive.”

There is a choice you have to make, in everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you. –Anon

SKILL – Coach Wooden believed that whatever your role in life you must be able to master and perform all aspects of your work with great skill.  The best leaders are those who value life-long learning.  As leaders you must not only acquire and apply knowledge and skill in your own life, but you must be able to effectively instill that knowledge and skill in the hearts and minds of those on your team.

TEAM SPIRIT – Team unity and cohesion is critical to organizational success.  Coach Wooden agreed, but added that team spirit is “an eagerness to sacrifice personal interests or glory for the welfare of all.”  Team spirit embodies selflessness and consideration and elevates the goals of the entire team above all else.  Whether you are leading your family, children, a sports team, volunteer group or corporation, your success will be contingent on your ability to foster a team

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Wisdom of a Champion – Part II

Yesterday I shared with you the first tier of Coach John Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success”.  UCLA’s legendary Coach John Wooden died last Friday at the age of 99.  Coach Wooden attributed much of the success he and his teams achieved over the years to the application of his fundamental principles of leadership.

Coach Wooden described the second tier of his “Pyramid of Success” as being less about the heart and more about the head.  It involves the execution of mental processes that reflect a strong will to achieve and win in all areas of life.  Consider the next four values identified by Coach Wooden in his “Pyramid of Success”.

– Coach Wooden emphasized the importance of exercising control of one’s emotions as well as behavior.  He believed that self-control in the little things leads to self-control of the bigger things.  Self-control starts with the leader and must be consistently modeled to each team member in both word and deed.

ALERTNESS – Alertness is “the ability to be constantly observing, absorbing and learning from what’s going on around you. “ As a leader, Wooden believed that you must always be awake, alive and alert when it comes to assessing yourself as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your team and your competition.

INITIATIVE – To be an effective leader and team member you must demonstrate the initiative to execute.  Don’t worry about mistakes or even failure because you can learn great things from both.  Wooden recognized that the leader who has a fear of failure, and consequently hesitates to act, rarely meets with success.

INTENTNESS – According to Coach Wooden, the word intentness conveys diligence, determination, fortitude and resolve—persistence.  “A leader lacking Intentness will find himself or herself leading a team intent on giving up.

Live, Work and Relate

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Wisdom of a Champion – Coach John Wooden

Last Friday we lost one of the most successful and beloved coaches of all time.  John Wooden, UCLA’s legendary basketball coach, died at the age of 99 – just four months short of his 100th birthday.

In his 40 years of coaching high school and college basketball, Coach Wooden had 885 wins and only 203 losses.  His UCLA Bruins still hold the NCAA record for winning 88 straight games from 1971 to 1974.  He also led the Bruins to an unprecedented 10 National Championships.

John Wooden will not only be remembered for his success on the basketball court, but for his success in life.  Several years ago I read John Wooden’s autobiography and was greatly impressed by his insights on leadership and success. This week I will share some of Coach Wooden’s legendary teachings on living, working and relating well.

John Wooden is probably best known for the principles he taught his teams over the years known as the “Pyramid of Success”.  Wooden wrote in his book, “After much reflection, trial and error, and some soul searching, I choose 15 fundamental values as blocks for my Pyramid of Success.  I believe they are prerequisites for a leader and an organization whose goal is to perform at the highest level of which they are capable.”  Here is the first tier, the foundation, of Mr. Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success”.

Whether you are leading your family, a sports team or a team of professionals at work, these fundamentals of success can help you achieve the highest levels of performance.

First Tier of the “Pyramid of Success”

INDUSTRIOUSNESS – There is “no substitute for old-fashioned work” according to Wooden.  “Without it crops aren’t planted, corn won’t grow, hay isn’t harvested. You perish.”

ENTHUSIASM – “You must be enthusiastic if you are to stimulate others.