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Thursday, November 01, 2012
Volume 18 | # 419
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Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility. » Saint Augustine

An In-Tents Weekend

 After a long week, there are a number of things I like to do to relax. Setting up tents in a dark field in 25 mph winds and drizzle isn’t on that list.

But that’s where I found myself on Friday evening with my sons and their Boy Scout troop.

Trivia fact #1: In gusty winds on an open field, tents technically fit the definition of parasails.

Trivia fact #2: When you weigh down tents with materials to keep them from becoming airborne in high wind, they flatten out like pancakes instead.

Over the course of two cold days, I was reminded of a life lesson that I’ve preached to others. Choose the people you associate with carefully because moods and attitudes are communicable.

It would be a fair statement to say that I was leaning a bit to the negative side by the time Saturday morning rolled around. I’ve kidded with my wife (resting comfortably at home that weekend) that the only reason I attend these things is that I don’t think I trust anyone who actually enjoys the misery of camping to chaperone my kids.

As we assembled for the first large gathering around a flagpole on Saturday morning, I looked around to see which other parents from other troops were “living the dream” out there.

The differences in demeanor were stark. I initially was standing near some folks absolutely annoyed to be there.

It was too cold, too windy, not organized enough, etc. I found myself being pulled into it.

But several dads I had met before were smiling and chuckling a few feet over. When I walked over, one laughed and said, “I see you’re still not smart enough to get out of these weekends, huh?”

As we laughed and told stories about floating tents and runaway tarps the night before, another dad said, “Look at those goobers. You know, these boys love this stuff. And they’re almost men. We’re gonna miss this one day.”

The rest of us told him to shut up, of course. But he had a point.

I then made a point of associating with the “Let’s enjoy this while we can” crew the rest of the weekend. My sleeping and dining situation were not improved. But my demeanor and attitude were.

We don’t always have the chance to choose who we will work with or for each day. But we do get to choose whose words and attitudes we will embrace and whose we will filter out as best as we can.

Improve your outlook by choosing wisely today.

It's the Attitude, Not the Altitude

 As a lifelong New Orleans Saints fan, there wasn’t much to be excited about while watching last week’s beat down by the Denver Broncos.

But truth be told, I’ve followed Peyton Manning’s career since he was in high school in New Orleans, and a part of me is always happy to see him succeed. And the comeback story he is currently writing is motivating.

And yes, for the umpteenth time, I will state that I do not believe that all of life and business is analogous to sports. But that particular game reinforced a couple of leadership thoughts for me.

The first one has been discussed by many analysts this year. Head coach Sean Payton’s absence from the sidelines this year is screaming evidence of the importance of real leaders.

During any given week, the Saints are putting more talent on the field than their opponents. And most weeks, they underperform.

Fans are becoming painfully aware that the key to success is not in simply having a smart game plan. Everyone has a good plan going in.

But it’s the adjustments you make when your situations change that matter more. (That’s true in football, management, marriage, etc.)

The other leadership thought I had occurred during the postgame interview with Manning. I’ve seen dozens over the years and I’ve noticed something he does more as he’s gotten older.

Whenever the question is negative or focused on a mistake, he uses the words, “I”, “me”, and “my” a lot.

When the question is about something positive, like a successful play, he almost always talks about how “so-and-so” really stepped up to make it happen. He’ll talk about how hard “so-and-so” has been working in practice.

(He talks about practice!)

The talking heads after this latest game went on and on about how Manning always seems to make players better. They provided a list of past and current teammates who had less than stellar careers before playing with him but became stars with him.

A large part of that obviously stems from playing with a hall of fame quarterback. But I’d suggest that many of these players “become stars” because they simply work harder for Manning.

They know he notices, appreciates, and will publicly acknowledge their efforts. They also trust that he’ll not throw them under the bus when times are tough.

Whether you lead a football huddle or branch team, can your team count on the same from you?

Most of us, swimming against the tides of trouble the world knows nothing about, need only a bit of praise or encouragement - and we will make the goal. » Jerome P Fleishman

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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