Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Positive Disruptions

Traditions are wonderful elements of life. As human beings we spend a lot of time developing, cultivating and maintaining a variety of long standing traditions. Many of those traditions are related to holidays or family gatherings. Traditions such as Thanksgiving originated hundreds of years ago and continue to have significant relevance to the lives of millions of people. Traditions bind people together under a common cause often associated with goodness and kindness. I'm all for traditions because they deepen the relationships between people. 

However, sometimes traditions do get people in the mindset of being stagnate. They can sometimes cause people to feel obligations to things that are outdated or forced. That's why I love the concept of positive disruptions. What is this? Well, its really a counter culture approach to tradition in that you are looking for ways to expand or think outside the box to create something new. Often when someone tries to create a positive disruption people see it as a negative thing. I never look at it that way. Progress towards something positive, new and widespread usually begins with dissension and skepticism. That is until the implementation of the idea reaches a critical point where the majority of people tag along and make it mainstream. 

A great example of companies setting the trend towards critical mass in positive disruption are Southwest Airlines, Google and Zappos. These companies have deliberately created a positive disruption in work culture. These companies focus on employee centered businesses. The goal is to create a better work environment for employees so that they will create a better feeling and vibe for the consumer. These places provide the comforts of home at work and encourage play at work. This is very different from the customer is always right culture that many people grow up with. This positive disruption is gaining tremendous traction with more and more companies. In fact, these companies have heavily influenced how I run the fitness facility I manage here in Las Vegas. I place the majority of my focus on empowering, uplifting, educating and loving my staff. 

An example of the infancy of positive disruption is solar energy. The positive idea of using renewable energy from the sun has been met with so much negative commentary and actions from traditional energy companies. Why the negativity? More than likely its because it challenges their established monetary gain and ideals about fossil fuel. I get it. Its hard to change when you have created something that people have used for generations that funds your life as well. Change is difficult, but companies like Solar City are starting the fire of positive disruption and making it plausible for everyday families to do something that is a better option for the planet and for people. Change is messy sometimes, but in the end...what if that positive disruption has the ability to truly change how we function and live in a society in a positive way? I want to be a part of that. 

In the end, positive disruption has always been a part of our DNA as human beings. It has been the driving force behind leaps in our progress in society. Someone or a group of people have always decided to question "they" and think outside the limitations that people often put on each other. Those innovators have changed how we view and function in our lives for the better. You have the ability to positively disrupt your life on a daily, weekly and yearly basis. 

While traditions are amazing and help bind us as humans, task yourself in 2016 to shake up those traditions with a positive disruption that will ultimately enhance it and turn it into something even more beautiful. It's what we do as human beings. We climb mountains, run races, search for new planets, make new gadgets and so on and so forth. Make your mark.

Until next time...

Dr. D

Monday, January 4, 2016

Can You Lead?

I'm a big time sports fan. I grew up in a family that valued and watched sports around the clock.. I basically grew up with Sports Center on the TV. My love for playing and learning about sports was fueled primarily by my father's huge love for sports. My Dad started my brother and I's passion for sports as little kids. We started with tee ball and moved into baseball, football, basketball and track and field. As we got older it seemed our love of sports just continued to grow. It also helped that I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship for track and field to continue my sports participation as a young adult. That kept my competitive juices flowing and my knowledge for all sports current. Once my collegiate sports eligibility expired I continued to love sports and even better I was getting an education at James Madison University on the various phases of how and why people participate in sports. It was eye opening to say the least. I learned so much about psychological theories related to sports performance and physiological adaptations to sports and exercise participation.

However, one of the biggest lessons I learned was about the concept of leadership. As you may know, the importance of leadership cannot be stated enough in the sports setting. Every year, especially in the National Football League, coaches are fired and hired based on the team's win/loss record. How well the team plays factors heavily into who coaches the team from year to year. While this is fair as wins and losses are the bottom line, who you hire to lead your organization whether it be in sports or in any other profession should be based first and foremost on an individual's ability to galvanize, motivate and get the most of their employees. Now don't get me wrong. You MUST hire someone in your organization who understand the basic knowledge and nuances of the job they are doing. That's the price of admission. Most individuals who come to apply for leadership levels roles will try to sell you on their mastery of the X's and O's. However, hiring for just this will not give you the success you are looking for. It has to be about that individuals ability to lead other people and themselves.

How many times have you turned on Sports Center to see that another NFL head coach was fired because he not only had a poor win/loss record, but because he also could not connect with his players? Regardless of how much money is made in any profession, people will only work hard for leaders that they respect and can relate to. So, you have to ask yourself, am I leadership material? The simple answer is maybe and maybe not. Having the title of the top spot in any organization is not for everyone. Not every one is meant to lead and be the face of the "franchise." So, how can you tell if you are that type of person. What is leadership? Here's a look in to see if you have what it takes to be a leader of people in an organization:

1. Presence

- Any great leader of any organization has that "it" factor about them. They are contagious in their personality and ability to deliver direction and intensity to others and themselves. Its an innate trait of someone who is a leader. They have always had it and you know it when you see it.

2. Compassion and Love

-Great leaders are at the forefront of compassion, love and care for their staff. They provide the proper level of connection with each staff member and relate to them in the way that works best for that staff member to feel validated and important. To get the best out of people you often have to meet their basic human needs for connection, compassion and care.

3. Disciplined

-Great leaders are not just great with feelings, but they are also great with providing structure and discipline in any environment. This structure provides boundaries and guidelines for the team so that everyone knows where they stand.

4. Reflection and Evaluation

-Any amazing leader always reflects upon their work and their interactions with others. They evaluate their decisions and make changes that are for the better good of the team and its members.

5. Build a Culture, Not a System

-Systems are numbers and schemes and procedures. They are heartless and have no emotional value. While having a good system is important to have guidance and rules, people don't stay in jobs long term because of systems. Leaders who employ a system based job with no emotional attachment to staff are doomed to have tremendous amount of employee turnover (see the Cleveland Browns). As a leader, staff turnover is the killer of productivity. Leaders must create a positive work culture in order for staff/employees to effectively perform the work in that culture at a high level on a long term basis.

Do you have what it takes to lead? If you do then great! If you don't then that's fine too. You just have to know yourself and what role you play in an organization.

Until next time...

Dr. D

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Curious Case of Social Media Conections

Social media is one of the most intriguing and game changing technology inventions of this era. People are more connected than ever across the globe. You can now be on the other side of the world and continue to have regular contact with friends and family whenever you want. From Facebook to Instagram to Twitter and LinkedIn, there are so many ways to connect with others.

However, what if I told you that more and more we are becoming disconnected? That's right, while we have so much access, I believe it is in many ways lessening the human to human component. Take LinkedIn for example. Its a very professional site where people are supposed to become "connections" with each other for the purpose of networking and helping each other in their professional endeavors. While many people connect with each other I find that the gigantic percentage of people just accept a connection request and then never actually connect with those people in a message, email or phone call. I find that very fascinating! In fact, when I connect via message with each person that accepts my connection request, many people want to know if I am researching something or they will ask why do I want to know so much? Its like people are conditioned to create this volume of connections without actually getting to know them. Strange.

I can tell you this, if that's your game on social media, to collect friends, connections, etc. without any real human connection then what are you really doing on social media? I asked myself this question a few years ago and it led me to really pair down my social media feeds to people I actually talk to or have had a conversation with. Also, whenever I connect with someone I always send them a thank you note and ask them questions to learn about them. Social media is networking and you can't get to know people unless you ask them questions and gain more insight into who they are as people and what makes them tick professionally and personally.

Do I have the most friends on Facebook? Not even close. Does my Instagram have hundreds of thousands of followers? Again, not even close. However, what I am building is a slow and meaningful approach to connections. Its one that allows me to have meaningful phone calls, emails and in person meets with people almost every week. The real goal of social media is to be a vehicle for helping people get closer to each other to help each other out. Ask yourself...are you doing this?

Until next time...

Dr. D

Monday, November 16, 2015

What Makes You Different Can Make You Great

High school is often a fun yet turbulent time for many teenagers. I can remember my own high school years and it was filled with a variety of different and challenging experiences. In particular, I never really felt like I fit in with the typical high school experience. I was never wild, mischievous, immature or prone to impulsive decision making. As a high school student I was very interested in excelling in my school work, being responsible and spending time having deep conversations with adults. I rarely spent time with other people my age outside of the confines of school. I just didn't have much in common with people my age. 

It certainly made me different from my peers and that was not easy. It made the social part of high school very awkward and unappealing to me. It was so uncomfortable that I used to eat lunch by myself and I never went to any high school dances. I just couldn't identify with people my age because I had more in common with people who were in their 30's and 40's. That also made dating in my very early 20's challenging as well. I remember talking to my mother about this and it really got to me. I felt out of a I didn't belong in that time of life. My mother said something that stuck with me. She said one day people will appreciate the person you are. She said don't change. Be yourself. I don't even think my mother knows this, but I really needed to hear that. It gave me confidence to say its OK to not be into the things other people my age were into. That conversation launched me into the life I lead now. I am so thankful for that. Thank you mom!

And the real lesson of this is that its really OK to be yourself even if that means no one understands you. The quirky, strange and odd things about you can also be your greatest strengths in life. It can one day lead you to do incredible things. I know for me, the support of my mother, father, brother and many other key people in my formative years helped me greatly. I met my future wife in my mid 20's, discovered my dream job in my late 20's and adopted a beautiful little girl in my early 30's. Its been a wonderful ride that I certainly hope continues. 

So, whatever makes you weird, funny, edgy, eclectic or whatever ...embrace it. Grow whatever positive things that make you different into a life filled with rich and deep experiences. Support others as well who need your encouragement to be who they are because you are GOOD ENOUGH. I love to embrace others who are different than me. In fact I have a staff full of amazing people who are so different, complex and strange. I love their uniqueness and I celebrate it because what makes you different can also make you great.

Until next time...

Dr. D

Friday, September 25, 2015

Follow Your Effort

I'm a huge sports fan. I literally grew up learning about and playing sports up until my mid 20's. While I am no longer a competitive athlete, I still love keeping up with most sports on a very serious level. My wife always says that guys who grow up on sports stats have this weird ability to remember all these stats about sports. Its absolutely true! One of the other things I love is to watch interviews of very successful people in the sports business. While this guy may be controversial to some, Mark Cuban, Owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said something that really resonated with me a few months ago. He was asked in an interview about his unconventional view on becoming successful. He says he never tells people to follow their dreams. He tells them to follow their effort.

That really stuck with me because when you think about it everyone tells this pipe dream to kids that they can do whatever they want as long as they follow their dreams. As you get older hopefully your view of the world becomes more mature and you better understand the intricacies of how people become successful. I've learned from my experience, which also happens to coincide with Mr. Cuban's view, that people become successful by dedicating their time and effort towards positive things. I've also learned that even though you may be talented in something, that doesn't mean that you should do it. If you don't follow the necessary effort to be great in something you are good at then you are not fulfilling that talent.

A good example of this is the story of Todd Marinovich. Todd was an exceptional football player who was driven by his father to play football from a very young age. Todd would practice like crazy with his Dad and he ended up getting a scholarship to play at the University of Southern California. He was one of the most polarizing players in the country. He eventually went on to play for Raiders in the NFL, but it never worked out for him. What you learn in his story on the show 30 for 30 is that while he was talented in football, his true follow through in terms of effort was in art. His father pushed back against that passion and kept pushing Todd towards football. What is beautiful today is that now Todd spends his time making art and he does that with his Dad, who weirdly had that passion as well. They are now following their effort which is also their passion. How awesome is that? Just because you are good at something doesn't mean you should do it. Especially, if you are not willing to follow your effort in that talent.

So, I'm going to tell you...don't follow your dreams if you aren't willing to give your very best effort to be your best in those pursuits. Don't listen to entertainers get up on some stage and blow smoke up your you know what about following your dreams and that you can do whatever you want to do. Those aren't the people you should be emulating anyways. Their path is not your path. Their effort is not your effort. Follow your own effort towards positive things. I promise, if you follow your effort towards something positive with a tremendous dedication and fervor then the result will be positive. It probably won't happen over night. It may take many years and there might be many times that you have doubts or you get tired. However, know that with each step you take in following your effort that you are depositing goodness into your life and hopefully the life of others.

Until next time...

Dr. D