Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Character Building Opportunity

Character Building Opportunity 
We heard it often growing up…all the ways that we were supposedly “building character”
Lose a Little League game.  Get a bad grade on a test.  Bring home a substandard report card.  Get in trouble. Get disciplined.  Suffer through an embarrassment.   
That’s okay, “it builds character.” 
What about now?   

Now we’re grown up.  We’re not in Little League.  We’re beyond high school.  We’ve learned right from wrong, and we’ve all been embarrassed at one time or another.  
When “things” happen these days, in adulthood…when we lose the argument, encounter adversity (at work or at home), or when we’re left feeling embarrassed…are we still building character?

Maybe in some cases…but…
As adults – as leaders, coaches, bosses, business partners, friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, significant others – when we’re put to the test, whether it be in our personal lives or at work, we have an opportunity to reveal our character.  
These are the moments that speak volumes about who we really are, on the inside and just how strong of a person we’ve become
One of the Merriam-Webster definitions of the word, character is:
noun \ˈker-ik-tər, ˈka-rik-\

·      the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves : someone's personality

The OneMoreStep opportunity here is realizing that around every turn, in any season, we have a chance to reveal our true character.  
When our true character is revealed- the way we think, feel, and behave - it just might make a positive difference in someone’s life.  Or it could have a negative impact on those around us.
The good news is that what actually gets revealed is absolutely up to us.  We get to choose!

Character is the will to do what's right even when it's hard.” - Andy Stanley

Two for the road… 

Last year I watched the 2011 documentary, Undefeated, which documents the struggles of a high school football team in Memphis, TN.   

Coach Bill Courtney, the Manassas Tigers Head Football Coach started coaching the film’s featured group of seniors when they were all in the 8th Grade. 

While it’s very cool to watch what Coach Bill did with the Tigers on the football field, what makes the film so inspiring is that it’s really not about football…it’s about character.

Earlier this year, Coach Bill Courtney’s book, AgainstThe Grain: A Coach’s Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family, and Love, came out.  I read it cover to cover, and not only loved it, I recommend the book for anyone, at any stage in his or her life or career.  Coach Bill challenges us all to become uncommon men and women, and the principles and illustrations in the book will leave you inspired to do just that.  True gifts from a coach.

Relationship Mechanics
Earlier this month my girlfriend and I took a trip to Southern California to escape the Vegas heat.   
About halfway through our 3.5 hour drive across the desert, we heard a clack, clack, clack, clack sound coming from under the car…a bit concerning at 70 miles per hour, on I-15 in the middle of nowhere.
We made it to our destination late Friday night but bright and early the next morning, we were off to Huntington Beach, CA.  We had looked up an auto repair shop in the area, and at just after 7am, we pulled up to Francisco’s Automotive.
I walked into the shop, and there sat a happy, smiling face with a cup of coffee, tidying up his desk.  Francisco himself.
He quickly said, “Good morning…how are you?  What can I do for you today?”  I gave him the rundown, and he asked me a few more questions...he was genuinely interested – where I’m from, what I’m doing in town, what I do in Vegas, etc.
He came out to the car, took a quick look under the car, and put Jenna and I both at ease…telling us this was no problem.  The cover underneath the car had simply come loose, with all the winds we drove through the night before.  He told us he could have it fixed right up for us in no time, and he assured us that it would be totally fine to drive back to Vegas the next day.

While we waited for his mechanics to report to work, Francisco made small talk with us.  He asked us what we would like to see while we were in town, offered up suggestions for sights to see, places to eat, and great places to watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.   
He invited us to come around, on his side of the counter, so we could see his computer screen as he Google Imaged different areas along the Pacific Coast Highway that we should ‘check out’ while we were in town.
The coolest part…when he and his team finished up with our car, we asked him how much we owed him.  He said, “absolutely nothing…just put some money in that little thing there”, pointing to a donation box for American Family Housing, an organization offering housing and supportive services to the poor, the homeless, and low income families. (

Francisco went on to tell us how he, too, was homeless when he was a child, and the American Family Housing philanthropic work that he does has become his true passion these days.   
He not only survived homelessness, growing up in Southern California, but he started his own business from nothing.
Having experienced Francisco’s service first-hand, I can see why he’s been so successful as an entrepreneur since the mid 1980’s.   
I’m sure he’s extremely knowledgeable about cars, but I can’t help but think that his success is mostly because of his character.
If you’re ever in Huntington Beach and find yourself in need of some auto mechanic magic, Francisco’s Automotive is your place – 7662 Slater Ave.  Tell Francisco Taylor and Jenna sent you…
Have a great day.

Francisco's YouTube video, giving anyone and everyone a glimpse into what customers can expect says it all:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Captains...Steer 'SHIPs

Captains Steer ‘SHIPs
Everybody wants to be “The Captain”.
As we deal with people – at work, at home, or in the community…it seems like ‘everything would just be easier, if we were in charge…if only we were the so-called, “Captain” of the ship’. 
But is it really that easy?
You see ‘Captains’ of any team – sports teams, work teams, or otherwise must steer ‘SHIPS…


Above all else, true captains must be leaders.  They don’t need to be “bossy”…just leaders.  Most of the time, the captains that emerge are not even defined by title, but instead they lead by example.  Regardless of the official “title”, leaders LEAD – they Listen, Educate, take Action, and Deliver for their teammates.
Consider the “Team Captains” on sports teams…take the stars of this year’s NBA Finals – Lebron James & D. Wade for the Miami Heat and Tony Parker & Timmy Duncan for the San Antonio Spurs.  Watch them, and notice the connections they have with coaches, teammates, fans, and even the media.  It’s apparent that they spend time fostering relationships with the people around them.  That’s one of the reasons so many people gravitate toward them, respecting them as team captains.
Captains realize that despite their superior talent, they can’t ‘do it alone’.  They’re never afraid to rely on their partners.  Russell Wilson has to trust his offensive line to protect him, and if/when plays breakdown, he has to trust his teammates to make plays…because he simply can’t win games on his own.  Captains understand the importance of maximizing true partnerships that result from the meaningful and productive relationships they foster with teammates.
FellowSHIP, FriendSHIP, & CompanionSHIP
Think about the most likeable people on your contact list in your phone.  Think about the most inspiring leaders you’ve ever known.  Consider your most trusted partners at work.  Chances are the people that come to mind make it a point to develop a sense of community with those around them.  They don’t lead through fear or power.  Instead, they gain credibility and admiration as a result of their compassion and genuine interest in other people.  With credibility and admiration comes likeability, and a person’s likeability is what makes them someone worthy of following.
Perhaps this one doesn’t come to mind as often as the other “SHIPs” listed above. 
I love this Merriam-Webster definition of stewardship:
The conducting, supervising, or managing of something; the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care  
True captains understand that it’s not all about them.  In fact, they know and understand that the very thing they’re captaining doesn’t even belong to them.  That’s what makes them special…because while they understand that ‘it’ doesn’t belong to them (the team, the office, the building, the situation, or the project), they step up and take full responsibility anyway, as if it were their own. 
Lebron and D. Wade don’t own the Miami Heat, but they carry themselves, on and off the court, as if they do.  They relish opportunities to represent their owners and fan base, as the face of the franchise.  In turn, the Miami Heat organization, from the front office to coaches to players to the city of Miami entrust their fate in Lebron and D. Wade. 

The OneMoreStep thought is simply this:
For anyone who thinks they’re so low on the totem pole that they’ll never make an impact…and for anybody worried that their unique talents and hard work might never be good enough to be noticed…if we’ll just keep steering ‘SHIPs, we too can emerge as “Captains”.
Because Captains…steer ‘SHIPs!
Have a great day.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Life Happens...In Seasons

Life Happens…in Seasons

Nowadays, with HBO GO, Netflix, and Amazon, it’s so easy to watch season after season of our favorite shows. When we watch several seasons of our favorite shows, in succession, we pick up on subtle changes in the characters we love.    

We all watched the Huxtables grow up before our very eyes back in the day.  We found ourselves feeling for Anthony Junior and Meadow Soprano, along with Tony's and Carmella’s many ups and downs.  We pull for Vinny Chase and the boys, in Entourage, and we can’t wait to see what Ari is going to do next. 

We seem to notice as characters begin to grow into their full potential.  Even Rudy Huxtable grew up (on the Cosby Show), Christopher became a made man (in Sopranos), and in the last season of Entourage, even Turtle became a millionaire. 

Though we find ourselves almost connected to these characters, they’re not real.  It’s just a show, but we can still relate to them, because we know we must face the same types of issues in our own lives.  If we were to watch our own lives back, through the seasons, I'm sure we'd notice subtle changes, developments, and growth...personally and professionally. 

Maybe this is obvious, but then again, maybe it is worth mentioning.  In our own lives, in the real world, we’ll have great days and we’ll have bad days.  We’ll have fun times and we’ll have incredibly annoying situations to endure along the way.  We’ll enjoy success one minute, and seemingly struggle to find our way the next. 

We’ll have good seasons and we’ll have bad seasons

It happens.  Life happens.

Keep looking up, being you, and doing the right thing.  More often than not, we look back and realize that’s what got us here (wherever we may be) in the first place. 

One for the road…

Last week a dear friend of mine and her husband were in Las Vegas on vacation.  We had a chance to catch up; we talked about old times, our many mutual friends, and brought each other up to speed on what’s new in our lives. 

We’ve been friends since the summer of 1999 – 15 years ago.  We exchanged emails once she got back to Florida.  We both shared with each other that we still think of our old crew, the fun times interning at Disney, and the glory days in our 20’s. 

I loved what she wrote back:

I agree - I think about everyone so often - it's just so hard to believe that it was all 15 years ago this much life has happened since then and because of then!  Continue to do great things in Vegas; you’re at a really nice spot and only good things will keep happening for you!

Thanks, to my dear friend Jess Hodge Barnes, for reminding me that ‘so much life has happened since then and because of then.” 

When we feel down in the dumps, we should remind ourselves that life happens…in seasons.  While today’s circumstances may not be ideal, what we do with the cards we’re dealt today impacts how great tomorrow (or next week or next month or next year) will be. 

Have a great day.