You Are My Inspiration!

30 04 2013

My son Max was seven years old when he was first diagnosed with scoliosis.  Ever since, the treatment modality has been to contain his curves until he stops growing.  Our collective goals have been to avoid surgery since that presents a multitude of unwanted issues and challenges.  18-20 hours a day in a full torso brace has been all he has known for the past seven years.  As a thirteen year old, he is now over six feet tall and has goals to play basketball in college.  He still has scoliosis and will for his entire life.

Nearly immediately following his diagnosis, I did some research and found a professional athlete who has overcome scoliosis and risen to the highest ranks in his sport.  His name is James Blake, a professional tennis player who was ranked as high as #4 in the world.  James became Max’s role model as he developed and lived by the mantra:

James_Blake_Tennis_Player

“My brace holds MY back, not ME back”

James Blake’s signed jersey hangs on a wall in a frame in Max’s room.  It is there as a reminder to Max that he can do anything, overcome anything and reach his goals, just like James did.  James Blake was and is a true inspiration, in a very special way.

Last Saturday night, as I was walking out of a crowded restaurant with my wife and another couple, we passed a table.  There was James Blake, enjoying the evening and eating sushi.  We walked outside having said nothing to him.  And then it hit me.  We needed to go back in and speak to him.  I needed to tell him about Max and how he has inspired my son over the past seven years.  I could not miss this opportunity. So we went back inside and spoke to him at the table.

This was an important moment for me.  Maybe it was even more important for James Blake.  Sometimes, we do not realize the inspiration we leave in our wake.  There are many people who we touch along the way and it is quite possible that we forget who they are.  We typically do not dwell on such things.  However, it is something we must never forget.

The many lives who we inspire may go unnoticed to us and may pass like a fleeting and mundane day.  However, he/she who has been forever inspired will neither forget you nor the moment that you changed their perspective forever.

Thank you James Blake!

Advertisements




The Ultimate Buy-In Statement

23 04 2013

The Eye-Cubed process of Inspiration that leads to Innovation and the ultimate Implementation of your idea is filled with challenges, no one challenge greater than “buy-in”.  Gaining “buy-in” along the way is critical as part of each step.  And communication is key.

very-important-sign

Here are the steps.  Eliminating any one can be fatal!

  1. Plant the seeds of your innovation.  In other words, communicate
  2. Find your allies
  3. Take on a small battle to win and prove your case as part of a pilot project
  4. Execute the plan to test your idea
  5. Keep the decision-making team up to date on your progress.  In other words, communicate.
  6. Repeat success with another win
  7. Get commitment to bring the innovation throughout the organization
  8. Develop your plan to execute implementation of innovation
  9. Identify the best people with the necessary skills to succeed with the implementation and bring them in the loop.  In other words, communicate.
  10. Execute your plan

Unfortunately, implementing innovations do not always fit neatly into a 10-step plan.  Sometimes we fumble along the way.  Sometimes, we are still in the learning stage with regard to a key piece of the puzzle.  Sometimes we are faced with challenges that transcend theory.  Sometimes the “greatest” ideas just seem to get stuck along the way.

That very scenario played out with me recently.  I had been spearheading a tremendous innovation project at my company, PFP.   The seeds of the idea had originally germinated about five years ago and it took three years to set the stage for an official “test”.  Two years later and after many successes along the way, the project hit a major crossroad.  In spite of the progress, the innate challenges had become too complex to resolve with the centralized implementation structure that was in place.  I had run out of time and ideas to execute the plan as originally drafted.  We needed a change.  And I could not bring that about on my own.

In a key strategic meeting on the project, I heard sweet music!  I was elated, energized and inspired. The overwhelming message from the team was as follows:

“This project is too important for our future to fail.  We have to find a way to make it work!”

I then saw a tremendous push from our top leaders to engage deeply into the initiative and immediately revive it, develop a renewed plan and begin executing that plan.  This was all the proof I needed to know that the company had 100% buy-in.  The most difficult battle had been won.

There is no doubt that while implementing a great idea, the road to victory and realized potential is riddled with potholes and other hazards that face us during our travels.  Those bumps seem a bit smaller when we traverse them with colleagues willing to work together towards incredible goals.

I am proud of the collaboration.  Put down the visor and put on the sunglasses!  Our future looks bright.





Coaches Do Not Score!

16 04 2013

Can you list the greatest coaches of all time?

sports_greatest_coaches

  • John Wooden (College Basketball)
  • Dean Smith (College Basketball)
  • Bear Bryant (Professional Football)
  • Vince Lombardi (Professional Football)
  • Red Auerbach (Professional Basketball)
  • Scotty Bowman (Professional Hockey)
  • Mike Krzyzewski (College Basketball)
  • Phil Jackson (Professional Basketball)
  • Dan Gable (College Wrestling)

These icons represent the best in their sport, the best of their day, perhaps the best of all time.  They are coaches, leaders, motivators and strategists.  These individuals dedicated themselves to the success of their teams.  They found ways to win.  They merged the talent they had and got the most of their players.  They displayed an uncanny way of reaching their goals and exceeding the expectations of others time and time again.

There are thousands of unnamed coaches following those giants listed here.  Each of them push towards success regardless of the individuals for whom they coach.  Men, woman and children all benefit from those coaches.  And regardless of the age group, gender, sport or level, they all have one thing in common.

NO COACH HAS EVER SCORED A TOUCHDOWN, MADE A BASKET, SLAPPED A PUCK, HIT A HOME RUN, PINNED THEIR OPPONENT, SUNK A PUTT OR SCORED A GOAL.

So why not find the inspiration from the greatest of all time.  Here is what they have said about leadership:

John Wooden:

“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.”

Dean Smith:

“If you treat every situation as a life-and-death matter, you’ll die a lot of times.”

Bear Bryant:

“Little things make the difference. Everyone is well prepared in the big things, but only the winners perfect the little things.”

Vince Lombardi:

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up”

Red Auerbach:

“They said you have to use your five best players but I found you win with the five who fit together the best.”

Scotty Bowman:

“I found out that if you are going to win games, you had better be ready to adapt.”

Mike Krzyewski:

“You can see and you can listen, but you have to have moments in which you feel.”

Phil Jackson:

“Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart.”

Dan Gable:

“You don’t really measure the year until the whole year is done. I’m sure there are some concerned people, including the coaches right now.” 

And like the Eye-Cubed leaders of today, the greatness that follows your excellent work is the result of the tremendous effort of others, your team.  You too must lead, motivate and strategize.  You must “win” by drawing on the strengths of those surrounding you.  The team which you assemble and go to “war” with succeeds or fails under your watchful eye.





When Down To Your Final “Out”, Swing Like You Would In The First Inning!

9 04 2013

Innovating under pressure is harder than being randomly called out of the audience and asked to come on stage and “be funny”.  While anything is possible, it is unlikely that most folks can get it done.

Under Pressure

Preparation is the fuel for luck.  The same goes for innovation.  The more innovative your company is, the more innovations your company will uncover.  It is simple, Eye-Cubed companies succeed more often and sustain greatness for a longer period of time than those companies that reject the principles of inspiration, innovation and implementation.  Eye-Cubed qualities are not turned on or off.  They are infused in the fabric of the organization.  So once you have it, nurture it and develop it.  Give your team the greatest opportunity to widen, deepen and lengthen your streams of income.  More importantly, maintain the Eye-Cubed culture to find new streams of income.

But if your in the unfortunate position that you have one more shot at success and your next innovation either saves your company or you shut the doors, take a deep breath and stick to the Eye-Cubed plan.  While there is no doubt that your probability of success improves when you enter the process with positive energy, you cannot avoid the hurdles facing any of the innovations that came before yours and those that will come after.  There are no short cuts.

You need a great idea.  You need buy in.  You need to test, tweak and perfect.  You need to infuse it into your operations.  Time to read the posts in Eye-Cubed-U and hit that game winning home run, sink the final shot as time runs out, score the winning goal as time expires or chip in for an eagle on the 18th for the win.  It can be done.  It has been done.

Encourage inspiration.  Embrace innovation.  Execute Implementation.





Innovate From A Position of Strength!

2 04 2013

There is smooth sailing in your company.  You have a great product, your service is needed in your niche and your profitable.  So if it aint broke, then don’t fix it!  Right?

Unfortunately, this philosophy may be a sure sign of doom.   We can never take current success for granted because we know one thing for sure and that is true for all income streams.  They share the same fate if left alone.  They will eventually dry up.  Nothing last forever.  So what are you to do?

super-strength

Innovate when in a position of strength.

It is our roles as leaders to make our income streams wider, deeper or longer.  And even more important, we need to be capable of finding new streams of income.  There is no better time to dedicate your search than during good times.

There is a long timeline for successful innovation.  It may take years to develop a new idea, years to test it, years to gain the necessary buy-in for change and years to implement the innovation into the culture of your company.  What makes the process even more intense is the fact that more innovations fail along the way than are successful.  The odds are stacked against you.  To get one phenomenal innovation into the fabric of your company, you have to endure many ideas that fall by the wayside.

Therefore it is critical to continue to foster a culture of inspiration, innovation and implementation.  The Eye-Cubed atmosphere allows for a flow of results.  But it must be consciously maintained.  Decide on a specific budgetary item identified as “innovations” and invest annually in the process.  It takes time to build an appropriate pipeline to avoid skipping a year.

By maintaining the Eye-Cubed discipline of innovation, you and your organization have the greatest chance for sustained growth and flexibility on your way towards greatness.