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The Greatness Project

It’s About People, Not Paper …

It’s About People, Not Paper

Adam Grant posted the graph above from The National Bureau of Economic Research which shows the growing need for social skills in the workplace even as we rely more than ever on technology. I am always impressed with Grant’s work but in this case I would take Grant’s post farther. It is not just the workplace where social skills are critical; they are the only thing that will help us in this complex and challenging world. We won’t solve the problems of the world through technology without connecting with each other first.
Years ago, when I was hired at Merrill Lynch, I proudly put my nose to the grindstone and tried to churn out work. However, my mentor, Jan, told me “it’s about people, not paper.” She was right though now we might say “it’s about people, not tech”. In my time at Merrill Lynch and since then in my own consulting company I continually remind myself that it is more important to connect with people, help them in what they need to do and then collaborate in getting the work done. Not only does the work get done, the work environment improves, people learn from each other and it brings out the best in everyone.
Focusing on social skills is exactly what we need on a global level, even as we use technology as the part of the solution. We need to hone our people skills. We need to stop pressing buttons and start engaging in dialogue. We need to stop staring at screens so that we can look into the eyes of other people to see who they really are. Social skills are rarely being taught these days and in its place technology is creating a mindset that views the world and people as machines. That mindset can only end with someone pulling the plug.
It’s about people, now more than ever.

What does it take to be the master of your own …

What does it take to be the master of your own universe? I tried to answer this question at the Master of the Universe Summit in Vancouver.

Give Thanks to Those Who Make You Better …

Give Thanks to Those Who Make You Better

Have you ever sat in a room listening to someone speak and think “Wow, they are amazing. I can learn from them.” Or have you had someone say to you “that was amazing, and I think you can do this even better?” Those are wonderful experiences that make us better; better at work, life, parenting, you name it.

Too often we allow individuals and moments like that to slip by without realizing that they have just helped us make our lives better in some way. We need those who push and pull us to be more of who we can be.

So today I am grateful to my clients and colleagues who bring out the best in me. Every time I stand up in front of an audience, I know they want the latest research presented in a way that is what I call “entertraining.” It has to keep their attention as well as be informative. My colleagues also pull the best out of me because I see the work and research they do and want to make sure my standards are as high as theirs.

These are the people who make us great. The ones who compliment us on work well done, and then ask if we can go further, or be sharper, or be better. They craft the fine people we can become. So, whether it’s your coach, supervisor, client, colleague, or even parent. Thank someone today who makes you better. You will be better for it.

Be Like Einstein’s Mom …

Be Like Einstein’s Mom

Recently I read an interview of Albert Einstein in 1907 where he shared a difficult moment that changed his life.
“One day I overheard the teacher tell the inspector that I was “addled” and it would not be worthwhile keeping me in school any longer. I was so hurt by this last straw that I burst out crying and went home and told my mother about it. Then I found out what a good thing a good mother is. She came out as my strong defender. Mother love was aroused, mother pride wounded to the quick. She brought me back to the school and angrily told the teacher that he didn’t know what he was talking about, that I had more brains than he himself, and a lot more talk like that. In fact, she was the most enthusiastic champion a boy ever had, and I determined right then that I would be worthy of her and show her that her confidence was not misplaced.”
What struck me most about this moment is how we tend to live up to expectations, ours and those others place on us. Sadly, many of us, myself included, hold on to negative expectations and often don’t challenge them; “you aren’t an artist”, “you can’t play because you are too small”, “you’re not smart.” Many times we are told these things by well-meaning people. They are trying to save us from hurt and humiliation. Still, those spoken expectations or limitations can affect us for a lifetime and hold us back.
So, be like Einstein’s mother. First of all, challenge any of the spoken or imagined limited expectations you place on yourself. What if you expected more? And be the person that helps someone else lift their limitations. Help they realize their own genius. Most importantly, don’t just tell them, teach them.

Do You Feel Lucky? …

Do You Feel Lucky?
I don’t believe in luck. Or at least I didn’t use to believe in it. I believed that my life was a consequence of the hard work and preparedness that I put into it. That is true, but I was missing an essential element in the reality of my life…I’m a lucky man. I have had the fortune to be born into a family which provided a safe, secure and loving place and afforded me the opportunity of good education. But there is much more to my luck.
It is critical to our own personal development not to become enamored with our own notions of ourselves as a “self-made” person like I was. First of all, research proves that to be untrue. Robert Frank in Success and Luck makes the point that we totally overestimate the amount our contributions bring to our success in life. But why does this make any difference?
First of all, there is primary research that people who believe they are lucky act differently than those who don’t believe they are lucky. They are more likely to look for opportunities (believing they will show up) and more likely to try something new that may make them successful. Additionally lucky people realize they didn’t succeed alone. They are more likely to be grateful to others and to help others have the same “lucky” breaks they enjoyed. So, the key is to work hard, be diligent and realize how lucky you are.
So, do you feel lucky? If so, then think about the lucky breaks you have had and see if you can give that to someone else.