Entries in motivation (8)

What's Your Leadership Weather Report Today?

When you walk into a room...

Are you a CLOUD of doom, and gloom, casting a dark shadow on everyone, and threatening lightning and thunderstorms...?

Or… are you a burst of SUNSHINE that lights up the room with warmth and good humor, filling it with a spirit of hope and optimism, positive energy and passion, making people feel good to be around you and glad that you’ve arrived…?

Are you the kind of manager who makes people feel bullied and threatened and intimidated and scared; or the kind who encourages and empowers them, boosts their morale and their confidence, and is there to help them maximize their performance, their productivity, and their potential?

Are you the kind of co-worker, or teammate, or classmate who's always "looking out for number one"...or the kind who makes others around you better?

Unlike the weather outside, the climate you create inside is entirely up to you.

Spring Forward…By Facing Your Fears and Kickstarting Your Confidence

Is the calendar trying to tell us something?

As I wrote last week in my post, “It’s Leap Year…So Why Not Take That Leap!” sometimes we just need something like a Leap Day to give us that extra nudge.

Last Friday’s March 4th date hinted that, despite the barriers and obstacles that may stand in our way, we need to continue to “march forth” towards our vision and our goals – even in the face of adversity.

And despite the fact that we have been forewarned to “Beware the Ides of March” (Julius Caesar, Act I scene ii), this Saturday as we set our clocks ahead by one hour, what better time is there to – both literally and metaphorically – “spring forward”!

After a long winter of hibernation, spring is traditionally a time of rebirth, regeneration, and rejuvenation. A time to re-evaluate priorities and start fresh. And all those New Year’s resolutions you made just a couple of months ago? If you haven’t started doing so already, with the weather starting to turn a little warmer and sunnier and with baseball’s Spring Training season in full gear, now is the perfect time to get serious about turning those ideas into actions.

But what often stands in the way of these good intentions and best laid plans is not necessarily external forces, but our own internal self-confidence. Einstein famously said that “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” And yet fear of the new and the unknown, doubts and insecurities, and the thought of pushing ourselves beyond the familiarity of our comfort zone is a scary thought that makes us rather “bear those ills we have, than fly to others that we know not of” (Hamlet, Act III scene i). And those “ills” could range from a bad relationship or undesirable apartment to an unsatisfying job situation, a horrible boss, or simply the fear of getting out there and going on a job interview.

So what keeps us trapped in a prison of dissatisfaction and unhappiness, and living a life of quiet desperation? It could be a variety of factors, but one of the biggest and most common is: a lack of confidence.

From my own personal experience, I’ve found, over the course of my career, that confidence is the single biggest differentiator between those who succeed and those who don’t. All things being equal, whether in business, sports, school, or life, the more confident person is often going to come out ahead more times than the one who isn’t. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

We’re talking about the person who has the confidence to raise their hand. The confidence to put themselves out there. The confidence to take risks and give it a try. The confidence to question authority. The confidence to ignore those who mock you. The confidence to get back up after getting knocked down. And the confidence to (as in the classic Apple “Think Different” commercial “Here’s to the Crazy Ones”) think they can change the world.

Years ago, when I lived in L.A., I went to watch a live taping of “Seinfeld” – which, as a huge fan of the show, was an amazing and unforgettable experience. But what made it most unforgettable – and regrettable all these years later – was something that didn’t happen that night:

During a break in the taping, the host whose job it was to keep the audience entertained in between scenes said, “It’s time for some Seinfeld trivia! If you can tell me the middle name of Elaine Benes, you win this Seinfeld t-shirt!” Having watched and pretty much memorized every single episode, I knew for certain that the answer was “Marie.” But while other audience members randomly shouted out one wrong guess after another, I sat there in anxious silence…while busting to call out the correct answer and claim my prize. But too shy to speak up, doubting myself, and afraid of the possibility of being wrong and embarrassing myself in front of a group of strangers who didn’t know me and who I would never see again, that window of opportunity quickly closed. So what kept me from winning that Seinfeld t-shirt that I wanted so badly? Absolutely nothing but a lack of confidence in myself, the fear of being wrong, and, simply, the fear of speaking up and speaking out.

I wish I had kept in mind that night the classic quote by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who famously said that, “The only thing we have to fear…is fear itself,” as well as these motivational thoughts from his wife, First Lady and prolific author and world-changing social activist (despite all her many self-confessed fears and insecurities), Eleanor Roosevelt:

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you, if you realized how seldom they do.”

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

“What could we accomplish if we knew we could not fail?”

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

“Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each new thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.”

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out, eagerly and without fear, for newer and richer experience.”

“You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude.”

And, my favorite, and probably the most well-known (from her inspirational book, “You Learn By Living: Eleven Keys For A More Fulfilling Life”):

“Fear has always seemed to me to be the worst stumbling block which anyone has to face… The encouraging thing is that every time you meet a situation, though you may think at the time it is an impossibility…once you have met it and lived through it, you find that forever after you are freer than you ever were before. If you can live through that, you can live through anything. You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this…I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

The word “confidence” comes from the Latin for “with trust or faith” (and is related to such other words as confide, confident, confidant, fidelity, fiduciary, etc.). So the key to keep in mind regarding this definition is that in order to instill confidence in others, it is so important to first trust and have faith in oneself.

Here’s the bad news: You are always going to struggle with your confidence. Why? Because EVERYONE does, at one time or another! Fear of the unknown is an absolutely normal, human emotional reaction. And, the future is always unknown!

The only way, really, to make yourself completely confident all of the time would be to just do the same old thing, the same old way every single day of your entire life. But that would be predictable and boring…and will lead us nowhere. The only way to grow is to try, to take risks, to fail, and to learn, and to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones…into the zone of the unknown.

Thomas Edison said, “I didn’t fail 10,000 times; I learned 10,000 ways how NOT to make a lightbulb.”

Wayne Gretzky said that “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Michael Jordan famously said: "I've missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

And Dale Carnegie advised: Imagine the worst that can happen. Now imagine the likelihood of the worst happening, and be prepared in case it does. But realize that worst-case scenarios rarely happen. Think back on how many times in the past you’ve worried about something bad happening, how infrequently (if ever) it did, and how much time and energy you wasted worrying about it. Now use that time, that you would have spent worrying, more productively.

So, with spring almost upon us and opening day of the baseball season just around the corner, to paraphrase the famous words of Babe Ruth:

Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from swinging for the fences!

For more on building your confidence, please see my blog post, How to Regain Your Confidence and Recapture Your Mojo After a Setback

The War For Talent: How Small Businesses Can Compete With the Big Boys


 *This piece appeared on the CBS Small Business Pulse website:

How To Keep The Competitive Hiring Culture In Your Favor

December 28, 2015

Click here for online version of article with accompanying video:


Todd Cherches is the CEO and co-founder of BigBlueGumball, a NYC-based training consulting firm that helps companies discover and develop the hidden talents within their organizations. He offers the following insights on a major issue that small businesses are currently facing.

There are numerous issues commonly faced by my small business clients, but one of the biggest issues right now is the war for talent as small businesses compete with bigger companies, and with each other, around talent acquisition, engagement, and retention.

With the job market picking up, employees have more opportunities available to them than they have had in years to decide where they want to take their talents. So companies need to work harder than ever to get people to stay…while also getting them to put their heart and soul into what they do. As one of the top reasons people quit their jobs is due to poor management and/or no leadership, leadership development and management training are more crucial than ever.

What do small businesses need to do to compete in this war for talent?

Just as a speedboat is more nimble than a battleship, small businesses can compete with larger organizations by leveraging their competitive advantages. While small businesses may not have the size, resources, and visibility of the big boys, they can and must be more creative and flexible in attracting, engaging and retaining talented people.

There are numerous ways of doing so including, but not limited to:

  • Offering employees greater access to information and increased involvement in things that interest them
  • Flexibility in terms of when, where and how they go about their work
  • Being creative in implementing non-financial, low-cost reward and recognition programs
  • Offering training and development, and personalized coaching and mentoring opportunities

This war is a battle amongst organizations of all types to acquire, engage, and retain the best people from a limited pool of top talent. The way we help in this regard -- through our consulting, training and coaching work -- is by encouraging and enabling our clients to create an environment that gets potential hires to want to work there, to motivate these employees to perform and to produce while they are there, and to support and develop them so that they want to stay there.

In his book, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” Dan Pink states that people are motivated by three key non-financial incentives — Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. If small businesses empower their people to do their jobs in their own way [autonomy], in an environment that allows them to develop and grow [mastery], while doing work that truly matters [purpose], they will be taking positive steps towards setting their people, and their organizations, up for success.
As told to Robin D. Everson of Examiner.com for CBS Small Business Pulse.

The BigBlueGumball Passion/Skill Matrix: (aka "Do What You Love, Love What You Do: How to Be Happy and Successful at Work")


How much of your time at work are YOU spending in each quadrant?


“People do best, what they like best to do.”

That’s an old adage by Frederick W. Taylor, the original efficiency expert and management guru. Seems like common sense, doesn’t it? And yet, so many people hate their jobs. So why is that? What's going on?

The Passion/Skill Matrix may help to explain...

Think about your hobbies. You know, the things you do for fun. Whatever it is, whether it’s playing a sport, a musical instrument, practicing a craft, or whatever, you probably do it for at least one of the following two reasons: you’re good at it and/or you enjoy it. Otherwise, why do it?

If you love doing something, let’s say, playing the guitar or the piano or drums – even if you’re not very good at it – you’re going to pick it up and fiddle around with it, spending your spare time practicing, and watching and listening to others play, all in the hope of getting better. Even if you’re not that great and know you’re probably never going to play in a band, you still do it because it’s fun.

Similarly, if you’re good at something, even if it’s balancing your checkbook, you may not love doing it, but because you’re skilled in math and it comes quick-and-easy to you, you don’t really mind doing it. Or maybe you do?

So, what about something that you love doing AND you’re good at it? Now you’ve hit the magic bulls eye: your passions and your skills are in alignment! Let’s say you love playing tennis and you discovered years ago that you’re pretty good at it. Most likely, with this combination of passion and skill, you enjoyed watching tennis on TV to see how the pros do it, didn’t mind hitting a tennis ball against the wall thousands of times, and got a rush from playing every chance you got.

Over time, your skills grew. And as your skills grew, so did your confidence, which led to your taking on tougher challenges, practicing more, winning against better and better opponents, having fun competing and winning, and enjoying your increased success. No, you’re probably not going to play tennis in the U.S. Open, but you’re at a level that you are proud of and enjoy as you keep working on taking your game to the next level.

Now, what about when you are stuck doing something that you are not good at, and do not like doing? How successful do you think you are going to be?

Probably not very.

And, yet, this describes a lot of people’s jobs. So how does this happen?

Here’s how it happened to me: A number of years ago, I was out of work for a while when I was offered an amazing job as the VP of Business Development and head of the New York office for a leading west coast interactive agency. I was so honored to be hired by, and excited to be working for, this innovative company, and was looking forward to taking on the challenge of helping them to grow their east coast business.

But once the initial excitement wore off, the job itself ended up being much tougher for me than I ever expected. I started just around the time of the dot-com crash when finding new business instantly became tougher and tougher. And, unfortunately, I quickly discovered the hard way that I did not possess the abilities or the personality type required to succeed in this kind of role – especially in this type of market environment.

And, so, as time went on and as I continued to fail, my stress level rose, and I began to like this job less and less, until I could not even bear to get up for work in the morning.

If you’ve ever had a job that you didn’t like AND that you were not good at, you know what I’m talking about. I was set up to fail every day, through nobody’s fault but my own, and I just wanted out. Getting laid off, despite my feeling of loss as I loved the company and the people, actually ended up being a huge relief.

In almost every job, there are going to be aspects of your position that you enjoy doing, and things that you don't. And, there are going to be things that you are good (or even great) at, and things that you are not.

So, the key to success is finding the right balance.

For example, in my current role as head of a management and leadership consulting, training, and coaching firm, I love and feel that I’m pretty good at the consulting, training, and coaching part. What I don’t love, and am not that great at, is the actual running of the business itself (especially, the financial and administrative side).

So, what to do about it?

Taking a look at the Passion/Skill Matrix model, and thinking about YOUR job:

1. Make a list of all the different things you do on a regular basis; and then break them up into four categories: Things you are GOOD/GREAT at; things that you are NOT Good at; things that you LIKE/LOVE doing; and things that you DON'T Enjoy doing. If you like to quantify things, you can even score each one of these items on a scale of 1-10. 

2. Next, draw a 4-box matrix like the one above, and place each of these items in one of the four boxes. For example, let's say you are good at and enjoy writing blog posts, put that in the upper right quadrant. If you like drawing, but are not that great at it, put that in the upper left. If you're good at math, but don't enjoy it, put that in the lower right. And if you hate cooking and are not good at it, put that in the lower left.

Now, lastly, let's look at the four-quadrant matrix to ask the "So what?/So that!" question: How can I use this model to be more successful?

Your SWEET SPOT - The things that you Like/Love and are Good At: If you have a lot in that box, you’re incredibly lucky! Try to spend as much time as possible on these things. This is where the intersection of your skills and passions lie, and where you have the greatest potential to leverage your strengths and go from good to great. When you're working on things that fall into this category, time flies, ideas flow, your energy is high, and you're in your element...so spread your wings and fly!

Your GROWTH ZONE - The things that you Like or Love to do, but are NOT great at...yet: This is a wonderful developmental opportunity! If you like something, or feel you have potential in this area, you are more likely to work at it by learning more about it, studying, practicing, and seeking out training and coaching. Einstein once said that, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” If you’re passionate about it, keep working at it. You never know how far you might get unless you try. And notice the powerful difference between saying, "I'm not good at that" vs. "I'm not good at that...yet." By simply adding that simple word "yet," you open up the world of possibilities.

Your DEFAULT ZONE - The things that you Don’t Like to do, but are Good At: Perhaps it’s something you used to like doing, or you just became the “go to” person by default because it comes naturally to you and everyone knows it. Well, this is a great developmental opportunity – for someone else! Here’s where you might be able to outsource, delegate, or take on the role of a mentor or coach to help someone else develop skills in this area. This is a win-win opportunity that will help someone else to grow while freeing you up to do other things...so you can spend more time "above the line" (i.e., in your Growth Zone and/or Sweet Spot).

Your FAILURE ZONE - And, lastly, the things that you Don’t Like (or Hate!) to do, AND are Not Good At: This is your “Failure Zone”…and you need to do whatever it takes to get out of this box as soon as you can. Again, we all have aspects of our jobs that we may not love, but if you are spending more than 25% of your time in this box, you are setting yourself up for a whole lot of pain and suffering. And, to be honest, if you’re in a job that you really, truly don’t like and that you are really, truly not good at, you’re not doing your employer any favors by staying in this role. Sometimes we stay just for the paycheck, but it’s really hard to sustain that over the long haul. And it’s ultimately going to take its toll on your physical and mental health. So, whatever it takes, you need to try to get yourself out of this box.

Although...one other important thing to think about regarding your Failure Zone: Have you ever considered that this Zone might, potentially, be your greatest area of opportunity? You identify things as belonging in your Failure Zone because you are not good at it and don't like it. But think about it this way: What if you TRIED...and got better at it? And once you got better at it, you didn't hate it quite as much. And now that you don't hate it as much, you are willing to try it again, finding that, with experience, you find youself inching your way up, in this area, out of the Failure Zone until it now -- magically -- resides in your Growth Zone! From there, once you've broken through the box you had put yourself in, could this potentially become part of your Sweet Spot? Only time will tell...but it is entirely within your power to make it happen...if you are willing to open your heart and your mind to the world of possibility. Think about it: How many of your Sweet Spot skills were once part of your Growth Zone, or even your Failure Zone? My guess: Probably MOST of them! 

Lastly, as Dan Pink writes in his book Drive and as he speaks about in this amazing RSAnimate video, people are happiest and most productive when they have three key, intangible things: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. If you are lucky enough to find a job where you spend most of your time with the freedom and flexibility to make your job your own (autonomy); in an environment that allows you to grow and develop into the best you can be (mastery); while doing work that matters (purpose), that’s when you’ve got it made.

As they say, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”



In an ever-changing world...

"In an ever-changing world, if you're standing still...you're falling behind."

                                                                                ~Todd Cherches