Monday, September 1, 2014

Creating a Culture of Love and Responsibility

Culture is the big trend word these days in business. Successful businesses are beginning to understand that the best cultures are not driven by fear, but by love and responsibility. Great culture is fostered by boundaries that are inherently based on loving your employees in a way that promotes upward mobility and improved work/life balance. Companies like Google, Zappos, etc. are working everyday to drive home this effort of a happy culture. As a former collegiate athlete and current fitness professional, I often turn to the world of sports to understand the shifts in current business. Sports is certainly a microcosm for what happens in society. To understand this all you have to do is check out the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Seattle Seahawks. They are becoming the new standard in how you recruit, train and care about football players. In a sport that is very violent they have managed to make compassion and care cornerstones of their success.

I have worked diligently over the past six years at Club Ridges to incorporate a mantra of love and responsibility with our staff members. I have seen first hand that when you genuinely love your staff they will run through a wall for you. However, you have to also make sure that you set boundaries for that love and that you are upfront with your staff when they need to improve their performance. You see love is not a free for all. Awesome love is both warm and kind, but also tough when needed. My staff knows how much I care about them, but they also know that I am not afraid to enforce the rules and provide discipline if need be. Fortunately, I have found that when you provide that balance you almost never have any issues. It truly is an amazing way to run an organization. 

With that being said, here are some simple tips to create a loving and responsible work environment:

1. Revamp the Expectations 

Part of the problem with poor organizations is that they lack structure and positive/responsible expectations. You can't expect people to know how to be effective if you have not laid the ground rules for that. You have to define what love and responsibility mean in your organization and how you want your staff to embody that on a daily basis. And the most important part of this is that you have to lead in this example everyday. 

2. Dump the Waste

After you have set the new expectations you have to do the hardest part...get rid of toxic people who don't want to or can't meet those expectations. It sounds counter intuitive, but its necessary. YOU CAN'T HAVE LONG TERM SUCCESS WITH TOXIC PEOPLE IN YOUR ORGANIZATION. PERIOD. This means you will certainly be seen as the bad guy initially by those negative people. Oh well. Creating a loving culture means being responsible and responsible people don't allow consistently negative folks to infiltrate a positive culture. 

3. Have Fun!!

One of the most important things you can do to create a loving and responsible culture is to have fun!! Spend time talking and laughing with your staff and schedule happy hours and parties to celebrate team success. I believe getting to know your staff outside of the work environment is crucial to building chemistry and commitment at work. Just make sure you lay down the ground rules before you do this stuff and you will build a fun and responsible environment. Happy employees make money! I've seen it firsthand. It works!

4. Reinforce Excellence

Always reinforce the rules of your environment. In my case, we always reinforce the cleanliness of the gym and the friendly attitude we expect when talking with the consumer and fellow staff members. Additionally, we reinforce the quality of the services we provide so that the consumer has a high satisfaction rate for those services. Even if your staff is doing a great job already it doesn't matter. Keep reinforcing those standards of excellence because it is human nature to ease off the gas pedal. It happens even to awesome people. 

Overall, a culture of love and responsibility is not that hard to create as long as you are willing to lead in love and responsibility. Gone are the days of yelling at people, creating fear as an employer and not relating to your staff. That doesn't create long term success in business. And the awesome gift that you are giving your staff is the crossover effect of this type of approach. You can take these principle and apply them to your personal life. I was told this a long time ago and I truly believe this...a good job does not take you away from your family, it brings them closer. Love the people in your life, but be responsible in that venture as well. 

Until the next time...

Dr. D

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Know Your Role

When I lived in Germany during my middle school years I loved playing baseball. My brother and I were on many teams throughout the years, but our baseball teams in Germany were special. The camaraderie and friendship we experienced on those teams made living in another country much easier for my brother and I. And it also helped that we were on very good teams. In fact one of our teams ended up playing in the Corps Championships, which was for military kids from all over Germany. It was an honor to play in those championships. We were a bunch of middle school kids who just loved to play baseball, but the prevailing theme on our team that made us successful was that everyone on the team, even at that young age, knew their role on the team. The coaches on our team made sure to place each kid in the best position to be successful and have fun. That's what made our team special. Its hard to have kids sometimes understand that concept, but we got it and we leaned on the fact that each of us had different skill sets and strengths that added to our team's success. No kid tried to go outside of that and it was remarkable to see it. 

As an adult, I recognize that the concept of knowing your role is critical to the success of anything in life. This is especially important as a business professional. As the General Manager of a high end private residential fitness facility here in Las Vegas, our team's success has been based on the concept of knowing your role and loving people in their role. Everyone who works at Club Ridges understands their strengths as an employee at our club. We have placed people in roles where they can be successful and that in turn has created tremendous value and support from the consumers of the facility. 

Many businesses fail not because of monetary issues, but because of personnel issues. I often find that failing businesses employ people who are negative and who don't have a good understanding of themselves and why they are in that line of work. But probably the biggest problem is having a leader of a business who has poor hiring practices and they themselves are not fit to be a leader of people. Think about it...if you are the leader of a business and you don't know your own role then how can you lead others? I often find that leaders of great businesses have this amazingly measured presence and decision making ability. They are sure of their direction, their intensity and they take the time to get to know their staff on a professional and personal level. 

And you know what? Its OK to not be the leader. Not everyone's cut out to be the CEO, GM, President or any other top position of a company. Maybe you are better at being an employee than being an entrepreneur. Maybe you are better at being a wing man in your job.  There's nothing wrong with that. But on the other side maybe you do have the stuff to be the leader of the company. Regardless, you just need to know what role you play and then you need to play that role to the best of your effort level and ability. Once you do that I promise you will experience a wonderful level of sustained success in your life. 

Until next time...

Dr. D

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

New Life

One of the more beautiful things you will ever witness in life is watching someone be baptized. It is such an emotionally uplifting experience. To this day I can't watch a baptism without crying. It is a powerful moment that means so much. During the message this past weekend from our pastor at Central Christian, Judd Wilhite, he discussed the meaning of baptism and how it symbolizes walking in a new life with Christ. While his call today was for anyone who has not been baptized to come down and be a part of today's "Splash Bash," he also urged those who had been baptized to remember your baptism. The tears were flowing as I thought about that day and the events that led me to that point. You see in life the struggle often leads to the victory and my baptism was very much symbolic of a struggling time in my life that led me to become the person I am today. 

Back in 2002 I wasn't the person most of you know today. I was in a weird place in my life. I was one year removed from a rigorous four years of academic studies and collegiate athletics. My previous four years of life was filled with studying, practice for track and field and competing in track meets. I guess you could say that I had a less than normal college experience as very, very few people who go to college are scholarship athletes and live their lives much like it is a 9-5 job. Once I graduated with my college degree I began to have more time on my hands, which led me to exploring so many different aspects of life as a young adult. While I had some fun, I also felt that I was moving further and further away from the person that my parents wanted me to be, but more than that, the person I knew I should be. I slipped further and further into feelings of despair and hopelessness because I just knew I was making decisions that were not in line with my upbringing and internal make up. 

One day I was sitting on the ground in my room and I began to pray, which is something I had not done in a very long time. I grew up going to church and my parents baptized me as a little kid. That baptism as a child was my parent's intention to put me on the right course towards loving God and living a positive and spiritually fulfilling life. Well, back in 2002 I was failing the intention my parents had for me in a big way. And that just crushed me. Luckily, the Lord placed some angels in my life who steered me in a very kind and loving way back to the person I knew I needed to be. 

I walked into Aletheia Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia and my buddy Aaron gave me a huge hug the first time he saw me come in. My life vaulted forward in that moment.

My good buddy Nick gave me a bible and wrote some of the most beautiful words I have ever read in the front sleeve. I felt fellowship.

I went to the George Washington National Forest and sat in a boat on the river while reading the bible. I felt peace. 

I watched Pastor Dave from Aletheia pour his heart out about the power of Baptism one day in church as the tears streamed down his eyes. I felt commitment. 

After church that day I came up to Aaron and I told him I wanted to get baptized and he again gave me a huge hug. That evening I fulfilled my parents intention of following a spiritually fulfilling life. As Pastor D slowly lowered me into the water and pulled me back up I let go of the old me and began the long trek towards the person you guys see today. I felt love.

That was March 2nd, 2003. It was the biggest turning point of my adult life. 

You see my struggles in 2012 brought about an explosion of wonderful change in my life. It was through that beautiful struggle that I came back to the center of my compass. And because of that I have experienced such far reaching joy and progress in my life. Have I had any rough times during the past 11 years? Of course! That's just part of being human, but I was able to handle the tough times with much more grace because I was a different person. I had a direction and I had a major intensity to that direction that I continue to ignite to this day. 

Friends...while this blog is about how the power of faith can change your life, it is also just a blog about becoming a better person. While baptism and getting re-committed to my faith is my story, your story might be different. Regardless of how different our stories may be, the common thread is that it is important to trade in the old things that breed negativity and loss in your life for the positive things and people who bolster and increase the value of your life.

That's a life that is filled with fellowship wither other like minded positive people.
That's a life that is filled with peace in your decisions and your surroundings.
That's a life that is filled with commitment to opportunities to serve others and yourself.
That's a life that is filled with love so big that it radiates off of your very being.

And that is a wonderful life.

Until next time...

Dr. D

Friday, May 23, 2014

Thankful for Enough

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend three days in Hawaii during this week with my daughter and my wife. The objective of this journey....more peace of mind and adventure. These past two months have been a time of life reflection for me. It has been journey within to discover more about the life I have lived and the life I will live in the near future. As I played with my daughter on the beach outside of our hotel in Waikiki, I was struck not only by the beauty of landscape we were witnessing, but also the vitality our existence and the eventual end of it as well. When we were done playing we all stood on the beach and watched the sun set. The setting and rising of the sun in many ways mimics the rise and fall of the events of our lives. The pain, the joy, the loss of innocence, the constant search for connection and the larger view of the meaning of our lives. As the sun sank behind the mountains, the crowd of people who were watching the sunset immediately dispersed and everyone went back to their previous activities. Rise and one minute and gone the next.

It was in those moments on the beach with my family that I became increasingly aware that what I have in my life is enough for me. Its funny...many people asked me why we didn't spend more than three days in Hawaii and my response was the same. I just wanted to get a taste, an experience of a new journey...a break from my routine. Those three days were enough for me. The fact that I was able to do three days was a blessing in itself. In our lives we are constantly defined by how much more we can consume of something. It ranges from how much more money we desire, how many more material items we can possess to how many more "likes" someone can get to improve their attention based status. Our consumption of more leaves little time to be thankful for the enough that we receive each day. I look at my life and on a daily basis I receive love from those closest to me. On a daily basis I can make or purchase food to give my body the nourishment that it needs. On a daily basis I go to work and am fulfilled in a positive and caring work environment that makes a difference not only in my life, but in the lives of others. On a daily basis I am able to walk, run, jump and exercise my body. Every day I have enough and for that I am beyond thankful. I don't wish for what I had. I just am glad that I had it.

And if you are reading this I hope that you know that you are given enough everyday to continue to live and carry on everyday. You may not have what you want, but certainly you are given each day the tools for what you need to move on each day. I truly believe that if you have an attitude of grace and thankfulness for what has been enough for you then you are one step closer to getting the things you want in your life.  Everyday is an opportunity to grow and think positively about what you have and you can receive more if you make good decisions and give the right effort for what you desire. In the end though, you will always have enough. Be thankful for that.

One of the highlights of my Hawaii trip was my wife and I renewing our wedding vows after 10 years of
marriage. It was honestly a highlight of my life to do that on the beach in Hawaii with our 2 year old daughter looking on. At one point I thought to myself that this scene is so surreal. I also thought to myself that I have been given the world in this 10 years of marriage with my wife. What more could I even think of asking for? Nothing. I am happy with what I have.

Until next time....

Dr. D

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Goodness Rule

One of my favorite things to do is interview people for jobs. I have participated in a great deal of interviews over the past six plus years. When I first started interviewing people I was pretty robotic and dry. I felt I needed to be super professional and generally what someone in my position is supposed to be like. I would ask dry, cookie cutter based questions that really accomplished nothing. I asked about credentials and job experience and while those things matter, I quickly learned that those things DO NOT always translate into good employees. I never took the time to learn about the person as whole and for a while that stung me when it came to making good hiring decisions. After a little while of doing that I decided to take a fresh approach. An approach that was all about the person I am and not the person everyone thinks I should be as an employer. I began to go into interviews with potential candidates and truly invest into their goodness as human beings. For me, being a good person is WAY MORE important than being proficient in any academic measure or how many years of experience someone has in a job. 

Yes, I know what some of you might be saying. don't care that much about job experience and the number of letters, bells and whistles behind someone's name? Don't you have a Ph.D? Yes, I do, but that crap does not matter if you are a terrible person. While I do care about credentials and experience, it is not hugely high on my list of deal closers for hiring someone.  I believe that goodness is a better indicator of success than just looking at someone's resume and saying they have the right qualifications. Point blank...if you suck at being a human being then you can't work for me. If you can't be good to other people and genuinely love what you do then you can't work for me. If you don't want to be part of team and you are just using this job as an experience builder then you can't work for me. I want your goodness and kindness more than your educational and experience based qualifications. 

Almost every single person at the club I run, Club Ridges, has a resume that would not blow you away. If you looked at my staff's resumes you might much experience there....not much education there. What the resumes don't show is that my staff has a lot of heart and soul. That's the stuff goodness is made of. That's the stuff that keeps clients coming back for more services because they love to love goodness in people. 

And this applies to almost any facet of your life. Think about it. Are you living by the goodness rule? Are you surrounding yourself with people who exhibit and demonstrate humanity on a high level consistently? If you are then good for you! I am happy that you recognize the value and importance of positive people in your life. If you are not surrounding yourself with goodness in your life then I can promise you...100%...that your life will not amount to much. Inconsiderate, selfish, angry and negative people ALWAYS delay a good person's progress. Don't get stuck around negativity in your life. Breathe goodness into your life and do your best to help others gain goodness as well, but you can only do so much if another person is not willing to change and be positive. Help with boundaries my friends. 

You hope is that goodness seeps into every aspect of your life. My hope is that you allow goodness to wash over you. My hope is that if you believe in hiring for goodness, being friends with goodness and doing business with goodness that you will experience a tremendous amount of love and reward in your life. Its out there for you. Be brave and go get that goodness in your life. Its waiting for you...

Until next time...

Dr. D