Archive for April, 2013
What each of us is today is a reflection of experiences we’ve had in our lives. It is at the same time both interesting and frightening to take a look at different people and wonder what could have possibly happened to make them become what they have become. Have you ever thought about what may have happened in someone’s past to make them become what they are today?
Nothing brought that question more into focus than when last week we saw how countless nameless people; heroes without concern for their own safety went to the aid of those who were victims of the terrorist act perpetrated on the innocent at the finish line at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013. Without giving any thought to the potential risk to them; we saw first responders help those who were injured by this truly senseless act. In those who chose to become police officers, fire fighters, emergency medical technicians (EMT’s), whose job it is to serve the public we saw countless examples of valor and heroism. Amazing people; doing amazing acts to help all who were injured. Those brave men and women who run toward danger instead of from it.
Keeping in mind all that those public servants did to help during this tragedy, you have to then look at all of those who were volunteers working the race or those that were watching friends and family running the race who sprang into action to help all who were injured by this truly senseless act. How amazing these people were who you would have thought would have run from the danger, but instinctively ran towards it. What is it in their backgrounds that brings out that kind of reaction? That desire or need to help others. You would like to think that in that moment you too would choose to run toward the danger and help rather than run from it.
Last Saturday at Fenway Park where the Red Sox were playing the Kansas City Royals you had to watch in awe at the tribute to victims and heroes of the Boston bombing. Neil Diamond was there leading the singing of his song “Sweet Caroline” and then the “National Anthem” was sung by all in attendance. It was inspiring to watch and all of Boston united in that ceremony. Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said, “This jersey that we wear today, it doesn’t say Red Sox, it says Boston. We want to thank you, Mayor Menino, Governor Patrick, the whole police department for the great job they did this past week. This is our %$&+#@* city! And nobody going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.” The Red Sox ended up winning the game 4 to 3.
In the Netflix mini-series “House of Cards” the main character is Frank Underwood, a member of the United States House of Representatives. Whether you like Frank or not he is a composite of his past, the experiences he has had in his life. While sitting at his favorite restaurant in Washington, D.C., a hole in the wall barbeque joint Frank listens to the owner of the restaurant, a man named Freddie while Frank is enjoying a plate of ribs. Freddie is telling him about a near-miss accident involving a refrigerator falling off a minivan on a highway. After listening to Freddie tell how he almost died swerving out of the way of that refrigerator Frank looks in the camera and tells us, “See, Freddie believes that if a fridge falls off a minivan you better swerve out of the way. I believe it’s the fridge’s job to swerve out of mine.” When you think of all those first responders and civilian volunteers who ran toward the danger and risked their lives to help those in need they believed that it was the refrigerator that needed to swerve.
To all of those who want to bring harm to our nation you should know that there are countless Americans who will not swerve. Hat’s off to all of those who ran toward danger in Boston this week to help those who needed help.
To those who perpetrated this act, there is a special place in hell for you.
Donate to OneFundBoston2013
A couple of months ago I was looking at a web site TED.com. TED.com is operated by a non-profit group dedicated to bringing together leaders from technology, entertainment and design who are given the challenge to give “the talks of their lives” in 18 minutes or less at TED Conferences. If you visit the web site you’ll find a number of very interesting people talking about a wide variety of topics and most of them are passionate discussions of topics that are very important to each speaker. The organization also has events called TEDx (the x means an independently organized TED event) which brings the lofty goals of the international organization to locales across the United States and world to stimulate discussion on topics that have special meaning to the community. Through this site I found a T. Boone Pickens talk which he gave at his alma mater Oklahoma State University on December 3, 2012. The topic was what he called The Leadership Plan. In a 16 minute talk that was both humorous and serious, he laid out what he called his 10 Big Rules which really resonated with me. To me, these rules seem more like principles, but Mr. Pickens rules are pretty straightforward and are ones that anyone can and should follow. His 10 Big Rules:
1. Have a good work ethic
2. Make a plan
3. Look for big things
4. Take advice from smart people
5. Make your case in 3 minutes or less
6. Don’t be afraid to make a decision
7. Embrace change
8. Don’t cheat
9. Have patience
10. Be generous
In the case of T. Boone Pickens these were the rules that he started following while attending Oklahoma State University after a little prodding from his father. The fact that he figured out these rules at such a young age brought him the opportunity to have a wealth of experiences and at a young age monetary wealth as well. His first rule is that, regardless of your position in life, having a good work ethic is a key to having success. No one can disagree with that one. Mr. Pickens second rule is to make a plan. If you make a plan it will provide you a clear direction to head in achieving the goals you set for yourself. This rule should also give you a way to clearly measure how you’re working toward achieving your plan. When you look for big things you find will find ways to differentiate yourself from others and this should help you in finding success in anything you pursue.
Mr. Pickens fourth rule certainly has meaning to me – take advice from smart people. You can’t know everything so finding people who can help you achieve your plan is critical to finding success. I’ve always tried to surround myself with smart people who bring knowledge and experiences I don’t have. The next rule is that you need to be able to make your case in 3 minutes or less. This really speaks to having a clear understanding of your goals along with the key ingredients that will provide you with a recipe for success that you can easily communicate. Why is this important? In order to get those you want to join you in pursuit of your plan, you need to be able to persuade or influence them so being able to make your case will be critical to your success. Once you’ve got your team on board with your plan you also need to be able to clearly communicate to those who will be buying the product or service you’re offering. Rule five make your case in 3 minutes or less makes a lot of sense.
As a leader don’t be afraid to make a decision. You can get bogged down in the decision making process, but don’t. You obviously always try to make the best decisions you possibly can by analyzing all pertinent information and determining the best course of action. Then ou then deal with the consequences of the action that you take. Be fearless.
You also have to be able to embrace change. With Mr. Pickens’ rule number seven he’s telling us that everything around us is in constant change and you must willing to accept change if you want to find success in business. If you’re not open to trying new ways of doing things you are not going to be successful. You can’t fear change and you have to surround yourself with people who embrace change just as much as you do. Mr. Pickens says be a change advocate and that’s truly great advice.
His eighth rule – don’t cheat – doesn’t really need any explanation, but no success can truly be enjoyed if you cheat to achieve it. I’m sure you know people or companies who you feel have cheated and achieved success by doing so. It is certainly frustrating to watch others cheat and get away with it, but if you really want to be a leader Mr. Pickens advice is just don’t do it.
The ninth big rule is one of the most important rules. As a leader you have to have patience. You need to show patience with the people that work for you and you have to be patient as you put your plan into action. If you have faith in the direction you’re going you have to give your plan time to work. Mr. Pickens tells a story of a friend who told him, “Don’t rush the monkey and you’ll get a better show.” Be patient.
T. Boone Pickens tenth big rule of leadership is that you should always be generous with your time and treasure. His grandmother told him, “Don’t forget where you came from.”
The 10 Big Rules that Mr. Pickens detailed in his 16 minute talk are really great rules for anyone to follow in life or business. As I mentioned earlier, when I watched his talk at the Oklahoma State University Mr. Pickens 10 Big Rules really resonated with me. I’d like to think that I have followed his rules in my business career, but the only way to know for sure would be to ask those with whom I have had the privilege to have worked.
What do you think people would say about you if asked?