How to Find the Edge

What is the edge of your risk? How are you going about your everyday routine? Are you wasting time on your devices? Do you find yourself spending hours in areas that do not help you grow, but perhaps only help you spend time? Where can you spend time looking for the edge?

Over the past year I have had the great fortune to spend time and learn from incredible guests while hosting the Roots of Leadership Podcast. They each bring valuable lessons from their experiences and share their insight on what it takes to be a great leader. Looking for the edge may be a little bit bumpy. Inspiration is the intersection of difficult with the belief that you can do it. What area can you stretch yourself into that is new, different and maybe perhaps a bit uncomfortable?

Create your own destiny. You can be a force of one. Live in the moment where you stand right now and learn to win in that moment. Define your ultimate version of success. Stay patient and work hard. Grind your way to greatness. You can do more with less. Be willing to take something that is difficult and break it down to its simplest elements in an effort to understand them at their smallest parts. Persevere over your obstacles and do not let your past harden you. Do not give up. Be fearless in your continued strive for excellence. Take every opportunity you can and put your best foot forward in the work you produce. Life is all about choices. Be a sponge, learn as much as you can. Do the best you can every day. Seek out new opportunities. Do not let labels define you.

Be empathetic in your leadership. Understand the people you want to lead. Be an active listener and communicate with those around you. Be passionate in your pursuits to help others. Find inspiration in your peers. Both experiences and new colleagues have something to share and teach us. Raise the profile of others by giving them the opportunity to bring out the best in themselves. Make a difference in someone else’s life today.

Spend time working on you, for you and for others. Anything is possible. Be the best version of yourself for those around you. Be yourself and own it. Increase your confidence in all aspects of life. Embrace your inner child. Have faith and patience. Let go, trust and believe you won’t fail. Utilize your creative brain. There are real solutions to every problem. Do not make excuses for what has happened in your past and do not make excuses to prevent what could happen in your future.

You can create best practices for achieving successful outcomes in your life. What are you prepared to do to help yourself build the edge of greatness?

How to find the Edge Podcast

Anthony C. Gruppo in collaboration with Kimberly Cummins

Return on Investment

By: Anthony C. Gruppo & Michelle Sartain

Throughout our careers we have made investments in the lives of many colleagues. Whether our role is professional or personal we all make investments in those around us that we strive to support and serve. We make an investment to improve lives and for them to have greater overall success. As a parent, we try to teach our children valuable lessons that they can carry with them into adulthood. The same is true for our colleagues. As leaders, our goal is to help others do their job more effectively and build the skills necessary to thrive. It is our responsibility to help those we serve become the best versions of their selves by helping them to find and develop the tools they need to become successful.

However, we have each watched young colleagues become successful professionals and turn away from their obligation to become role models themselves. The cycle is broken when we invest in others and they do not invest in those that come after them. Many times the return on investment is well below our expectations. We often feel disappointment when the people we invest in come up short on their responsibility.

We have learned over time that it is best to expect little in return for your investment in other people. When you open your eyes and forget about the bottom line, you see that the true return on investment is the net gain of the improvement in yourself. The most powerful force in the world is the inner energy you possess. The investment we make needs to be in our own work ethic and values. Create a sense of excitement for yourself to do the best you can for those around you. We believe that the true return on investment comes when we challenge others to invest the hard work in developing themselves and they find equal excitement and fulfillment in doing so. Leadership comes with a price and a premium. The price is to invest our time and attention to those we serve. The premium is to remember those that invested their time and attention in us, so that we could triumph over our challenges.

In corporations, return on investment usually means a financial profit. If you truly dedicate yourself to give more than you get, the return is a profit that grows larger with your commitment to others. Become an investor in your goals and an owner of your dreams. Your return on investment is the example you set for everyone following your lead.

 

 

HONESTY: THE ENDANGERED SPECIES

In today’s workplace, honesty is an endangered species. Even when you think you have spotted it, you may reach out to touch it and discover someone’s integrity has disappeared into extinction right before your eyes.

There is really only one reason why people avoid the truth. It is survival. The ‘flight or fight response’ leads the mind to question a person’s own actions and answer their fears. It may be the fear of making a mistake that makes history or the fear of standing for something when others will not. The fear can also be of losing ground and losing face. Suddenly, fear builds into an accumulation of half-truths appearing more viable than the truth. Half-truths rob opportunity of the ability to deliver trust.

Only trust will remove fear and replace doubt with confidence and performance. When we sacrifice honest feedback, we rob others of the opportunity to set new personal goals. Often times, this can be seen when unsatisfactory performance is recognized, but not confronted until someone is suddenly moved or terminated. The blow of an unsuspected and sudden consequence usually leaves the victim with the “deer in the headlights” look. They never realized they should have tried to do something differently. Individuals who fail to confront others with honest feedback are not leaders, but cheaters. They frequently sacrifice commitment to their colleagues to install a quick fix or serve their own personal agendas.

In the end, the choice for anything less than integrity leaves nothing more than face value. Eventually, predators will sense you are no real threat and put you on the endangered species list.

Think of your company as an ecosystem requiring a balance of life forms to ensure survival and growth. One of the greatest threats to an organization’s ecosystem is the absence of trust. Consider the energy you see devoted to spreading criticism and disappointment in others on any given day. Listen and be honest about what you hear. If you replace criticism and disappointment with support and solutions, you will create an environment focused on evolution rather than the threat of its predators.

Build an environment of trust and growth. We can expect people to take chances on learning only if we give them the space to explore their skills. Teach individuals to grant themselves permission to make mistakes. Help others to pursue their dreams and don’t criticize the risk they are willing to take. In areas where others have failed, they may succeed.

If leaders find a colleague facing unmet expectations, they must help them stand up with dignity and move forward. The pressure of disappointment which overachievers place on themselves is always greater than the pressure anyone else can put on them. Choose to broker in honesty rather than disappointment and colleagues will seek your counsel. If failure occurs because a commitment was made but no energy was invested, the leader is responsible for delivering pressure to create focus.

If we are honest with ourselves, failure will never be unknown or sudden. It is everyone’s responsibility to design survival or end-game strategies when others fail. End-game strategies will prepare you to pull out the survivors and execute the alternatives. Teach everyone to think about turning losses into opportunities. If you focus energy on helping each other meet the overall bottom line, you will strengthen your position in the marketplace and your ability to fight competition. Invest in integrity and you will deliver trust in self, each other, and the future.

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TELLING ISN’T SELLING

Most of us haven’t developed the psychic powers necessary to understand what is expected of us without it being communicated. Given this limitation, the responsibility to communicate and teach falls back on the leader. Many professionals make the mistake of thinking telling qualifies as selling. Often times, they believe colleagues will be instinctively motivated and sold on an idea simply because they are told what needs to be done.

One manager was ineffective at assigning tasks to people and prevented them from having total ownership of projects. Anyone found working contrary to his methods was removed from the project. Others assigned were given explicit details. As a result, the second group was successful, while their colleagues were charged with failure. In the end, the first group was set up to fail and stripped of their motivation to achieve on future projects.

Surprisingly, many still believe we can eliminate managing or motivating colleagues if we have the right personnel. This belief throws all responsibility for performance outcomes back to the individual and allows the leader to discard the role of coach and mentor. We have seen leaders who took this responsibility to the extreme. In one such case, an executive decided to make hiring decisions based on a coin toss, eliminating the need for screening, training, or managing people.

We must always remember that telling is not teaching. People are more inclined to operate effectively when offered valuable input and feedback. Consider the view from their perspective. If our teams don’t understand the methodology, they are more likely to create shortcuts. As leaders, we must step up to the role of coach and mentor to equip each player with a mission.

Every successful product has a vision. People buy it because they are sold on how well it will perform. The product of vision is sold when the buyer can imagine the view.

Take time to review your objectives. Anticipate obstacles and never dwell on the agony of defeat. Focus discussions on the impact decisions will have on the future. Discuss solutions and forecast the benefits of success to everyone involved. Answer why you would step up to the task and be prepared to sell the vision. When you illustrate the vision, others will make the climb and share the view with you.

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There Are No Upsets

Humility prevents the underdog from speaking the truth in victory. When they are asked, “How does it feel to win as the underdog?”, they smile to themselves. They know there is no such thing as an upset. After all, if we seek to find the winner in ourselves, can it ever really be called an upset?

Whether you are an athlete, executive or perennial student, we all carry the same arsenal of weapons to win: courage, determination, preparation, and faith. Courage helps us face defeat before the game even begins. Determination allows us to break through the boundaries placed on us by others. We have the preparation given to us by great parents, coaches, and business leaders. And, we carry faith in our own human spirit. 

We place number rankings on athletes, titles on business professionals, and mental health labels on troubled kids. All of these are stages for upset. We should achieve by courage, not by permission. 

When others see a loss, the underdog only sees a time to reflect. As we return to victory, others see an upset. The signature on the successful business contract or the academic scholarship may appear to spectators as defining moments in the match. But, we the winners, realize that victory came from a lifetime of preparing for the pinnacle of challenge.

We knew on that particular deal or life moment that the student had become the teacher. When we attack life as a player versus a spectator, we will understand there are no upsets. 

 

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The Hunter

Successful leaders are the modern day hunters. Every goal and aspiration is a planned hunt to capture the elusive prey. The prey I refer to is the animal that lies in all of us. The animal we all call adversity. Adversity can quietly enter our camp and destroy our map to success.

I have witnessed many leaders over the years with exceptional raw talent. They were on the hunt to victory. Then, before they could master their new frontier, adversity attacked their base of operations. They started spending more time discussing how adversity developed than solving the problems adversity created.

We should teach people of all ages to think and plan. Planning is what helps a child deal with the unfamiliar. They will make better decisions for their goals and success. They will learn to avoid dangerous pitfalls in their “wilderness”.

Many of the young people I see starting their careers are not equipped to handle the unfamiliar and unknown. We, the experienced hunters, should mentor them in how to blaze a trail in life. Teach them to embrace adversity as an opportunity to learn. They will learn to move quietly through adversity by seeing the light in the forest of success.

A visionary is a hunter who can see the future, trap adversity,

and track the path to achievement.

As parents, we can teach our children to live with adversity. Then instead of leaving home, they will find their way home. We as mentors need to stop worrying about our survival. We need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves because we chose the wrong path and were lost for a while. Do not panic; you will survive. Whether they are nine or ninety, look for that lost child. Be a skilled hunter and show them the way home.

In my life, there have been times when I felt lost and off the path. I never gave up my focus on my goals and dreams. Sure, I have had setbacks, but my energy and desire to achieve served as my compass to navigate the forest of adversity. Today, those of us who have mapped the tough lands and hunted the crafty challenges are guides for the others.

We have a responsibility as guides to prepare those we take on the hunt. They need to be prepared for the rough weather of goal setting. They should understand that the road to success is filled with adversity and self-doubt. On the hunt, they learn to make sacrifices in order to meet the hardship of challenge. Above all, we the guides, remind them that with the end of each hunt, another hunt has just begun.

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Forever a Coach – Forever a Student

Many of the best coaches I know are not always from the world of sports. They are parents, business leaders, and others that coach their children and colleagues to achieve to their potential. The game may change for all of us, but one truth is eternal; we are forever coaches and students. Although we may coach others, as lifelong leaders we are students as well.

Successful coaches have the capacity to elevate the performance of a student to another level. All a coach can hope to achieve is to elevate the student to reach the maximum level of their ability. Trust me, this is not an easy thing to do! A coach must understand their student’s needs, moods, and fears. A priority is to gain the respect of their student. Indeed, this may be the defining characteristic of a coach. A coach goes beyond the boundary often set for an instructor or teacher. A coach develops an understanding of the true personality and other hidden nuances of their student. The history books are filled with talented players that failed because they took to the road of challenge without a coach.

A true coach establishes a bond of trust that is similar to a parent. It is the same with a professional sales manager or other business coaching teams. Parents must seek to understand their children’s needs and personality. If we coach from our needs and not our student, we eventually jeopardize the success of both the coach and student.

The best coaches have the ability to push a student to reach limits. Limits in many cases, the students didn’t know they were capable of achieving. These coaches must recognize the moment when they have extracted all that is available from their student or colleague. Some coaches push beyond this level. Trouble for student and coach is not far behind.

The interaction of coach and student is like a mirror.

A mirror that reflects the strengths and weakness of both.

As a parent, motivator, or coach make a firm commitment to go the distance. Never overlook anything for your protégé. Develop your personal coaching style. A coaching style that represents your beliefs and values. Your coaching style is your brand. A brand that will label your legacy as forever a coach who cared. A coach who cared about their student and their mission.

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