Success = “Mastering the Mundane”

Recently I was reading a book titled, Slight Edge written by Jeff Olsen. In his book he frequently refers to “Mastering the Mundane”. In other words, often it is the small, simple mundane things we do consistently that add up to make us succeed or fail rather than one specific event leading to our success or our failure. The problem…these simple things are just as easy NOT to do. Take losing weight for example. All I have to do is eat right, and exercise. This is not that difficult to do. But it is very easy not to do. January is for many a time we set our New Year’s resolutions. Weight loss or healthier living is often included. If I set my alarm a few minutes early five days a week to exercise for 45 minutes, most likely in a few months I would see a difference. Each morning I wake and make the decision to exercise or not to exercise. If I don’t get up one day to workout, it won’t make a difference right away just as if I do get up to workout it may not make a noticeable difference right away. If I decide to eat a greasy cheese burger and fries with a large soda, it won’t kill me today. But over the course of time, these simple decisions will make a difference in my overall health.

As leaders, the small things we do each and every day make a difference positively or negatively. Do you exercise consistently, spend a few minutes each day engaging in professional or self development reading? Do you put a designated amount into savings each month, commit to going on a date with your spouse on a regular basis, or spend time with your kids every day? So what are the some of the simple things you do consistently that have impacted your success financially, physically, spiritually, with relationships or any other aspect of your life? We’d love to hear how you have “mastered the mundane”.

Filtering Your Words

Occasionally, as I reach for my toothpaste in the mornings, I am reminded of a simple lesson I learned when I was young.   An entire tube of toothpaste was squeezed out into a pan.  The teacher then challenged us to put all the toothpaste back into the tube and to make sure nothing was left when we were done.  Many of us tried.  Despite our best efforts, no matter how hard we tried to put the toothpaste back into the tube, we could not get it all back inside.  The teacher then explained that our words are powerful.  Once we release our words, like the toothpaste, we can try to take them back or clean up our mess, but it is impossible to completely put everything back to the way it was before. We cannot take our words back.

When speaking to your kids, spouse, or an employee, the importance of using “filters” becomes apparent.  Imagine a filter that your words must flow through before they are heard by the recipient.  Your filter should cause you to reflect on how the words you are about to speak may  affect the individual.  For example, before speaking to an employee regarding being late to work, perhaps reflect on how you would accept the feedback if it were coming from your own supervisor.  Would the feedback being delivered in this manner cause you to put more effort into getting to work on time, or would it cause you to become angry and want to turn in your resignation?  Filters may be different for different people.  What works for one person, may not work well for another.  This is the reason it is important to think about and identify what your own filters may be.  Some examples of filters may include imagining a video camera is filming the conversation.  Another may be to imagine these same words being said to your own child or a child you love by his/her teacher.  Would the manner in which the feedback is being delivered damage the relationship or encourage him/her to work harder and make improvements?

What are your filters to help you think about how your words are received?



Responsibility Vs. Obedience: Part Two

Think about a time you received correction.  This could have been a school experience, as a child growing up at home, or at a former or even current job.  How did it make you feel?  Were you…

  1. ashamed or humiliated?  feeling wrongly accused?  mad at your parent/teacher/boss? wanting to turn in your resignation or quit immediately?
  2. motivated to try harder next time? remorseful for any mistakes you may have  made? realizing you could have handled the situation differently?

Your answer to these questions most likely depends greatly on how the feedback was delivered.  Chances are, if the feedback was given publicly, or in a manner that made you feel unappreciated or unintelligent, response number one may describe how you felt.  If the feedback was given privately in a respectful, yet concerned manner, than response number two may be a better description of how you felt.

An obedience style of delivering feedback often comes across as “Stop now because I said so!”  This style of delivery often creates resentment, anger and other negative feelings.  In addition, this may leave the employee feeling controlled, and not understanding why their performance needs to change.  In contrast, delivering feedback using a responsibility promoting style is supportive, respectful and encouraging while maintaining high expectations.

Both styles, responsibility and obedienc, can produce results. However, often an obedience style can create feelings of resentment toward the leader or organization therefore negatively impacting performance and productivity as well as feelings of job dissatisfaction.  In contrast, a style promoting responsibility can create positive relationships between employees and organizational leaders that can positively impact performance, productivity and job satisfaction therefore reducing turnover and absenteeism in the workplace.

RFL uses a guided conversation called “Give ‘em Five” to help leaders provide corrective feedback which encourages responsibility of the employee.  Responsibility Focused Leadership would love to work with you and your organization to help you become an organization based on promoting more responsible employees!

Tell us about your positive or negative experiences receiving or providing corrective feedback!  We’d love to hear from you!



Creator of Responsibility Focused Leadership

Creator of Responsibility Focused Leadership

We welcome you to the Responsibility Focused Leadership (RFL) website and blog! We have many ideas we look forward to sharing with you here. We want to help you accomplish your goals for reducing employee turnover and absenteeism, as well as increasing communication and employee satisfaction within your organization. We welcome your thoughts regarding our website, program and blog. We would love to know what YOU would like to know more about. Feel free to share your questions or give us your ideas regarding future blog posts. We hope you will come visit us often!


“Responsibility VS. Obedience: Part One”

When you hear the word “RESPONSIBILITY”, what comes to mind?

What about the word “OBEDIENCE”?

Often, the feelings evoked from hearing these two words heavily depend upon your past experiences.  We all could agree that experiences from childhood impact our perceptions.  Depending on how you were parented, as well as how you were taught, these two words can be very different.

Most people, when asked the question “How are obedience and responsibility the same or different?”, they will say things like, “Obedience is extrinsic motivation while responsibility is more internally motivated”.  Our parents and former teachers typically used one of these two styles of getting us to do what we should do.  They may have come from an obedience style, “Go to bed because I said so!”, or a style of responsibility, “Going to bed on time will make it easier to wake up and you will feel better in the morning!”   Which resonates most with your past experiences?

So you may be wondering, “What does this have to do with leadership?” We believe a great deal!  Whatever style you were parented or taught, will greatly impact how you interact with others.  Usually, you will tend to lead using the style you experienced most in your past.  So think about when you were growing up.  What style was modeled for you?  Responsibility or obedience?

Next time, we will share more with you regarding responsibility vs. obedience in the workplace and how this can greatly impact job satisfaction as well as employee turnover.  Meanwhile, share your thoughts with us.  What do you feel the difference is between responsibility and obedience?   Do you see yourself as a leader who desires responsible employees or obedient employees? We’d love to hear from you!


“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

2/15/13 – Stop and think about this.  I mean really think about it.  Hearing this great little nugget of wisdom for the first time caused me to do just that. Like actually lay awake at night and think, “So which of my so-called goals for my future are in reality only wishes?” Is it my goal to have a greater income, to be debt-free, to lose ten pounds, to spend more time with family, to improve my golf game or are these merely wishes?   If these are the things I truly desire, then I need to have a PLAN for achieving each and every one of them.

What about you? What are some of your goals? Are you interested in learning a new language, getting in better shape or saving for a trip?  Do you have a plan? What about organizationally? Are turnover or absenteeism a problem? What about job satisfaction and productivity?

I look forward to sharing more with you in future posts regarding my PLANS for reaching my own goals as well as helping your organization reach yours. Think about your goals for your future both in business and personally.  Then ask yourself… “What is my PLAN for reaching these goals?” -Larry T.