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Going For It

We moved to Waco because of one person’s recommendation: Mary, who we knew from the International Franchise Association. She was an employee of the Dwyer Group and convinced us to move from Florida to Waco. Really?

Over the past eight years we’ve become great friends with her and her husband. They have achieved the American Dream, and are military brats, like MK. They both had careers in the Marines and after eight years they returned stateside and entered the “working world.”

Being entrepreneurial, she became a franchisee of a brand, then the president of that brand before the Dwyer Group successfully recruited her. Her husband had success in the financial services world before going back to college and earning his law degree. Now he’s an Assistant D.A. and has the best stories about stupid criminals.

We were with them last weekend when she woke up early, and decided to write something to their grandchild – who is now a couple weeks old. (MK and I slept peacefully so we wouldn’t interrupt her!)

Here are some excerpts of what she wrote to her grandson before the sunrise:

  • You’re here to serve this world, not the other way around because the world owes you nothing. You’ll find your happiest moments will be in the service of others.
  • Be a diamond. Diamonds are strong, brilliant and reflect the light. The best way to be a diamond is to surround yourself with other diamonds, because it takes a diamond to cut another one. You will need that polishing to be your most brilliant self.
  • Work hard. Hard work beats talent every single time when talent doesn’t work hard. You’ve got this.
  • Practice happiness every day, it’s a discipline like everything else. Smile every chance you get because doing so will make you and those around you feel better. We were made to be happy. The most intelligent people in this world boldly practice happiness.
  • Learn something new every chance you get. Learn from people, books and experiences. Learn and grow!

I read all 10 lessons she wrote to my best friend in Florida, who is also a grandfather several times over. His comment, “This should be a poster in every nursery on the planet.”

Can you imagine if your child reads these lessons every day?

This week’s Leadership is all about “going after it” – whatever it is. I look back too often and say, “What was I thinking?” That’s ok! I learned from my mistakes and hopefully didn’t repeat many of them.

  • Work hard because hard work beats talent every time when talent doesn’t work hard.

Isn’t this lesson magic? I would think this describes many who are in leadership positions. Your employees have no idea what it took to get to where you are. Money. Years. Mistakes. It was never easy, but you had your eye on the goal! You focused on what you wanted and “went for it.”

Never forget this! I hope we are smart enough to teach this to all nine of our grandkids! I’m blessed I’m married to someone who did the same. She wasn’t my first choice – but she is my last choice. (Ok, I stole that line from her, too).

Practice happiness, learn something every day, be a diamond. Wow, this baby is blessed – but so are we by being reminded of this. Thanks for another lesson Mary.

Leadership: Controlled Passion/Controlled Emotions

Over the years I thought the phrases “controlled passion” and “controlled emotions” represented an oxymoron.

I believed neither had anything to do with leadership – that ”passion” and ”emotions” were two pillars of leadership. With age and maturity, however, I found those who are the most successful to be very passionate and highly emotional – but have control of both.

Let me give you an example. As a young man, I played a lot of sports and had to win often at the costs of relationships. I’m sure you know people like that; remember the word ”fan” is short for ”fanatic,“ and ”fanatic” often has negative connotations, doesn’t it?

We all know people who are terrible to be with after their football team loses. You don’t want anything to do with them the entire evening after the game.

Look at the reality of the situation, though. After the game, you see members of both teams putting their arms around each other, talking to their opponent and even joking with them. Both teams realize it’s a football game (with heavy emphasis on the word game). Sure, they’re upset they lost, but they’re controlled. Their life goes on with an emphasis on preparing for next week’s game.

Have you ever worked with anyone who couldn’t control their emotions? Someone who reacted wildly because something beyond their control occurred? Perhaps it was something you did or a decision that was made that had nothing to do with you. Suddenly they are out of control until they go home and think about it. The next day, they come back and apologize for their outburst by explaining “I’m so emotional/passionate and I know at times I react like I shouldn’t.”

Maybe you have heard some justify their actions by saying, “I’m just a hot-blooded fill-in-the-nationality.” What they should be saying is, “I have made the choice not to control my emotions regardless of what the consequences were when I became upset.”

Do they show leadership? Are they someone you want to work with? Are they someone you want to lead your team?

Years ago when Mary Kay and I started to date, she told me that her favorite word was “choices.” She explained to me that we make choices every day and are in control of our lives. If we let our lives control us, it’s because we’re choosing not to do what’s necessary to control it ourselves.

Last week I went to the summer board meeting of the International Franchise Association (IFA). I interacted with countless franchise organization leaders from companies you would be familiar with. Without exception, I noticed those who are the most successful have controlled passion.

I watched the association leaders. People who often testify in Congress for small business – for our business. Leaders who are at the White House helping to promote small business and franchising. Leaders who are grilled by our legislators who, in my opinion, don’t understand small business and what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Again without exception, these leaders have controlled emotions regardless how frustrated they get with politicians.

Choices. Having controlled emotions or controlled passion is a choice leaders choose! It’s what makes them great leaders!