First Place

There is something special about being in First Place. You worked hard, put in the time and effort, made sacrifices, and you took the lead.

This First Place status may be with your customers, your employees, your team, your family, or your relationships. They appreciate the work it took to get into First Place, and you are proud of your accomplishments and they are proud to put you in First Place.

But there is something tempting about being in First Place. Once you arrive, the temptation is to rely on the good will you built along the way. Your First Place status is like a trophy put on a shelf and keep pointing at when interacting with those same customers, employees, teams, family, or relationships.

Your over-reliance on your past actions can lull you into almost feeling entitled to be in First Place regardless of our current effort or actions.

“Look at what I did for you.”

Pointing to the past becomes your mindset, and your language.

First Place is not a destination.

First Place is not a trophy to place on the shelf and continually reference.

You are not entitled to First Place.

First Place is more of a journey, a continual effort towards something great.

First Place is the culmination of your daily work, effort, conversations, and progress.

Instead of focusing on, always being in First Place, try focusing on each day’s actions and ask yourself a few questions.

Did I bring value today?

Did I help others?

Did I connect with those who matter?

Did I focus on the important things?

Did I make a difference?

When you answer “YES” to these on most days, your status with those around you should take care of itself.

P.S. Sorry for the long hiatus from writing, I have missed connecting with you through words.

 

Meticulous Framing

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During a recent conversation with a close friend, we discussed the importance of building things that last.

Relationships.

Businesses.

Creative Stuff.

Sometimes we don’t always start the right way.

Sometimes we have to go back and fix.

In order to build on what exists, you have to make sure what is underneath is strong enough to handle what comes next.

Strong enough to last.

The very next day I was on a job site for the construction of a new home.

I met the team responsible for framing the home.

It wasn’t my first job site, but this site/this work stood out.

Clean, straight, and beautiful.

Meticulous Framing.


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After the tour, there were many compliments directed towards the framing team.

The leader of the larger team and company responsible for the project told a quick story.

“My former partner used to say ‘this is framing, not finish carpentry’. I would remind him that if I did a crappy job framing, I’d end up spending more time messing around trying to fix things when I installed the finish trim, cabinets and doors.”

Everyone nodded in agreement.

The framing team agreed and spoke of how important it was to get this step done well.

I found it interesting, that once complete, no one will see the Meticulous Framing.

This Meticulous Framing is not glamorous: other things that sit on top will ultimately get all the credit for how this home looks.

This Meticulous Framing will be hidden from view, seemingly forever, or until someone makes a drastic change.

This Meticulous Framing will set the stage for the next several decades.

This Meticulous Framing may take a few extra days, but may save weeks later on.

The leader tells this story in the larger context.

“I like to say what you do in one part of your life is pretty likely to show up in other parts of your life…”

Couldn’t we use Meticulous Framing when building relationships?

Couldn’t we use Meticulous Framing when building businesses?

Couldn’t we use Meticulous Framing when doing creating stuff?

The next time you build something, ask your self:

“Am I building this in a way that will last, or will I be spending a lot of time messing around trying to fix things?”

Maybe Meticulous Framing is exactly what we need, so what we build will last.

The Forgiveness Receipt

Forgiveness Receipt

We do something wrong. There is a transaction that needs to occur.

We need to apologize. We need to say we are sorry and ask for forgiveness.

A real apology:

Not a

“I am sorry if I [offended, hurt, misunderstood, overreacted…]

But more of a

“I am sorry for [offending, hurting, misunderstanding, overreacting…]

I read recently that how we respond during this transaction is important. Instead of saying “that is okay” which implies that what occurred was acceptable, the article encouraged people to complete the transaction with “I accept your apology” or if you are able “I forgive you.”

A helpful idea ran through my mind: The Forgiveness Receipt.

The Forgiveness Receipt would be proof of the transaction.

The Forgiveness Receipt could serve two purposes.

Purpose One: A reminder for the person that needed to ask for forgiveness. I recently noticed that I tend to apologize more than once, as if the first one didn’t take. The person I kept apologizing to kindly reminded me that we had already transacted this apology, and I didn’t need to keep revisiting the issue. The issue is gone, and The Forgiveness Receipt would be a great reminder, especially when I am feeling a little insecure.

Purpose Two: A reminder for the person that forgave. I also noticed that I tend to revisit old offenses, long after the transaction. The Forgiveness Receipt would serve to remind me that the I forgave, and can no longer hold that offense against the other person.

Until I can find a receipt book worthy of this task, The Forgiveness Receipt will be more of a mental note. Or maybe this T-Shirt would serve as a better reminder.

Be sure to ask about your receipt.

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A Little Friendly Research (My Turn)

I asked you a series of questions, and your answers appeared in the last 7 posts. Your answers were vulnerable, honest, funny, serious, and clever. Your answers inspired questions, discussions, and honest conversations about friends, and friendships. Your answers inspired some actions, as friends connected, reached out, answered phone calls, and actions became a little more deliberate and focused.

I wondered about how to end this series, and a few of you suggested that I weigh in on those same 9 questions.

So, it is my turn.

Question 1: What are the best attributes of your good friends?

They are intentional. They reach out. They call me, text me, and email me. They initiate as well as respond. They seem to have this internal counter that knows when too many moments, hours, days, or weeks have passed and the alarm goes off and they remember to connect.

Question 2: Do you think friendship is hard? Why or why not?

Friendship seemed easier in elementary school when you walked with the same person every day to school, then goofed around every weekend together on little adventures in the woods and on the pond. Friendship seemed easier when you were on a ship and saw them everyday for 6 months, and ate, slept, and worked together. Friendship seemed easier in college when you were in that crappy little apartment waiting for your paychecks so you could actually buy meat at the store.

Friendship seemed to get harder in the next stage of life. New jobs, new cities, new neighborhoods, new kids, and new distances between all of them.

Friendship is getting easier and harder at the same time in this current stage. My expectations have grown as the years have passed. What satisfied this need to connect years ago, doesn’t seem like enough. I have more time for friends then a decade ago, but some of them don’t have the same time available to me. The number of friends “goal” has been replaced with a depth of friendship “goal” which I recently realize is a much harder prize to attain.

Question 3: What do you expect from a friend?

Balance and equity in the long-run. I may need something from them for a season, but I want to find a season to give back as well. They shouldn’t be the only one to initiate connection, I want to call them, text them, email them, or reach out as well. I need that same little internal counter in my head that reminds me that too much time, distance, or life has gone by and I need to take action.

This question caused me to wrestle the most. I fear my expectations may be causing interference with some friends because my expectations may be higher, and unspoken.

There is tension expectation. How do we learn to give freely, and not be taken advantage of? When do you give? When do you need? How do you measure balance and equity?

No great answers, yet the wrestling seems like a good thing for me to work on.

Question 4: How much time in a given week do you think about your friendships?

A LOT! Until I read your responses, I thought I was a bit of an outlier (well I may still be). There was comfort to know that I am not the only one who thinks about this pretty often.

My mind wanders towards friends and friendship throughout my entire day. The morning computer/writing time, the commute, at random times each day, lunchtime, afternoon coffee, closing time, the other commute, dinnertime, vegging out time, before I sleep (you get the idea).

Bottom line, if you are my friend, I think about you a lot.

Question 5: What are your best attributes as a friend?

I care about you. I think about you. I connect with you. I am here when you need something (yes that has included the occasional furniture moving). I invest in you. I want you to succeed. I have hope for you. I find time for you. I love you.

Question 6: If you could say one thing to your friends that would help explain what you need from them, what would you say?

Be real. Be present. Be available. Be my friend.

Question 7: How many close friends would you say you have?

Nine.

Question 8: Anything else you would like to share?

Yes. This process, this journey has helped me understand friends and friendship in a new way. Your responses have helped shape me and I don’t want this journey to end.

Earlier this week I was teaching a class and we talked about leadership. One participant mentioned that leadership has an expiration date. In other words, if you are not exercising those skills, they expire, go bad, and become rotten.

I think this applies to friendships as well.

Question 9: In 10 words or less, what advice would you give the World about friendships?

Intention. Balance. Mindful. Time. Hope. Connect. Remember. Savor. Initiate. Love.

 

Becoming Equals

They needed some coaching, so you helped encourage and develop.

You needed to run your first 5K, so they helped you train.

They needed to lose weight, so you helped with healthy options, accountability, and support.

You needed assistance with strategy, so they helped provide perspective, options, and focus.

They needed to find a better career, relationship, or life-goal, so you provided some guidance.

You were a little scattered and out there, so they helped organize and ground you.

They were a little structured and serious, so you helped them be messy and fun.

These relationships start in interesting ways.

One of you needs something, and the other is there to help.

At first the roles were clear.

One of you is the expert, coach, parent, mentor, counselor, or consultant. The other one needs what you have.

One of you is giving, the other is receiving.

Typically this approach only works for the short-term. Once the need is met, you disengage and move on.

But sometimes, these relationship continue.

These relationships begin to change.

You are Becoming Equals.

What was once mentoring becomes mutual assistance or expertise.

What was once consulting becomes sharing ideas together.

What was once coaching becomes both playing at the same level.

What was once parenting becomes more like a friendship.

Becoming Equals doesn’t happen overnight.

Becoming Equals requires both of you to shift.

Becoming Equals allows both of you to shine.

One day you notice the person who use to run a few steps behind you is now at your side, and even ahead of you.

One day you are both leading.

One day you are both moving forward.

There is a time and place for the first roles.

But there is something more.

Something better.

Becoming Equals may be what makes relationships really great.

Becoming Equals may be what makes relationships last.

 

Disqualified

 

Disqualified

You were not good at math. You were easily distracted. You got an F. You got more than one F. You lost your temper. You messed up. You lost the account. You didn’t get into college. You didn’t tell the whole story. You said the wrong thing. You didn’t lose the weight. You were a bad friend. You got fired. You spoiled the party. You quit the team. You stopped calling. You didn’t get science. You made the mistake. You struggled with[insert name here].

Sometimes events make us draw conclusions. We were not good at math therefore we will never be good at math. We spoiled the party, therefore we will always spoil the party, so we should not be invited. We quit the team, therefore we are a quitter. We struggle with a pattern of behavior, therefore we will never overcome.

But worse than giving up, we become disqualified.

Disqualified is when the past is allowed to remove you from future opportunities, growth, or development.

Disqualified is a limitation on our potential.

Disqualified is keeping us from making a difference.

Disqualified is when struggles keep you from helping others.

Disqualified is a lifetime ban.

But, maybe there is no Disqualified status.

Maybe we misunderstood the value of the journey, the struggle, and the failure.

Maybe the fact that we struggle, fail, quit, mess up, and lose are the very things that qualify us to make an impact.

Maybe others need to know that we struggle as well.

Maybe we can learn, grow, develop, and be.

Maybe the future is wide open.

Maybe we are qualified.

Home Planet

You meet.

You start to talk.

You try to explain some weirdness.

They nod.

They totally get it.

They totally get you.

You connect so quickly.

You feel so understood.

They speak as if in your native language.

They understand the perspective, the weirdness, and the challenges.

It is almost as if, as a good friend of mine says…

“They are from my Home Planet.”

They are out there.

You can find them.

They are from your Home Planet.

P.S. Remind them of their impact when you find them.