Tag Archives: Passion

How High Will You Climb (Book Review)

For some, attitude presents a difficulty in every opportunity; for others, it presents an opportunity in every difficulty. -John Maxwell

Recently I received a copy of How High Will You Climb: Determine Your Success by Cultivating the Right Attitude by John Maxwell to review, and I had to stop for a second. I’ve heard many great things about John Maxwell, but I have never really read one of his books cover to cover. I’m a big believer in attitude determining results, so this seemed like the right book to jump into. Below you’ll find some of my notes and highlights as well as a recommendation on whether or not you should invest in your own copy.

Notes from How High Will You Climb

how high will you climb book coverThe premise of the book is that your attitude determines your altitude. If your attitude is excellent, your altitude (results) will be as well. If your attitude stinks, you can expect similar results.

  • Testing… Testing… Not sure where you stand right now? Here’s how you do a quick attitude check: do you feel the world is treating you well? How you perceive the rest of the world will affect the ultimate results you receive. Note: this is very similar to the locus of control theory post I did previously. Good stuff.
  • 88% of success is… The Stanford Research Institute says that the money you make in any endeavor (which I translate as a measure of success) is determined only 12.5% by knowledge and 87.5% by your ability to deal with people. Those interactions with people aren’t a “nice to have” addition to the deal–they are the deal. Make them worthwhile and it will pay off for you in the long run. In a word: serve. Be willing to serve others with no expectation that it will come back around. And then if/when it does, you’ll appreciate it that much more.
  • Stop hugging the trunk and get out there where the fruit is. There was a great analogy about risk aversion and a lack of success. If you want to have/be/do something worthwhile, you’ll have to inject some risk into your life. Try that class you’ve been considering. Take up that hobby you left behind. Try something new and exciting. Get away from the trunk and get to the fruit. It’s waiting for you.
  • Proclaimer… (Hint: it’s like a disclaimer, but I’m proud enough to make it a proclaimer instead. Yeah, I’m nerdy.) This book is faith-based, but that faith is what makes people like us (the author, me, and millions of others) tick. Some people are motivated purely by relationships, others by money, fame, etc. I’m motivated to do my best because it’s what I’m supposed to do. And that service thing I mentioned earlier in the post? That’s a big part of it. I’m not a great guy. I’m just a guy. But because of my faith, I have the opportunities to do great things to make the world a better place. ‘Nuf said.

Closing Thoughts

So, if any of the thoughts, notes, and ideas above appeal to you on some level, this is probably a book you’d enjoy. It’s quite short. Not quite enough to finish in one sitting, but within a day or two you can walk away with your own key takeaways.

Anyone else read it? What are your thoughts? Any thoughts on John Maxwell in general? 

Love What You Do, Even If Others Don’t

I need to get something off my chest. It has been on my mind for a while now, and I feel like it’s time to come clean.

mountain maniaI love running hills.

Yeah, I know. You might question my sanity and wonder about the safety of my family. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. I couldn’t let that stand between us any more…

Okay, so let’s take a little step back toward serious for a moment. The point of today’s post is that you need to love what you do, even if others might not understand how or why. I have several examples of how this has played out in my own life, a second opinion from a noted economist and another HR expert, and a solid conviction that this is the right way to go. Ready? Let’s dive in.

Learn to love what others hate

The way I have put it for years is this: learn to love what others hate. Now, I’m not saying you need to all of the sudden fall in love with [insert evil vegetable here] or [that weird guy nobody can stand at work]. I’m saying that you can be great–truly great–by learning to love the things that others won’t do. It’s one of the easiest ways to stand out, make a name for yourself, and/or be seen as an expert.

godzillaOne of the silliest examples is when I started a previous job. There was a monstrosity of a fax machine that the HR department used, but it was finicky and fairly old. My first few days on the job, I realized how much everyone truly hated that fax machine. So I spent a few hours and programmed in all of the internal and regularly-used external numbers in, saving everyone a little hassle.

You’d think I had killed Godzilla with my bare hands. The staff in the department was a little over the top appreciative, and I was sitting there in my first “real” HR job trying to figure out what just happened. Because if I could repeat it, I knew it would mean good things for my career long-term.

Back to running for a second

I’ve recounted some of my running tales here and here in the past. It’s one of the activities I truly enjoy. This year I have set a few personal records (PR’s, for those who like acronyms), and it’s because I really started working on a few things that other people hate–hills, speedwork, eating smarter, etc. In fact, I not only did them, but I really started to enjoy them. It became a game…

  • How much could I improve over last time?
  • Could I set a new record today?
  • Let’s try a new vegetable/fruit this week.

You get the picture. I’ll never be world class, but I can be competitive for my age group. And it doesn’t happen by doing what everyone else does–you have to be willing to do the things the others won’t. That’s when you really get results.

The running analogy might not fit with everyone, but here’s where it matters:

  • What if I applied that at work?
  • What if I was constantly trying to improve my skills and abilities in the workplace to better serve the people around me?
  • What would the result be?

Learn to love what others hate. 

More Freakonomics

Another enjoyment of mine is listening to podcasts. Fun fact: I never listen to the radio in the car. However, I will occasionally listen to an interesting podcast to keep my mind occupied on long trips.

A few weeks ago I heard this and knew I had to write a post about it. Steve Levitt, author and economist, talks about loving what you do. Here’s the transcript:

LEVITT: I think fun is so much more important than people realize. And I've seen it in academics. When I interview young professors and try and decide if we should hire them. I've evolved over time to one basic rule, if I think they love economics and its fun for them I am in favor of hiring them. No matter how talented they seem otherwise if it seems like a job or effort or work then I don't want to hire them.

DUBNER: Persuade me that they won't just be nice to have around because they love fun, but that having fun at what you do makes you better, or different in some way that is positive.

LEVITT: Enjoying what you do, loving what you do is such a completely unfair advantage to anyone you are competing with who does it for a job. People who love it they go to bed at night thinking about the solutions. They wake up in the middle of the night, and they jot down ideas, they work weekends. It turns out that effort is a huge component of success in almost everything. We know that from practice and whatnot. And people who love things work and work and work at it.  Because it's not work — its fun. And so my strongest advice to young people trying to figure out what they want to do, is I always tell them: try to figure out what you love, especially something you love that other people don't love. Everyone want to be rock star or everyone wants to be in the movies, but that's terrible you don't want to compete head on. Find some…if  you love ants, go study ants. Because no one else loves ants and you'll have a big advantage over the people who are just studying ants because they can't think of what else to do. Source

I underlined the pieces that were specifically powerful for me. The big takeaway: find out what you love that others don’t, then go do that well.

People who are passionate about a topic have a massive competitive advantage over those that are not. You can’t outwork someone who’s passionate about what they do.

Closing thoughts

When I first got into HR, I had someone tell me, “Wow, you really have a passion for this stuff. Don’t worry, that will die down soon enough.”

At that moment, I promised myself that I would never let that passion die. It’s expected. It’s common. And it’s something I’m unwilling to budge on. That is one of the underlying motivations that drives this blog year after year–the commitment to not only being excited about what I do, but also to help others continue to be excited as well. HR isn’t something many people would want to do. But it’s something we can be great at.

In the past few weeks I was on a NextChat with the team at SHRM talking about what it takes for students to get into HR. Here’s a piece of advice from a friend of mine during the discussion that I wholeheartedly endorse. I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments–do you think what he says is true? What about the comments from Steve Levitt above?


Eleven Signs You Need to Get Out of HR

With over 800 posts in the archives, I know some of you have missed some good stuff over the years. I’m going to test out publishing some of these regularly to breathe some new life into the content and give you guys a chance to check them out. Enjoy!

We’ve all seen them. They drag their crusty, misshapen forms around, spreading despair and agony in their wake. No, I’m not talking about trolls, I’m talking about HR people! We’ve all worked with them before, but some might look at you and think that you fit the bill. Here are a handful of signs you might be turning into one of them!

  1. You secretly cheer when it’s time to put an employee on a performance improvement plan
  2. You have immense pride in the fact that your department has resisted that newfangled “Human Resources” title and still proclaims itself “Personnel”
  3. You love creating new policies
  4. When an interviewee asks you why you like working there, you give them a blank stare
  5. In order to save money on healthcare benefits you tell your employees to Google their symptoms Continue reading

Partnership and Service-The New HR Model

Some of these people have never had a good experience with an HR person. They are wary and a little cynical of the whole idea. A few of them have been burned and won’t be quick to trust someone.

I've had a variation of that conversation with three people in the past week. I don't know why it's suddenly become a hot topic, but I definitely understand where the sentiment comes from. For many people the whole idea of HR is a “no” function.

noNo, you can't do this. No, you can't do that. No, that would make us liable. No, we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. No, let's try to avoid that conflict. No, let's just put in a policy.

Really? Who goes into a career looking forward to being a master of disappointment and let-downs?

Let’s diverge

When I'm not reading fiction and other fun stuff, I like picking up books focused on service. Customer service, stewardship, etc.

Speaking of which, the book Stewardship is phenomenal. Some of the things I'm talking about today are discussed there in more detail, so feel free to check that out if you're looking for some ideas on how to serve others well.

If I had to boil what I do down to two words, those would be partnership and service. Probably not what most would expect, but they are mine nonetheless. What I do for my staff is partner with them in any way possible—career planning, compensation review, handling benefits for their family, etc. And the back end of that is serving them as well as I am able. This isn't about me—it's a reminder for everyone of what this position has the potential to be.

If you are spending your time saying “no” to everything that is asked and looking for ways to reduce freedom within the organization (how many of us would put it in those terms?), then it's time to shape up. Make a change. Look for ways to partner with your people as a trusted, valuable resource. Find out how you can best serve each person to enable them to do their jobs better.

Beware the but

One final comment for today. Some of us are quick to say, “I do serve my employees well, but… [blah blah blah].” Beware the “but.” If you believe strongly enough in something, there are no exceptions, special rules, or alternatives.

It will be different, strange, and possibly even painful the first few times you remove the “but” from your vocabulary and move forward with your plan. But in the end, it will be worth it in the respect you earn.

Excitement Should Come With a Warning Label

My excitement is greater than my mental capacity. -Will Brannon

Have you had one of these experiences lately? You know what I’m talking about–you make a sudden connection or realization, and for a brief moment your passion overwhelms your mind with potential possibilities.

In that instant, anything is possible. Anything can happen. “What if’s” and a hundred different scenarios play through your mind faster than you can possibly process them.

Sure, you’ll later rule out some of those ideas because they aren’t “feasible,” “traditional,” or “cost effective,” but for a few seconds that level of excitement made you invincible.

Haven’t had one of those moments in recent weeks? Anything I can do to facilitate one?

HRevolution 3 and other random thoughts

I am beat. Tired. Worn out. (Cansado, for my Spanish speaking brethren.)

But I feel great. Fun, huh? See, in less than 48 hours I’ll be in Atlanta, Georgia. It will be the first meeting of many during the HRevolution event. And while it’s not easy to put together (for me or the other planners), it’s always worth it.

People come away with amazing ideas, relationships, and motivation to change this little HR/recruiting world. And knowing I get to play some small part in that is satisfying on a level that is hard to describe.

If you know me at all, you can tell that I’m a doer. I like to make things happen. I book and double book myself until my calendar cries for mercy. I just want to be creating, engaging, and leading others at all times. It’s what I love. At times it causes me to be worn to the bone with responsibilities, because I have a very difficult time saying “no” to anyone.

I talked yesterday with Trish McFarlane, the other co-founder of HRevolution. We did a webinar for an ASTD (American Society of Training and Development) chapter in Los Angeles, California. We spent 60 minutes talking about unconferences in general, HRevolution, and what makes this event unique.

Today I will be on DriveThruHR with Bryan Wempen and William Tincup. I haven’t had a moment to sit and think about what I plan to talk about, so it will be an interesting half hour! You can catch the show or the replay afterward at this link.

I read a short article once that has stuck with me. Here’s the gist of it:

There is a college professor who is an expert on topic X. He has studied for years and has published papers and reports on the topic, but he does not believe that things like social media and blogging are worth his time.

On the other hand, another young gentleman is just getting started in the profession, and he is very interested in learning more about topic X. So he starts a blog, builds a community, and writes about what he knows and is learning about the topic.

A short while later, a reporter is looking for an expert on topic X to interview for a story, so he opens up Google and does a search. He doesn’t find the professor with numerous degrees and published articles. However, he does find the man who started blogging and writing about the topic and has since been recognized by his peers as an expert. Who do you think is going to be interviewed by the reporter?

When I read that anecdote, I realized that something similar happened to me. I am not an expert and I don’t have any special qualifications other than passion and the drive to help others. However, that’s been enough to radically change the path of my career from what it could have been otherwise.

Sorry for the rambling. Just wanted to clear my head for the day!

Own Your Own Growth

own your own growthI saw this image in the footer of someone’s email the other day, and I thought it was pretty interesting. The phrase “own your own growth” immediately turned my head, because I believe we are all in control of our own knowledge growth and development. It’s a part of being passionate about what you do. Here are some other things that occurred to me right off the bat.

First, it’s obviously an encouragement to take charge of your own growth and development. Don’t expect someone else to walk up to you and hand you something to learn right at the exact moment that you need it. Start building your knowledge early and anticipate future stresses on your limits (and plan accordingly). My advice? Push your own boundaries before someone else does it for you.

Secondly, the ring across the top talks about some of the various opportunities for growth that are available to us. Some are obvious, but costly (education). Some are cheaper, but it’s sometimes difficult to get high quality information (webinars). However, at some point most of us have been through some, if not all, of the list.

  • Formal education
  • Training
  • Certifications
  • Seminars
  • Webinars
  • Coaching

And finally, something about the tree took me a minute to figure out. There was something profound in there, but I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. Then it dawned on me. The tree growing from the ground reaches up and out and is visible to everyone around us. They know when we have the knowledge or skills to do something, because they can physically see us accomplishing the task.

However, the growth and development underground is something different. That signifies to me that we have a lot of knowledge just below the surface. People have the skills we need, but some of them just can’t be seen at first glance. However, this pool of talent is always there for us to individually pull from if we are in need, because we realize it’s there. The key for a lot of organizations is finding out what is below the surface when it’s not readily visible.

Anyway, that’s just a few of the thoughts I had from this simple image. What do you see? Are there other tools for growth not listed in the bullet point list above?