Leadership

Journey to Gratitude: Day 36

Day 36:
When I accepted my current position with Chick-fil-A Bristol, I accepted it on the terms that I would not have to work in the store. My role was purely an executive one, overseeing and directing our marketing and sales growth. As we embarked on our journey of culture change and leadership realignment, my role also began to shift, and I found myself being pulled more and more into the “operations” of the store (i.e. working in the store serving customers alongside my team). Eventually, my boss, the Owner/Operator, decided that he preferred having all Directors in the operations 40-50% of the time. Initially, I fought this directive and even considered resigning. “This is not what I signed on for!” I kept telling myself.

You see, I have worked in the service industry serving customers for 20 years – whether in entertainment, retail, or fitness. Now I am venturing into the food industry. With this much experience under my belt, I am ready for the “next level” – where I can merely advise and consult with a team versus serving alongside them in an operational capacity. But as I began to let go of my ego and acquiesce to this new directive, I began to see the tremendous opportunity I had to coach and develop our new and young leaders “in the moment” of the day-to-day operations, which is where we need feedback the most.

Today, I had many wonderful opportunities to coach and develop several on our team – leaders and team members alike. I had a great deal of constructive feedback for one particular young leader. Not only did she take it like a champ, but she then sent a public shout out to me on our leadership GroupMe group, thanking me for leading by example and setting folks for success before I left for the day. You can’t buy moments like that. Not only did it warm my heart for the public shout out, but I love seeing these young folks growing into such great leaders! So today, I am thankful for the humbling experiences God sends our way, and the great lessons we can learn from those experiences once we get our ego out of the way!

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Journey to Gratitude: Days 30-35

Life happens. While I made a note of my gratitude items each day, I did not get a chance to post them. So here’s the past week:

Day 30:
Today, I saw AMERICAN SNIPER (which was excellent, by the way). I am always amazed by those who have the courage and passion to serve this country, as I don’t think I could stand on the battle lines. So today I am thankful for those who serve our country to protect our freedom.

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Day 31:
Bella just turned 2 a couple of weeks ago. While the time is going by so very quickly, I am also thankful for this age. She can finally communicate with words her needs and wants, she understands commands from me, and best of all, we can go “play”! She is at such a fun age where she is curious about everything and has such a great awareness of the world around her. I can now take her to playgrounds and kids’ museums and the zoo – so many fun places!

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Day 32:
This weekend, Blaine and I stumbled upon an amazing deal on a foreclosed house for ourselves. In talking about the possibility of pursuing it, I decided to bring up my credit score. For those who haven’t followed my story, I filed bankruptcy during the peak of the recession (following job loss and all that comes with that). Four years later, I am in a much better place, and have managed to pay off all remaining debt (the car and my hefty student loans were excluded from the bankruptcy). Today, I am thankful for second chances and the ability to rebuild after tragedy, as my credit score is the highest it has ever been!

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Day 33:
My work team has seen A LOT of changes over the past year. Namely, we have gone through an entire culture change, nearly a complete turnover of our HPLT (high performance leadership team), and turnover of a third or so of our team members. It was a tough road, but we are in SUCH a better place now as a result, and 2015 is already off to an amazing start! Today, I am thankful for the new faces at our HPLT table, as I think we have a strong, cohesive team to propel us to the next level!

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Day 34:
Blaine and I put in an offer for the house we found over the weekend, and I became so excited and fixated on it that I was already imagining where we would put things. I could just *see* and *FEEL* us in this house. Alas, it was not in God’s plan, as someone swooped in with a cash offer well above our financed offer. I was heartbroken. And yet, it was a reminder that I need to learn to trust in God’s plan for us. This house or this time just wasn’t right, and there is other business we need to take care of before we settle into our dream home. Today, as hard as it is to swallow, I am thankful for that reminder.

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Day 35:
I was pretty disappointed about not getting that house. Blaine was trying to be encouraging that we would one day have our house, but maybe the timing wasn’t right and we need to get some other business aligned first. This loss gave us an opportunity to discuss many things – our present, our future, and most of all, how fortunate we are to have all that we currently have. I love theses moments when we can really connect with emotional intimacy and have a great chat about life. We don’t get those moments often – mostly because life is so busy and we don’t take (or make) the time to pause and have these discussions. So today, I am thankful for this rare gem that has the power to refuel our marriage and remind us why we have chosen each other.

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 28

Sometimes the Lord and/or the universe sends you signs that you are in the right path. Today, I received such a sign from a co-worker. This particular person confided in me, and did so because this person says he/she can talk to me. While I have actually been told this many times in my life (hence why I even began to research coaching), it is still always good to hear. Additionally, I took a personality test recently that said I am a Creator-Advisor…which essentially means that I like to create “things” and that people look to me for advice. Today was just further confirmation of that.

Additionally, I am thankful for a great work team. We were a little short-handed today, but we pulled together and still served guests well.

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INITIATIVE: Leading Action

Initiative and Drive

When I was still a budding, young leader in the business world, I had a supervisor who was very much a mentor to me.  However, being young and prideful, I didn’t always learn the lessons he was trying to teach until after the fact.  One such lesson was the day he told me, “Don’t bring me problems; bring me SOLUTIONS.”  (If you are familiar with Ken Blanchard’s ONE MINUTE MANAGER, this may sound familiar.)

At the time, that phrase frustrated me.  “If I had the solution, I wouldn’t be going to you!”  I would think to myself.  I wasn’t sure if my supervisor just didn’t have time for me, thought I was a nuisance, or just didn’t have the answer himself.  We would go round and round as I would go to him with issues, and he would turn me away to go find solutions before approaching him again.

Now that I am a seasoned leader who is beginning to teach other budding, new leaders, I get it.  What my supervisor had been trying to teach me was INITIATIVE.  It wasn’t so much that I needed to have the RIGHT solution when I approached him, but that I had SUGGESTIONS for solutions at all.  He was teaching me to think for myself – to begin the process of solving my own problems without relying on someone else to always tell me the right move to make.  Why is that so important?  Because – if you are truly a leader – you will continue to climb the ladder.  As you continue to climb , one day YOU will be THE leader that everyone comes to……and there won’t be someone else to turn to for the answers.  So somewhere along the way, you have to make that switch from always looking to someone else for the answers to finding the answers within yourself (or your team).  If you can’t make that switch, you won’t be able to gain respect from a following of team members, and you will cease to progress in your leadership journey.

Let me put this into perspective:  Let’s say you need to have some dental work done.  Your regular dentist is out, so you are seeing a new dentist that you’ve not seen before.  As he begins to work on your mouth, he keeps having to leave the room to consult with someone else, because he is uncertain of what to do.  Would you continue to allow that dentist to work on your mouth?

How about putting your faith in a hair stylist to put chemicals on your hair if she has to keep asking other stylists how to mix or use those chemicals?  Or would you put your life in the hands of a new driver on the freeway, if he/she is still asking how to operate the car?

The bottom line is we only trust those who seem confident in what they are doing.  When we have to constantly step away to ask others for the answers, our followers lose confidence in our ability to lead.  That confidence to make decisions (right or wrong) and find solutions within yourself or within your team is what will ultimately set you apart from other aspiring leaders.  The sooner you can make that switch to show initiative, the faster you will win the race to the top.

What is “initiative” anyway?  Merriam-Webster defines it as “the power or opportunity to do something before others do; the energy and desire that is needed to do something; an introductory step.”  Dictionary.com has another powerful definition: “leading action.”  What illustrative words!  “Power”…”energy and desire”…”LEADING ACTION”.  YES!

If you are early in your journey to being a leader, take these words to heart and LEAD ACTION!  Your mentors understand that you still need guidance, and from time to time will still need feedback or input on the course you have decided to take.  But your mentor would rather refine a course you have chosen, than to have to paint the path for you.  It is easier to promote those who are already LEADING ACTION, than to have to drag someone along or spur someone into action.  The bottom line and food for thought: voicing concerns without suggestions for solutions is just complaining.  And complaining just compounds the problem.  So be part of the solution, not part of the problem.  Show initiative, and LEAD ACTION!