A couple of weeks ago, a friend gave me this book Patriot Hearts by John Furlong with Gary Mason. She said, when I heard this guy speak and started reading his book, I thought of you and that you would enjoy it. Without question, I did enjoy reading this one. The general overview of the book takes an account of everything from the bid process, to winning the bid, to building and hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. When I was reading this book, I could easily related to much of what John and his team were doing. I grew up just 1 mile (straight across the St. Lawrence River) from the Canadian border. Most of my youth was spent in Canada. When he was talking about the spirit and Canadian culture – I could easily recall all of that. Since it was about the Winter Olympics, it had plenty of sports references – another passion of mine (especially – hockey). Lastly, my wife and I were in Vancouver in October 2009, just months before the Olympics. We got to see much of the area. All making this book something to draw me in. To pull of something as large as the Olympics is not a small task. To pull of one of the best Olympic games, even tougher. I watched those games… I enjoyed those games as a fan… Even though I am not Canadian, I was still very proud of what was pulled off. I know many Canadians, I grew up very close. I attend my first outdoor rock concert in Ottawa. I watched my first professional hockey and baseball games in Montreal. I drank my first beer (a Canadian Molson’s) on a Canadian island on the St. Lawrence. I was really pleased with how the country circled around the games as a whole. This book, let you into the stuff behind the scenes.
My key takeaways – from a leadership perceptive – are setting a very grand vision and not settling for anything less. John and the team want these games to make every Canadian proud. To show the world the Canadian spirit. To host the best possible games that they could. At every turn down that journey, there were potential to compromise or change for political, social or financial reasons. These created opportunities for new and innovative ways to handle them. John and his team did that without losing sight of their vision. Sure, they had to make some sacrifices, but overall the vision and delivery of that did not change. Keep that vision at the forefront of your decision making!
They had their fair share of problems that they needed to deal with. Weather and the unfortunate tragedy with the luge competitor from Georgia. The team dealt with them the best that they could. The opening ceremony had that faulty arm of the cauldron. They turned that around with the closing ceremony. Turning lemons into lemonade. What they did was keep their vision in mind with everything, everyone did.
There is so much more to take from this book, that I did not write about. Examples of great leadership, motivating and problem solving techniques. Read them for yourself.
Over the past few years, we all have read the disturbing news about college football programs in the middle of a scandals. The latest one is Penn State. I never want to kick a person when they are down or perceived to be down. That is not my style. What kicked off this scandal is the worst thing imaginable. I have coached youth sports for most of my adult life and when I hear what happened, it make my stomach turn. Just terrible! I hope that the alleged victim’s get all of the help they need to get over these horrific acts. My intention is not to look at each set of scandals and place blame or point a finger at people. If we learn nothing from what has happened over the past 5 years, we should learn to how to handle leadership within the programs that most of America watches with a passion.
Here are some things that I believe that should be considered:
- Setting up very discreet reviewed time limits. Most programs or employees have yearly review of performance. I think within that particular review the overall review should not just be able wins, loses and where did you end up within the BCS ranking. It is time to really demonstrate leadership… Develop a package that is about graduation rates, GPA for student athletes, social and moral code of conduct and really focus on life learning. It is all about accountability for everything a program should stand for. These reviews should be tough and really focused. Stand up and celebrate your successes.. Work on those items that missed the mark.
- Succession planning. It is time to make sure that within every program there is a real and developed succession plan. Setting up your program and keeping it for the long haul is really how well the program develops the talent that they have and attract. In this day and age, with coaches moving to head coaching positions all over, succession planning could be a difficult task. If you have the right people and take care of them, they will stay. If not, than they will take the lessons learned and apply those to another institution. Which if done right, just means another great program will start up. Everyone wins…
- Hold everyone (up and down the organization) accountable for the overall organization! For college football, that is being accountable to the university and what the code the university stands for. The football team (players and coaches) are not the university, but need to be a reflection of the university.
It amazes me how many coaches have written books about leadership and then we watch them fall from their soapbox. Ever leader has to take a look deep into themselves and be proud of every aspect of their actions. From all indications, coach Wooden was spot on in his teachings and actions. That is one example that I have modeled my coaching after. Don’t get me wrong there are lots of fine examples out there. Some really recent coaches that are doing the right things, right. I just hope that they can keep their course and not let someone or something distract them from complete success.
, Book Review
, Leading Teams
, performance management
This weekend I finished up reading “Do The Work” by Steven Pressfield. I follow the Domino Project and saw this when it first came out. Do the work is definitely an eye catching title, especially for those of us that are kicking off several projects. So, I downloaded the book for my Kindle (unfortunately, the book sat waiting on me to clear my backlog of reading). Once I dove into reading the book, I truly enjoyed it. This is my kind of book. Short, direct and bold. This book is a wake up call for creative people. So, if you think you are a creative person, this one is for you.
I really enjoyed most, that the book addresses nagging and lonely thoughts that we all have about the resistance. Anyone who creates anything struggles with resistance. Presssfield refers to that resistance as a “dragons.” You must slay the dragon in order to move on with what you are trying to ship.
This is a very short book! Much like my book review. Go ahead and download it and you should be able to read it in an hour or two. So, if you are stuck in your project, business or whatever you doing… Then get this book, it will help you.
Timing is everything. This book has come in handy in many ways. Have you ever started to read a book and slowed down to do what was asked of you in the book? MOJO How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It by Marshall Goldsmith (affiliate link) is one of those books for me. Let’s set a bit of the background as to why. For those that are frequent readers of stevebellnow.com you know that I retired back in January. After spending 28.5 years with my employer, I felt that it was time for me to do something different. Reading MOJO really hit home for me. I really could relate to ever section, chapter, case studies and exercise within the book.
Your mojo is described that inner spirit or drive we have to do what we do best starting from the inside and expressing that outward. I think this is because I actually really love the concept of mojo and internal motivation that drives us to excel. For me, I really did pause and answer the questions about me. Goldsmith’s keys in the book are identity, achievement, reputation and acceptance. Starting with identity, there is a very tough question to answer, “Who do you think you are?” For me, pausing there definitely was a sole searching adventure. I had plenty to think about (past, present and future). When it comes to achievement, you are asking, “what have you done lately?” Really focusing in those things that made you most excited internally. The third element is reputation. It is that all important question of “what do others think you are?” All to easy to really give yourself what you “think” people think of you. What is really in their heads? The last element is acceptance. It really centers on what change you change and what is beyond your control. Questions that you must be completely honest with yourself. Took me sometime to ground myself, but afterwards I was moving full steam ahead.
There is an excellent section on maintaining your mojo and being consistent with yourself and others to ensure nothing prevents your mojo and he explores 10 reason you can quickly lose your mojo which are particularly useful to avoid. Goldsmith covers through repeated example a concept of “change it” or “change you” which is really saying that you must decide to change something about your situation to move towards more mojo or you have to change yourself to have different motivators or expectations. And finally in the book, mojo is explored by using a technique of framing it and naming it. If you recognize bad habits that kill mojo and give them a name to remind you of that, you can use that name yourself or teach others to use that name to help point that behavior out when it occurs and snap you out of a situation killing mojo. The section on the tools is particularly helpful for you to really step through the process. Like I said earlier, I paused a great deal during my reading of the book to work on my mojo as it goes with the book. I probably just need to reread the book for enjoyment.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading the book. I felt it was something that I needed for myself at this particular time in my life. I need to get my mojo back… I know of a few of my ex-coworkers that could use this book as well. I already have purchased another book for someone that is about to retire as well. This was a help to me, maybe it can be a help to him.
Not sure where all my time is going. I thought I would be better at reading more books, since my retirement. One that has been waiting for me to read is The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau. Maybe my slowness to get through the book, has been that I have been using the book to help me navigate the book with my personal life today. I have been very slowly and methodically going over each chapter and apply most of his concepts to my current situation.
For those that don’t know.. I am retired from corporate America. I used Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pam Slim (see my book review) to get me started down the path of getting out of the cube farm. Apply many of her steps to helping make that jump. I am now, using Chris’ book to help me jump forward. The Art of Non-Conformity is based on his popular blog with the underlying message of “You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.” I am working on my second life or second career and I am not going to follow the path of others or what is expected of me. I am doing this my way! His book, walks you through some very common sense approaches to getting what “you” want out of life.
I found that while reading his book, I would stop and take notes and work on some of my own ideas. I quickly learned that I was just not going to sit down and read this book. I actually was applying his concepts or answering his questions while I was reading. Got me thinking and writing… Which I guess, made my time reading the book – longer. For me, I highly recommend that you read this book. You don’t have to be retired to go out after your unconventional path. In fact, I wish I would have read this back 10+ years ago, hell maybe 20+. I think stuff would be much different today.
Thanks Chris for writing this book!