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Roll Up Your Sleeves – Living & Leading in a World of Constant Change, Part 4

So far this week, we have reviewed these concepts:
One Unshakable Truth – Everyone has unseen battles they are fighting. Be kind. #1 Change is not the same as transition. #2 Personality matters. #3 Role clarity counts.

Today is about Observation #4 – Principles set the pace. Clarity of personal values and shared values guide effective behavior and help set a pace so people can move steadily forward and even grow through their wilderness experience.

In Your Organization’s Keys
Jim Collins and Jerry Porras wrote a classic article in the Harvard Business Review entitled, “Building Your Company’s Vision.” The authors argue that companies which enjoy multi-generational success can be shown to have clearly defined core values and a core purpose that remains fixed … while their business strategies and practices endlessly adapt to a changing world.

As I mentioned yesterday, people need role clarity and clear goals during a transition. These answer “what” for people. That is the place to begin, but alongside this with this practical message don’t forget to offer an ongoing message of why your organization exists, who you serve and your values, and how you treat each other. A leader who does this consistently will see people rally even when there are no more easy “what” answers. Reminding people “our why” will always carry the day- for days.

Recently, I talked with a manager of a collections department in the home security industry. Her staff was responsible for calling and collecting overdue payments. Each person on her team is responsible for collecting a minimal of $350 dollars a day. Collections were down and, as you might suspect, morale was down as well. Her manager was putting pressure on her and she was putting pressure on her staff. Collections went further down, and the staff was complaining even more. So, since pressure turned out not the be the key , she decided to talk to the staff about why their job was important. She told her team that if they did not collect the overdue payments, customers’ security systems would be turned off. The results could be customers’ homes are broken into, people could be robbed and possibly hurt or killed from intruders. She said, “Our job is to keep people safe and out of harm’s way.” The next week average collections were $650 and smiling and laughter echoed from cubicle to cubicle.

How can you help others remember the real “why” you exist and the real keys to your organization’s success?

In Your Life and Career Keys
I have a habit of losing things quite often, so, it has come as quite a surprise to my wife and others who know me well that I’ve held on to a particular key ring through the ownership lifecycle of three vehicles—for over 15 years! You see, I’ve had trouble keeping up with these types of things all my life, usually because I get in a hurry, try to do too many things at once, and end up not paying close enough attention to what’s going on and where things are going in the process.

The fact that I haven’t lost this key ring for over 15 years has been one heck of an accomplishment for me. That knowledge has become, as they say on the coffee commercials, one of life’s simple pleasures. Frankly, I attribute much of this success to the words “The Keys I Haven’t Lost Yet,” which are printed in bold black letters on the tag of the key ring.

Before I got this key ring, when I lost my keys, the obvious next step was for me to ask anyone around “Have you seen my keys?” Then came the most common and counter-productive of the typical responses, “So, where do you think you lost them?” That’s a winner, isn’t it? They may as well just flat-out have asked me, “Have you seen your keys … you dummy!?”

A more helpful response was, “Where was the last place you remember having them?” At least that’s a step in the right direction … many a set of keys has been found after one takes a moment to review their last few steps.

Not surprisingly, a response I never heard was, “Hey, here are the keys to my vehicle. Why not just use them.” Why not?! … well, the answer is, of course, obvious. Their keys won’t work in my vehicle; my keys won’t work in their vehicle. I have my own keys. They have their own keys.

Values are our “keys” to making it though the wilderness and emotional phases of a life or career transition. They are the solid foundation for making everyday decisions as well as long-term plans. Are you clear on your life values? If you don’t decide on your own keys, there are plenty of people who will be happy to hand you their keys. Next time the world around you suddenly shifts on its axis and everyone starts reacting to the biggest threat, chasing the latest trend or lining up to worship the newest handsomest guru – you can just pull out your keys, start your life back and move forward up the hills and down the valleys of transition toward your purpose and promised land, one step and one day at a time.

Journal Entry: Consider taking a few minutes today to recall the last time you had to make a tough decision, and you felt good about how it turned out. What key values or beliefs guided your choice? Jot them down somewhere you will see them every day as a reminder of your keys to true success in leadership and life.

“When values are clear decisions are easy.” Roy Disney

“To be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best night and day to make you just like everybody else, means to fight the greatest battle and to never stop fighting.” E.E. Cummings

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” First Corinthians 13:13 the NIV Bible

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