So earlier this month, I had an amazing opportunity to go to the BMW Ultimate Driving Experience. It was just that – an amazing driving experience.
Part of the event was that they (of course) have a hashtag so people can follow on social media. #DrivingIsBelieving was their hashtag and man is it ever! Getting a chance to drive an x4 on an autocross track and test drive models from the 228i to the 750Li was incredible, but it also got me thinking…
This thinking really started with a book I just finished by Kelly McGonigal called The Upside of Stress: Why Stress is Good For You and How to Get Good At It. It was amazing and I highly recommend it, I was even able to take one of the principals she talked about and share it with some teen-aged parents we are working with. Here is the idea, if we choose to see stress as positive (because we will always have stress in our life), it literally changes the responses from our bodies and minds. For example, when we get to the end of a day and feel tired (and who doesn’t), we have a choice. Until hearing this, I simply believed I was just always tired and drained. But what Kelly suggested is that being tired indicates you have expended all of the energy you have to accomplish the tasks you needed to today. This is HUGE! If I see being tired as evidence I have worked hard and accomplished much, it changes everything.
So, I have started looking for other things that this can apply to. Here are just a few ideas I have (and I would love to hear yours too):
Rather then being frustrated by detours, traffic or even traffic lights (maybe I’m the only one here), I see this as an extended opportunity to listen to a PodCast, audio book, or nothing – allowing me to learn or focus my thoughts, preparing for what I will encounter when I arrive at my destination.
Exercise – this is a tough one. I in no way want to justify my lack of exercise, but I also am at a stage in life where I am using my energy in other ways and getting up early any day (or staying up late enough) to run or Crossfit just isn’t happening. So, hearing Kelly Mcgonigal talk about a study published by Psycological Science on how fit hotel housekeepers are was a huge help. I see the energy I burn chasing my kids, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn as my exercise. But here’s the important part, this belief has as much impact on my physical health as the actual activity itself. Crazy, right?
How I spend my time is huge at work too. This goes beyond belief because I do need to make sure that what I am doing is adding value to the work we do. But one struggle I have had is seeing reading as valuable. Well as Michael Hyatt has often quoted, leaders are readers and readers are leaders. Once I started actually believing this, I have found myself reading more (or in my case listening). I have kept an Audible subscription now for almost a year. The money I have spent on this is way more valuable then a cable bill or just about anything else I can think of, honestly.
I left out one detail about the teen parents I mentioned above. As we ended our group, I asked what they felt the most meaningful part of group was today. They all said it was being introduced to the idea that their beliefs about life matter. Specifically, we had talked about seeing being tired as evidence you have used all your energy for what you needed to do and it is time to rest.
I hope to hear from you about ways you start to use this “believing is meaningful” attitude. Share it with us, but more importantly share it with those right around you.
This past week, our staff headed to a conference
. We were looking forward to learning a lot and spending a lot of time together road tripping it to Nashville. This time is invaluable to what we are trying to accomplish but also to building a sense of team. The importance of this cannot be overstated. If we are all focused and in tune, we are much more able to accomplish the goals we have set and ultimately make a difference in the lives of teenagers.
The thing I have realized is that team really can look a lot of different ways. For instance, our family likes to refer to ourselves as a team. You may be a part of a sports team, but you could also view your band, chess club, or just your group of peers as your team. The truth is, your perspective is what makes the difference. Maybe somewhere down the road I will share my ideas on the benefits of team, but for today I have another idea.
I got to thinking about how team works only if I am willing to do my part. So if there are things I can do to contribute to the team, I have to keep those in front of me for the benefit of all of us that are involved.
The important thing for a team to work is that I as a team member am willing do what I can to help the team work. I have seen this get lost in some areas of our society. The idea of individualism and equality interfere with our ability to see our unique traits and skills as ways to benefit, not just ourselves, but a team, our community and ultimately have an influence on the culture we work with or live in.
My hope here is to simply introduce the thought that these seemingly small ideas, if lost, will have a big impact on the way things work in schools, businesses and organizations.
- I have to be willing to do the part I am good at for the team. Over the years I have seen and heard a lot of talk about finding the areas in your life that need to be improved, refined and worked on. Thankfully, this mentality has begun to change. I think the idea behind Strengths Finder and similar assessments makes a lot of sense. We should look for the tools we are already skilled at, evaluate how they fit the team and increase their effectiveness by learning how to make them even stronger.
- I must be willing to let others do their part. This has been a tough one for me, partly because I was the lone full time employee of our organization for the first 4 years and partly because I sometimes have a hard time knowing which parts of a task to hand off. Either way, I have learned that there are people that do some things way better then I do. If I can find people that are naturally skilled at things I am struggling with, it will be for the benefit of everyone involved. But it starts with me taking the position of not holding onto too much and never becoming resentful of the fact that someone else is better at something than I am.
- I want to be supportive of everyone on the team. Being supportive can look a lot of different ways. The important thing here is that you are supportive in ways that the person feels supported. We often try to support people in ways that we think are helpful and supportive but that don’t communicate to the other person or people that you really are there for them. I know this is something I am working on constantly and probably will be as long as we continue to grow and especially when we add staff.
- I want to help the team stay focused on the goal. Boy is the a big deal! I have interacted enough now with other nonprofits, and even with business owners, that I see a disconnect too often for what the overall goal for the organization is. When that gets lost, people become much more easily distracted and eventually loose their motivation to do the job they were probably very excited about at the beginning. Michael Hyatt wrote a great blog of Team Unity that really fleshes out how we can work together to stay focused on the goal.
- I commit to helping my team stay grounded. I hope to flesh this out more in the future, but for now the base line idea is this, we do not help our team by just telling people what they want to hear or only affirming what they feel or believe, leaving out a gentle guidance toward truth and reality. In an extreme situation, this would involve a team member who has grandiose ideas or goals that are outside of the vision and mission you are trying to accomplish, but no one says anything because they are passionate about what they are doing. It is not helpful or effective to ignore the necessity of having a tough discussion; in the end it can bring an entire team, objective or even organization down. However, if we are willing to face reality and work through the tough times, it makes all of us stronger.
What ways have you seen team work? It is amazing what we can accomplish when we work together effectively. Let’s do it today!