Interact…

We are, in some strange kinda way, interacting as you read these words. You may be interacting with my thoughts mere seconds after I published them or many moments, weeks, or days. You are not paying anything for this except for the high price of your attention. Your attention, friend, is priceless. Today, via an ever increasing “touch screen” world, our attention is overwhelmed with attractions. You and I can interact with anyone and almost anything via our thumbs. Yes, the world is no longer at your fingertips, figuratively, but under your thumbs, literally.

Leader, do not miss this change in expectation. If your team can interact with nearly everything at the touch of a screen, they expect more access and interaction with you. I’m not telling you how to figure it out, that’s up to you. Just know it’s coming. Your team, especially your youngest teammates, expects their leader to be more interactive. And, they want a seat at the table ’cause they’ve got ideas they at least want to share. As leaders do not be afraid of this desire and demand for more interaction, instead, welcome it. After all, remember, nobody is as smart as everybody. Let that thought sink in, friend.

Good to be with you for a few moments of your busy, interactive day. If you’re a client of mine, you know we’ll be talking soon. Yes, I still prefer talk over text for most of my interacting. Whatever works, works. You choose. Your choices have consequences.

In the future anything that doesn’t interact well will be considered broken. Leader, this includes you. Good…

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Kyle & Kyle…

Today, I practiced with a couple clients on my early morning walk. We covered some good ground together, both literally and figuratively. Next I headed to Dr. Cuttfirstaskquestionslater. She found only one suspect for cut 48. I smiled as I left her and turned toward the airport, even though I’m not going anywhere. Along with a hundred or so other supporters, I applauded Kyle Snyder’s return from Rio. It was great to see Grappy and Kyle in their glory, so happy for them and so happy to share the moment with them. Gurue was there. FM left his opus to come alongside and support. Slo had his best suit on in between client commitments but he was there too. Even downer showed and screamed like a school boy. So fun to see.

And then it hit me. We are here because another client of mine pushed me out of my comfort zone. Funny how stuff works out, huh.

Back on 270 and headed west I made my way to another location and another client named Kyle. Kyle’s authoring his opus and is one of the craziest clients I could ever imagine. Working with him is like trying to break Bucephalus (Alexander the Greats horse). He is seemingly untamable and yet he leans into every practice like his life depends upon it. I never imagined Kyle would find a labor of love in his current work. I had no idea.

At the moment I’m back home getting ready for my final practice of the day. It’s been a full day in passionate pursuit of my opus. A full day is not measured in medals, is it. A full day is measured by how ful-filling are the moments. I’m convinced that Kyle’s triumphant return would have been just as full for him if he had come back with silver instead of gold. As long as he had left a full effort on the mat, pushed himself to the limit, and simply been beaten by a better grappler, his return from Rio would have been just as ful-filling. Don’t get me wrong, the crowd would have been much smaller. I don’t think he would have cared. So, today, put in a full effort regardless the audience, friend. Kyle and Kyle are both living out their opus. One Kyle’s audience is a bit larger and the other Kyle has deeper pockets. Noise to both.

You see I know both Kyle’s kinda well and they both play for an audience of ONE. As Kyle number two told me. “I’m going for my gold medal everyday.” He is. So is Kyle one. How ’bout you, friend? What’s gonna fill you up today? What work is gonna provide its own reward? And, what are you doing to eke out the small, incremental gains toward ful-filling your destiny? Good to be with you, Kyle, Kyle & Clients today. Good to give. Good to receive. Good to feel full. Good…

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Brits, Kenyans, and performance…

In the recorded history of marathons only 51 men have run the 26.2 miles in under 2:06. Forty seven of them are from Kenya and Ethiopia. In the London Olympics, British cyclists won 12 medals in road and track cycling – double any other nation. And, the British have won three of the last four Tour de France races and could have made it 4 for 4 if not for Chris Froome’s unfortunate accident.

Are we to assume Brits are simply made for cycling and Kenyan’s were born to run?

Think about the top performers around your place of work. When you try to explain their performance as compared to yours don’t you do likewise and kinda say something about how they were the lucky gene pool winners or simply better by innate design, demographics, or just downright lucky?

Fact. The British pretty much sucked at cycling until recent history and Finland dominated distance running for decades. The British rise to the top of cycling has been guided by Dave Brailsford who has boiled down his training philosophy into a singular phrase – “Performance by the aggregation of marginal gains.”

In other words, there are no silver bullets. The British are focused on lots and lots of lead bullets that, on their own, produce only marginal gains. However, as they pile them on top another, they add up to measurable distance. Your performance might be in need of lots of small disciplines that lead to measurable gains as well. There are no silver bullets to your performance. Lead bullets, please. Lots of lead bullets, friend. I’m guessing the Ethiopian/Kenyan connection isn’t as much about proximity to mountains and predestination either. Wanna better performance?

Aggregrate a bunch of marginal gains, my friend – lots and lots and lots of lead bullets. Good…

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Clean your craw…

Yesterday during practice 214 with a team of thirty souls, the head of the system challenged the team without so much as a second thought. His second nature is getting tight, you see. The time it takes him to go from having a thought to opening his mouth has  dramatically shrunk over the course of the past six years. He has less worry around how his words will be perceived and more belief he can always repair if he goes too far. So, yesterday he pushed and his team received and pushed back too. His words were good. His words were not frustrated, angry, or condescending. His words were challenging and came from belief. Good.

Your strength, leader, is not reflected in your ability to power over people where you enjoy a “one up position.” Your strength is reflected in your ability to influence. And, nothing increases your influence with those under your position than your presence. Your presence, if you want your power to multiply, must be calm, consistent, and caring. And, your presence must ooze a tendency toward a performance edge. We want our leader to perform and have an edge that oozes her competence in her craft without any complacency creep. We want our leader committed to competence in her craft and carry herself with calm, consistency, caring, and confidence without condescending. We want our leader to inspire us in the heat of the moment by regulating the room, not overheating, and certainly not coming unhinged. High bar, huh.

Today, remember the best way to avoid the hijacking of your emotions regardless the triggers, is to build your second nature and shorten the time it takes you to move from thought to action. You see, the root of frustration that condescends is found in your craw. Nothing good happens when you allow negative thoughts to sit and fester in your craw. You think you’re doing us all a favor by holding everything in but you’re not. Once the pressure hits whatever represents your boiling point, the stuff accumulating in your craw comes out and it’s most likely not going to be the stuff either you or teammates wants coming up and out.

Yesterday, I saw an example of good stuff coming out ’cause it hadn’t been in there long. And, I saw some not so nice stuff come out and shut down a teammate who simply sat there and took it. Not good.

Want a team that runs through walls for you, leader? Clean up your craw. If you find yourself holding onto negative thoughts about one of your teammates, you are not doing anyone a favor by letting them accumulate in your craw. The best way to clean a dirty, cluttered craw is to start with a curious question. Most conflict is simply a convo to be had. Your problem, most likely, is you’ve been waiting too long to talk. You’ve been holding back out of some misplaced fear or some rationalization. Come clean, friend. Talk to your teammate. Start curious. Stay open. Go slow. Once you gain perspective, do your job.

Correct. Challenge. Encourage. Repair. Demand. Come alongside. Get out of the way. Put parties together. Pull pairs apart. Hard being a leader, huh. Gotta love the team and love the craft. And, don’t forget to clean your craw…

 

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Hurt to help…

Today, during a hard, virtuous team practice, one teammate in particular was given some difficult feedback. He had a hard time hearing what was said. He heard that he was being singled out and unfairly so to boot. He didn’t hear me attempt to lessen his hurt by making sure I hit a couple of his peers. He hurt. His emotional reaction confirmed his feelings – he went down and then he went down further.

Not good.

Leaders, you cannot simply wear your emotions on your sleeve. You cannot claim you’re being authentic when you react sadly and slowly to bad news. Newsflash – your team doesn’t really care how you’re feeling. Your team expects you to lead well, anyway. Today, a leader heard he tends to go all “Eor” when dealing with his day to day realities. I hit him with this truth and his teammates confirmed my finding. Funny, it’s usually me initiating the obvious truth telling in the room. Funny, huh…

You see, most humans hold back hitting tough topics or hurting people. They think they’re being caring by pulling punches and allowing their teammates to miss out on hearing hard truth. Funny, these same humans have a boiling point where suddenly they are ready to hit and hit hard. Rarely are these moments met with anything but the Heisman. So, hit early and often my virtuous teammate/leader. Your feedback is best delivered in the moment and as a matter of fact, not frustration. Today, I challenged a teammate out of my belief that he can be so much better. He didn’t take it well, but he took it. Calmly, consistently, and caring is the aim for your delivery. Your problem, most likely, is you know this. You just believe too much in hope. You hope someone else will deliver it. You hope somehow your teammate will get it on their own. You hope the whole thing will just go away. You hope.

Hope is not a strategy, leader. Help is. Your job is to help your teammate hear the truth, sometimes it’s really hard truth too. Sometimes you’ve got to hurt to help. Fact. So, my recipe for building has been to hit hard but never attack from the back. Don’t be afraid to hurt to help. The aim, remember, is to make your teammate whole. Whole hearted so they can give their committed best, beside you.

Hurt to help. Heal. Whole hearted aim. Hard. Good…

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Becoming elite…

Today we kickoff season three with the Buckeyes. In looking back over our practice notes from the past two years, I smiled as I read what I captured during practice one – our first practice with the team of grapplers. Kyle Snyder was a freshmen but he was grabbing the reins even then. I had asked the team why, during BTL practice, they are going to be forced to write. No arms shot up except his. I didn’t know his name, so he introduced himself. I didn’t know what year he was, so he told me. And then he went on to explain what he thought about writing.

“I write everyday,” he said all ccd. I asked him what he writes about. “My daily training plan for starters,” he explained. Don’t the coaches do that for you, I replied. His reply was the language of elite. He didn’t know this, he is this. “I write my own training plans because mine are harder,” he stated as a matter of fact. No emotion. No bravado. No hesitation. Fact.

After our BTL practice came to a close, I couldn’t wait to give Grappy my first impression of his squad. I asked him to tell me more about that Kyle Snyder kid. “He’s special,” Grappy replied. I told Grappy he’s mature beyond his years and is going to be quite a leader around here, but is he any good? Grappy simply smiled. We had no idea.

Elite performers don’t wait. Elite model the way, embrace pain and suffering, and don’t tolerate mediocrity. And, the best of the best like Kyle make those around them want to be better. They make the lesser skilled want to become more instead of settling for getting the gear. And, the elite are hardest on one person – themselves. They don’t get down when they taste the valley of defeat, they get more committed. To my eyes, the hinge moment for Kyle’s Olympic gold came a few year prior when he lost in the NCAA championship. Kyle’s hinge moment came in defeat. He did not get down on self. He got harder on self.

In your journey toward becoming your best, there are bound to be many a test. Your height and honor will be more about your response to defeat, setback, injury of all kinds, then it will be to anything else. Write out your aim. Write out your strategies. Write out why you’re gonna love the process of becoming not the glory or the gold. Write out who you plan to bring along. Write out who, beside you, this big dream is for. Write until you’ve got an OPUS that truly represents your labor of love. Now you’re ready. Get to work, friend. Keep working. Keep training. Keep reaching. Keep humbly getting after it. An authentic OPUS doesn’t make work any less like work. In fact, it makes it more. You are meant for this kinda work.

How ’bout you, friend, you ready to work? Kyle is. How ’bout you? How badly do you want it, right Durp? Good.

 

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Training…

“We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.” Archilochus, Greek soilder, 650 B.C.

“Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.” Unknown Navy SEAL

“It comes down to what you value. If you value winning and gold medals then the thing you’re going to most fear is losing. I’m strict in the way I think about sport. I do it because I can love it. I can be the best at it. If I were not to win another one of these because people are better than me, then people are better than me.”  Kyle Snyder 2016 Olympic Gold medalist.

We have the privilege, at BTL, to train elite performers, like Kyle. Kyle and his roommate, Nate, outwork their teammates at OSU. These two never stop training. OSU wrestling, just like your team, only has a few willing to keep working after they win. Fact. Most humans stop working once they’ve won a little gold. These two never stop. We begin season three with this team tomorrow. Grappy and I don’t plan to ever stop. Why would we? We will never arrive regardless how many champions his coaching produces. We will keep training. Good.

We practice with kman, Durp, Joeylamb, dub, slo, Timmyd, Tommyc, young Kenny, and a few other teams, toward our purpose of becoming ONE, distinct and deeply connected. We will practice toward this aim from the moment you hire us. We have discovered that training individuals, teams, and leaders toward the aim of becoming one is the heart of high performance. We will train you, first. We will train you and your team next. We will train you and your next generation of leaders too. We will never stop training you until you fire us. Our aim is to train. Under pressure you will be transformed. Your performance will level up. Your performance gains will force BTL training gains. Your performance in your work/life will reflect your training gains. Together we improve. And, the gains will NOT be linear and will come in fits and starts. We will fall in love with the idea of training.

The virtuous cycle will continue till we slide sideways into the grave. Good. BTL Builders, revised 2016.

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