I first heard this quote on “The Go-Giver Podcast” and am taken with it.
How you do anything is how you do everything.
It’s a simple idea, but profound. If I do basic tasks, like sweeping the floor, half way, I will be more prone to do everything that way. The same is true if I do my best work. I want to do all things to the very best of my ability, making sure that flows from menial tasks all the way to the important ones.
I don’t like to say no. In fact, one of our new team members at Sideways8 has taken to calling me the “yes” man and my business partner as the “no” man. I love to say yes because I’m a people pleaser by nature and I want people to like me. But, saying yes is destructive.
If I say yes to everything, all of my time fills up, I end up working on the wrong things, and what is most important takes a back seat. If I say yes to every meeting, every call, I will miss the important meetings, or worse, the family meetings. If I say yes to everything my team asks of me, I will lose focus on what I can do that actually grows the company and get lost in the details of their work.
I realize that good leadership, the leadership that defines you, starts with what you say no to. There are a million good things I can be doing, but I need to say no to all of them so that I can say yes to the best things, the things that matter, the things that bring growth.
How certain do you need to be to take a risk? Do you need absolute certainty, say 95% chance that it will succeed? Do you need minimal certainty, say 25% chance that it will succeed? Or, do you need something in the middle?
This is a question that has fascinated me for years and helped me make some big decisions. I think the idea was originally something Andy Stanley said or some other teacher, I can’t recall. But, this premise that absolute certainty is impossible, so we must make decisions based on the risk we are willing to tolerate is interesting.
I find that I need about 50% to 70% certainty depending on what decision I’m making. For big decisions like, “should I take this job?” 70% lets me take the leap. For smaller decisions like, “should we hire someone now?” 50% lets me move forward.
I’m not very risk averse. Sometimes 30% will even do if the failure won’t be too large. Knowing this about myself has let me step out into the unknown many times. It has also allowed me to fail and to bounce back with optimism that the next time will work out better.
How sure do you need to be of something before you step off the cliff? Knowing the answer to that question is surprisingly freeing and helpful when making big decisions. There is no sure thing, it’s just a question of how much risk you are willing to tolerate. I suggest you decide ahead of time.
Almost four years ago my wife and I were in China to adopt and bring our son home. There are a lot of fun, funny and sad memories from that trip. It was amazing and life changing in so many ways. One of the funnier moments was when I was trying to order my eggs. We were staying at a nice hotel that had an amazing breakfast. A part of that breakfast featured the ability to go up to a cook and ask for eggs cooked the way you wanted them. So, I went up and asked for fried eggs, no runny yoke. The only thing is, the idea of breaking the egg yoke seemed foreign to this chef. So there he was, cooking the eggs sunny side up like always, not understanding that I didn’t want a runny yoke.
Realizing that his English and my English weren’t exactly meshing, I gave up on verbal communication and settled for hand motions. How do you make the hand motion for “break the yoke?” Maybe a stabbing motion or a flattening motion? But then he might think I wanted pancakes rather than eggs… At any rate, eventually, I made him understand that I didn’t want runny eggs, and with a look that was part bewilderment and part disdain he broke the yoke and cooked the egg for me. It was an amusing incident that makes me smile today. He had his assumptions on how eggs must be cooked and now my assumptions had gone against his.
It makes me wonder where I’m doing that in my life. What am I doing daily that I can’t conceive of being done another way, possibly a better way, or just a different way? I want to make sure my eyes are open to new possibilities, even with something as simple as how to cook an egg.
Lately, I have been thinking about my greatest fear and how it motivates and shapes my life. My greatest fear is a lack of significance. I’m terrified by the idea of one day leaving this world having not made a significant impact on others, improving their lives and shaping their future. If I’m honest, a part of this fear is selfish, I want to be remembered when I’m gone, but another part of this fear is a desire to leave things better than I found them.
I feel like my life has always been and will always be about finding ways to serve and love people in some capacity. When I was in high school this took the form of starting a nonprofit and serving the homeless in Little Five Points. Then as a young man it took the form of church ministry and church planting. Now it takes the form of running a company and seeking to improve the lives of my team and clients, and starting a nonprofit to serve nonprofits.
I think this fear is also one of the reasons that I love having a large family. There is no better impact I can make on this world than to raise and shape my children, teaching them to care about and love others well. I fully recognize that the greatest thing I will do in my lifetime will be what I impart to my children and how it shapes them as they step out into the world to make an impact of their own.
As I think about this, what I realize is that I want to make an impact in two ways, deep and wide. I want to impact my immediate family and closest friends at a very deep level, helping them to be the people they dream of being. I want to help them grow and thrive and enjoy the gift that is life. I also want a wide impact, being a thought leader for a larger group of people. Part of this desire is selfish, who doesn’t want people to read their blog or listen to their podcast? But, the bigger part of the desire for wide impact is to help shape and sharpen the thinking of people that want to grow and lead. My hope is to guide a wider audience into greater roles of leadership that will make our world a better place.
One day, when I finish this thing called life, I hope to have served people well. I hope that I’m missed and remembered. When I look back, I know I won’t regret that this fear has motivated me in the way that it has. It has made me a better man, business leader, father and husband. I’m thankful for that.
When we were planning the first 48in48, I was convinced that our volunteers needed to have a great experience. After all, the volunteers are giving up an entire weekend to benefit nonprofits, so their experience should be top notch and a little fun. So I came up with the idea of giving them “moments of delight” during the event. That first event we created “moments of delight” by having a give away every three hours, serving surprise deserts (and BBQ) during late hours, and bringing in a famous former Atlanta Falcon to give a pep talk. The volunteer team loved it. Since then, each 48in48 has it’s own “moments of delight, ” and we remain committed to being sure the volunteers love their time with us.
Since starting 48in48, have been thinking more and more about creating moments of delight. How can I create moments of delight for my employees? How can I create moments of design for my kids and my wife?
A moment of delight can be simple, an unexpected moment of fun or a small gift. For my kids, it’s as simple as a tickle fight or bodyslam onto the sofa. For my wife, it might be buying her a new pack of gum, chapstick, or home decor item. For my employees, it might be an afternoon at Top Golf, or a goofy meme shared on slack. I think creating moments of delight can be simple and fun. I think everyone should smile at unexpected moments, and I hope to help provide some smiling opportunities to the people around me.