The Coach's Corner

Making Your Bed Is Important? Are You Kidding Me?

September 10th, 2018 // Tom Doescher //
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Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Recently I finished The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes, a former All-American who is currently on the USA men’s national handball team. He’s also a motivational speaker, author, and executive coach. His book was similar to many others I’ve read and, halfway through the book, I concluded I wouldn’t blog about it. Then I got to Chapter 6, where Howes recommends making your bed every morning. As support for his position, he references the 2014 commencement address at the University of Texas, which was delivered by Adm. William McRaven, a retired Navy Seal. I had listened to McRaven’s address a few years ago, and I highly recommend it to you. In fact, here’s a six-minute portion of the address, where the admiral’s first recommendation to the graduates is that they make their beds.

Howes also quotes from The Happiness Project by New York Times best-selling author and blogger Gretchen Rubin. I’m sure you’ll be skeptical, but Rubin reports that many of the readers who have communicated with her in response to her happiness project report that making their beds had the biggest impact on their happiness. Paraphrasing Rubin, “Making your bed is a step that’s quick and easy, yet makes a big difference. Everything looks neater. It’s easier to find your shoes. Your bedroom is a more peaceful environment.” She goes on to say, “Because making my bed is one of the first things I do in the morning, I start the day feeling efficient, productive, and disciplined.”

Wow, very interesting. I’ll leave it up to you whether you decide to read the Howes or Rubin books, but if you haven’t heard Adm. McRaven’s address, I would definitely recommend listening to it.

Hopefully you’ll accept this post in the spirit it is offered.

 

 

 

Looking for Topics for Your Annual Planning Meeting?

August 20th, 2018 // Tom Doescher //
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Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

I would recommend using It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For by Roy M. Spence, Jr., as a resource. If you’re like me, after years of attending annual planning meetings you’re often looking for something new and fresh. Spence and his colleagues have advised some highly regarded companies, like Southwest Airlines, and have come up with a list of great questions you could use during your leadership team’s annual retreat/planning session.

I’ve written several times about a company’s “why” or “purpose,” including in my January 11, 2016, post. The primary subject of It’s Not What You Sell is “purpose,” and Spence organizes his suggested questions into four categories:

  1. Are purpose principles alive and well in your organization?
  2. Are you building an organization that makes a difference?
  3. Are you a leader of great purpose?
  4. Are you bringing your purpose to life in the marketplace?

Each of these categories provides 10 questions that could be used as part of a team-building, vision-casting session.

In addition, Spence references numerous books and research studies that you may want to obtain as advanced reading material for your team.

Spence and his colleagues assist businesses with marketing services including branding. As I read their client stories, I reflected back upon sitting in company lobbies, reading the plaques on the walls (yes, this was before digital displays). It wasn’t uncommon for companies to incorporate Bible verses into their messages (purpose, vision, principles, etc.). On more than one occasion, when I was sitting in a meeting with the company’s executives, I had a totally different experience than what I had expected based on the values their lobby displays touted.

So, what’s my point? I’m probably playing big brother here, but I believe it would be better to not say certain things if, in fact, they aren’t the standards your business (and all its team members) adheres to. The plaques or video displays on the lobby walls should accurately reflect the company’s culture. Be careful not to overstate it.

All I Want Is To Blend In

August 6th, 2018 // Tom Doescher //
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One of my Flint business colleagues gave me a copy of Imperfect: An Improbable Life, an autobiography of Jim Abbott. Because he grew up in my new hometown, I found the book to be very educational. For those of you who don’t know of him, Abbott is a famous baseball player who got his start as a star pitcher at Flint Central High School and the University of Michigan. He was a starting pitcher on the 1980 U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning baseball team and he pitched a no-hitter for the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

After finishing the book and reflecting on Abbott’s life, I pondered what I could tell you about this remarkable man. I could focus on his mom and dad, who were teenage parents, or the cutthroat nature of professional baseball, or the painful process of determining when to end a professional career, or what it’s like to be the spouse of a professional athlete in the crosshairs of the media, or what a great job his young parents did raising him.

Oh, yeah, did I mention that Abbott was born without a right hand?

After a great deal of thought, I decided to share two lessons I learned from reading about Abbott’s life.

The first deals with his desire not to be thought of as different. If you see pictures of him in street clothes, he always has his right (hand) in his pocket, and looks like any other person you might walk past. He tells a story about a time he was being introduced as the speaker at an event. In his introductory comments, the well-intentioned master of ceremonies mentioned that Abbott was missing his right hand. As Abbott listened, he thought to himself, Why? Just let my accomplishments of a gold medal and a no-hitter stand for themselves.

The takeaway, for me, is that it’s important to be more sensitive to any labels or adjectives I use when telling my many stories. Is it really necessary to say things about a person’s height, or where they’re from, or what ethnic group they belong to, or to make observations that sound more like stereotypes? I felt convicted.

My hero on the subject of avoiding labels is my youngest son, Joey. He had a new roommate who I had not yet had a chance to meet. Joey often spoke about his roommate and, from everything he said, they seemed to really be a good match. Well, one day I finally met the roommate. Based on things my son had said when describing his roommate, I had been expecting that this young man was going to look a lot like our family. To my surprise, he wasn’t like us at all. I was proud of Joey’s ability to overlook the stereotypes that might have been placed on his roommate, and to instead focus on the person his roommate is.

The second lesson I gleaned from Abbott’s life is “deliberate practice,” a concept with which I am obsessed. Starting at 4 years old, Abbott would throw baseballs against a wall in his backyard for hours and hours. It was there, in his backyard, that he taught himself to switch his glove to his right arm so he could throw, and then return it to his left hand to catch the rebound. (The book includes some really cool stories of how Abbott overcame adversity and was able to field balls, including bunts, in the majors.)

Do you want to be successful at something? If you didn’t have a right hand, would you dare to set a goal of pitching a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians in Yankee Stadium?

It’s Not Fair

July 23rd, 2018 // Tom Doescher //
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After reading The Capitalist Comeback, by Andrew Puzder, I debated blogging about it. I’m still not sure what the exact angle is, but I decided to offer a few sound bites and leave it up to you.

Even though I spent the first 15 years of my professional career advising (financially, that is) local governments — where I experienced some really nasty politics at times — I was shocked by this book. To support his comments and views, Puzder provides more than 500 references to other books, articles, studies, and speeches to support his findings. (Editorial comment: As you know, I prefer authors who reference credible sources versus those with “just” strong personal opinions.)

Puzder was a successful commercial trial lawyer who joined the parent company of Hardee’s Restaurant. After five years, he became CEO — a job he successfully held for 16 years. President Trump nominated Puzder to serve as his Secretary of Labor but, after a long and contentious confirmation hearing process, he withdrew his name from consideration. What happened is very sad to me, although I’m sure it happens to members of both political parties. Based on the positions presented in his book, I think Puzder would have been a refreshing addition to the cabinet. (And, just so you’re not confused, he was actually in favor of increasing the minimum wage. You need to read the book to get more details on his position.)

Although he doesn’t say it this way, Puzder seems to believe that for over 100 years, the U.S. has been drifting away from its roots. Prior to the industrial revolution, most Americans were business owners. Many were farmers and the rest had businesses that provided products or services to the farmers, like blacksmiths. Daniel Pink refers to them as “free agents” in his book, Free Agent Nation. Puzder doesn’t get into this subject in his book, but Pink and others are excited that we once again seem to have more self-employed workers.

Probably to the surprise of many, Puzder is a champion of what he refers to as entry-level jobs. He’s also really focused on income inequality.

I guess I would say that if you want to hear a side of the story that’s rarely told, I would recommend reading Puzder’s book. I found him to be a guy who cares about his family, his business, his employees and, most of all, his country.

Switch On Your Brain

July 9th, 2018 // Tom Doescher //
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Switch On Your Brain is actually the title of a fascinating book written by Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist with more than 20 years of clinical experiences. Since the ’80s, she has intensely studied the brain. Caution: I want to mention, upfront, that she’s a practicing Christian who incorporates her faith and scripture into her practice (which I believe only strengthens her scientific positions). With or without the scripture references, the plethora of brain research over the last 20-plus years is quite convincing.

I’m out of my area of professional expertise when it comes to discussing the brain, but I’ll take that risk. Today, we all experience and observe so many situations that seem hopeless and have the potential to drag us down. I found that Dr. Leaf offers some very practical and worthwhile advice for many of us.

For over 100 years, learned students, brain experts, and conventional wisdom believed that the brain was hardwired, or fixed. However, based on volumes of brain research over the past 20 years, Dr. Leaf and colleagues from prominent medical research institutions have come to recognize that the mind can reprogram the brain. The scientific word describing how the brain changes as a result of mental activity is called neuroplasticity. This means the brain is malleable and adaptable, changing moment by moment, every day. Additionally, the research indicates that DNA changes shape according to our thoughts.

Dr. Leaf would say, “You are not a victim. You can control your reactions. You do have a choice.” She would also say neuroplasticity can operate for us — as well as against us — because whatever we think about the most will grow (this applies to both the positive and negative ends of the spectrum).

Dr. Leaf provides a 21-day detox plan, which I decided to personally apply to a 15-year-old issue in my life. Just the idea that there may be light at the end of the tunnel was encouraging for me. So far, it has actually worked. I don’t want to take the space here to explain it, but I would be happy to share my issue with you if you’re interested.

Most of you who know me will probably say that I’m pretty solid, stable, and fact-based. That being said, if you are, or have for some time, struggled with an issue — even something as debilitating as posttraumatic stress disorder, for example — consider at least taking the time to read Dr. Leaf’s book. I found her life views very uplifting and inspiring, and I hope you do, too.

 

p.s. In previous posts, I’ve referenced Mindset, by Carol Dweck, who coined the terms “fixed” and “growth” mindsets. Her studies support the position that with the proper instruction/coaching and lots of correct practice (deliberate practice), you can get better. I like both Dr. Leaf and Dweck’s views because they provide hope.

 

 

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Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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