What Does Success Really Mean to You?

I was a guest on a recent podcast and the host asked me an interesting question:

What’s my definition of success?

I actually had to step back and think about it.

For me, success has never been about money or fame – which are the obvious answers – but I’ve never actually ever thought about my own personal definition.

It’s actually a hard question.

To better understand what success is, I had to change the question around.

Instead, I asked myself this – When have I felt the most successful?

That was an easier question to answer and I could picture the exact moment.

It was the summer of 1992. It was 3 AM in the morning and I was standing watch on the bridge of a nuclear submarine in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. I was the Officer of the Deck in charge of one of the most powerful warships in the world.

There are two things I remember from that night.

First, there’s nothing like seeing the star-filled night sky at sea.

Second, there’s nothing like the feeling of achieving a dream.

There's nothing like the feeling of achieving a dream. Click To Tweet

That was the moment I felt the most successful. I had achieved something I worked hard for almost eleven years to achieve.

Let me explain.

When I first realized I wanted to be on submarines. I was in 8th grade. I was fascinated with the stories of the WWII submariners and how nuclear submarines played a critical role in the Cold War.

I knew this was something I wanted to do. It was my dream to one day serve on these boats.

The problem was, I also knew I had to become technically strong if I wanted to achieve this dream.

I had to do well in High School and excel in Math and Science. I also had to get into a good Engineering School and do well enough to get accepted into the highly competitive Navy Nuclear Power Program.

Fortunately for me, perseverance and eight years of hard work were enough to get me a commission as a Naval Officer and get accepted into the Navy Nuclear Power Program. But that was just the beginning.

The year-long Nuclear Power Program was brutal. Many of my good friends were cut from the program because they couldn’t keep up with the pace. I was in over my head as well.

But I made it through.

And I persevered through submarine school and three more months of trying to get a medical waiver for an episode of kidney stones I once had in college.

But I made it through. And finally – I made it to the fleet.

Then I discovered this was just the beginning of another process. I needed to get qualified as a submarine officer before I could stand watch and achieve my dream. A process that would take almost another year.

But I made it through.

In April of 1992, I became a qualified submariner. I had the gold dolphins pinned on my chest. I had achieved my lifelong dream of becoming a submariner.

And that summer, at 3 AM in the morning, in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, doing the job I had dreamed of since I was a child – I felt the most successful.

So, what’s my definition of success?

I think it’s simple.

It’s about doing the hard work to chase a dream and then, one day, actually achieving that dream.

Success is about doing the hard work to chase a dream and then, one day, actually achieving that dream. Click To Tweet

What do you think? How would you define success?

Is it fortune and fame or is it more than that?

Reach out to me on Twitter and let me know.

The Power of Personal Connection

I have a pet peeve.

I can’t stand seeing managers who stay isolated. It bothers me when I hear about bosses who stay locked up in their office or spent their days in meetings.

They never get out to see their employees. They are disconnected!

Look – I know what it’s like to be busy.

As the co-founder and CEO of a start-up manufacturing business, I’m swamped. I’m the head of sales, HR manager, CFO, and Operations Manager.

I wear many hats and work long hours. I’m as busy as the next guy,

But I also know the importance of getting out of my office. I know the importance of connecting with my team.

I also do something very specific each day to make sure our entire company stays connected and everyone is on the same page. It only takes 15 minutes a day and you can do it too.

It’s a morning stand-up meeting.

Now, before you tune me out and tell me how much a waste of time meetings are, let me tell you that I hate meetings as well. In fact, what I’ve found is that our daily stand-up meeting actually prevents us from needing other meetings throughout the day.

But, if you’re still skeptical, hold on. Because I think you will become a believer once I’ve made my case.

So what is a stand-up meeting?

For us, we all meet on the factory floor at 8:30 AM in front of a giant whiteboard. Written on the whiteboard are all of the current orders.

The meeting starts with a briefing from the production manager on what jobs we are going to build that day. We discuss what major shipments will arrive and depart the factory. Then we go around the room and everyone has the chance to add anything that is important to the whole team – Part shortages, quality updates, customer questions, product changes, field issues, and people issues – who’s absent, who’s traveling, who’s leaving early, who has vacation later in the week.

We allow enough time for questions, clarification, and to resolve any conflicting priorities.

I give a quick update on what’s coming up in the future – big orders anticipated, visitors coming in, status on landing new customers, my travel schedule. And I wrap up the meeting by telling everyone to be safe.

That’s it. The whole meeting takes about 15 minutes.

And yes, we stand the whole time.

So, you might be thinking – How does this meeting help with human connection? How does a 15-minute meeting each day make us a more connected team?

Well. I’ll tell you. There are 5 things:

1. There is a personal connection. Like a family gathering around the breakfast table, we learn how everyone is doing. These meetings help us to continue to build relationships with each other.

2. We get everyone on the same page. At the end of the meeting, we all know what needs to be done and our role in it. We’ve resolved any conflicts and we understand the priorities. We have focus and clarity. We have a plan for the day.

We get everyone on the same page. Click To Tweet

3. We have a better view of the future. We know who is taking a vacation, who’s sick. We know when customers are visiting. We know when to expect the next big order. We can better set out daily priorities knowing what’s more likely to happen in the coming weeks

4. We reinforce our mission and values. For me, every discussion helps me reinforce our mission daily as we discuss various topics.

5. These stand-up meetings set the tone, the pace, and the routine in our business. I look forward to each meeting because I know I will come away with all the answers I need for the day. I also know everyone will be there, so I know I don’t have to have any other meetings throughout the day.

These meetings regularly set the cadence for our business.

There is a personal connection every morning, we get on the same page, and we reinforce our mission.

I like this quote from Hilton Barbour. He says, “Small rituals make a culture”

“Small rituals make a culture” Hilton Barbour Click To Tweet

And that’s what our morning stand-up meetings are for us. They are small rituals that help us set and maintain our culture.

So what about you? Do you have a regular way to connect with employees and ensure everyone is on the same page?

Do you have a daily method to reinforce your mission and values?

If not, you may want to try a daily stand-up meeting.

If you hate meetings as much as I do, you’ll love this 15 minute morning ritual.

 

P.S.

If you like this idea, get a copy of my latest book – “I Have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following”  It is filled with 23 practical ideas like this on how you can become a more effective leader.

And, If you want to get more out of your daily commute, listen to my podcast, Deep Leadership.  It’s available on all podcast apps.

I Have the Watch is also available on Audible for your commuting pleasure.

7 Keys to Engaging Your Employees

In my last post, I was asked how to grab the leadership bull by the horns when you suddenly find yourself thrust into a new position.

And I said the first 100 days are critical.

To review, you’ve got to have a plan, you’ve got to have dialogue…and as many one-on-one meetings as possible!  If you haven’t read my comments yet, you can find them here.

Moving on…

Here are 7 more ways to “ace” that first 100 days:

1. Set expectations early. People want to know what you stand for.  Let them know what’s important to you as a leader. I typically send a list of my top 10 expectations to my team in the first few weeks.

The worst thing you can do is leave them guessing.

2. Set an example. Your minimum behaviors will be your team’s maximum performance. If you expect people to be on time, you need to be on time. If you expect managers to get out of their offices, you need to be out of your office. If you expect people to wear their safety equipment, you need to wear your safety equipment.

It’s simple.

You can’t lead people where you yourself aren’t willing to go!

3. Signal your priorities.  If you spend the first two hours of each day on your computer and not with your team, they’ll notice. They’ll assume they’re not as important as your e-mail. If you’re all about the inventory numbers and not the on-time delivery results, they’ll think you don’t care about customers.

Always be aware…

Your actions telegraph your intentions.

4. Create a buzz.  Do something to get everyone talking. Make it dramatic enough that it gets the point across instantly.  Here’s an example.  In one manufacturing plant, I had the maintenance team paint over all the signs for the reserved parking spaces for managers…mine included!

The message was clear:

No special treatment.

We’re in this together.

5. Communicate with employees regularly.  Look, leadership changes can make people uneasy.  Your employees will want to know, will there be any organization changes? What are your initial observations? How are things going?

TIP: Send a weekly e-mail to your team.

Let them know what you’re seeing and what they can expect. If there’s any void in communication, worry, speculation, and rumors will spring up in its stead.

6. Create the mood. Attitude is contagious. You need to be upbeat and “on your game” when you’re around your team – no matter what’s going on for you personally. Be empathetic when you have serious issues to deal with, of course.  But if you’re consistently upbeat and in good spirits, the team will mirror your energy.

A leader who’s quiet, unresponsive, angry, abrasive or sarcastic, will suck the life out of any team. Always think about what mood you’re conveying.

7. Cast a vision. At the end of the first 100 days, your team’s strengths and weaknesses will be evident. The goal now is to communicate your vision for the future. Know where you want to go. Let your team “see” your vision in a way that’s clear and concise.

Setting the tone early is critical.

All eyes are on you as the new leader, so make it count.

Create a buzz, set an example, show your priorities, establish the mood and most of all…

BE PRESENT.

All of the above will save your gluteus maximus down the line if and when you need to work as a team on the tough issues.

That’s all for today.

One more thing, if you haven’t already, be sure to get your copy of my book I Have The Watch by going here.

And if you buy it before October 30, 2019, and send me your receipt, I’ll send you a special 20-minute video interview I recorded called “Engage Your People, Or Die” that contains some of my best “shotgun” tricks for quickly bringing your team on side when your survival depends on it…because it does!

This recording is NOT for sale anywhere.

And I honestly think it’s some of my most valuable content on the subject…not that I’m biased or anything. 😉

I could probably charge as much as $49 for the video, but it’s yours FREE if you buy the book and send me your receipt by October 30th at 11:59 PM.  Grab your copy today!