10 Things To Make You Better Than Everyone Else
The other day my wife and I were talking about my new weekly email (see: email #1) and were throwing around possible enticements to get people to sign-up. I wasn’t sure I wanted to promise anything more than the weekly communication and blurted out, “I’m not sure I want to promise them 10 Things To Make You Better Than Everyone Else to get them to sign up” It was a flippant, off-hand remark that got us laughing and then I thought, “hmm. It would be fun to write.” My wife cautioned that if I did it would need to be helpful too. (Always the voice of reason.)
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THE LIST: 10 Things To Make You Better Than Everyone Else
1. Stop keeping score. Ironic considering the list this item appears on. But seriously, this will free you from the chains of ego – at least in part. So much of what riles us up is constantly comparing ourselves to the people around us. We compare our talents, which can be motivating. But, we also take stock of who got which desk, who got a new computer, who went to lunch with the boss, who is in the PDs office and for how long, who gets more air time, which show gets more promotion on air, who is voicing more commercials, what show got bumper stickers or billboards, who is on stage at the station concert and which bands are they introducing and on and on and on. Stop it. You’re going to drive yourself insane. If you’re not being treated fairly, take your official compaint to human resources. But, by fairly I don’t mean equally. Not everyone gets a parking spot, a performance bonus, a cushy office, or even a free t-shirt. Be supportive of each other’s success and opportunities. Trust me, if you stop keeping score and start cheering each other on you’ll feel better about yourself and find your job more personally fulfilling, because of the impact your actions have on the success of your team.
2. Don’t be an a – – hole. This might seem cheeky, but really there’s no need to terrorize your co-workers, bully subordinates, or stride through the building like you are above it all. We all deserve better. And more and more people I talk to are instituting a “No a – – hole hiring policy.” (Like this guy) So, finding and keeping your job is getting tougher and tougher if you insist on being a sphincter.
3. Be present. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually (if you are inclined.) I know some will say this is mumbo-jumbo. Okay, move on. For the rest of you… being in the present moment will make you more engaged, more reliable, more likable, more productive, more balanced, more mindful and the list goes on. This means letting go of what happened last hour, yesterday or last week so you can focus on what’s happening right now. It also means to stop thinking about what’s next or getting emotionally engaged in events that haven’t happened, but might. Sometimes the easiest way for me to shed those nagging thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow is to make a list of what’s racing through my brain so I don’t forget it and I can address it at a later time in a more focused, productive way.
4. Aspire for greatness. People like to be around positive people who believe dreams can come true. I actually had someone tell me after a coaching session they didn’t want any more feedback on improving their show, because, “it’s good enough” they just wanted me to grow their audience. What a buzz kill. When I took over as program director at ESPN in Los Angeles I was quoted in the trades predicting the station would be #1 in the market. Lots of people laughed. But at the end of the day do you want to work with people who believe greatness is possible or work with pessimists (they like to disguise themselves realists) who are satisfied with the status quo? Greatness please. I always want to work with those people who dream big and take action to achieve it.
5. Present solutions not problems. This is what I call “being an owner” or “see a problem, fix it.” Too often people carry their problems across the radio station being sure to let it spill a little on everyone’s desk before dumping the mess and all their attached emotions in the (insert manager position here)’s lap. This instantly relinquishes them of the responsibility of whatever is going on and leaves it up to management to solve. Or so they think. We are adults, right? Trust me, the results will be swifter and more satisfying if, before you march in and demand resolution, you consider what that might look like. I would even approach it as a pitch to solve a problem at the radio station that will; increase morale, save the company money, increase efficiency, etc. Management has enough problems to solve. If solutions are offered it’s easier to act on them in a timely manner. Vice-versa is true too. Management can’t tell employees to work smarter, collaborate or increase output without offering tools and solutions to do so.
6. Listen. This means actually hearing what people are saying. Studies have shown only 7% of communication is verbal, 93% is non-verbal (55% body language, 38% tone of voice.) So, put down your devices, move away from computer screens, and communicate with people face to face as often as you can. Focus on what they saying. Listen. Don’t just use the time they’re talking to figure what you’re going to say next. Communication only works when the message sent is the message received, otherwise it is miscommunication. This also applies to listening to the radio station you work at. Hear what is going over the air tell people specifically what you like.
7. Make “what,” “how” and “why” equal partners in making decisions. I’m a big proponent of strategic thinking. Knowing what you want to do, why you want to do and how it can be done seems logical enough, but in a radio station atmosphere I’ve witnessed more than my fair share of knee-jerk reaction decisions based on nothing but spite, fear, or an attempt to save face. Regardless if you’re a board operator or the chairman of the board, keeping this in mind while making decisions is key to garnering internal support for changes. It’s human nature to want to know WHY a decision is being made and if you are the decision maker you should have an answer other than, “Because.” This applies to all levels of employees.
8. Give people second chances. The old adage is you only have one shot to make a first impression. But, what if we just declared that old. Some people get nervous, have bad days, always make a horrible first impression or are simply miscast. I know I’m as guilty of anyone as painting someone with a broad brush on a first impression, putting them in a box, or diminishing their value to me based on a single interaction. That’s silly. Humans are fallible. Be human and realize you may be the one who made the mistake this time and give people a second chance before writing them off.
9. Be open to uncomfortable ideas. No need for any safe words here. Get your mind out of the Cosby gutter. This is about challenging conventional wisdom. This guy is doing it and I only wish he wasn’t so combative, angry and intent on hording his solutions until you hire him. But this can apply to changing where you sit in the studio, what color the walls are, experimenting with new bits or talent, or rebranding a heritage station to be more in touch with the way people consume radio today. Be the guy or gal who encourages evolution. The person who says, “Yes, and…” and add to the discussion instead of shutting it down with a, “no!” or even worse, “we’ve never done that here.”
10. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. We’re in this big crazy world together so why not pitch in to help make it a better place to be. You could volunteer at your favorite charity, share knowledge with people who could use it, raise funds, raise awareness, or help find solutions to community issues. It could be as simple be creating a personal mission in how you want your actions and activities to impact others. When you are selfless in your actions the energy you exert is minimal in the scope of life, but the impact can be life changing for you and others. It also gives you a broader perspective on how your actions make a difference. And I believe when we are conscious and purposeful with our actions the impact is greater and more positive than if we take action in a vacuum and let the chips fall where they may.
And those are 10 Things To Make You Better Than Everyone Else. Feel free to share additional items, feedback and stories below.