If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well” -Martin Luther King
I love that quote from Martin Luther King. Often leadership profiles define calling as “Seeing the significance of the work. Has a burning desire for the leadership position.” I remember feeling that calling in my 2nd year as a part-time team member. It was a very specific call to work to become a manager and then fix and turnaround stores. The funny part was that the first store I was asked to lead was a brand new store. It wouldn’t be until later on where I got to fully live out that calling. Today my calling is to invest in and develop others. Here are a couple of self-check questions about your calling.
Are you doing what you are called to do?
It’s a simple question, but it really is a gut check if you take it to heart. If this is not your calling, then I would suggest moving as quickly as possible to the area that is. When you aren’t where you are called to be, you hurt the organization you work for. They don’t get the most effective person for their needs. The person suffers because they will never fully enjoy their job. When someone communicates to me that where they are is not their calling, I do everything I can to get them there. I’ve written recommendation letters, helped people find a job in a different field and been references for interviews. If you have someone on your team that is not where they need to be; do what you can to help get them there.
A lack of calling costs the employee and the company.
A lack of calling to your profession can lead to disengagement in your job. Studies say that disengagement costs a company 30% of a person’s salary due to the loss of efficiency. You can easily do the math and see how much you are costing your organization to sit in a seat that you probably don’t want to be in. On the other hand, people who feel that they are called to be in the job that they hold have a much higher efficiency rate, job satisfaction score and a larger sense of worth.
Are you leading like it’s your calling?
So you say that what you do is your calling. Do you lead that way? Do you lead in such a passionate and inspiring way that it’s obvious that this is what you’ve been called to do? If you answer yes, then you are in a good place and you should work on expanding your knowledge so that you can lead even better where you are. If you answered no, then you need to make some changes to get yourself motivated again. Seek councilors or mentors outside the workplace. Study what others are doing. Read a good leadership book. Take some time off. Do what you need to do to reconnect. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself unmotivated and your calling will slip right through your fingers.
Sometimes you aren’t in the specific place you are called to be, but you are working on it. That’s ok, just be the best where you are and keep working towards that goal. Being where you are called to be makes all the difference in your life and the people’s lives that you serve.
Family is not an important thing, it is everything.
Have you ever been somewhere where you didn’t get served well and then you observe someone in the same establishment getting great service? It’s extremely frustrating, to say the least. I’m typically very unlikely to visit the place again when this happens to me or my family. I think that we get so caught up in the daily whirlwind and routine that we forget why we are there in their first place; to serve the guests. It’s important to the success of your team that everyone feels valued and important.
Love the guests like family.
To say to an employee, “I want you to treat everyone like family,” is quite easy. We then are frustrated when we see that experience fail to come into existence. It’s either that A) They refuse to engage in that way (and they should be removed from the team) or B) They don’t understand the difference in what they are doing and what you are looking for. Storytelling is a great way for a person to remember and understand the point you are trying to make. Here we are going to let them tell their own story to drive the point home. Imagine your best friend or mom walked through the front door. How would you react? Excited, relaxed, happy….definitely more engaging. You’d probably carry on a conversation with them and then help them find what they were looking for. You’d also likely give them that little extra above and beyond service as well.
That’s the difference.
Help your team see that we interact with close friends and family differently from strangers in both obvious and subtle ways. Your ultimate goal is for your employees to treat everyone they encounter with that same joy and excitement. It doesn’t have to be crazy over the top either. It could be opening the door for someone, getting on the level of a child to give them a high-five, carrying stuff out to the car, or any number of other small loving things that you can do. Here’s the great thing for you as a leader; this level of service doesn’t cost you a thing. There is one thing that you’ll need to do as a leader though….
Love the team like family.
Yes, you can’t tell the employees to love the customers like family, without doing the same for them. I understand that we have policies and personal boundaries when it comes to the people that report to us. I’m not suggesting that you break those. I am saying show them appreciation as much as possible. Remember that we talked in the fall about how we overestimate our impact? You aren’t giving out as much appreciation as you think you are. The people that report to you will be the reason you will or won’t get a promotion. Show them how much you appreciate their contribution. Remember to respect them for who they are. You may think video games are a waste of time and you don’t understand why the guy on your team spends every other waking hour playing those things, but he’s probably very successful at it and the activity adds value to him. Don’t discount someone because of their interest or background. All employees deserve your highest respect. Lastly, be sure to encourage them in their mistakes and when they try new things.
Treat your team like family and set the expectation that they do the same with the guests. Your service level will skyrocket.
Waiting is hard. I know that it is for me. We all have times in our life when we are suddenly waiting for direction. I think of this as a waiting room. You are just stuck there and it only becomes more frustrating as you see other people come and go while you just continue to wait for your name to be called. The time doesn’t have to be wasted. In fact, it can be a very productive time for you. Let’s look at a few things you can do while you wait.
Take the time while you wait to explore around you. I don’t mean physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Remove the times and moments where you may fill stressed and replace it with personal deep dives into those three areas. It’s often like an unexplored cave. There is stuff there left waiting to be found if you are willing to go deep enough. These times have been extremely insightful when I’ve taken the time to do this. I’ve discovered that I wasn’t as passionate about an item or subject as I thought that I was, found new passions, discovered that the things that I would get hung up on actually were not that big of a deal to begin with and found new ways that I could love and serve others.
So what if you’ve done that and are still thirsting for direction and the next step? Get back in there and keep searching. Several years ago, I felt was in the waiting room and spent a large amount of time exploring my own cave. What I found were multiple tunnels that were leading somewhere. One could be labeled poor employee experiences, another a loss of friends that I enjoyed working with, another the joy of seeing someone get a promotion among others. They all lead to a beautiful cavern that was called culture and people development. The piece was in me the whole time, I just had to put all the pieces together. Once I did I left the waiting room and was off on a new mission.
Have no regrets about the time before the wait.
It would have been easy to look back at my time after the self-discovery of culture and people development and think that I had wasted a bunch of time beforehand. I certainly would have chosen a different degree in college and could have saved some people on their career path along the way. Don’t fall into this trap. Everything that you have done before today has lead to this moment. It’s all valuable in some way. Had I gotten a different degree, I wouldn’t have had the honor to serve all the leaders that I do. Even the hurtful things and regrets in our past have something to teach us. Don’t be ashamed of your story or what you missed. Use it to write that next great chapter in your life.
It could be a hint that something great is coming
Speaking of the next great thing, I have found that the waiting room is often a signal that something great is about to happen. Both of our children came out of times of being in the waiting room. My success as both an obstacle course racer and runner came from times in the waiting room. I would never have thought that would have been me before entering those times. Hold true to these times of waiting. We don’t know the length of the wait but it can be time well spent.
The caterpillar must wait to become the butterfly. So should you use the time in the waiting room to transform to a better, rejuvenated and focused you.
Make a better tomorrow. -ZH
*Listen to an expanded version of this topic including areas not discussed here in this podcast #118: Stuck in the waiting room
The importance of community, living in peace and helping one another, is a foundation piece of who we are. That can be found more so in Clarkston, GA than anywhere else in the world. Clarkston holds the crown as the most diverse city in the world. At a population of a little over 12,000, it accounts for over 200 people groups in one square mile where they speak over 60 languages.
They know what community is. Do we?
Realize what people look like
We as a collective community have forgotten what other people look like. The filter is through our misconceptions, stereotypes, misplaced fear, judgment, and prejudice. The truth is that the person you are looking at is actually you. They deserve to be treated the same as well. I think it’s important to think through the full scenario that the person or people group are in as well. It’s easy to say the people running into issues at our border have it coming to them. It’s their choice and they pay the consequences for it. I’ve been asking it to myself a different way: How bad would the situation have to be for me to pack up a toddler, leave everything behind and walk and hitchhike with strangers halfway across a continent? Most of us will never experience something that traumatic. It certainly makes me look at the situation in a new light.
The people in your community look just like you. No matter what’s on the outside, inside they are exactly the same.
Defend and help those who need it
Use your skills and talent to help those who can’t help themselves. It doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and become a bodyguard for the elderly or a suppressed people group. There was a great example last week of highschooler girls using their talent in coding to help prevent cyber attacks on others. Be an advocate for those with no voice.
I met a community worker in Clarkston who was doing a great job of identifying the unique needs of the people groups there and worked to fill those needs. For the Somali people group, it was the desire for camel’s milk. It’s a large piece of the social culture back in their homeland and it’s not exactly easy to find in America. It just so happens that the largest camel milk supplier is across town. He made the connection for them and now as part of their custom, is invited in to meet and do life with the people there.
Do you know what the most common need across all the different refugee groups in Clarkston is? It’s simply the desire to have one American citizen as their friend.
Called to community
Man and woman were never meant to live alone. We’ve seen what this does to a person on a mental, spiritual, and emotional level. Many times when people have made very violent decisions, it is rooted in their isolation from others. The TV show Alone actively explores this struggle by inserting survivors into an environment alone. The last person to quit wins. Its quite telling to see how many tap out not because of the physical struggles, but because of all the mental struggles.
We can’t reach our fullest potential by isolating ourselves. We do this out of fear, misconceptions, and in more serious cases mental disorders. We are so much better when we learn from others and gain from their insight and experience. I wish I had the chance to experience every culture in the world. Unfortunately, time is not on our side, so I find it important to actively engage others whenever I can. I consider myself a better leader and member of society for it.
How to make a difference
One of the biggest struggles I have had in seeing indecency spread to others, is “What can I do about it?” There are several ways we can fight back against uncivil acts and transgressions.
Share kindness and love with others. Refer to our newsletter and podcast from last week.
Actively educate yourself on a people group or culture that you don’t fully know.
Donate to a cause that serves others in need.
Find out what the felt need is for others and try to help them make that connection.
Here are some sites where you can volunteer in your community and how to help refugees.
A job interview is not a test of your knowledge, but your ability to use it at the right time.
I get asked fairly often, from college students to seasoned professionals, on advice for having a good interview. They range from part-time extra work to college entrance interviews to major milestone jumps in a person’s career. I get so encouraged when people are seeking help in meeting their personal and professional goals and luckily, no matter what you are interviewing for there are a few key things that will help you stand out and ace that interview.
Be a storyteller
One of the most important things that you want to get across during the interview is your story. There is only one you after all, and the interviewer wants to get to know that person. Build yourself a mental Rolodex of stories that showcase your success, drive, ambition, and values. What you’ll look for in the interview are times to insert one of these stories. Having a good library of stories to tell helps you immensely in an interview because you will not find yourself mentally scrambling to answer questions. You’ll hear the question, roll through your examples, and pull out the story that matches most. For the interviewer, it shows your quick response and attentiveness. Rehearse your stories and examples with a friend, family member or colleague then sharpen and polish those stories. One of the quickest ways to kill an interview is to come unprepared and stumble through answering the questions while showing no personality.
If you are looking for ideas to jump-start your story Rolodex, do a search for typical interview questions and begin building your stories around those.
Know your numbers and business trends
Numbers are relative to the job you are applying for. For the college student/new career, it may be your school numbers and accolades. For the person trying to move up the ladder, it’s all of their current business numbers and how you and the team impacted a positive change. To take this up another level, bake these numbers into your stories from the previous section. You are then showcasing yourself twice at one time.
For business trends, prepare to share your desire to learn and see the larger picture of the changing environment. It’s good to mention books and podcast that you are listening to. Following the news on social media is good. Great is knowing what companies are doing and testing and then being able to discuss those changes with the interviewer.
Know the position and company (But have questions)
You want to know as much as possible about both the position and the company before the interview. If its for a certain department, do research on who works there, what they are known for and what their impact is for that organization. If it involves a potential move to a new city, know things about the city beforehand. Where do you think you’d live? What would you love about the city? Do you already know someone in that area? These things show the interviewer that you are bought into the company, the job and the area that it’s located in. I will not hire someone for a position if I think that they wouldn’t enjoy it there long term as a family. I would only be setting them up for failure if I did.
You are likely going to be asked at the end if you have any questions. Always ask questions! Make sure that they are informed, educated and curious in nature. Don’t ask the interviewer if you got the job, instead ask about the culture of the team, what they see as opportunities for the job you are interviewing for, what kind of influence would you like the new person to bring in, etc. All of these show the person interviewing that you have a deeper understanding than most candidates. If you say that you don’t have any questions, you are telling the interviewer that either A) You aren’t as truly interested as the top candidates. or B) You aren’t aren’t seeing the bigger picture of the job.
Do these things and you’ll be ready to shine when the spotlight is on you.
No one is born a great cook. One learns by doing.
Finding that great local spot is an adventure that I enjoy during all of my travels. A national chain is good for consistency, but a quality local place really puts its heart into its food and experience to create a memorable time for their guests. I will take a local dive over a national chain any day. It’s not easy for that local chef. They have to create the magic by having the right amount of ingredients, cooking time and preparation. Let’s see what we can learn about leadership from food.
You have to have the right ingredients.
I’m often amazed when I see recipes that call for very small amounts of an ingredient or an off-the-wall ingredient. How many times did the creator tweak the recipe until they found the right balance to make the perfect meal item? Likely dozens to over a hundred times. They didn’t give up until they found exactly what they were looking for.
Think of your team as the ingredients for a perfect meal. (Not that you are going to eat them!) Each of them brings their own flavor or style to the group, but none can complete the recipe on their own. You are likely going to need a techie kind of person, someone with creativity, someone with empathy, someone with strong business knowledge, a future thinker, and a strategist just to name a few. No one could fill all of those roles, and if they could there would still be too much work for the one person to complete. Think about your team today. Are you missing any ingredients to make that magic happen? Identify what those things are and then make a concentrated effort to add people with those traits to your team. It could be talent based or diversity/perspective based.
You have to prepare the ingredients.
You can’t just throw in a bunch of unprepared food together and expect anything edible to come out as the outcome. An unprepared and untrained team can expect to achieve the same results; a hot mess that will go in the garbage. Ensure that your people are well prepared for what’s ahead of them. They need the right amount of communication, training, and investment in order to be effective. When cooks show up for their shift, the chef will often tell them what the special is for the day, what they are running low on and what other tasks they need to complete during their time in the kitchen. You would hate to receive your meal without a key ingredient because the cook forgot or ran out of an item. Make sure your team has everything that they need to be effective, otherwise expect to get mediocre results.
You have to cook the ingredients.
When I was in college, I cooked everything fast. Why wait when you could crank up the heat and get it done faster? I eventually learned my lesson after eating dry and bland food all of the time. You can’t treat all food the same if you expect an excellent meal. In the same way, you cannot develop your team at the same speed. Some are going to need a low and slow approach. Some will thrive under a little pressure and heat every now and then. Be mindful of your tactics when developing and pushing your team for growth. The same pressure that you apply to one person for growth can very well push someone else out the door. Change and adapt your style and tactics so that each person can be successful.
You are the chef of the kitchen no matter the size of your team. Continue to learn and grow until you perfect the right recipe for that perfect team.