Monday Rundown – 5 Things I Am Learning Lately

Tetons at Dusk During the past few years I have done a lot of self-examination to continue to push into the question of how can I most effectively use my gifts and talents in every area of my life. This is not an easy or fast question to answer and has taken years to get at. Am I there 100% with an answer to this question? No Am I closer? Yes. Everyone is busy. We all need to be picky about where and how we spend our time. During the past year I left one work context and expanded another. Outside of time with family and friends, this is how I spend my time on a regular basis: 1)  Senior Consultant at Leadership Vision Consulting (LVC) In this context I consult around the Clifton StrengthsFinder personality test and help organizations become strengths based. I also help develop business for our company and help with internal processes to help our business sustain the growth we are experiencing. 2)  Assistant Volleyball Coach at Bethel University This is my 11th season of coaching women’s college volleyball. This year is my second year back at Bethel University and it has been an exciting start to the season. In this context I help the head coach in any way that I can, work with our serve receive and team defense. I also took our team through an introductory experience around the Clifton StrengthsFinder during preseason. 3)  Lead Content Curator and Webmaster at www.josephdworak.com and www.mspbiking.com Both my personal website and new project, MSP Biking, push me to understand how the social media world works, and doesn’t work. In this new economy you need to know how to present yourself in a professional and credible way, and navigate social media, blogs, etc. This part of my life is where I am constantly learning new things. All of these contexts combine my talents and passions for a majority of the time I am engaged in those activities. Today is a perfect example, I will spend most of my day here at LVC working on things for the business, and eventually will go home, have dinner and then be off to practice at Bethel University for volleyball. What am I learning lately?   1)  It takes work to make sure you are living and breathing in contexts where your talents and passions align for the majority of your day. This almost...
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Your greatest chance for success is where you already are

A wise person once told me that my greatest chance of success was where I already was. This perplexed me some, because I was so focused on moving up. The statement and challenge is one I have come back to over and over again since I heard it. The question and challenge forced me to ask myself if I was truly maximizing my current platforms to the very best of my abilities. During the few years I lived in Washington, DC I lived in a culture of, 'if you don't move up in six months you are falling behind.' Whether I realized it or not, this had a shaping influence on how I thought about work and career. If I was not moving up in six months I was falling behind. I was fortunate to work for a Senator in DC and had two stints in that office. Between my times in the office I worked for a litigation communication firm, a company that did public relations for lawyers. My role was as an administrative assistant and it was not very challenging. I had to answer the phone and it rarely rang. I had to do research for the Vice Presidents and they rarely gave me projects. I had to write a manual so people could operate the fax machine if I was not there.  (I kid you not)  Diet Coke needed to be ordered, yep, I had that. Most of my time was spent asking for or trying to find things to do.  It was terribly boring. Regardless, looking back, there was more I could have done to maximize that platform. Did I ask all the talented people who I worked with to go out to lunch and try and learn from them? No. Did I continue to seek out extra projects to improve my own skill set and be seen as a more valuable asset to the company? Not enough. Did I find ways that the company could be more effective and efficient and more productive? No. The list could go on. I was not maximizing where I already was. Where have I had the most success in my career? By being faithful where I was at the time. By doing more than people expect. By speaking things that other people knew but would not say. By doing what I said I was going to do. By apologizing when I blew it. By helping...
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Lessons I am learning: It is all about relationships

A few months ago I wrote to you about things I was learning working at our company, Leadership Vision Consulting, and what it was like to work in a startup, or small company environment.

Three months in, I have learned a lot, and still have lots to learn.  

Maybe this is the new economy, and maybe it is an idea as old as time, but the biggest lesson I continue to learn is that is all about relationships.  In my old job I was in a a large organization of 1,000 employees and I did a good amount of internal networking to try and be successful in my role.  But, in some ways the networking was not super critical to my success.  Do not get me wrong, it helped, but it was not nearly as crucial as it is for me now working at a company of 6 employees.

Networking and relationships is something that is so vital both personally and professionally.  If you have read this blog, or my other iterations over the years you may have caught me talking about the importance of having mentors in your life. This remains critical to your success, but so do lateral relationships and people who you might be able to help as a mentor or guide.

How to Network

In networking the old adage applies, 100% - go with the goers.  If someone is skeptical of your attempts to connect, do not waste your time unless you have to connect with that person from some reason.  In the past I tried to connect with a very influential consultant who I knew I could learn a lot from.  He was guarded with me, which is not unusual for highly successful people, and figured I was just trying to sell him something.  I made it clear to him I wanted to hear why he was passionate about what he was doing, and some of he had learned over the years.  It was clear he wanted me to try and fit into some demographic that I did not fit into and the connection did not take root.  Move along to someone who will be generous with their time, and don’t waste it when they give it to you.  What can you do right off the bat to help that person with something you are good at?

What are you good...

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The Secret to Success (at least one that I know)

Do you want to be successful?  Here is a huge secret key that is so obvious many people overlook it:

You have to work harder than anybody else.

Let me repeat:

You have to work harder than anybody else. Last year I read a quick tweet from Rory McIlroy, the former #1 golfer in the world talking about how he was on the range practicing for a playoff golf tournament this week in Indiana.  Rory mentioned something about being the early bird on the range and that the range was not crowded.

Who is on that range at some early crack of dawn time?  Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.  Two of the best golfers in the world.  Does that surprise me?  No, not at all.  The best work harder than everybody else.  Period.

Do they have talent?  Yes.

Do they use their strengths to their advantage?  For sure.

Does talent win?  Not without hard work.

Are they in the right fit?  Yes.

Does fit matter?  Absolutely.  If you are not in the right fit, you may never get a chance to do what you do best.

Rory and Tiger work harder than other golfers who may have similar talent levels.  Tiger also is a victim of his own success because now young up and coming golfers also saw what he did and worked harder, practiced longer and now the whole level of golf on the PGA tour is better than it was years ago.

If you are in the right fit, and you are not working as hard as you can, do not complain about having less than excellent results.  Work hard, be the early bird.

Once you are in the right fit, it is not complicated....
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Are we all exclusive in how we talk? Avoid Insider Lingo!

insider lingo In any group, organization, company, school, tribe, etc there is always insider lingo.  Insider lingo is a code that only people who have been assimilated into the group or tribe understand and can decode rapidly.  Almost any time I enter into a new setting I immediately notice what is familiar, and what is not.  Lingo and language often has subtle nuances that are easy to notice if you are new, but not even a second thought for those already 'in.'  Is this bad?  Is this good?  Neither probably, but it can be exclusive and limiting if you want to bring new people into your group, tribe, etc. In the past few months I changed careers and do strengths based organizational consulting full time.  Our company, Leadership Vision Consulting, works with the strengthsfinder to help people, teams and cultures become strengths based.  Do we have our own lingo at our company?  Absolutely.  Do I have to help connect people to what our company does and how we might be able to help their organization?  Yes!  Do I have to make sure our own insider lingo does not get in the way of their ability to understand what we do?  Absolutely. My New Job  As part of my transition to my new job, I have been doing tons of networking meetings and finding out so much about companies and what people do for a living.  It has been great to get in a bunch of new settings and find out how people are changing the world through a lot of new and exciting ways.  Minneapolis and St. Paul is a hotbed of innovation in so many areas including medical technology and more.  In many of the meetings I have been in there is a good amount of business jargon and insider lingo that is thrown around without a second thought if the listener understands what is being said.  It is usually possible to decode what the people are talking about, but if they head to the acronym world, that presents a whole new level of exclusivity. Exclusive Acronyms  Yah so in the first quarter we need to hit our SMART goals through our new NEC initiative and run any decisions by our CEO, COO, CFO and make sure the exec group approves our TNT based SME quickly and we get...
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