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Building Community Through Better Relationships

Trapped in a World of Mediocrity

Reminiscing with my young adult children about “classic” Disney movies from the ‘90’s, the debate raged regarding which one was best. The debate jumped to sequels, and eventually Aladdin and the King of Thieves. Predictably, movie quotes followed which led us to: “Follow the trail of the Forty Thieves. Your father is trapped within their world.” The oracle’s warning exploded with truth! The irony is that Aladdin thought his dad was a prisoner and he turned out to be the King of Thieves. Today’s reality is that decent people, unintentionally through one decision at a time, become trapped in a world of mediocrity!

Today’s world of mediocrity is populated with competent, yet oblivious sailors who willingly follow the Siren’s song and crash into the rocky shores of life. The journey ultimately leads to their destruction. The seductive song has comforting and well-meaning verses like:
• I can’t leave this environment, my family is here.
• I can’t go back to school, my friends will laugh at me.
• I can’t take that job, I’m not worth that much money.
• I can’t take that class, it’s too early and I am not a morning person.
• I can’t accept that promotion, I have not paid my dues.

Ironically, despite poor personal decisions Aladdin’s dad, as the King of Thieves, emerged as a leader. His strength, charisma and attributes were undeniable. They were just temporarily misled. Talent always has the potential to rise. But, how those attributes are applied depends on morals, ethics and circumstances. For Aladdin’s dad’s, his immediate objectives involved acquiring power and wealth according to his own selfish code.

Fortunately, Aladdin demonstrated to his dad that he did not have to accept his present position in life. Aladdin showed that character, purpose and a willingness to improve upon weaknesses could result in achieving his most heartfelt desires. Aladdin proved that he could win the princess! The key was refusing to let his immediate environment define his destiny. The moral of the story is to escape mediocrity by being bold enough to define your path, then pursue it with faith and determination.

Being trapped in a world of mediocrity results from making conscious decisions. Likewise, travelers on the road to excellence make conscious decisions. Embrace your inner leader and empower others to go with you. But under no circumstances, follow, nor even listen to naysayers who are committed to the status quo! Mediocrity has a king who is actively looking to trap more subjects to rule. Purposely pursue the trail to excellence and lead others to follow. If you are leading successfully, others will be grateful that they followed. More importantly, you will find excellence to be a bountiful place full of challenges and rewards!

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter & Beyond

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September 25, 2014 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person | , , , , | Leave a comment

At the End of the Day, Is Night

A mentor earlier in my career was very fond of making fun of business sayings by slightly changing them to make them more absurd. Because she was bright, successful and funny, I started doing it too. One of her favorites was “At the end of the day… is night”. Some clichés are used by people who like to hear themselves talk. For professionals who focus on productivity, they do not have time to waste on someone like that. Don’t misinterpret her witticism for silliness. Her revised saying was a clear indicator that we were not going to waste time repeating obvious conclusions. Consequently, she emphasized “Add value now, or be the butt of the next joke!” Effective business communication was where adding value started.

• Don’t Hide Behind Clichés
Too often, professionals hide behind clichés because they are incapable of original thought. By definition, effective leaders refuse to live in a world of clichés because clear communication is a characteristic of an effective leader. A popular cliché’, “It is what it is”, is simply a declaration of futility. For a business team, this phrase translates to “I’m too lazy to do any better”. An equally ridiculous, yet popular cliché is “Let’s not reinvent the wheel”. The sheer lunacy screams risk aversion and ineptitude. Taken literally it says, “we should all travel rolling on sawed logs.” The simple response is “No, let’s innovate!”

• Beware of the Deep
At another point in my career, I worked in an organization with a manager who was in awe of his own alleged brilliance. Additionally, the mental midgets that he hired as supervisors were carefully selected to pose no threat to his reign of ignorance. As a lowly associate, I deliberately let my silence be misunderstood for reverence. On one particular rant, he was inspiring us to overtake our completion by exhorting “There is only one number one!” After silently feeling relieved to learn he could actually count, I watched his direct reports begin their chorus of worship at his superior intellect. Clearly this dysfunctional organization’s failure started with leadership. The leader’s influence was based entirely on his position indicating that the organization was broken. When a leader needs subordinates to be dumb, in order to appear smart, beware. Furthermore when the leader starts piling it deep, the smart contributor starts heading for higher ground.

• You Know What I’m Saying?
No, I don’t. Either say it clearly or don’t say it at all! If a leader is genuinely checking for understanding, then by all means respond respectfully. If a colleague, manager, or ineffective executive is seeking confirmation for their ineptness, or worse yet, trying to sound much younger than they really are, then tactfully have them re-explain their meaning. But who among us have heard this phrase to honestly check for understanding from the listener? Typically, the speaker is not deep, nor are they cool. Too often, they lack an adequate vocabulary. Sincerely challenge them to be clearer, so that everyone will know what was said.

Metaphors are a great way to communicate ideas with vivid and recognizable images. Mindless clichés should be left out of intelligent conversation. Speakers who use wasted words or clever sayings for their own benefit and not for the listener abuse whatever authority they have. To be effective, wisely use words and time with predetermined purpose. At the end of the day, it is in fact, night. So communicate better and get to work, or prepare to wander in the dark!

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter and Beyond

 

September 10, 2014 Posted by | Better Business, Better Communication | , , , , , , | Leave a comment