Tough at the Next Level

I got CRUSHED playing college football….It’s Always Tough at the Next Level! Find What You’re GREAT at and Avoid the Pain!

Growing up in a small midwest town, success “on and off the field” was never an issue. LIke you and most leaders, we were naturals in our environment and knew how to succeed. 

 

After high school, I was asked to play college football as a Preferred Walk-on (aka practice and get all of the benefits of the scholarship players but without a free education). I enjoyed the experience and witnessed the transformation of a 1-10 football team my freshman year to Division II National Champs the following year (Great leadership lesson and future blog there!), I had a few “minor” flaws that would limit my ability to see the playing field on Saturdays (aka not big enough and too slow..not a good combination). The ability to put on 30-40 pounds while lowering my “40-yard dash” speed didn’t seem like a physiological equation that could be solved easily.

The BEST Version of YOU

However, we all have certain skills and God-given gifts that allow us to succeed in the right environment. Realizing the odds of “playing on Sundays” in the NFL were limited, I used the final two years of my college experience is the Assistant Head Coach for a High School team just 30 minutes away. I showed up for work the Monday before their first game and was told I was the Defensive Coordinator. That was a title I did not relish as 4 days later they were thoroughly defeated 89-6 (not a typo!) by one of the better teams in the state. 

However, I found my God-given gift as the season went on. My ability to coach, inspire, and motivate left me excited and eager to get to the practice field. I watched these young men dedicate time after the offseason and commit to being their very best. The following year we started off the year playing the same team with the same talent. And while we didn’t win…we lost in the 4th quarter 6-0. However, we had a winning season and won the final game. Being carried off the field is an experience we should all feel every day of our life!

 

We learn some things in college but I never knew finding my passion and love for coaching, mentoring, and inspiring teams would be what inspired ME! I’ve spent over 35 years as an entrepreneur and executive at several Fortune 500 companies not being “big enough or fast enough” yet excelling by developing teams and organizations and watching everyone play to their strengths. No career is immune to setbacks and disappointments, however, finding the right “swim lane” and excelling is much easier than putting on forty pounds while running faster. 

What’s Your Story?

As a Consultant and Success Coach, I’m committed to helping Leaders and Teams GROW “Living a Rich and Intentional Life! If you’re not good at home…you’re not good at work. And if you’re not good at work, you’re not good at home. No one has fun getting “Crushed On The Field”!

If this resembles your or your team’s story, please connect with me on my website (www.oxygen-plus.net). I look forward to hearing from you!

Surgery and Current Business Headwinds…What They Have in Common

There are a LOT of Headwinds in the economy these days. It will get better…but NOT without pain. I’m working with various organizations to create tailwinds out of these headwinds. 

Ironically, I recently had a tear in my meniscus resulting in knee surgery which in perspective mirrors a lot of the same pain I’m seeing leaders and organizations go through. I don’t wish either on anyone…but we’re going to have to deal with these headwinds for a while.

Lessons Learned From Surgery (and Leadership)

  1. Don’t underestimate the pain (and leadership can be painful)!
  2. Great doctors are only as strong as those they work with (i.e physical therapists, nurses, staff, etc), They will make your life MUCH easier!
  3. The knee won’t heal itself…routines (systems) and a great physical therapist (mentors) accelerates the healing process immensely. The same goes for agility (business agile) at work!
  4. Crutches (help) are typically needed at the onset…but true Leaders eventually learn how to toss the crutches aside. Leaders connect unique patterns and people and consistently create value.
  5. Patience is the key to recovery! Successful outcomes take time (I wish I had heeded this advice!!)

Move on!

While we can hopefully avoid surgery, we can’t avoid recessions and tough times. There are days when it’s easy and days (that seem like months) that are painful! Some of your decisions will cost you or your company a lot of money, some may cost you credibility, however, time is always on your side. Surgeries and physical therapy (like leadership) are painful but most people heal (physically and mentally). Be patient, get the right doctor (mentor/advisor), and use every opportunity to LEARN along the way. 

I’m developing an exhaustive tool kit for business leaders that will be posted under Coaching Tools at www.oxygen-plus.net

3 Career Strategies Before You Get The Pink Slip

If you’re like me…you want to LEAD! From early on everything came fairly easy. Growing up in a small midwest farming community, I excelled in sports, theater, school, and just about anything I put my mind to…Went to college to play football, get a degree and launch a fast-tracked career because…well, success had always been right around the corner!

 

This Stuff Doesn’t Happen to Me…Does It?

After college, my wife and I moved to Dallas and I was determined to take it by storm! That’s what Leaders like you and I do, right? Move on and move up!  And then, HUMILITY and REALITY set in. Within five months (and because I didn’t understand how the real world worked), I was given a 30-day notice to “Get on Track or Find Another Job”. 

 

In hindsight, this was absolutely the BEST thing that ever happened in my career as a leader. After the harsh ultimatum, I went back to my small apartment, buried my head (shed a few tears), and came to this conclusion:

 

Strategy #1: I WILL NEVER ALLOW OTHERS TO DICTATE MY FUTURE…MY SUCCESS BELONGS TO ME!

 

Create a Career Strategy…Before Your Forced To

That afternoon I wrote several goals on the back of an envelope. I listed courses, certifications, goals, and the work ethic I would adhere to over the next 36 months. I made a decision to seek business contacts and leaders that could give me wise advice and counsel that I couldn’t get on my own. Within three years, with total humility and strong faith, I met every goal on that envelope and have been fortunate enough to survive 35 years in the corporate world as both an entrepreneur and Fortune 500 executive. I’m also an author, keynote speaker, and consultant/coach to many organizations and leaders.

 

Strategy #2: Be Intentional About Scheduling Plan B

To be successful you MUST have a PLAN! In fact, after 35 years in the corporate real estate industry, I found myself again on the “outside looking in”. The company was looking to shed 30-50K employees and the All-Star team I was blessed to have assembled and coached could be downsized with an opportunity for me to leave earlier than anticipated.  How did it affect me this time?

 

NOT AT ALL! I ALREADY KNEW MY PURPOSE, STRENGTHS, AND AMBITIONS. I HAD INTENTIONALLY SCHEDULED TIME FOR “PLAN B” YEARS IN ADVANCE.

 

In fact, I had been researching the physiological, psychological, and neurological effects of leaders for over 10 years. I had been speaking across the country and wrote a book titled “Living a Rich and Intentional Life”. Little did I know that my “life lesson” right out of college reinforced my mantra  “MY SUCCESS BELONGS TO ME”! 

 

Strategy #3: Know Your Gifts (and your Kryptonite)

As a Consultant and Executive Coach, I’m committed to helping Leaders know their strengths, blindspots, and ideal swimlane. There are many assessments of which I use an assortment depending on the client’s situation (StrengthFinders, DiSC, and Kolbe A). The key is to basically articulate with full clarity your sweet spot and build on your gifts. As for weaknesses, it’s best to be aware (especially when under stress) but not give energy to areas that don’t serve you in the long run.

 

What’s your story? Have you experienced some extreme humility along the way? Love to hear your story! Please drop me a note as I would love to learn more from you and others that have had to pivot without notice. Thanks and Live a Rich and Intentional Life!

Wait… I Thought I Had Control of My Career and the Economy?

I have an unfortunate advantage over most readers, I’ve experienced more bear markets and recessions than most of you. Having started my career in Dallas, TX in the early-mid ’80s, it was RECESSION PROOF! Houston was on life support because of oil, and the Rust Belt was…well, the Rust Belt. And inflation and interest rates were almost illegal (ie.15-20% mortgages). But I lived in Dallas, TX where NOTHING COULD GO WRONG! In fact, by the time I was 25 I owned two homes and was looking to invest in more. What could go wrong??? 

 

Yikes…Didn’t see that coming!

Within a few years and after legislative changes to banking that no one could predict, the stock market and people’s lives crashed! While I made it through the 80s cash neutral, I considered myself lucky and fortunate. From that time on, I’ve learned to NEVER say NEVER…just as I did 6 months ago. 

 

The economy is still in favor of the employee but leverage is evaporating depending on the industry. Wages have increased 4% in 2022 and chances are you won’t be out of a job long but may have to make a few more concessions. But, if you thought the recession in 2008 was a “one-time thing”, I urge you to learn a lesson I learned early in life…. NEVER say NEVER! With mortgage rates nearing 6%, gas prices exceeding $5-6/gallon, and GDP going “Stupidly” high, companies have less in the coffers to invest and grow. The natural reaction is to cut or quit posting new jobs. And the government and world economy can always throw a legislative curveball that can swing things in a different direction (aka Russia/Afghanistan??)

 

3 Strategies To Future Proof Your Career

  1. Focus on the BIG MONTHLY EXPENSES! Small stuff (daily coffee at your favorite barista) adds up but it’s pennies on the dollar compared to the BIG stuff (rent/mortgage/utilities/car payment/insurance premiums, etc.). Focus and create strategies for any expenses over 10% of your monthly take-home pay.
  2. Quit jobs if you must BUT on good terms. It’s a small world and bad exits have a way of creeping back into your life at the wrong time.
  3. Find what you love best and be the best at it. If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that life is short, can change on a dime, and regrets are no fun. Get a mentor/coach or someone that can guide you to being THE BEST VERSION OF YOU!

 

And remember, NEVER say NEVER! Trust me on this one! There will be multiple highs and lows throughout your career. Just be PREPARED in either cycle!

Love to hear your take or experience especially if you’re thinking of pivoting in your career, starting a business,  or aspiring to reach the next level! Please reach out at Sgibson@oxygen-plus.net!

Finding Purpose,
Energy, and Intention