Are You an Effective Cat Herder/Leader?

No truer leadership video has ever been made!

Alignment is a key determiner of effective leaders and organizations. Basically, the best leaders tend to be the best cat herders. They are skilled at adapting to a fluid, ever-changing situation and are able to guide their teams and organizations to their goals.

At the International Society of Performance Improvement’s (ISPI) annual conference, it was reported that research suggests that any organization that has more than five members is by definition dysfunctional. That explains a lot doesn’t it?  It’s hard to keep your team all on “the same page” when the “characters” are constantly trying to run off the margins.

When leaders assume that dysfunction is the natural and expected state of their organization, they are free to focus their time, energy and resources on minimizing the impact of chaos and dysfunction by constantly checking for and adjusting the general group’s perception of alignment.

Often leaders and managers become frustrated when Pandora’s box of issues continues to break free of the band-aids and duct tape that the leaders constantly apply. Instead of becoming frustrated and feeling like a failure, the effective leader, simply expects the fixes to be temporary, monitors constantly for signs of slippage and change, responds to the latest information, plans for future solutions and marvels that a temporary solution holds for as long as it does.

Not many leaders have discovered that the goal is alignment and become discouraged when they realize their vision and mission is not understood, and practically and uniformly applied by their field staff.  They expect perfect alignment after their webinar or e-mail that explains their vision and are surprised and alarmed when they confront dysfunction and conflicting perspectives.

One of the keynote speakers at the ISPI conference said that the best managers are best at managing messes.  I would add that the most effective leaders and managers are those that expect to have daily messes, focus on mitigating the most meaningful messes that are causing the organization to lose alignment and don’t allow the ankle-biter messes to distract them. They have an appropriate tolerance for minor messes and accept them as a natural part of the organizational chaos that they are trying to herd towards their goal.

Saddle up leaders! Your herd of felines awaits. It’s time to fire up and find your meaningful messes!

Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

This image depicts a North American AT-6 Texan

Image via Wikipedia

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?  Like most kids, you were probably asked that by aunts and uncles and parents and guidance counselors until you finally came up with a fast answer.  What was it?

What happened? Did you live up to the dream adult you that the little you created? 

Flyboy Dreams

As a boy, I always wanted to be a pilot. The pilot thing was kind of funny, since I’ve always been really afraid of heights.  But that was it for me.  I built model airplanes and looked skyward as the aluminum birds flew over my house and dreamed of someday being the ace of the base.  I wish I had half of the money I spent as a youngster flying an arcade game called F15 Strike Eagle. 

When I was 10 years-old,  my parents bought me a flight in a small sea plane for a quick sight-seeing tour of northern Michigan.  Years later, my high school physics teacher, who was a pilot, flew me in a four-seat Piper to the same area in Michigan to meet up with my parents for a vacation.  I was hooked.

My flying dreams were stored away for more “practical” college courses and jobs. Many years later, my wife bought me a discovery flight at a local airport for my 28th  birthday.  We flew from Evansville, Indiana’s airport with me in the left-seat of a Cessna 172. I was finally at the controls and “piloting.”  The young flight instructor allowed me to manipulate the flight controls and my young, very scared bride was in the rear seat praying.  She reminded the flight instructor several times during the flight  that I really had no idea what I was doing and to not trust me to fly.  I remember gracefully soaring over the Ohio River that sunny afternoon in June.  Still hooked. But not a pilot.

Fortieth birthdays have a way of resetting some priorities and dreams.  If I was ever going to become a pilot, now was the time.  My best friend surprised me during a trip to Daytona Beach, Florida.  He had arranged for me to meet a friend of a friend who was a flight instructor and who owed a show quality T-6 airplane.  It was a World War II aircraft, painted in U.S. Navy colors.  My first logged 1/2 hour of flight instruction was in that amazing airplane.  I later found out that my flight instructor, who so generously shared his time and airplane with me, was formerly one of Elvis Presley’s pilots.  It was a unforgetable experience and is now a favorite story to tell!

A year later, I was a licensed pilot. I guess I finally grew up. Mission accomplished. My dream transformed into a reality and I now live my dream when time and money allow.  I am still hooked.  My smile never fades when I’m flying.

How to make your real dreams into reality

What can I share with you from my skyward experience to help you to maybe fire up some of your childhood dreams? Here’s what I hope you take from my story:

1) Some dreams stay with you always.  If they don’t go away; it’s because they want to be real.

2) Don’t be afraid to share your dreams, even if they seem crazy to some.  You never know who might decide to help you make your dream come true.

3)  If you really want to experience something that you’ve never done before, you’ve got to do it to experience it.

4) Sometimes it’s ok to be really afraid and to do something anyway.

5) Don’t wait too long to chase your dream.

6) If you did wait too long to chase your dream, run a little faster to catch up with it.

7) Figuring out “How” to live your dream is more fun than “Why.” It may not be easy, but it will be worth it!

8) Living your dreams leads you to living a life that is fired up!

9) People may laugh at you. People may try to discourage you.  People may say you are crazy for chasing your dream. They are probably just jealous or too afraid to chase their own dreams.  Don’t pay too much attention to them.

10) Build your plan and take action.  That’s how dreams are made.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?  Is it time to grab some sky of your own? What dream of yours won’t leave you alone?  What’s the first step you can take today to get you inches closer to making it a reality? Are you willing to be courageous enough to take the first step?

By the way, if you want to be a pilot, visit AOPA‘s site:

Catch a dream today!  If you too are a dream catcher, please share your story by posting a comment.

How to Fire Up Your Life! Video Tip #1

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