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Thursday, December 01, 2016
Volume 22 | # 517
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It's a bad plan that can't be changed. » Publilius Syrus

Small Gestures, Clear Messages

I have not watched the NFL as much as usual this year. It may or may not be due to the struggles of my fantasy football team.

Taking Gronkowski with my first pick was a real Einstein move.  But I digress.

However, I recently saw a clip from an NFL game that immediately became my favorite footage I’ve seen in years.

It didn’t involve the team I was born following, the New Orleans Saints… or my adopted team, the Houston Texans.  

This footage was of the quarterback of the team many of my friends consider the evil empire – the Dallas Cowboys.

It didn’t involve a spectacular on-field play.  No, this clip was of a player sitting on the bench, unaware that a network camera was on him.

That player was Cowboy quarterback Dak Prescott, and the video is of him tossing a paper cup over his shoulder toward a trashcan.

He misses.

He does not look around to see if anyone saw him miss.  

He realized he littered, got up, walked over, and properly disposed of his trash.

This is a guy who had just come off the field after securing his team’s ninth consecutive win.

He is in the midst of becoming arguably the most successful rookie quarterback in NFL history, while becoming the face of the most valuable sporting franchise on the planet.

Still, the dude got up and picked up trash that absolutely no one would have cared if he had not.  

It was one of the more humble and un-entitled things I’ve seen in ages.  

Prescott instantly became my current favorite NFL player.  

Yes, that may sound kind of ridiculous.  No, I don’t care.

I also believe that pundits who have smugly argued that people made too much of a guy picking up trash are out-of-touch.  The fact that a short, seemingly innocuous video “went viral” suggests how universally appreciated simple decency is.   

I have long preached to managers that their observable actions speak as loudly as their words.  

Showing basic manners, courtesy, and respect to employees, peers, and supervisors communicates more than just about anything they say.  

The absence of those things can speak more loudly than their words, as well.

Leaders’ small gestures set a tone that others follow.  

What tone are your gestures setting today? 


We're Unique Like Everyone Else

A line I heard long ago popped into my head recently while chatting with a senior manager of a large community bank.  

That line was, “A politician is a person who continuously lies to the press… and then believes everything he reads in the papers.”’

Okay, maybe I have an election hangover.

My friend was sharing some of the challenges he was dealing with in his organization.  

All were concerns I’ve heard from other organizations, as well.  

In the course of the conversation, he quipped about a large competitor he believed was far ahead of him in addressing certain issues.  

When I asked how he knew that, he said, “Well…honestly, I don’t know that.  It just seems from what I’ve read that those folks have their act more together than we do.”

I laughed and teased that he may not want to believe everything he reads.  

I didn’t know the bank he mentioned all that well and had no way of knowing if they were as problem-free as he suspected.  

But I told him, “I’ll bet you a dollar they have the same issues you have.”

When he asked me how I knew, I suggested that managers and execs don’t tend to share those things.  

I asked my friend if he would mention any of his headaches in a press release, or marketing piece, or to a business customer, or to a reporter.

He chuckled, “Good point.  I don’t know if you’re right… but I’m going to pretend you are.”

I don’t suggest these things to bankers to trivialize their challenges.  

Knowing that peers and competitors share similar challenges does not lessen yours in any way.

However, there is a human tendency to see competitors or even peers seemingly rolling right along and feel that we must have it tougher than they do.  

Maybe we do.  Maybe we don’t.

It’s like the Facebook effect.  You shouldn’t compare your everyday life to the highlight reels others post online.  You’re not seeing the full picture.

I have lost count of how many times I’ve introduced bankers to other bankers with similar jobs and watched them bond over what they thought were their “unique problems”.  

There is an interesting motivation that comes from seeing that others face most of the same challenges we face.

Your challenges may not be unique.  

But, your drive and work ethic to meet those challenges can be.  

Be uniquely driven today.


When nothing is sure, everything is possible. » Margaret Drabble

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