Monday, February 22, 2021

The Art of Leadership—Decision Making

The Art of Leadership—Decision Making

Over the years in my leadership positions, I have made numerous decisions, some disastrous and some genius, many more somewhere between the two. I have enjoyed making decisions. The better ones have always been more effective if I follow a process. The following ten decision-making principles constitute a process that has helped me make good decisions in the workplace and beyond.

Realize you are the decision maker

Ah, therein lies one of the biggest scopes of a leader. You have to make decisions. You cannot avoid them! Even not making a decision is a decision, albeit sometimes not necessarily a good one. Some decisions will be easy, some will be hard, some will create challenges for others, some may even offend others, some will be genius, some will be dumb, and some will show you are the greatest leader of all times. But mostly decisions will propel you and/or your organization along the path of success. 

Understand both sides of the decision

Perhaps, we should say that you must understand all sides of the decision. Initially, you may think that a “yes” or a “no” decision is in order. In reality, there are other sides of the decision: “Maybe not right now,” “Let’s involve others in the decision-making process,” “Are there aspects we are not seeing?” And many others. 

Do your homework

Decision-making constitutes doing your homework, whether it is visiting with others, reviewing the data, digging through the research, contemplating outcomes and workload, debating pros and cons, or acknowledging and ultimately accepting consequences. While doing your homework, you should also realize that your decision must be timely. 

Involve others in the decision-making process

You may have to make the final decision, but you should involve the people you have hired in helping you make the decision. If you have hired correctly, they are smart people, more than capable of reviewing with you any challenges that might come because of the decision. They probably can see angles you may not have foreseen. Trust them. Include them. Involving good heads, strong hearts, and good visionaries and pragmatists will always make you a better leader. 

Make the decision

Ironically, you have to make the decision. Of course, you will make the decision after you have done your homework, listened to others, and understand the potential consequences. But ultimately, the decision is yours. I know a few so-called leaders who think about it and think about and put off making the decision to the extreme. So, when the decision is finally made, people whose lives and jobs depend on the situation and have done everything in their power to help their leader with the decision have basically downgraded their opinion (s) of the leader. Leaders make decisions. Better stated: Leaders make timely, informed decisions.  

Understand the consequence (s) of your decision

Fortunately or unfortunately, there will be consequences to your decision. Many “ouches” will come your way, like ripping off a band aid. It may hurt for a moment or two—maybe even a year or two or even longer—but if you have done your homework, involved others, and made a good decision, then you can and should accept the outcome. 

Take ownership of the decision

There will be decisions that will not be good ones. It is inevitable. Instead of blaming others, take full ownership of it. You are/were/will be the ultimate decision maker. If the decision is not a good one, go to the evaluation/assessment component of the process. There may have been an angle you or your team overlooked. Or there may have been an unintended consequence. Do not be afraid to be accountable for the decision. Be sure, though, to give out the appropriate accolades because of a good decision. It will make you a better and a more effective leader. 

Assess the decision

Yes, you have to determine whether your decision is a good one. When you brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush, you know that’s a good decision, especially when you go to your six-month checkup, and the dental hygienist tells you your gums are looking good. Assessment should always be a part of the decision-making process. If changes need to occur, then make them, following a similar process you followed with some variation to make the right decision. 

Follow up

Once the decision has been made and you have completed the assessment, continue to follow up to make sure the decision is still a good one and on track toward success. Sometimes, you will have to review and perhaps reevaluate the decision. There is no shame in saying, “Well, that wasn’t the best decision we have ever made. Let’s take another look and try again.” 

Do not beat yourself up for the bad decisions

Guess what, bad decisions creep into the leadership equation. Unfortunately, you cannot make good decisions 100% of the time. You can make a zillion good decisions, but often there will be that one decision that may haunt you for the rest of your life. You cannot, however, continue to focus on that bad decision. Why? Because it will be so close in your line of vision that it will obstruct the bigger picture, the vision of what you need to do. The most amazing thing that can happen from making a bad decision is how you turn a bad decision into a good one and move forward. Or maybe even be willing to discard the decision completely. Sometimes, you just have to shake your head a few times and move on. 

Decision-making is one of the most challenging aspects of being a leader. It can create heartache and heartburn while simultaneously euphoria and self-satisfaction. The key to good, effective decision-making is this: You have to make them. Just make sure you have done everything you can to make a good decision and then be willing to accept whatever consequence that follows, good or bad. 

Darrel L. Hammon, Ph.D.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Hay 20 cosas debe hacer cada día para su esposa o querida

  Para mis amigos que hablan Español!

Hay 20 cosas debe hacer cada día para su esposa o querida

Haga el día de su esposa, cada día, con estas acciones simples que le recordarán su amor por ella.

 Díle que la amas

 Le debes decir que la amas más que una vez al día, incluso cuando sales y cuando regresas a casa. Como texting es tan popular, puedes enviarle un texto a ella aunque la conversación con ella cara a cara sea la más importante e íntima.

Muéstrale la amas

De todas las cosas que necesitas hacer cada día, esta es quizás la más esencial. Le puedes cuanto la amas, pero la demonstración de su amor hacia ella es vital en su vida diaria. La demonstración. Hay miles de maneras cómo mostrarle a esposa cuanto la amas. Sea creativo — Todos. Los. Días.

 Sé organizado

Nada es menos atractivo que montones de ropa, zapatos, calcetines, envolturas de dulces, etc. esparcidas por todas partes. Seguramente puedes gastar unos pocos minutos para poner en su sitio tus zapatos, colocar sus calcetines en la ropa sucia o hasta colgar tus pantalones. Si eres experto en arrojar las cosas al suelo o amontonar unas camisas de un número astronómico en la silla al lado de tu cama, deja la pereza y sé más organizado.

Limpia alrededor del fregadero

Uno de los lugares más insalubres en su casa hoy en día, aparte del teclado de su computador, es el fregadero.  Límpialo cada día, y ella estará gratamente sorprendida y agradecida.

 Plancha la ropa

Trata de planchar por ti mismo. Tú serías sorprendido cuán relajante—y terapéutica—es planchar la ropa.

Escríbele una nota

Este podría ser una de las más sencillas. No tienes que hacer un curso de poesia, solo una nota que le deje saber que ella es hermosa, o desearle que tenga un buen día. Pónlo en su bolsillo o en algún lugar donde ella puede verla. Prueba con una nota adhesiva en el espejo en el baño.

Haz la cama

O por lo menos ayudarle hacer la cama. Siempre es más fácil cuando dos hacen la cama, y sólo se tarda unos minutos de su tiempo. Hay algo refrescante tener una cama ordenada.

No te quejes

Sin duda, puedes abstenerte de quejarte una vez al día—hazlo dos veces mañana. Quejarse es un signo de pesimismo.

 Léele a ella

Quizás no sea lectura, pero el leer algo a ella cada día es dulce e íntimo. Podría ser uno de los comics del diario, un versículo o dos de la Biblia, o un increíble pasaje de la novela que estás leyendo.

 Cepíllate los dientes

La frescura es la clave de la felicidad.

No le preguntes por lo que se debes hacer

Al preguntar significa que no eres un buen observador.  Probablemente, ella te ha insinuado y tal vez incluso ya te había dicho: "Querido, ¿podrías tú hacer esto?" Sé observador, mira a tú alrededor; y escúchela.

Pon los platos en el lavavajillas

 No hay ninguna razón para dejar los platos en el fregadero o en la mesa. Si el lavajillas está lleno, váciela.

Parquéate correctamente

El espacio del garaje es sagrado; así pues, asegúrate que tú auto quede en tú propio lado.  La usurpación de su puesto no le será gracioso. Si su coche está fuera, siga adelante y pon el carro de tú esposa adentro del garaje también. Es una de las cosas que muestra que la amas.

Lleva la basura afuera

Siempre te toca sacar la basura—Asi es.

Cierra con llave las puertas y apaga las luces

Por la noche, anda alrededor de la casa, cierra con llave las puertas y apaga las luces. Tu cónyuge se sentirá segura y protegida si completas esta tarea.

Abrásela

Abrazos por la mañana. Abrazos cuando regresas a casa. Abrazos cuando se acuestan. Y asegúrate que no sea sólo un apretoncito. Déle unos abrazos de oso.

Congratúlela

Recuérdale cuánto amas esa sonrisa de la cual te enamoraste. Hay muchas cosas que ama en ella, así le recuérdatelas a menudo.

Ayuda con los platos sin preguntar

No solo en ponor los platos en el lavavajillas, ayuda también a una vez limpios ponerlos en su sitio, y a la vez poner la mesa a la hora de la comida y recoger la mesa después de las comidas.

Cocínale

 Esto puede significar que tienes que aprender cómo cocinar algo. Pero tus esfuerzos serán muy apreciados cuando preparas una comida deliciosa para ella.

Tengan una conversación increíble cada día

En la sociedad de hoy, con tanta tecnología, días laborables largos, etc., rara vez tenemos el tiempo para la conversación. Su matrimonio será reforzado si llevas tiempo para hablar con tu esposa cada día.

Memorice esta lista, añade a ella y siempre recuerda dos palabras importantes: "Sí, Querida."


Saturday, February 13, 2021

20 things you should be doing for your Valentine on a daily basis

For this Valentine's Day, I know that many of you are scrambling to find the right Valentine's Day gift--maybe flowers, a beautiful card, clothes, a new car, perhaps even new shutters for your house. One of the gifts you could give to your Valentine is doing just simple things everyday, not just on Valentine's Day. In fact, Valentine's Day can be an every day occurrence. 

This year why not commit to 20 things you should be doing for your Valentine on a daily basis!

Life is full of lists we need to do, from shopping to what to buy to homework assignments. No list is more important for men than the 20 things you should be doing for your true Valentine on a daily basis. Once you figure that out, you may be home free.

#1: Tell her you love her—You must tell her you love her more than once per day, including when you leave and when you come home. Because texting is so popular, you can even text her although telling her face-to-face is the most important and intimate.

#2: Show her you love her—Of all of the things you need to do every single day is this one: Show her you love her. You can tell her all you want, but showing her is the sauna of everyday living. Show not telling is the writer’s mantra and should be a husband’s. Thousands of ways exist on how to show your wife you love her. Be creative. Every. Single. Day.

#3: Pick up after yourself—Nothing is less sexy or even unsanitary than heaps of clothes, shoes, socks, candy wrappers, etc. lying everywhere. Surely you can spend the few minutes to put away your shoes, place your socks in the dirty clothes, or even hang up your pants. It’s just plain laziness to just flop stuff on the floor or pile a zillion T-shirts on the chair next to your bed.

 #4: Clean around your sink—Yuck! One of the most unsanitary places in America today, aside from your computer keyboard, is your sink. Clean it every day and reach over and clean your spouse’s. She will be pleasantly surprised and grateful. Promise!

 #5: Iron your own clothes—Perhaps, all of your clothes are the no iron kind. Congrats! But there are some husbands whose dress shirts need to be iron, pants to be touched up, or even suit jackets to be steamed. Try doing it yourself. You would be surprised how relaxing—and even therapeutic—it really is.

#6: Write a note—This could be the easiest one you do. Your note doesn’t have to be on the cutest paper in the world. You could easily write on any piece of paper, including toilet paper, and put it in her pocket or out where she can see it. You could even put a sticky note on the mirror in the bathroom.

#7: Make the bed—Or at least help make the bed. It’s always easier when two make the bed, and it takes just a few moments of your time. There is just something about completeness when the bed is made.

#8: Don’t complain—Surely, you can refrain from complaining once per day. Make it twice tomorrow. Complaining is a sign of morbid pessimism.

#9: Read to her—Now, you may not be a reader, but reading to her something every day shows a bit savvy about things. It could be one of the comics from the daily paper, a scripture or two, or an incredible passage from the novel you are reading.

 #10: Brush your teeth—Okay, this one should be done more than once per day, but brushing your teeth the moment you get up and then after you breakfast will definitely reap benefits. Freshness is always the key to happiness.

 #11: Don't ask about what needs to be done—Having to ask definitely shows you are non-observant and not dialed in to what is happening around your house. She probably has hinted and maybe even come right out and said, “Dear, would you do this?” Be observant; look around; listen to her.

 #12: Put the dishes in the dish washer—Mega-easy task! Climb off your stool/chair, grab your utensils and cereal bowl, and walk the three feet to the dish washer. There is no reason to leave them in the sink or on the table.

 #13: Pull in the garage straight—Garage space is sacred space; so, make sure you pull in straight and on your own side. Encroaching on her spot is not cool. If her car is outside, go ahead and put hers away, too. It’s one of those showing-you-love-her things.

#14: Take care of the garbage—It’s always your turn to take out the garbage. No questions asked.  

#15: Lock the doors and turn out the lights—At night, walk around the house, lock the doors, and turn out the lights. Your spouse will feel much safer if you have done due diligence.

#16: Give her a hug or two—This is a no-brainer. Hugs in the morning. Hugs when you come home. Hugs when you go to bed. Make sure they aren’t just a mere squeeze. Give her bear hugs.

#17: Complement her how nice she looks—Complimenting your lovely bride once a day—or even more would be a good thing—reaps huge benefits.

#18: Help with the dishes without being asked—This one is different than putting your dishes into the dish washer. If you or your spouse cooks, which they normally do, jump right in and help with the dishes, either washing or drying.

#19: Make one of the meals—What? Make one of the meals? That may mean you have to learn how to cook something, learn how to heat up leftovers, or even create a salad. You will be totally surprised how she reacts if you arrive home first and have a delicious meal prepared for her.

#20: Have an incredible conversation each day—In today’s society with all of the technology, streaming video, long work days, etc., we seldom have time for conversation. Your marriage and your relationship with your wife will endure even longer and become stronger when you take the time to have an incredible conversation with her. It’s almost a reconnection each day.

Memorize the list, add to it, and, oh, and always remember two important words: “Yes, Dear.”


*From https://www.eastidahonews.com/2015/06/20-things-wife-every-day/

 

Monday, November 30, 2020

Finding focus and clarity in your life.


Finding focus and clarity in your life

Introduction 

Have you been at a loss lately to find your focus and clarity in your life? During these times of both challenges and marvels, we tend to wonder where our focus is and whether there is any clarity in our lives. What cannot happen is that we give up and fade off into oblivion in our lives, just getting up or even not getting up in the morning and mopping around the house, always wishing things would change but doing nothing about it.

The following seven principles/suggestions are (almost) surefire ways of finding focus and clarity. The (almost) comes in if you read them, force a big yawn, and do nothing about your focus or clarity. If you want to do something to help, read on. Even if you have an inkling you want to do better, read it twice.

Always look holistically at everything (Focus on the big picture!) 

The challenge emerges when we do not look and focus on the big picture—your future. Yes, there are lots of details in anything that we do. The rub comes when we focus only on the details and get lost in the minutia. It is like climbing into one of those deep pits full of little balls, red and blue, trying to find just the few blue ones and submerge ourselves into the balls. All else fades into darkness, and we cannot tell the blue ones from the red ones. The safe bet is to lift up your heads and scan the entire area. Seeing holistically will always keep your mind and eyes open to the realm of possibilities. It’s ultimately like standing on a high mountain on clear day and seeing forever in any direction. Ah, the beauty of a holistic view! Make sure your future is always in your sights.

Accept that you can succeed 

One of the key ingredients in the acceptance thing is understanding that you can overcome challenges. Sure, there will always be a boatload of challenges that seem to dock in your path, some by your own choices, others because some people place them there, and still a few others that just seem to appear out of nowhere and try to sabotage you. You just need to accept those challenges and know that with patience and diligence, you will succeed. The marvelous thought that should come to you is that you can succeed because you choose to succeed.

Determine what you really to do 

Some of us spend too much time on weighing a zillion things we can do or must do. While it is important to spend time thinking about things, at some point you have to determine what you really want to do or what needs to be done. I know a person who says I need to do this, but the moment she begins to walk to get that thing done, she gets distracted by some other thing that needs to be completed. Consequently, nothing gets done, and then she complains that she did not finish what she started to do. So, sit down, place all of the things you need to do and want to do, write them down, and then prioritize through planning.

Plow forward with all effort 

Once you determine what you want to do, just begin doing it by plowing forward with all effort. I have discovered that once you climb out of your shell or lethargy and just begin, you will find that it is exhilarating to be out and about doing what you have determined to do. There is something invigorating about accomplishing what you have determined to do. Just keep moving forward, no matter what. At times, you may not be able to go as fast, but continue to plow forward.



Take advantage of the tools around you 

Knowing that you can succeed is enhanced by utilizing the tools that surround you. So, what are those tools? Most of the time we cannot really do things by ourselves—even brushing our teeth. We do need a toothbrush, toothpaste, and usually a mirror. Succeeding is attending that class that will help us, or some reading material off the web or checked out from the library, or that free seminar offered by one of our colleagues or someone in the same business group—a snippet here, a bit of information there. Don’t be shy about using it to help you become even more focused and clear about you and your goals and aspirations. Just gather the tools up as you go. Don’t forget, though, to share your tools with others.

Be positive and stick to it 

Of course, when the challenges do come—and they will come, usually in bunches—you will need to be positive and stay positive. Now, this means a bit of pragmatism and reality need to align. The pragmatic person sees things in a realistic way because they know that things happen. That’s just the way it is. When you align pragmatism with positivity, you gain a sense of stick-to-it-ness. You truly understand that things will happen, and your positivity will propel you forward beyond that negativity. Period.

Utilize mentors—i.e. Let appropriate people help you 

One of the important things to stay focused is find a mentor or two who can help you stay on track. There really are lots of people who want to help you. True mentors will help people. I am not saying that you have to call them every single day to “check in.” Most mentors are there when you need them. They are not a crutch for you. Rather, they help boost you forward, giving you wings and motivation to go and do. Then, when someone asks you for help, please reciprocate. You will feel both ennobled and enabled.

Conclusion 

Focusing on what you need to do and doing it will always bring clarity to your tasks. Often, the clarity is so transparent you may think it is a newly cleaned window that allows you to see farther than you have ever seen. If the dimness ever re-emerges, quickly take the effective, more focused and holistic view of things and the lucidity will engulf you.




 

 

Monday, November 2, 2020

Are you ready to be a first-time parent?

Not long ago, I was visiting with two of our friends who were preparing for their first baby reveal about what first-time parents ought to know before the baby comes and even after. They were curious as to what to expect. I told them I would do a little research.

So, what does one do to research this information? You ask experienced parents, especially those who just had a baby! I used Facebook as my research tool and posted this question: “What would be your top three things/principles first-time parents ought to know?”

I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity of answers I received from recent first-time parents, parents with eight children, and grandparents. Once I read and reviewed the information, I have categorized them in 15 categories, directly from other parents and grandparents who have been in your shoes.

Here they are, first-time parents:

Love them

This was the number one answer for most respondents. A father of twins, Carl, said, “Recognize that love is infinite and grows with each child.” It will be really challenging not to love your new baby. I remember seeing Anna Rose and Hailey, our daughters, for the first time after they were born, and we loved them instantly. In actuality, though, the moment you find out that your spouse is going to have a baby your love begins and grows and grows. According to Amy, a mother of several daughters and one son, “Be prepared to love like you’ve never loved before….Babies also need to FEEL love and lots of it.”

Do your very best.

The one thing most everyone agreed on is this: You are going to make mistakes. I know that is a challenging concept to accept, but it is the truth. Do not worry about the “should-have-done-it-this-way.” There really are lots of correct ways, many of them you will learn along the way. Your child will love you even though may make a mistake. They probably will not realize it. Just move on from that mistake and do what you know you need to do. Great parenting comes from doing your best and improving every day.

Relax and enjoy the experience.

One mother Kristen astutely wrote, “If you have to choose between a nap and a shower, it’s okay to choose the nap.” Joanne, my wonderful wife, wrote: “Take time to record the memories.” Write in your journal or even buy a journal or a baby book for your baby and record the moments. Often, you will be holding your new baby in the new rocking chair or recliner, and all you want to do is just hold the baby, nothing else. That is okay. There will be a constant nagging in the back of your mind that there are things to be done. These times will not last forever. Just sit back and enjoy that sweet baby.

Understand that every baby is different.

Sandra, one of my high school classmates, reminisced, “I thought I knew everything until I had my 8th child. She was nothing like the rest. It was like starting completely over!” Focus on your child and know they will be different than the rest of your children and anyone else’s. There is nothing wrong with that. Some will need more cuddling than others; some will drink more milk; others may cry more or smile more or….a thousand other differences. Be accepting of those differences.

Seek to establish a family-centered child and not a child-center family.

Another mother Kandi gave this counsel. “The family is truly the center, not necessarily the children. The children need to learn to be part of a family and have responsibilities and consequences. Amazingly, when we work as a family team, everyone learns their role and how to grow and develop their talents with the help of their siblings.” Yes, it is easy to just focus on just your baby and nothing else. Please create the environment so they know they are part of a family, even an extended family.

Know that you can never prepare enough but “tis enough.”

Because of the inordinate number of books, the Internet, etc., you will have lots of first-time parent material to read and ponder. But when the little one arrives, it is as if you did not read or listen to a word. You look at your baby and say, maybe a wee bit exasperated, “I have no idea what to do!” Well, that is truly a frustrating moment. We were the same way. We had read the books, but we felt so unprepared. But the moment Anna Rose, our first, was placed in Joanne’s arms, she knew exactly what to do. That mother instinct kicked in immediately. It was a marvel to watch. One father, Chris, a young man we knew in Miles City, Montana, said, “Nobody is ever truly ready for the first children. There are lots of trials by fire….experience is the best teacher.” Just remember: You will be enough.

Be prepared to be tired, probably even exhausted.

Many mothers responded how tiring it was being a first-time mother. One of the grandmothers who responded, Therese, commented: “It’s okay if you don’t get the dishes done after each meal. Try to relax.” Babies are time consuming. With diapers, feeding, changing their clothes, holding them, just watching them, etc. takes time and great amounts of energy. These new babies are literally 24/7 beings and need attention all the time. You will be tired. So, take time and rest when they are resting. Do not think you have to do all these things while they are resting. Rest when they rest!

Listen to some advice but not all of it.

Once you announce you are going to have a baby, the advice and counsel will be delivered to you in dump trucks and several data dumps in your email box, Messenger, text, and other social media sources. Listen to some of it, but do not listen to all of it. There are thousands and thousands of books on parenting—some good, some bad, some mediocre. One mother, Nicole, wrote: “Listen to your own parental instincts rather than what your family, friends, Google, or the latest parenting book tells you….Find what works for YOU and your child.”

Know you are still an individual.

Sometimes first-time parents feel they lose their identity with a new baby in the home. People coo over the babies, bring them gifts, and then—maybe—they say something to the parents and ask them how they are doing. Jennifer, a mother of an autistic child, wisely wrote: “Don't forget to take time every day to do something that makes you, YOU. Take a bath, read a book, write in your journal. Maybe you'll only get five minutes, but it's five minutes where you get to be completely yourself.” The key is that you still have an identity, and it also needs to be fed.

Do not be afraid of what you are about to do.

There is always a fear that lingers prior to your first-born coming. Some sound advice comes from Brandy, a mother of three boys: “Give yourself more patience than criticism.” A fairly new mother, Candace, wrote: “Having children will change you in a way you never imagined. It will bring the worst and best out of you leaving—hopefully—a more perfect person full of compassion, understanding, patience, and charity.” If you enter this phase of life with fear, it will dissipate if you remember why you decided to have a baby. Yes, changes will occur. Yes, your body and emotions change. The key hinges, though, on knowing that these little ones will help us learn new lessons, help us grow and mature, and develop in positive ways. Thus, do not be afraid; rather, be anticipatory and grow from this incredible experience.

Do not compare yourself to other moms and the corollary is do not compare your children to other children.

Every child is different, yours included. Our oldest did not walk until she was 14 months old. We wondered what was wrong with her—what was wrong with us! She was bright, she could say a few words, she was attentive, but she did not walk. One day at Church, she was standing by her mother and me, holding on to both of my hands and watching the other kids her age and younger walking. She looked at them and then at us, let go of my hands, and began walking. Just. Like. That. One mother from Springville, Utah, Natalie, wrote: “You are the perfect parents for your children. Be your best self for your kids and don’t worry what other parents are doing.”

Read and talk to your children often.

One of my former basketball players, Darcy, said, “Talk to your babies a lot when they are little. Then, when they can talk, listen to everything they want to talk about. When they become teens, they will be more likely to talk to you when they need your help.” We loved reading with and to our children. When Joanne was in the hospital for two months when she was pregnant with our oldest, I read the Hobbit to both of them, Joanne in the hospital and Anna Rose in the womb. When Anna Rose began to grow, she loved being read to and still loves the Hobbit.

Remember to do the basics.

Several respondents reminded us of the basics of first-time parents. Leonr from Puerto Rico shared some counsel from her pediatrician daughter: “If you feed your baby with a bottle, don’t lay him/her down with the bottle of milk against a pillow because this may cause ear infections. Try to keep his head raised.” Many said, “Buy lots of diapers and burp cloths.” Pam wrote: “Pray every day for patience, kindness, love, safety, acceptance, help, strength, courage.”

Be the best father.

As first-time fathers, we know that it is the mothers who seem to do the bulk of the work with the babies. Be cognizant of that and try to help in any way you can. Do the housework, wash the dishes, put in a few loads of laundry. Do not wait to be asked. Also, you may want to take some time after the baby is down for a nap or right after they go to sleep and just rubbed your wife’s feet, back, shoulders, etc. Be attentive and observant to her needs. Remember: If it is your wife’s challenge, it is your challenge, too. This baby is yours together.  

Your life will change.

Starting a family will change you, and you may never be the same. Amy, one of the moms, counseled, “Nothing can really prepare you for the ways your life and your heart will never be the same. It’s also the hardest thing and can be quite overwhelming. You will experience sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, self-doubt and if you’re breastfeeding, this can be extremely painful and difficult, but you will know how to love them because that comes naturally.” But as a new father, Joseph, wrote: “You and your spouse may be sleep deprived, but as long as you support each other, take every opportunity to rest, keep an eye on each other’s emotions, you will learn to enjoy every moment.” Thus, change can be a learning experience.

Conclusion:

Overall, being first-time parents can be challenging, yes, even hard at times. But the counsel that a OBGYN doctor, Liz (our niece), gave is profound: “It’s easy to look back on your life with young kids with rose-colored glasses and wish about all the things you ‘should have done’ and offer advice. Despite this when you are in it all the work still needs to get done and a lot of the time it’s hard. It’s ok that it’s hard, it’s ok that you hate it some days, it’s ok to be unhappy and not want to ‘relish’ every all-nighter, diaper explosion, tantrum, etc. Do your best, love them and know that they won’t be small forever, and eventually you’ll be able to look back with your rose-colored glasses and think that it wasn’t that hard.”

We wish you well, first-time parents. Do your best! And remember that you are you and will do just fine. Please have some fun being a first-time parent. 

Good luck!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Who are emerging leaders and are they easy to spot?

 Who are emerging leaders and are they easy to spot?

You could say I have been around a bit in leadership circles and roles, mostly in higher education, particularly community colleges and universities with community college roles and missions. Consequently, I have seen, helped, and mentored my share of people who I would classify as emerging leaders. 

For the past decade or more, a few questions have bounced around: “Who are emerging leaders? And how can we help them propel themselves forward?” I will answer only the first question and save the second question for another essay.

First, who are emerging leaders and are they easy to spot? In many ways they are. Some of them are already serving in leadership positions, some rounding off their edges, yet they possess a sense of vigilance and a willingness to learn and to grow. I have chosen just seven attributes or characteristics to help us recognize these emerging leaders:

They are influencers.

Now, some of emerging leaders may know they are influencers in a formal way, but many more are influencers in an informal way. This means that they do not try to impress. It just happens naturally by the way they say things or do things. They show up, full blown, ready to go every single day. They are consistent and persistent in all that they do, and they rise to the top by natural transition by creating, participating in, and seeking opportunities for themselves to grow and develop.

They are contributors.

They are ones you see asking good questions, questions that stimulate growth or show that they have done their homework before they ask the question. They are powerfully patience in their contributions throughout the organization. They do not force themselves on others or talk over other people to get their point across. They know when to contribute appropriately and strategically, and their contributions move the company and the conversation along in a positive way.

They are smart and exude a bit of savvy about what is happening.

These days it seems that everyone exhibits “smartness” or “intelligence” in a variety of areas. While some people exhibit these qualities, it does not mean that they know what to do with their smartness and intelligence. To me, emerging leaders exude a judiciousness about how they incorporate their smartness and intelligence in their normal, everyday actions. Gratuitous exhibition does not become them. Rather, these emerging leaders show it through ingenuity and conversation and the actual doing what needs to be done.

They are excited about coming to work and staying engaged.

Too many people are lethargic about coming to work and staying engaged in what we are trying to accomplish. Emerging leaders stay excited and motivated about the doings of the organization. They may not be the perennial show horse who comes to work all prim and proper although they may look good because they focus on what needs to be done instead of how they look. They possess a sense of energy all day long, perhaps even being the light that that shines on everyone as they are engaged in doing real work.


They are willing to go beyond the daily mundane.

Emerging leaders seek opportunities to show what they can do. There are those in our lives—past and present—who always ask for extra credit. While I am not one to give extra credit, I do believe if you can do the work, then just do it. The emerging leaders who go beyond the daily mundane do it because they have chosen to excel and want to become better, not necessarily because of the credit or accolades they may receive. They possess an internal guide that propels them forward in all that they do. They look forward to going beyond what is being asked of them. Their work ethic is impeccable.

They work in teams and often emerge as leaders of those teams.

Emerging leaders like to work in teams and implicitly understand the various roles in a team. They do not dominate the conversation or try to persuade everyone to come to their side. It is a natural progression as they rise to the occasion. By choice, the people in their groups tend to look to them because they trust them. Their groups tend to coalesce and become one, and their projects have positive trappings and show great thought, creativity, and resourcefulness.

They leave a trail of good and positivity behind them.

There are those so called leaders who advance but leave behind a wake of negativity and workplace debris—people whom they stepped on and over, projects that others did but they took credit for, and a sense of “we-are-glad-he/she-is gone-from-this-organization.” Exceptional emerging leaders leave their last position in better shape than the found it. People moan their departure because of what they have done and how they treated others. Emerging leaders understand culture and try with all their might and mind to leave behind a culture that wishes them well and welcomes them back anytime. When emerging leaders do this and they move from one successful position to another, they can always call back, ask for help, and never be turned down or away. They gain allies wherever they go, and they never forget where they came from.

Now, there are many, many more qualities that may define an emerging leader, but these are the ones that have impressed me over the past several years. I have watched these types of leaders transition nicely from just pools of people to upper leadership in organizations because of their persistence and personality to do what needs to be done. While not one attribute completely defines emerging leaders, a combination of many create and propel emerging leaders to the top of leadership circles. 

Darrel L. Hammon, Ph.D.


Monday, October 5, 2020

Free, free, free—Knowledge. Bring your own containers!

“Free, free, free—Knowledge. Bring your own containers,” so reads a poster hanging on a wall in Jaime Escalante’s classroom (Escalante’s life was portrayed in the movie Stand and Deliver). Although some of the information we need to be successful is not free, what’s so amazing in today’s society is the torrential amount of information out there, something to the tune of doubling every 18 months or even more rapidly in many areas. 

Knowledge flows so quickly, equally dramatically as well as undramatically, that it is there for the gathering. It seems everyone is willing—or appears to be willing—to share his or her knowledge with us. Of course, you have to be careful about the information posted. 


Like baby birds in a nest, sometimes all we have to do is open our mouths (our personal containers), and knowledge plops in almost effortlessly and faster than we are able to digest it. Knowledge is prolific and constantly flowing, and intriguing questions emerge from the flow: 
  • How are we dealing with the information? 
  • Is it overwhelming us? 
  • Are we ignoring it, or should we be paying attention to it? 
  • Are we taking advantage of it? 
  • Is it relevant to us now and even in the future? 
  • How often does the information change in our field? 
  • Is it true and does it come from a reliable source? 
I believe each question may have great or grave consequence to each of us. Taking advantage of this new information will enlighten us and help us become more productive and successful in the marketplace. 

Consider the following five areas of “filling your containers” and answering these questions: 

1. Research what is happening in your marketplace/product area. 
In every business sector, someone is researching something for somebody to gain, hopefully, the market edge. Of course, you must ask yourself: Do the research results parallel my own market analysis or do I need to do one myself? Or do I need more training in certain aspects of the business? Keeping current with the research is, at best, difficult to do, even if you have someone working full time just keeping tabs on the pulse of the information. Nonetheless, knowing what is going on in your market and how you will deal with it is imperative to your future survival.  

2. Capture the newest, the best, and the most reliable information. 
While there is a constant surging flow of information, some of it may not be pertinent to you and your market. It may not be true or even reliable. After you have identified the reliable sources for the information, then decide the most appropriate information for you. Having a “jaundiced eye” will keep you from pursuing information not relevant to your mission. Being on the “cutting edge” is always nice, especially if you want to be ahead of the game, but be sure to validate the information to be on the cutting edge and getting cut by it. 

3. Implement the new information. 
You have done the research. You know the best information possible. You send your employees or yourself to be trained in the new information. Now is the time to implement the new information/ techniques and see if all your research will pay off. Implementation may be the scariest part although you should be moderately confident you have done your homework. 

4. Assess how the information works. 
Most companies are constantly assessing and reassessing the process of how they do a particular component of their business. They are objective enough to understand when a process works or does not work and either dumping the “container of information” altogether or readjusting the information to fit their current operation. Whatever the case may be, make sure you are striving for continuous improvement. 

5. Continue the cycle. 
Part of any cycle is continuously running through the process and completing it all over again and monitoring it at every step. A continuous effort in capturing the best information from the most appropriate and reliable sources; converting that information to tangible, concrete answers for your business and clients; continually assessing to see what impact the information had on your company, both short term and long term; and starting the process all over again—all these constitute a visionary yet practical process of remaining competitive. 

If all else fails, remember Jaime Escalante and always keep an open container with you. You will never know when the right information may emerge, and you will need to lean over and pluck some new tidbit of information from the roaring river of data. Don’t worry if you fall in. There are lots of handholds along the way that can help you out or catch you from drowning. Just catch a hold, haul yourself out of the torrential tides, and move forward. Of course, as you dry out, you will have time to reflect your future. 

Good luck filling those containers.