1. Invite people to participate. Everyone matters, everyone represents what you do and how you make people feel. We want everyone to participate AND add their flavor!
2. Be consistent. When culture is automatic and a habit, individuals know how to show up to opportunity and respond to challenge.
3. Keep the core elements alive and accept that other elements will ebb and flow. No one wants to be a part of a ‘we were doing it this way, but now we are going to do it this way’-flavor-of-the-week club. Elements can change. You can evolve, and the core values and attitudes should stay relevant and consistent.
4. Act as if this is how you’ve always done things. When you feel like ‘this is part of our history’, it’s easier to stick with, emulate and act on.
5. Find the right people. With the right people, the expectation of an ‘award-winning’ attitude doesn’t feel like you are asking too much.
6. Ensure the leadership team is 100% and consistently invested and living it. They must create the path that you want followed.
7. Empower someone to be responsible for it.
8. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Culture, values, reminders, vision. Communicate until you feel like you are communicating too much.
Personal Negative Feedback
My 6-year-old came home from school the other day, and we had our usual after school conversation. I always ask my kids, “What were three of your fillers today? And what were three of your drainers today?” I’ve come to learn that this is a much better question than ‘How was your day?’ as it’s specific and it challenges my kids to critically reflect on the day.
Anyway, with regards to the drainers, he said ‘My friend told me that I was on the bottom of her friends list.” Now, as a parent, your heart breaks. Kids just don’t realize the weight of their words. Then again, some adults I know don’t either. So we discussed.
“Ya know, when your sister is upset with you, it’s more a reflection of her mood than it is what you are doing. If you get impatient with your sister, that’s usually on one of your not-so-super-awesome days. When Dad or Mom is ever frustrated with the other, it’s usually when we are tired. Someone’s attitude towards you is usually a reflection of what’s going on in their world.”
We concluded with, “You know what you say? You say, thank you for the thoughts, let’s make tomorrow a better day. And you give them some space.” He laughed, and we moved on with our day.
The more I live life, the more I learn that judgement from others is 100% a reflection of what's going on with them than of you. How people express their own insecurities, attitudes, and otherwise is not about you. Similarly, how we judge others is a reflection of our values, focus, attitude and et cetera.
Be the energy you want to see in the world, folks!
Trust the Process
How often does it work out when we get in our heads? It’s playoff season for the NFL, and the consistent and powerful commentary that comes up EVERY YEAR during the NFL playoffs is ‘will this team/player be able to make it happen, or will the pressure of the playoffs get to them’…essentially, will they stop trusting themselves, their skills and their teammates by getting in their own head?
When I am not in my head, I am not in my own way. When I think about the problem, think about how I’m going to handle the problem, when I focus on the challenges, when I think about the context, or why this isn’t right or I’m not right or is this the right way….virtually every time I do that, things don’t work out, or if they do work out, they work out with hick-ups, messy, and not very efficiently.
Control is comfortable. Your brain likes CONTROL. We like it all to work out and be packaged and compartmentalized. Our brain takes us through a process that asks us to find the pattern in life, our gifts, with how things are supposed to work, and often we screw up or overthink to the point of inaction. When I’m in my head, I screw up. Because trust is replaced with doubt and skepticism.
I reflect on my entire life and quite candidly, 9/10 times, when I 'Trust the process', trust myself, when I get out of my head…it works out. And I bet, if you really think on it, you’d be surprised to realize that the same is probably true for you. When I TRUST the process, trust myself, and trust the gifts I know I have, when I stop wanting it to be perfect, fit, in control, when I let go, things seem to fall into place, because doubt and skepticism are replaced with focused and clear belief.
So how are you going to get where you want to go? I’m not entirely sure, but I’m confident that as soon as we leap, we will figure it. You have made it this far, and that same skill, talent and grit we had when you started is still with you now. You will figure it out. Trust yourself.
How do You Maintain Your Energy?
Every time I do a training, I receive this question. And the answer is pretty straight forward.
Make the choice. That’s it. And I’m so stupid serious about this. You make the choice.
How many choices do you make in a day that are real, intentional choices as opposed to the comfort, habit or just way that you are used to doing something?
Taking that last bite off your kid’s plate when you aren’t hungry?
Always needing a coffee in your hands?
Walking into the room with whatever kind of attitude?
Your body language/focus/interest in a meeting?
Amount of time spent on your phone or in front of a screen?
How you feel when you wake up?
Your willingness to just say hi to someone in passing, or really allow that moment to be something more?
Your job? Your hustle? Your energy? Your boldness? How you love, connect and engage with others? If you allow yourself to be you? Who you are around? The job you hold?
When does ‘it is what it is’ and ‘this is how it’s always been’ become a personal choice. Your brain is so lazy. It was designed for the chill, YOU ARE NOT THE CHILL!
Get up early or at least when the alarm goes off. Do the work. Enjoy the moment. Stop worrying about what’s next. Give yourself permission. Celebrate others. Stop cursing your problems. Say 'Hi' to passers by and choose your body language. Your ability to choose is much more powerful than we allow it to be. Choice implies responsibility as opposed to situation. Choice means effort.
Make the choice.
"This is the way we do things." There is a power in that statement that implies permanence. It implies a standard. It implies expectation. It says to anyone that is new to the group or on the outside looking in that by being a part of us, being a part of the team, expects from individuals specific behaviors without excuses to deviate from those expectations.
“Why doesn’t anyone complain around here?” – This is how we do things.
“Why is everyone so friendly? I’m not use to this from previous teams I’ve worked with.” – This is how we do things.
“I’m not use to people being so upfront and open in discussion and disagreement.” Healthy discourse, this is just how we do things.
“What’s with the great energy.” – This is just how we do things.
"Everyone is early, no one is late." - This is just how we do things.
People have an innate desire to be a part of something, and when that something is the culture of your team, then what happens is ‘the way we do things’ becomes ‘the way I do things’.
If you asked yourself this question right now: “What is our ‘the way we do things’”, do you have to search for the answer, do you not have an answer, is the answer written in an employee manual, or can you confidently answer from the heart, “This is the way we do things….”
The Consistency of a Stormtrooper
If you visit Hollywood Studios within the Disney Parks of Orlando, you will most certainly cross paths with a Stormtrooper, and when you do, you will more than likely see a Stormtrooper.
Now, these Stormtroopers are not just people in costume waving to you in the park, willing and ready to take a picture. These storm troopers are brash, disciplined, and rude. They are not social; they are soldiers. They tell you to get out of the way. They give commands. And if you ask for a picture, they will go as far as to refuse it (at first anyway). When you walk away from your interaction with a Disney Stormtrooper, you will not walk away with feels of disappointment, but rather of ‘THAT WAS AWESOME’! Because the person in the costume FULLY embodies the persona of a Stormtrooper. If it was anything less; if they half-assed it in ANY way; “Get out of the way! Sorry, haha, I’m just kidding. Doing the Stormtrooper thing,” you would feel short-changed. It would be lame. “They didn’t commit! I want the one that’s really into it.”
We love the Stormtrooper because that person in the costume embodies the Stormtrooper, and for a moment, it may even let us forget that it is just someone playing a character. If a company or team implements a culture and if they don’t fully commit, fully embody it, LIVE IT…if they half-ass it in anyway, it’s going to feel lame, inauthentic, temporary. It will become a passing fad and the ‘buy in’ won’t last.
If you have new values or pillars, use the language of those values and pillars. If there are systems for accountability and assessment of the culture, assess it and hold people to the agreed to culture. If people don't want to participate in it, invite them to find a new opportunity.
You have to imagine there are days where the people in those costumes are thinking to themselves, “I just don’t want to do this today,” but they do it because the second that character doesn’t fully show up, the customer is disappointed and doesn’t look as forward to the next interaction. Likewise, there are days where you will feel like we are faking it until you make it and days you just don’t want to do it, but the minute you give up on the cultural standard or tone, that’s when your team will say “I told you so…this stuff isn’t who we/they are.”
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE STORMTROOPER?
1) Fully Commit to the Culture you want to set: use the language, hang the posters, talk about the values, et cetera.
2) Do it every day and consistently. It will get trying. You won't see results right away. But if you falter or back down, it will go away. And then 6 months from now when you want to 'reset the culture', your team will know to put up with it for the time being, but it will eventually go away.
3) It's not about 'putting up with' it's about your team enjoying it because it's invested and authentic.
4) Stormtroopers are supposed to be jerks. Don't be a jerk :)
Anything new takes some warming up to and feels odd at first. At first you may be put off that the Stormtrooper at Disney won’t just take a picture, but at the end of the day you are glad that they stuck with what they wanted to create.