I watched with great interest last week as Lance Armstrong came clean to Oprah Winfrey on national television over a two-day made for TV extravaganza. We’ve seen this before with the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, other athletes, celebrities, and politicians. The mea culpa is the first step in gaining reconciliation.
We as a nation have already shown we are willing to forgive. Time and better behavior (at least publicly) tend to erase the public perception over time. But from a more macro level, it’s not so easy. In Armstrong’s case, he has admitted to shredding lives of former teammates, sponsors, friends, and family. At 41 years old, he has a long time to live with this on his conscience. I hope for his sake he is really remorseful and can make real amends with those who were most damaged.
Maybe the bigger question for us, who don’t share the international limelight of Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, and Bill Clinton, is how good are we at reconciling with others in our lives. We may not make the same mistakes or behave as boorishly on a such a grand stage. However, all of us have undoubtedly made mistakes that have hurt others personally and professionally. When we are the culprit, how would we like to be dealt with? Are we truly sorry and prepared to make amends? Are we remorseful being interviewed not by Oprah Winfrey, but by the one we hurt? And, how gracious are we when we have been asked to forgive?
It’s very easy to ridicule a figure like Lance Armstrong, or others whom I’ve mentioned above. The way I see it, “there but for the grace of God go I.” We have no idea how we would have acted if we had been thrust into the limelight with power, money, opportunity, and adulation. It’s simple to say we would have not succumbed to the power. Maybe if things had been different for Whitney Houston, Chris Farley, Barry Bonds, Tiger Woods, Heath Ledger, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Lance Armstrong (to name just a very few) and they never reached the lofty heights they did, they might be either alive or living a very different life.
Bottom line – being someone who is good at forgiving and asking for forgiveness requires humility, honesty, and perspective. It also allows for hope…
© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
This week’s quote -
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
From my July column in the Kitsap Business Journal…
In June, I watched two celebrated sporting events — the French Open in professional tennis, and the U.S. Open in men’s professional golf. These two sports feature great individual athletic prowess. They also illustrate what is widely acknowledged and accepted in all sports, arts and entertainment. Superstars are well coached.
At the French Open, champions Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova receive constant coaching and support from their coaches. At every break in play and regularly from the sidelines, they get suggestions on how to improve both tactically and strategically. At the U.S. Open, every golfer from champion Webb Simpson to Tiger Woods, and to the amateurs competing, receive input from swing coaches, mental coaches, putting coaches and caddies.
Regardless of the sport, athletes simply can’t maximize their skill and ability without strong coaching. The same is abundantly true in business. Executives and business owners who accept coaching are more likely to be “superstars” than those who don’t. But unlike sports, where all athletes understand the value, most business owners eschew the concept of coaching. The question is … why?
Why You Say No
I’ve worked closely with small business owners for over 25 years. In my experience, there are five key reasons that business leaders don’t take advantage of coaching:
- No concept of value. Coaching is viewed as a cost, rather than an investment. The owner only thinks about what they are losing (money) rather than the value they will receive (more discretionary time, enhanced skills, ability to earn higher revenue more quickly, and a sounding board for frustrations).
- Arrogance. “I’ve been in this business all my life. I know what I’m doing!” That’s exactly why you need coaching. This myopic view leads to the downfall of many because they don’t have a firm understanding of the traps and opportunities around them.
- Ignorance. You don’t know coaching even exists. You think you have to traverse the world of business as a self-made (or self-destroyed) man or woman.
- You’re not broken. It is a fallacy to think that only those that are broken need coaching. Actually, “coaching” is for those who are already really good, and want to maximize their talent. If this excuse were real, athletes like Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, and Serena Williams would all be walking around “coach-less!” In fact, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant hires five new coaches every summer to find out what he doesn’t know, or new ways to improve what he does know.
- Lack of vulnerability. Owners can be reticent to open up and let someone else hear that they want/need help. They feel that they will appear weak. In fact, the business leaders who are vulnerable and allow themselves to be coached demonstrate tremendous self-confidence.
There is a myth that a coach must be superior in tale——not to the person being coached. Last time I checked, Tiger Woods has won more major golf championships than all his coaches combined! The truth is that athletes have the talent. Coaches have the innate ability to transfer their knowledge to maximize the talent, and take them to heights they could never reach on their own. Consider this — we are all able to stretch on our own before or after exercise. But, our own bodies limit us. If a trainer or therapist stretches you, they are able to use leverage to maximize the stretch and attain optimal results. That’s how it works with coaching.
Reason #1 above was no concept of value. Here is a list of values I’ve heard from business leaders who have been coached, and from personal experience:
- Improved ability to prioritize results in more discretionary time for you.
- Reduced stress through better communications with management and employees.
- Enhanced ability to communicate leads to more sales and improved bottom line.
- Improved ability to lead, respond, and accept changes and volatility in business.
- A sounding board. The last place you want to bring your challenges is home!
- Improved efficiency at your own job.
Coaching can take the form of many areas that small and medium-size business owners can improve on. For example — improved speaking skills; better time management; enhancing life balance; strengthened leadership skills; and focus on specific goals, outcomes or projects. Coaching sessions can last for a month or a year. It can take the form of accessing a coach’s “smarts” on a retainer basis. However it ends up looking, good coaching will improve the condition of the “player.”
That “player” is you!
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Tiger Woods is arguably the most skilled golfer of all time. At the writing of this article, he won for only the second time since his infamous personal meltdown brought him back to earth. Regardless of his personal behaviors and choices, there is no doubt that for a period of a dozen years, he was not only the best golfer on the planet; he was the best at his craft in the entertainment industry (athletes, actors, singers, etc). And, Tiger Woods had a coach.
The fact is that Woods and other top line professional athletes like Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, and Serena Williams having coaches, goes unnoticed and with no fanfare. It’s a given. Singers have voice coaches. Actors have acting coaches. Dancers employ coaches. Coaches and mentors are considered essential to develop skills and accelerate growth and development.
Let’s take a closer look at Tiger Woods and what coaching has done to enhance and accelerate his career…
Shortly after Woods won his first Masters title by a landslide, he went about developing a new swing. He hired a new coach and set the wheels in motion to “reinvent” his swing and his game. Fans and analysts thought he was crazy? Why fix something that is so not broken? The end result is that Woods became even more dominant and more consistent. The coaching had vaulted him past being really good and into legendary status.
After Tiger’s personal life fell apart in front of the world and injuries forced him to miss needed practice time and rounds, he set out again to “reinvent” himself again. Armed with new coaching, he set the stage to work on his game. After his recent win and momentum, he may be nearing the lofty heights he had set for himself. The only way he could get there was with a coach honing his enormous skill; holding him accountable; and offering new strategy and technique for his age and physical limitations.
In business, the top executives and “rainmakers” all use coaches. Why? For the same reasons that athletes, actors, and dancers do. To challenge, motivate, cajole, and improve their craft. The irony is that the top 1% of income producers use executive coaches and mentors like Marshall Goldsmith, Patricia Fripp, and Alan Weiss; while the vast majority of professionals who struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis don’t invest in themselves through coaching.
You can’t be brilliant by yourself. Athletes and other celebrity from the entertainment world have always known this. Kobe Bryant employs five new coaches every summer to help him improve his game, even after multiple world championship rings and Most Valuable Player trophies. Woods has hired new coaches to hone his game in an effort to return to the greatness he once had. Both Bryant and Woods know that no matter the length of time you have in the “game,” you are never too old or experienced to learn. In fact, it’s those that are most ready to learn new things and be “coachable” that continue to get the most out of their talent. The most effective rainmakers in the insurance industry are beating the tar out of their competition because they use coaches and mentors.
Here are 5 reasons you need to consider using a coach…
1. Skill development. In sales, your skill set needs to include powerful use of language, visioning, overcoming objections, and fighting through gatekeepers, to name a few. The solutions are not always evident and a strong coach will guide you through strategies to create and enhance these skills. Practicing conversations and interactions is a lost art among most insurance pros. In my experience, the majority just “wing it.” Coaching will speed up the success rate of these communications and deliver quicker results.
2. Feedback. When I coached high school basketball, my teams and I would watch game film. The video never lied. My feedback to them was invaluable because I would point out areas of weakness and areas of strength to work on. How do you know you did something well (or not) without an objective voice?
3. Feed Forward. Executive coaching guru Marshall Goldsmith coined a concept called “Feed Forward.” Feed forward is about creating solutions in the future and forgetting the past failures. Once we’ve acknowledged our mistakes, then coaches provide constructive “to do” strategies to hasten development. Feed forward comes from observation and compelling questioning that peels away at the onion to reveal real barriers to progress. This can only be accomplished with a trusted coach.
4. Sounding board. Sometimes you just need to let off steam. You need an ear to vent to; someone to simply listen. In most cases, bosses, sales managers, and spouses are not good options for this. A coach is a safe place to vent anger and frustration; as well as a place to celebrate successes.
5. Accountability. From den mothers to drill sergeants; teachers to athletic coaches; parents to pastors; we’ve all had someone keep us accountable. In your business life today, it’s harder than ever to find that accountability partner. A coach takes on that role and without baggage or excuses, holds you to the things you know you need to do to be successful. As with a sounding board, those other important people in your life are often ill equipped to objectively be that person; or will let you off the hook too easily.
You can’t be brilliant by yourself. Everyone needs a coach. In the entertainment world, coaches are often less skilled than their mentorees; yet have a unique ability to ignite their talent and get them to perform at their maximum capability. Coaches in business elevate their mentorees to the same level of success and help them thrive personally and professionally. Not employing that kind of help is not only foolish, but also selfish. Think of all those who could be helped, yet never will.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and be coached takes immense self-confidence. The financial and time investments are usually dwarfed by the return of increased revenues, more discretionary time, and improved life balance.
Tiger Woods utilized coaches that ranged from his own father during his childhood; to his coaches at Stanford; to multiple big name golf coaches like Butch Harmon and Hank Haney. If a guy like Tiger Woods, who may be one of the greatest competitors of all time, can be coached, why wouldn’t you?
The reality is that insurance professionals, who overlook being coached because they think they can do it on their own, usually never reach the apex of their talents and thus fail to earn the income and life they could have realized. Those insurance pros that accept the challenge of being coached will reach greater heights in their career and enjoy the fruits of that success both professionally and personally.
The first tee is right this way. Are you ready to play?
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
I just received a New York Times e-mail notice that Charlie Sheen was fired from CBS’s sitcom “Two and a Half Men.” Sheen was the lead character and highest paid television star. He recently made big news for all the wrong reasons. His troubles with the law, bizarre behavior, and recent antics on television and radio was finally too much for CBS. They canned the troubled star today, probably putting the final nails in the coffin for the show and the rest of the cast. This situation isn’t too unlike Tiger Woods’s travails in November of 2009. His auto accident which led to his dirty laundry of exploits resulted in many of his sponsors dumping him. You can throw in Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who was suspended for 4 games this year for embarrassing his team and the NFL after accusations (of which he was never formally found guilty of) were levied against him by a woman he met in a bar (sound familiar?).
Reputation is one of my 5 key areas of impact when it comes to crisis management. Make no mistake about it…this was a crisis for CBS. Media outlets are always vulnerable to reputation hits from their “stars.” Corporations who sponsor celebrity athletes, move stars, and the like are in the same boat. How they handle these crises will ultimately determine how they are preceived, and how badly the crisis will hurt.
CBS wasted very little time. Sheen spent last week making a fool of himself to any media outlet that would give him time. CBS at some point has made a decision on how it wants to be perceived and held the line with its biggest (by dollar amount at least) star. Their crisis management decision has huge implications – loss of revenue, legal action from cast members or employees, loss of fans, etc. However, in their organization, they set a standard of appropriate behavior for their employees.
These types of decisions can’t be made on the fly. Your organization must determine it’s own vulnerabilities and decide to make commitments to action in advance, not in real time. You may not ever have the same exposure of a renegade television star. However, you may have employees who can get into their own behavior problems. How do you deal with substance abuse, driving while intoxicated, criminal charges, public humiliation, libel, slander, or other issues? Are you willing to fire your best employee for conduct detrimental to your organization? Do you have a policy stating that?
Recently, Washington State University benched its star basketball player, Klay Thompson just before a huge game against UCLA for possession of marijuana. I’m not saying it was the right or wrong move; too much or too little. What I am saying is that they have a policy that includes everyone and they are prepared to deal with behavior crises on their team.
My question for you is this – are you?
© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Since 1965, the United States Golf Association has been holding the U.S. Open on Father’s Day weekend. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been watching the entire Sunday round with my daughters, Mindy and Kelli. If you think they dread this, you are wrong. They actually love it and look forward to watching every year. In fact, we are planning on being at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in University Place, WA 945 minutes away from home) in 2015 regardless of where we all live. But, I digress…
The U.S. Open always holds great drama. The lessons we as business people can learn from watching professional golfers deal with pressure are plentiful. Here’s what I witnessed from yesterday’s final round:
- Graeme McDowell became the first European since Tony Jacklin in 1940 to win this event. He did it by being the only player amongst the leaders to stay focused on task, even in the face of adversity. He played his game, never forced the action, and made the right decisions at the right time. The prime example came as he stood on the 18th fairway as he watched his nearest competitor, Gregory Havret from France, miss his birdie putt that would have tied them. McDowell now knew that all he had to do was par the hole. Instead of going for the Par-5 in two (a daring risk-reward play), he made the “smart” play by laying up, hitting the green in regulation, and giving himself a pretty simple two-putt to win. Had he dared to go all out, his chances to error increase and he could have thrown away the title. He knew his position and made the right call at the right time. The lesson – Know where you are and make decisions based on common sense, not arrogance.
- The 54-hole leader, Dustin Johnson, gave up his 4-stroke lead within the first three holes. His round turned disastrous with a triple-bogey on #2; a double-bogey on #3; and a bogey on #4. He never recovered. This is a highly skilled and talented young man who basically cracked under immense pressure. The lesson – Talent is important, but it can’t make up for having nerves of steel and confidence to bounce back when adversity strikes. Had he recovered right after his triple-bogey, he would still have had an excellent chance to win based on where his competitors finished.
- Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Ernie Els choked. These three golfers own 21 major championships between them and you would have thought that any one of them would have taken advantage of the leaders backing up. Instead, they forced the action on a brutally difficult course and paid the price. Instead of playing their game, they tried too hard and it cost them dearly. The young Frenchman, Havret, is ranked 391st in the world and only made the field because he made a 50-foot putt in England the week before to get him in a playoff. The lessons – Experience doesn’t always trump youth. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. Don’t rest on your seemingly better credentials as they might not be good enough. Next, don’t try too hard. Trying too hard leads to mistakes you normally wouldn’t make.
- Be gracious in adversity. There is a stark difference between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson behind a microphone after a heart-breaking loss. Tiger is surly, curt, and uninviting. Phil is gracious, speaks at length, and offers a positive demeanor regardless of the outcome. Mickelson has that quality of great leadership. He hates to lose as much as Tiger, yet he won’t carry that through to the media or fans. The lesson – If you want to be viewed as an inspirational leader, then you have to exude confidence, pride, and graciousness when things get tough.
Congratulations to a deserving new champion, Graeme McDowell. I’m sure a few pints of Guiness were poured in Northern Ireland last night. Whether you are a golfer or not, I hope you can take a few lessons I observed from this great game yesterday. Golf is a microcosm of society and business. We need to learn from each other.
© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
As an avid golfer for the past 31 years, a fan of your game and what you’ve done for the sport, and as a concerned human being, I’m sending you this open letter with unparalleled advice on how to get your “game” back on track. I know you pay the boys from New York big-time dough to help you, but I think they’ve done a crummy job with this recent transgression. You see, I’m a consultant and I know a thing or two about branding, communications, and life balance. It seems you like to use the Internet as your mouthpiece, so I figure this is the best way to reach you. All that being said, let’s get started…
- Fix your family first. If you are serious about what your statement said, then I applaud you. Nothing is more important for you than your wife and children. Looks like you’ve committed about 11 triple-bogeys in a row on the family game. You’re going to need a few extra rounds to get back to even par. This is job #1.
- Stop hiding behind your web site. I know you want privacy, but you can’t be the Tiger Woods brand, rake in a billion dollars, and then want to be left alone. You can’t have it both ways, dude. Take a cue from A-Rod (I can’t believe I wrote that), Letterman, Clinton, Agassi, et al and get your face (battered as it might be) in front of the world and say the things you’re writing on your web site. Sorry, it’s the only way. Right now, it looks and feels like you’re hiding. Chip out of the tall rough and take your medicine with your public.
- Get back on Tour soon. You’re killing the PGA. Just killing it. Last year when you were out with injury, the ratings dropped 50%. 50%! Your buddies on the tour are being forced to respond to questions about you. Your lack of presence will hurt the league, the players, the purses, and everything else involved with the sport. I don’t care if you have to hire some big dude to keep you honest off the course. You owe it to the PGA to get back to doing the thing you do best.
- Get help. You’ve had a dozen coaches help you with your game. Now you need coaches to help you with your marriage, your children, your communications, how you interact with the media, etc.
- Offer to take a pay cut from your sponsors. They can’t even run ads with your image now. Nike, Gatorade, Gillette, Accenture and the rest are in crisis management. As much as you’ve hurt the PGA, the ripple effect goes to them, too. I think you’ve got enough to live on for a few years. Give them a break because you didn’t hold up your end of the bargain.
- Stop being a victim. One of your prior statements chastised the media for interrupting your life. If you’re going to apologize, dump the “I’m sorry, but” language. Your not the victim, man. Whoever wrote that for you should be fired.
- When you do get back on the course, you need to stop swearing, throwing clubs, throwing tantrums, etc. Like it or not, you are a role model for all those kids learning the game and idolizing you. They will still watch you. Take an extra heaping of humility and be a good sport.
- Last one – Get a Life. In order to be a well-rounded human, you need to be more than a one-trick pony. You have the opportunity to influence more than anyone else in the sports world today. Only Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, and Michael Jordan have “owned” the owned the stage as a sports star like you have.
I hope you get started on these right away. Some may be painful, but the pain doesn’t last forever unless you let it. My invoice is in the mail. I took a little off because I love the sport and we need you. Don’t let everyone down.
© 2009 Dan Weedin – All Rights Reserved