A man approached me with a parenting tip after a recent event. I had talked about the value of taking the chance to try new things and be willing to make mistakes in your life to get ahead. I said that anything worth doing well, is worth taking the time and effort to do POORLY first. Any skill that you eventually master or do very well, you likely do poorly at first. You keep deliberately practicing, getting quality coaching and over time, you learn to do it very well.
Too many, especially kids, try something the first time, do not meet with immediate success and quit. They never try again. This often happens because kids are over praised for being fantastic and special their whole lives. They are not good at dealing with failure and frustration. Sometimes kids who sail through high school with straight A’s get there first B in college and feel like a failure. I believe we need to encourage “non-permanent” mistakes. Try something new and be able to come back home, regroup, lick your wounds, suck it up and try again.
This man agreed with that philosophy and gave me a nugget I had not considered. He said he coaches his kids to make sure they avoid permanent mistakes. Some are obvious: breaking the law, teen pregnancy, ear spacers, driving under the influence accidents, starting to smoke/take meth/cocaine/heroin or other drugs, drinking excessively, permanent facial make-up tattoos, piercings in non-conventional areas, eating a donut a day not an apple, drunk facial tattoos.
There is a show called Ink Masters which had an episode on permanent mistakes. I love the byline – Tattoos are forever and so are the mistakes! If you want to see for yourself, here are three links to some hideous examples, One, Two and Three. As you will see are there are some very poor spellers out there and people with terrible judgment. Evidently many tattoo artists are not aware that there is a difference between your and you’re.
Some permanent mistakes are a little more subtle. My friend Waldo Waldman told me his wife had a good friend die of a stroke at age 49. He had no life insurance in place for his wife and 2 children. That is a totally avoidable permanent mistake that will negatively impact his family forever.
What about the couple how makes a decision early on to not put any money away for long term savings or their kids college tuition? That is a permanent mistake that you have a difficult time recovering from in the future. Maybe that is way 25% of people think their best chance to build wealth is by playing the lottery! Of course almost all take the lump sum payment instead of the 20 year annuity payment. What happens? It ruins many of their live because the did not have the mindset it takes to handle that windfall.
What about people who make the decision to not take care of themselves, eat poorly and do not exercise. Many of the eventual problems they run into we call “diseases”. My thought is if you GAVE IT TO YOURSELF, it is not a disease. Did you know that Preventable illness makes up approximately 80% of the burden of illness and 90% of all healthcare costs. Preventable illnesses account for eight of the nine leading categories of death.
Alert – if you have Type II diabetes you gave it to yourself! It is totally reversible and avoidable in the first place. Did you know that 95% of diabetics are Type II, 1 in 11 Americans have it and that a million more in the USA are diagnosed and it every year.
What about heart disease? Again, it is a preventable illness. These are examples of permanent mistakes and you can take action to reverse. I see people like this in the gym all the time. They spent their entire life not taking care of themselves thinking ONE DAY I will get around to it and they never do. Then they wake one day and look in the mirror in horror. “I have to do something.”
In my research for this blog, I read about the MTV show TEEN MOMS. A article mentioned that of the teen moms on the show almost all had tattoos also. That got me thinking. If you make one permanent mistake does that make you more likely to keep making them?
What about the man who commits his first crime and goes to jail? Are they more likely to get that tattoo, try drugs and steal again? I think so. What about the girl who gets that tattoo on spring break? Is that next potential permanent mistake easier to make? Once you start down that path it must seem easier to keep going. What do you think? What are other permanent mistakes to avoid?
Leaders – what is your routine the first 5 minutes in the door? Do you head straight to your office? How you spend the first 5 minutes can ignite the fire in your team if you know what you are doing. Sometimes leaders are so focused on putting out fires they forget how to light them. How can y0u change the energy quickly?
I recommend the first five minutes you connect and engage your team – face to face with those close by and virtually with those working remotely.
Seek them out and ask them to tell you something good! What are they excited about?
What is their focus for the day? What will they accomplish today? How can you help?
Ask about their kids and out of the office activities. Engage and show sincere interest.
Seek opportunities to praise them for the specific things they are doing well. Why are you proud of them? If they are virtual it could be a quick Skype call, phone call, email or text.
Remember it not just what you say but HOW YOU SAY IT! The tone of your voice, look in your eye and sometimes physical connection with a high five, fist bump or pat on the back. Why is this crucial? Because sometimes people come in with a bad attitude and you can help turn it around with your energy. Yours should be contagious!
Do you want a simple way to check your energy level? Get a check up by using your Smart Phone and the voice recorder. Just click record and put it in your pocket. That takes some guts! What takes even more guts is to LISTEN to it! I recommend you do a “check-up” every month. BONUS TIP – the next time you hold a formal meeting to talk to your team set up a tripod and video tape yourself! You may be shocked at what you see. Some think they are the “dispenser of enthusiasm” and they sound more like Eeyore!
You might have a team of 10 or perhaps hundreds or thousands. If you have many, start with your direct reports and them have them duplicate the same strategy down the line. How much is this strategy a departure from what you normally do it? You know it is easy to get caught up in your office and have the best of intentions to get out but it never happens. Start the first 5 before you get to your office.
Another way to accomplish the same thing in a group is with a quick, stand up 5 minute HUDDLE. You can watch a short video here how to make that huddle great. Test it for a month to see if it works for you. If you want extra-credit, try the First 5/Last 5 strategy. As you may have guessed, connect and engage in the last 5 minutes of the day. Repeat the same process. Start this simple discipline today and reap the benefits!Read More