Daily Archives: June 25, 2010

Brick walls are made to hurdle

Do you have challenges?

Are obstacles in your way?

If so, what are you doing about it?

I receive lots of inquiries from managers around the world who describe the “brick walls” they have in their situation that’s preventing their success. It’s anything from:

  • “How can I develop an IT strategy when our company doesn’t have a strategy?”
  • “We don’t have enough resources to do what’s required.”
  • “My career is blocked.”
  • “I have a problem employee and can’t get rid of him.”

Well, “brick walls” and life’s challenges are made to hurdle. To an extent, problems are just excuses. The reality of things is that we are in more control than we often think we are.

Do you remember when the 4-minute mile was broken, , , or the pole vaulter topped 18-feet?

The 4-minute mile was broken by Roger Bannister in 1954. Prior to that, scientists and athletes believed it was physically impossible for a man to run a mile faster than 4 minutes.

What happened after Bannister ran the mile in under 4 minutes?

You got it, , , it became common place for runners to run the mile in under 4 minutes because the mental barrier had finally been broken. In fact, the record time for the mile has been reduced by some 17 seconds since 1954, , , impossible, they said.

When you have a “brick wall” in your life, it makes your situation tough to be sure, , , but that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. Learn as much as you can about this “brick wall” obstacle, , , prepare yourself, , , develop a plan, , , seek outside help, , , and determine how to get over the wall.

You may not succeed the first time. I know from personal experience that I’ve skinned my knees and elbows, , , bloodied my nose a few times, , , and still have a few scars from trying to hurdle some of the “brick walls” in my career and life.

However, my belief is that most challenges can be overcome given the right motivation and preparation. In some cases, you may need to simply walk away from the wall because it is unrealistic to get over it, , , but have you tried bursting through the wall, , , going around it, , , digging under it, , , doing something different to get over it?

The objective is to get to the other side – right?

Before you walk away, take some time to “think out of the box” a bit and maybe even collaborate with someone who has dealt with these types of obstacles before, , , or possibly has some insight into.

If getting to the other side is worthwhile, don’t give up easily, even if at first you don’t succeed. Keep at it and whittle away at the obstacle, , , perseverance is a powerful attribute and trait of many successful people who dealt with their own “brick walls” before they achieved success, , , people like:

  • Colonel Harland Sanders, creator of Kentucky Fried Chicken – over 60 years old before he franchised his chicken recipe.
  • Abraham Lincoln lost 8 elections, failed in two businesses, and had a nervous breakdown –  one of the most remarkable examples of perseverance who became one of the best Presidents in US history.
  • Thomas Edison reportedly failed over 10,000 times in his quest to develop a practical working light bulb – his comment, “every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward”.

“Brick walls” are made to hurdle. Take a hard look at the obstacles in your situation and tackle them with knowledge, a positive “can do” attitude, , , and persevere. You might be amazed at the result.

Managers earn respect; it doesn’t come with title

How many times have you heard a manager tell someone they have to do something because, “I’m the Manager.”?

I learned early in my management career as a young Marine that you can give an order and the troops will carry it out but when they respect you and understand why the order was given, it’s done with a whole lot more enthusiasm and quality.

A nice title gives you nothing more than to say you have a responsibility for something. Employees, especially bright technical employees, don’t just do what you ask because you are the “manager”. They take their cues and make their moves based upon how their leader motivates them and whether they have confidence in him or her.

Little things like showing respect for people, taking the “hit” when the organization or someone in it fails, stepping up to a difficult employee situation, and giving the team and individual staff members credit for successes are all subtle things that leaders do. It’s what makes people want to follow and go the extra mile for you.

Managers lead by example ever day of the week. Never forget that eyes are watching you to determine how they should react to situations and they are learning from you all the time, , , even when you don’t expect it.

I had a former employee share something with me many years after he had worked for me. There was an event to do with something I did in a staff meeting that I couldn’t even recall, but it had a profound impact on him and became something that he incorporated into his own management style years later.

They are watching, learning, and replicating your actions and behavior into their own approaches. Managers earn respect by action and successes, not words or foolish things called titles.

You owe it to every member of your staff to set the right tone and example in work ethic, treatment of others, and teamwork. It will repay you many times over.

Invest in yourself

Managers need to constantly learn and improve their skills just like all the rest of your staff. Big things can happen when you learn new concepts and techniques that improve your performance.

Some of the best lessons I have learned have been insights gained from watching and observing others. I have also gained a considerable amount of skill by attending formal classes. One of the quickest ways to improve your skill set is to get the “abridged” or condensed version from those who have already walked in the shoes you are walking in now.

The first time down any path can be confusing, vague, difficult, and especially challenging. How many times have you listened to someone explain an issue to you and the “light goes on”? There are all types of educational resources available to you if you want to take advantage of them, , , some formal and some not so formal.

Invest in yourself each year and you will see that the results of your efforts improve considerably over time.

Don’t underestimate the value of having a solid mentor, , , or two. A good coach can save you considerable time and frustration on any number of topics and situations. Good mentors are literally worth their weight in gold because of the differences they can make in your productivity and effectiveness by sharing their experiences that can help you in areas you are seeing for the first time.

Take the knowledgeable path with a mentor; you will have fewer bruises.