Take Before You Give

You can’t give blame until you take responsibility”  ~ Craig Groeschel; Pastor, Life.Church

No one likes looking foolish, stupid, or like a failure.  I think this is the primary reason people have a tendency to blame others or circumstances when something we’re responsible for doesn’t go as planned.

In an effort to avoid looking bad in front of others, we almost automatically seek to place the blame someplace, any place, other than on us.  The paradox is that when we always place blame instead of taking responsibility, we actually do look bad in front of others, which is the very thing we’re trying to avoid.

What if the next time something we’re in charge of goes sideways, instead of choosing to place blame, we choose instead to not only take responsibility for the situation, but for its resolution as well?

From a leadership standpoint, this is the right thing to do.  When we take responsibility for our results we are communicating to others that we care about the quality of our work, about our contribution, and that we can be counted on to follow through to a successful completion.

No one has ever looked foolish doing that.

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Using Simple Language

Psychology is an elaboration of the obvious”    ~William James

I first heard this quote in a psychology class during college and immediately fell in love with it.  Not only did I find it accurate with regard to my psychology courses, I have also found it to be an excellent reminder about effective communication.

When we’re communicating with a wide range of people, or with people who are unfamiliar with a concept we are attempting to teach, we should strive to use language that most simply conveys our message.  I’m not talking about “dumbing down” our content, but rather choosing to avoid unnecessary complexities when clear simple language will suffice.

There are times when both the topic and the audience warrant complexity, like at a conference for rocket scientists or brain surgeons, for example.  But many of the concepts and ideas we want to share with other people can easily and effectively be delivered with clear and simple language.

The next time you have a presentation or a speech to give where you’ll be explaining a concept to wide ranging group, consider using clear simple language that is free of jargon and industry buzz words.  At the very least, you’ll be putting your audience in a better position to understand what you’re attempting to communication.  And at best, you may even be able to influence their thinking.

Act Like a Baby

Persistent

Determined

Tenacious

Focused

When you hear those words, does any specific type or group of people come to mind? Perhaps you think of a high achiever or someone who seems to get things done regardless of their circumstances.  For me when I hear those words I think of… babies.

Think about a baby that’s learning to walk.  They struggle to stand up, even with the support of a solid object, they wobble around, and they fall down.  But what makes me think of babies when I hear those words, is that after each setback or failed attempt, babies get back up and try again.

Once they get it in their mind to start walking, they will not be stopped until they achieve that goal.   They don’t quit because it’s hard.  They don’t complain because they suck at their first attempts.  A baby will repeat the process of getting up and falling down until they have mastered walking.

I stand in awe of the persistence, determination, tenacity, and focus of babies.

Is there any skill you’re currently trying to learn that has you frustrated and wanting to quit?  If so, I encourage you to act like a baby and embrace the process of falling down and getting back up to try again.

If a skill we’re trying to learn is truly important to us, we should approach it with the same level of persistence, determination, tenacity, and focus.

May we all be more like babies in this regard.

You Won’t Stay There For Long

Last Friday I bought my first bass guitar.  The following Wednesday evening I had my first bass guitar lesson.  I’ve been learning to play Louie Louie, Peter Gunn, Smoke on the Water, and Iron Man.  It’s been a lot of fun, but I’ve also realize something:  when it comes to playing the bass… I suck!

And you know what?  That’s exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Think about it.  We don’t go from being a beginner to mastering a topic in 1 lesson.  Learning is a process, and that process starts with not being very good (sucking) at whatever it is we’re attempting to learn.  It’s here where we begin identifying what we need to do to become better and then focusing our efforts toward that end.

When we suck at something, we have clear benchmarks to measure our progress.  In my case as a bass player, I’m sure I’ll suck next week too, but not as much as I do this week.  I’ll be able to see where I’ve improved over the last week and what I need to improve on in the week ahead.

The problem comes when we equate sucking at something because we’re new to it, with being incapable of learning.  As a result of this line of thinking, we often give up way too early without ever embracing the learning process and trusting that as we diligently progress, we will suck much less in the future that we do today.

I encourage you to get comfortable with the discomfort of the learning process.  If there’s’ something you’d like to study, learn, or pursue, go after it knowing that you’re GOING TO suck at first.  But also know that if you stick with it, you won’t stay there for long.