PLAY IT SAFE OR TAKE A RISK?

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When I look back at my professional career the best moves were the most risky. Each risky move came with an entourage of friends screaming, “don’t do it!”

Jumping from my comfortable hometown job of working in a warehouse to a career in the Marines brought wagers from friends who bet I would wash out.

Retiring from the Marines after 24 years came with people shaking their heads in doubt that I would find a job.

Switching from logistics to being a process improvement Black Belt within the company came with warnings I would be out of a job within a year.

Making yet another career change from manufacturing to healthcare left friends in shock just waiting on my demise to come.

The truth is each risky step took me to a new adventure. Every move from comfort found me further from the boredom and fear that kept those who said it couldn’t be done paralyzed. Many of the Nay-Sayers still sit in seats of miserable comfort while each day I enjoy meaningful work that has purpose.

I look forward to what I do each day all because I was willing to take a risk when opportunity showed itself. Had I played it safe I’d still be in some warehouse picking orders from a shelf having never known the adventures that I missed. I’m so very thankful I listened to opportunity and jumped each time it showed itself.

What about you? Are you comfortable? Are there things you want to do, but for some reason don’t pursue? Why not take a step of faith today and begin moving toward that something that you have always wanted to do?

 

 

Live Life! It’s time to take a risk! www.coachrobertsimmons.com

VICTORIES FROM A BAD HEART

HEARTToday marks two years since the day my world was rocked with a full-blown heart attack. Healthy, exercising and eating right did not matter when coming face to face with heredity. Literally seconds from death as skilled physicians worked diligently to get stints in place changed my life forever.

There are several lessons I have taken away from that day. It is not just the experience itself either as I am continually reflecting I discover something new that enlightens me on who I am or how I have been strategically placed in the world to make a difference. Our encounters, experiences, people we meet, challenges, victories and life in general are all for a reason. They prepare us for greater things ahead. The difference is how we respond to what occurs in our life.

Tragic events like mine are not meant for bad, they just happen. If we respond properly they can be eye-openers; life changers. We can be strengthened through adversity. When we are knocked down we have a choice. Either we stay and lay or we fight and reignite.

Since January 17, 2015 I have made a lot of changes as my focus in life shifted. Not all the changes came at once; it is a journey. I learn something or have a new revelation, and I implement it into my life. It is like going through mini-discoveries as I continue to learn about myself and apply new principles and concepts. Some changes come easier than others, but none the less it is important to continue moving forward.

If I were to pass along one concept to share that continues to be a theme in my life, and there are several, it would be to find out what is important to you and make it a priority. Today we have a lot pulling and tugging at us from all sides. Text, emails, media, kids, wife, husband, boss, bills, and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately most will get to the end of their journey only to discover they were never in charge and instead were led here and there without ever discovering their God-given purpose in life. Defining that purpose is critical and then making it center stage of everything else is where life gets traction. Don’t try to fit what you are passionate about around everything else. Take charge of your life; you only have one and it is yours to lead.

What is your purpose? Have you asked yourself that question?

Take out a pen and some paper. Start writing down what comes to mind and then prioritize. After you have done so, look at your calendar. See if your activities embrace your priorities. If not, it is time to delete some things out so you can make room for what truly matters in your life! You may have to say no to some good things so that you can say yes to a few GREAT things! That is okay…that is what you want to do.

Let me hear from you in the section below. It is always nice to learn from my followers and their journey.

SHOUT IT! SHOUT IT OUT LOUD!

Mason KissIf you were a rocker in the 70’s you probably well know the band KISS. I used to rock the house with their songs when my parents were away and when cruising down the road you couldn’t hear my six cylinder car valves tapping, but you could not ignore the screaming guitars coming through the rattling windows. One of my favorite songs by KISS was, “Shout it out loud!” All the kids loved to sing the chorus as loud as they could while waving their hands in the air. Quite honestly though, probably very few of us knew the lyrics or what we were truly shouting out loud about, but the energy of the tunes just drove us young people to shout it out loud even if we didn’t know what “it” was.

In our marriages we should make the KISS chorus Shout It Out Loud our theme. However instead of not knowing why we are shouting, we should be very in tune with why, and what we are shouting. The lyrics that go along with the rocking chorus should be centered on our love and appreciation for our spouse.

Expressing appreciation for our spouse on a regular basis is important. Words of affirmation are needed in order to strengthen and grow the relationship. Confirming our love verbally builds trust that reciprocates even more love between the two individuals. Whether it is paying bills, providing for the house, raising children or simply taking the trash to the street, it is imperative to recognize and express thankfulness for each and everything the other does.

Shouting It Out Loud though takes matters to an entirely new level. It is one thing to tell someone in private they are appreciated, but when those words are expressed in a public forum it is like putting love on steroids! Tell the ladies at church how wonderful your man is, watch his chest swell up and a smile enter his face. Introduce your wife as, “your beautiful lady” to the guys at the shop, you will see her melt. Take to social media to post how great your spouse is, how much you love and appreciate them telling the world how thankful God placed him or her in your life, and see what happens.

There is even a Biblical concept around this in that God tells us that if we don’t profess our love for Christ publicly that we do not truly have a relationship with Him, but it is only if and when we go public that the relationship is sealed and real (Matthew 10:32-33). Since our marriage is an image of our relationship with Christ wouldn’t it stand to reason the same is true of us?

 Yes, buying flowers, writing cards and even face to face expressions of love and appreciation are important and should never be neglected. However if you want to take your relationship deeper, stronger and grow more in love than ever, start going public today. At work, church, with friends, on social media, or wherever you and your spouse interact outside of your private space. Seek every opportunity to tell everyone just how much you love your spouse. Shout It! Shout It Out Loud!

How do you tell the world you love and appreciate your spouse?

If you try it, let me know what you discovered in the comments below.

 

Leaders Look for Greatness

Lake Greatness“Bad leaders excuse away greatness; good leaders look for excuses to recognize greatness.”

 

We have all heard it. “John is a good employee, but…” or, “Yes, Susie does a good job and is productive; it is just that sometimes she…”

You can fill in the end with many things, but the end result is that a leader has put a negative spin on someone who was otherwise a good, perhaps even a great employee. Now they have placed doubt in someone else’s mind about that person needlessly.

Bad leaders have a tendency to want to push their employees down in order to feel important. Insecurity, negativity, and feeling threatened are a few of the reasons these leaders feel the need to respond this way. Employees want to shine and be their best but become discouraged and dismayed when they are constantly placed in the “yea but” category.

Good leaders find ways to find greatness and express it out loud and often. They see things, even the smallest of nuggets and have the ability to put them on a showcase for the world to see. The effective leader is constantly building his or her people up. There are not “yea buts” in their language. Their people are rock stars and as a result each one strives to be even better. The more employees shine the more they want to shine.

“All negative comments leave a sticky residue on the one sending the message”

What leaders who excuse away greatness in their people do not understand is that some of that negativity is left on them as well. People see the leader who constantly belittles or downplays their people, as also being less than adequate. The leader believes that their comments are making themselves seem superior; however the opposite is true. To push someone down they must go down with them…and they do.

Yet the opposite is true for the leader who always has positive words for their employees. They are seen as great leaders; positive people. The more a leader talks their people up, the more opportunities to move up comes their way. Leaders who lead by criticism generally become bitter because when they minimize others they are minimizing themselves. As a result the critical leader does not get promoted and opportunities don’t come their way creating a vicious cycle of continual sourness exuding from every word and action. People don’t want to be around them and certainly are not going to place them in higher positions of influence.

People are looking for positive people who can build good teams. No one builds good teams who can’t see or communicate the greatness within each member.Good teams become great teams when they are built up with a continual battery of encouragement and positiveness.

Practice saying, “(Insert your employee’s or a colleague’s name here) is great!

Find other positive words to describe your employee and look for opportunities to speak publicly and privately. Stop at the end of the adjective that describes them as being wonderful. Don’t add any “buts” to the sentence. Walk off leaving them as being a great employee in the listener’s mind.

How do you bring out greatness in those around you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEADERS ARE MINERS

diamond mining

It’s dirty, but a worthy job. Mining for diamonds. Man has been digging into the earth since the fourth century B.C. The beauty and value of the precious diamond are something admired by both men and women across the world.

The diamond in its natural state is not the precious gem that it will eventually become. The miner has an eye for the stones; however it is the jeweler who is able to take the rock in its roughest of form and then chisel, cut and polish it into a sparkling jewel.

Leaders, good leaders, are both miners and jewelers. Each day he or she goes out looking for those diamonds in the rough. They are seeking the work that is done by those who work for them that can be put on display. That work may seem and perhaps even is normal task and responsibilities; however the good leader is able to chisel and polish away the imperfections making the individual(s) under their charge shine for the world to see.

The joy in elevating others is a sign of a true leader.

Leadership Mining

  • Go Looking: As a leader go out daily to look for the good things your people are doing. The good leader knows there is enough negative dirt that their employees have to deal with on a daily basis. Good leadership goes out to find the value their employees bring.

 

  • Have an eye for gems: It takes a special leader with an eye for recognizing the good things their people are doing. It means having a positive attitude; a mentoring approach.

 

  • Collect: It is not enough to notice the good things your people do, but it has to be collected; recorded. Make note of each thing they do no matter how big or small.

 

  • Clean & Cut: This is where the leader becomes an artist. Being able to communicate the work of employees in a positive fashion is a talent, yet essential part of leadership. Whether articulating in words in a memo or putting them in for an award, it is important to be able to make them shine more beautifully than even they could imagine.

 

  • Display: Find ways to showcase your people’s work and work. Send out emails to the team highlighting accomplishments, send messages to senior leaders, give small gifts, or awards. It is important to let your people know on a regular basis that their work is not only valued, but is noticed.

 

  • Go digging for more: Mining is not a one-time event. Going out and digging around in the efforts of your people and placing the special things they do on display is a regular part of leadership. The leader who understands the importance of this can’t settle for just one diamond. They become obsessed with putting the work of their employees on display. The joy in elevating others is a sign of a true leader.

Train Stories: From the Jungle to Blessings

DSC_0056The trains on the TRE going to and from Dallas to Ft. Worth are limited during the middle of the day so when you have to make that trip you have to be ready for some long waits. One day I was on such a journey in the sweltering Texas heat. Even in the shade sweat was running down the back of my shirt as I stood waiting for nearly an hour for the next train.

When I got off the Dart tram to wait for the train a gentleman exited with me and joined me on the long wait. He was a tall black man carrying a white wash cloth that he was constantly wiping the dripping sweat from his head with. He spoke to me briefly at first, obviously from Africa somewhere I assumed from his accent, talking about how he didn’t like to be in the heat on his days off. He expressed that I probably didn’t know what it was like to be outside based on the way I was dressed (coat and tie). I laughed and asked what he did for a living.

I asked him his name, which was Abe, a Project Manager for a large Dallas corporation. He went on to tell me about a few up and coming projects he was working and insisted that I needed to purchase land and buildings in a local suburb of Dallas due to a project that he was working which was going to bring in tons of jobs and people. I could tell he was passionate about what he did as his excitement poured out of every word he spoke.

In the conversation I mentioned that I rode motorcycles, which was probably for no other reason than to at least let him know I wasn’t a total wimp when it comes to being out in the heat. He laughed saying that he didn’t like motorcycles. He had owned one once and had a terrible experience. Abe had been talked into purchasing a bike a few years back to make a road trip from Houston to Canada! He made the entire trip as his initial ride. Yes, his very first time on a motorcycle he drove it from Houston Texas to Canada! Abe was quick to express the event was far from a pleasurable experience. In fact it was so bad that once he got to his destination he sold the motorcycle to a local person, bought a plane ticket with the money and returned home in the comfort of an air-conditioned plane! It was a hilarious story, even more funny listening him tell it in his African accent.

Once the train finally arrived we boarded and sat together so we could continue our conversation. When we sat I asked him about his story. Where was he from in Africa, when did he come to the states and what brought him here?  When Abe smiled and chuckled I somehow knew I was in for a story, so I sat back to soak it all in.

Abe had come to America about 15 years ago. His journey here was one filled with ups, downs, disappointments and dreams come true. It started one day when he and his family were at a soccer game in Northern Africa. They were there enjoying the game when troops came storming in to take over and began killing people. He and his family ran for their lives that day, each in their own direction. In all of the confusion they all lost sight of one another and each were on their own. It wouldn’t be for many years before Abe would find out the fate of his family. From that day forward he was a young boy living alone amongst strangers.

Abe lived with other survivors of that attack on that day in the jungle for six years. He shared how many died from malaria, dehydration, sickness and lack of nutrition. There were times when the weak were killed by the strong members of the group in order to hang their body parts in the trees as a distraction from wild animals such as lions. Abe spoke that he had on more than one occasion looked back as the group ran from lions and saw the animal leaping to get the body parts from the tree. It was their only way to survive an attack.

I inquired more about how he made it from the jungle to where he is now. I could tell from his eyes forming tears that the story was personal and emotional. He simply said, “The Salvation Army.” Abe told me that the Salvation Army we see is different than what they really do. He shared how they go out looking for those in hiding and do everything they can to get them to safety. Abe spent two years on a waiting list to go to a country who would take him. They do not get a choice as to what country they select; it could be USA, Russia, Germany or another country that participates with the Salvation Army’s program of which generally 20 at a time will go. If a person says no to a country, then they go back to the end of the list to wait another two years until their name comes up again. Abe was so glad it was the U.S.A. who opened their doors when his name came up.

When Abe got to the U.S. he had 90 days to become self-sustaining. The Salvation Army provides an apartment and food for just three months, after that all funding ends. Some end up being homeless, which is not the best situation, but when compared to the jungle and lions, is better than their lives before. It is difficult he said because most don’t have an education or a work history. He said, “People ask me for my resume and I would ask, ‘what’s a resume?’” He laughed saying it was not an easy time.

Abe was fortunate in that he had a high-school diploma which allowed him to get a labor job. The story was long, but after a lot of hard work and people recognizing his abilities, he was allowed to get his Project Management Professional (PMP) certification through the company he was working. As time went on they again saw potential in Abe and sent him to college to become an engineer.

As Abe learned skills he also became well versed in utilizing the internet. This is when he began searching for his family. His father didn’t make it out that day when the soccer arena came under attack and was killed.  Abe found his brother in Houston, Texas who just recently wrapped up medical school and has moved to Dallas to work at the Children’s Hospital. He found his sister in Canada who has since gone to law school and is a practicing attorney.

As if Abe’s story wasn’t intriguing enough, he told me more about what his family was doing now for one another. Abe is the oldest so he feels it is his responsibility to take care of his family first, before himself. He had found his mother some years back and brought her to the U.S. but he said she couldn’t handle it. She wanted to go back home so he ended up flying her back not long after she got here.

Abe said he didn’t want his family to ever do without again. His role as the older brother was to help insure his family’s success. Even though Abe himself is living in an apartment he saved his money and bought his sister a house in Canada. He is now saving and his sister is helping, to purchase his younger brother a home in Dallas. After this, they will all pitch in to purchase Abe a home; he is last. He was very passionate about his role as a leader in his family. When he talked about doing these things for his siblings he had a smile on his face. It was obvious it wasn’t a chore and something he had to do, but rather something he wanted to do.

Abe finally came to his stop on the train so it was time to say good-bye. We shook hands and I told him it was one of the best trips from Dallas to Ft. Worth I had ever had. He smiled and walked on off the train.  I gave him my business card in hopes of talking to him again, but if I don’t, Abe had an impact on me that day. The experience left me with some deep thoughts to ponder about myself, family and our society.

Abe’s story was one of thankfulness, selflessness and determination. His appreciation of God’s blessings was obvious as he told his story. Many times he gave thanks to God for reaching down and providing him an opportunity; for saving him from death on many occasions. He was grateful and didn’t take what had been given him for granted. He even told me at one point, “When you see those ‘bell ringers’ at Christmas, you put some money in there. They are saving people’s lives; they saved my life.”

He was so incredibly selfless. Unlike many in our culture today, he didn’t have the attitude of, “I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps; no one helped me, so I’m not helping anyone else.” He wanted to do everything he could to help his family and others with the blessings and opportunities he had been given. Even though his brother and sister had careers that will probably out-pay his own career, he still helped them by purchasing their homes. He didn’t have a scale to measure to determine if or how much he would help. His only measurement system was love and a heart for others with an expectation of nothing in return.

Just before Abe got off the train I had one more question to throw his way. I asked, “Abe, what do you think made you successful when others who came over with you were not? Why did some end up being homeless after three months, yet you made it to getting certifications and degrees. Why?”

He pondered for only a second and then looked me square in the eyes saying, “determination!”

Abe said that when he was in the little apartment that the Salvation Army had provided that he would look up at the condos that were near-by. He would see the people coming home in nice cars, eating at restaurants and living in wonderful environments. Abe said he said to himself, “you are never going to have what they have flipping burgers. You are going to have to work hard, sacrifice and not give up.” And that is exactly what he did.

Just because we live in this great country called the U.S. of A. doesn’t mean that we are deserving of what we have. We are all like Abe to a degree; however we got here we all have a choice of what we do with the opportunities that we encounter each day. Abe recognized every blessing; he was thankful. He wanted to give back; he had heart. He never wanted to go back; he was determined.  Could it be that the joy people spend their whole lives looking for is that simple? Thankfulness, a heart for others and sheer determination; three things that I hope, when I tell my story that others will say about me. What about you? Leave your comments below.

 

 

RIDING CURVES

Experienced motorcycle riders learn early on that it is important to keep your eyes on the road. It only takes a second of looking away for the bike to drift off into some unwanted terrain. Going through curves is perhaps one of the trickiest aspects of riding for some. Knowing how far to lean, where to push and pull the handlebars and heaven help you if you have a passenger! Most riders who have lost control have done so because they fell victim to a mis-negotiated curve.

 

If you want to master riding, especially a curve the first thing all riders know is to look where you want to go. In other words, when going through a curve, turn your head and eyes to focus on the exit (end) of the curve. If you do it’s like magic. The bike goes where you are looking!

 

However on the flipside, if you look anywhere else, that is where you will end up. Look at the ditch; you’ll be off-roading. Glance at a tree, and you’ll be picking bark out of your mouth. Always, no matter the road conditions, the vehicles surrounding you or the fear of the obstacles along the path, keep your eyes and head focused on where you want the bike to go.

 

The same is true for us in life. We have gifts, goals and aspirations; however distractions come. We don’t always see our way to the mark. Finances don’t seem to support the dream. Bad leaders step in our path threatening to ruin all we have worked for. Larger companies with bigger budgets do what we want to do and do it bigger, better and louder. The big deal that was going to take the business over the top falls through. You have ideas but can never seem to get much further than the shower where they were birthed. They come in many different forms, but they are the same. They are all distractions that catch our eyes and brain.

 

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We went directly where we didn’t want to go because we stopped looking at where we wanted to go.

 

What is the goal you are focusing on?  Have you begun to look at the obstacles instead of where you want to be? Where is your ride going? Probably wherever you are focused.

 

How do we stay focused when there are so many distractions? It has to be purposeful and requires training your brain. The motorcycle rider who flows through the curves as smoothly as a quiet brook flowing down a mountain, has trained his mind and eyes over time. He or she has gone through curve after curve; perhaps has even had a few tumbles in the process of learning. Their ability is a learned behavior as they are able to only glance at the obstacles and are able to hone in on where they want the machine they ride to go.

 

Tips for navigating curves:

 

  • Know where you want to go
    • Write down your goals
    • Ask yourself, “What do these goals look like?”
    • Describe them in writing and read them daily

 

  • Glance at the obstacles
    • It’s important to know what your obstacles are; identify them
    • Once you have acknowledge them, get focused back on your goal
    • Slowly you’ll be able to only see things in your path at a glance

 

  • Have symbols that you can literally focus on
    • Photos, trophies, quotes and other types of reminders placed strategically can help you stay focused
    • Affix your eyes and mind on these physical reminders throughout each day

 

  • Teach those riding with you to lean
    • Teach those going through the curves with you how to ride
    • Share the vision; teach them to ride and lean with you
    • It’s just as important for your rider to know how to navigate the roads as it is you

 

  • If you end up in a ditch, get back on immediately
    • All riders know the importance of getting back on the bike as quickly as possible. If they don’t fear sets in and the likelihood of them riding again diminishes
    • Get back working on your goals; ride, ride, ride!
    • Never lose your love for riding
      • Loosing heart for what you dream for is not what you want. Keep your passion alive
      • Remember, God has gifted you for a special purpose
      • No one has ever discovered their place in life without a price; there will be some curves that get your attention, but that is the thrill of riding!

 

Keep your eyes on where you want to go and it’ll be like magic, you’ll end up right where you want to be