1. What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
I was an All-Star Softball Shortstop in Jr. High and High School. Most people today wouldn’t know what a huge tomboy I was growing up. I did much to develop my tomboyish ways from playing football with the neighborhood boys, playing baseball during recess and practicing relentlessly on the homemade, dirt basketball court in my back yard. But it was softball that stole my heart and gave me my passion for athletics. Thanks to the diligence and patience of my dad, hours were spent fielding ground balls, catching fly balls, and reacting to head-on line drives to develop my skills. I initially used an old glove passed down by my older brothers and an over-sized solid wood bat, but eventually my parents were able to invest in a new leather glove and an aluminum bat. Ironically, I kept the bat, but ditched the new glove for my old, worn-in faithful that I had learned on.
I played for two recreational teams…Baldwin Electronics and my favorite, Stroopes Bakery. When we hit a home run, we marched right into Stroope’s Bakery and were awarded a dozen free donuts! As a 13-year old, this was heaven! Pretty soon, however, they reduced it to a half dozen because we had too many home runs on our team. I never understood that business decision then, but certainly do today.
I had great coaches who taught me life lessons I never knew would stay with me to this day but they have: “The most powerful and predictable people-builders are praise and encouragement.” (Brian Tracy) My coaches made me believe I could do anything! And they encouraged relentlessly. “To get to the top actually, you must first get to the top mentally.” (Chris Widener) My coaches were tough on me, but I knew they were teaching me to be strong because the team couldn’t afford a weak shortstop. My greatest mental lesson was when I transitioned from the Jr. High Team to the Sr. High Team. You see, there was already a great shortstop…and I mean great! So, I sat the bench for an entire season. Never even got to go in when we were winning big. I attended every practice, worked just as hard, but my reward wouldn’t come this season. However, when she graduated, I had earned my position and kept it for 3 years running. And I made the All-Star Team those three seasons.
So this is a story missing from my resume. And even though it’s not on the list, softball became a life-shaping experience that contributes to who I am in leadership today.
2. Best piece of advice for someone who manages people?
Listen. And I mean listen with intent to hear, not simply to change minds with pre-determined answers. If people you are leading know you want to hear them, you will learn more, receive more, and serve better than any leadership course could teach you.
3. Best pieces of advice for a new hire to an organization?
- Do something you love! If you do, you’re bound to succeed.
- Compete with yourself, not others. This reduces jealousy and keeps you focused.
- Never stop learning. Really good leaders are always good students. As Jim Rohn says, “Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune.”
- Never settle for the status quo. Always aim to be above average.
- Always begin with the end in mind. This brings purpose to your goals.
4. What did you read recently that really inspired, challenged, or convicted you?
In Darren Hardy’s book The Compound Effect, he challenged me with this: Don’t Drink Dirty Water. I’m a huge water-drinker, so this caught my attention. But he took a turn I wasn’t expecting when he compared the mind to an empty glass: “It will hold anything you put into it. So if you’ve got dark, dismal, worrisome water in your glass, everything you create will be filtered through that muddy mess, because that’s what you’ll be thinking about. Garbage in, garbage out.” Guilty! Proverbs 23:7 says we are what we think. Wow! This should catch me every time I start to think something less than who I should be. Jim Rohn says, “Nourish the mind like you would your body. The mind cannot survive on junk food.” So….I’m challenged to watch what I think because it will determine who I become.