Monday Mornings with Madison

Monthly Archives:
December 2017

Look for Problems in 2018 – Pt 1

From the earliest age, we are taught to avoid trouble. Our parents teach us to sidestep difficulties and dodge danger. As we grow up, we learn in school to circumvent trials and elude strife. The savviest entrepreneurs are experts at evading challenges and finding the easiest and fastest ways to get things done. Let’s face it, we all try to avoid problems like the plague. And when faced with a problem, most people will wring their hands and lament in frustration. Problems are just hindrances that obstruct our path and keep us from getting where we’re going. Or are they?
Here’s the thing about problems. Because problems irritate, they eventually push us toward efforts to solve the problem. Thanks to our creative, sentient brains, humans are prone to search for solutions. The goal of solving an existing problem is the same for all types of challenges even if the solutions come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and levels of complexity. When faced with a problem, people have used problem-solving strategies to create something new or innovate an existing idea in order to tackle these challenges. In this way, problems have led to inventions that have changed the world. Thus, problems are the pesky matches that spark creativity and spur innovation. In which case, shouldn’t every company be looking for problems within the business? And shouldn’t every aspiring entrepreneur be searching for problems that are just begging for a solution? That’s right, to change the world, we all need to be looking for problems. Continue reading

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Giving and Forgiving at Work

The concept of giving gets a lot of attention this time of year. Lip service is paid to generosity, whether it be giving of one’s time or money. People are encouraged to volunteer at organizations that help the less fortunate. Businesses are asked to give to charities that help the sick and needy. And charitable giving increases this time of year. We even applaud giving thanks… cheering an attitude of gratitude for what we have and what others do for us. Those are all laudable acts of generosity of spirit. Giving, in all its forms, is worthy of praise. But what about forgiving? Is that also a form of giving?
David K. Williams, a contributor to Forbes’ Entrepreneur called forgiveness “the least understood leadership trait in the workplace.” It is also, arguably, one of the least utilized traits by both leaders and staff. That makes forgiveness the rarest – and because it is rare, also the most generous — thing a person can bestow. While many are happy to give money or even time, those same generous-hearted people are often slow to forgive. Why do so many struggle with giving forgiveness and why is forgiveness so important in the workplace? More the point, exactly who benefits from forgiveness? Continue reading

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Humility: The Trait that Costs Nothing but Delivers a Huge ROI

In today’s PR-driven, social-media crazed, self-promoting world, humility is a quality that has perhaps lost its appeal. While everyone is busy yelling “Look at me! Listen to me!” with their selfies, posts, videos and TED talks, the humble are not boastful. They adopt a modest posture that refuses to draw attention for themselves. Humility is self-effacing, and unpretentious. The humble person will not think or act as if he is better than anyone else, and won’t try to impress others by appearing or seeming to have greater importance, talent or culture than he actually has. The humble person may even come across as shy, even if he is actually outgoing and confident. According to Meriam-Webster dictionary, humility is “a freedom from pride or arrogance.”
In the workplace, humble people often go unnoticed because of the very fact that they are not boastful. They don’t draw attention to themselves for their own benefit. When they share or contribute, it is because they have something to offer that adds value or helps others. Those who don’t brag are often seen as having minor value and contributing little to the team. Their modesty is attributed to their work rather than their personality. And yet humility is quite possibly the most valuable quality to have in employees and employers alike. Here’s why. Continue reading

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Fail Big in 2018

As this fiscal year rolls to a close, business people will invariably begin tallying their professional wins and losses of 2017. Corporate execs at every level will crunch numbers and calculate bottom lines. Managers will look at what they did well and what they did poorly. In taking stock, they will invariably start preparing for the year ahead. Goals will be set. Business, marketing and sales plans will be drafted. Resolutions will be made. That’s all fine.
But what if, instead of making big plans of how to improve and succeed in 2018, the plan was to fail… and not just fail, but fail big?! What if the goal for the next 12 months was to shoot for an epic failure? What would that plan look like? Would it start by setting unrealistic expectations and fantasizing impossible dreams? Would it include crafting major plans to expand, overhauling existing systems that work, aggressively hiring and training staff, and establishing sales quotas that would make even that most optimistic, can-do leaders balk? Would it involve enthusiastically renovating office or factory space and investing heavily in the latest “unproven” technologies like AI? Would it culminate with a miscalculation so big that it would rival those of Enron, Swiss Air or Borders? Who (in their right mind) would deliberately plan to fail… and fail big? Sounds insane? Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s crazy like a fox. Continue reading

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