There are five things you can do to lead your team through challenge.
“Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.” Washington Irving
I had a major setback that occurred about 3 weeks ago. I’m optimistically planning on running the Chicago marathon for the 3rd consecutive year and this was to be week 4 of official training. I had been logging some decent miles, but now it’s time to get serious and get to the grind.
I have two amazing dogs that I run with Moose and Belle. They are German Shorthaired Pointers and if you know the breed you know they are highly energetic dogs. These two are no exception. From the moment we wake up they demand attention just like a toddler. GSP’s are also very smart dogs. They know work clothes from running clothes. The minute they see the running shoes they get the zoomies.
It is hilarious to watch
But you know that saying it’s all fun until someone gets hurt. Bam! Moose zoomied right into my kneecap.
We still hit the pavement for 6 miles that day and with all certainty that made it worse. The knee is down and out and now the thing he wanted to do most we can’t do. Three weeks later its still not healed enough to put training miles on it.
Which road to take?
Decision time! There are two possible roads to take. Quit. Many would say this race is going to get canceled due to COVID anyway and now you can’t even train. You have an out. In fact, you have two outs. Or modify and adjust the plan to stick to this goal.
Many times, in business and life things aren’t going to go exactly as planned. In my experience, I’ve seen too many quit on a goal or a project because some of the initial milestones did not go as planned. This major mistake of giving up instead of retooling is what is getting in their way of unleashing their true potential. It’s why so many leaders plateau instead of rising to new levels of success. Anything worth doing is worth the struggle. Average is easy. It doesn’t take much effort to be an average leader. Greatness? Greatness doesn’t come easy. If it did, we would all be great. Greatness comes by pushing through adversity, rising through challenges, being true to your purpose and overcoming any and all obstacles that come your way.
“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” Nelson Mandela
“Don’t let the negatives of life control you. Rise above them. Use them as your steppingstones to go higher than you ever dreamed possible.” Mary Kay Ash
Here are some things that will lead your team through challenge (more…)
“Do one thing every day that scares you” Eleanor Roosevelt
For Father’s Day this year my daughter had a great idea to make dad a gift. She is 21 so hand made gifts have not happened at the Thompson household in quite a while and since she is beyond the years of drawing faces on golf balls and such, she thought it would be awesome to make him a grill prep table. She was right. It would be awesome. He never has enough workspace when he’s out there grilling and he always must run in and out balancing way to much in his hands.
But, how do you make a table? I’ve been in the furniture industry for 27 years, but I sell the stuff I don’t make it. No clue on how to make a table. You would think we could find the perfect table on YouTube. There were a lot of good tables. They just weren’t great. We were going to have to do this on our own or just skip it and think of something else. We’ve never built anything before. Zero experience.
Here’s How We Did It
Several trips to hardware stores
– so much math it made our heads hurt
– we came home with the supplies
– and then we went back for more
– and then maybe there was a third trip.
The table is built. The table is not good. It is not great. It is fricken’ awesome. This table rocks – and I know tables. We crushed it! There were a lot of high fives along the way as we couldn’t believe what we just accomplished. None was as great as when the entire box came together to form the table. We were so worried that we could get 2 or 3 sides together, but our dowels wouldn’t line up and that the last piece wouldn’t go in. It did, and did I mention that its fricken’ awesome?
Whether you win or you lose find the lesson. We were lucky and won this time. The lesson you must try new things. You can do the same things and have an ordinary life, or you can stretch yourself to try new things and have an extraordinary life. How do you know what you are capable of if you do not try? Sure, we could have bought dad another tie and he would have loved that it came from us, but this table . . .wow!
“Just try new things. Don’t be afraid. Step out of your comfort zones and soar, all right?” –Michelle Obama
“Life is worthwhile if you try. It doesn’t mean you can do everything, but there are a lot of things you can do, if you just try.” –Jim Rohn
“The hallmark of successful people is that they are always stretching themselves to learn new things.” –Carol S. Dweck
We are on Week 2 Day 2 of eating meatless on weekdays and today we made our own eggplant meatball recipe.
Since the Stay at Home order we have been eating well at the Thompson house. Too well. Although I’ve received a lot of flack over it, my husband actually came up with the idea to attempt going meatless on weekdays. Last week was the first week and we crushed it! There were no cheat days!
One difficulty has been finding recipes that don’t replace meat with another bad thing like frying in oil, a cup of soy sauce, or a pound of cheese. Today’s creation does have some cheese, but is very healthy.
Try our eggplant meatball recipe (even our 16 year old son ate them).
Note – the “Prepare the Eggplant” portion of the recipe can be done a day ahead. When I made this I prepared 2 eggplants. One for this recipe and one I cooked 15 minutes longer for baba ganoush.
These vegetarian meatballs are so amazing, even our 16 year old son ate them!
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/8 tsp white pepper
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- 1/3 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs, beaten
While the eggplant is cooling
Heat olive oil in frying pan on medium heat and cook onion until almost soft (3-5 minutes)
Add garlic and cook 1-2 more minutes
Remove from heat and let cool
Mix cheese into eggs and add salt, pepper, white pepper, cayenne, basil, and parsley. Mix together
Scoop flesh from eggplant and add to egg and cheese mixture. Discard the skin.
Add breadcrumbs and mix together
Form into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper (makes 24)
Refrigerate 20 minutes
Place baking sheet in oven (still 400°) and cook for 30 minutes, carefully flipping once after the first 15 minutes.
Serve with a spicy marinara alone or on noodles, or zoodles (zucchini noodles)
“There are heroes among us. Not to make us feel smaller, but to remind us of what makes us great.” Lois Lane Justice League
There’s a lesson everywhere there is a learner.
I was reminded of a great leadership lesson, how to lead your team to achieve that large goal, last night. We did some binge-watching and one of the movies we watched was Justice League.
There’s a scene in this movie that many leaders can relate to. Batman assembled Wonder Woman, Barry Allen AKA Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg to form the Justice League. It’s the first action scene for the newly created team and Barry Allen panics. He gets overwhelmed with fear of the thought of going into battle for the first time and his inexperience and the size of the conflict paralyze him. He’s a mess. Batman who has been leading the group up until this point tells him “save one.” Repeating this “save one” he calms Flash down to a point where he can focus. Flash then asks, “and then?” to which Batman responds, “then you’ll know.”
Spoiler alert, if you haven’t seen the movie skip the rest of this paragraph. Flash then goes in and rescues one person. Realizing what he had just accomplished and that the task wasn’t so daunting he immediately goes in and saves another, and then another and another until he has rescued all the hostages.
Make the Impossible Possible
There is a great leadership lesson in this for all of us. There will be times when you must lead your team to achieve large goals. Just the thought of not knowing where to start will paralyze them with fear. You may or soon may be facing these types of situations now with COVID and stay at home forcing you to do business differently.
“The world has grown dark, and while we have reasons to fear we have the strength not to. There are heroes among us, to remind us that only from fear, comes courage. That only from the darkness, can we truly feel the light.” Lois Lane, Justice League
Leadership is taking the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and presenting it in an attainable way to the team. Making the impossible possible. (more…)
Leftover Roast Chicken Jambalaya.
Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs when we decided to roast 2 whole chickens for dinner. There was a lot leftover and I already have several types of chicken based soup ready to eat in the freezer. We’ve also made a lot of Mexican dishes with all of the cooking we’ve been doing with the stay at home orders.
That’s when it hit me – let’s make jambalaya. I searched for a recipe and couldn’t find one for leftover roast chicken jambalaya so I adapted one from allrecipes.
The great thing about Jambalaya is that it doesn’t need to be exact. If you have more or less protein the recipe will still be fantastic. If you don’t eat pork, no problem. Andouille sausage is available in pork or chicken. Just be sure that it is smoked or you will need to cook it longer to cook through.
If it was just Chris and I we would have made this with shrimp, but our son is violently allergic to shellfish. Although he has no problem with shrimp, the association to shellfish just turns him off to it.
We sure hope you enjoy it.
Great use for your leftover roast chicken
- 1 lb leftover roasted chicken, cubed Since you are using leftovers, measurements for chicken just need to be close. You can be between 3/4 - 1 1/4 pounds without changing the recipe.
- 4 links smoked andouille sausage, sliced I recommend aidells Cajun style andouille. The links are individually wrapped so if you cut this recipe in half it is easy to use 2 links.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 1/4 cups white rice, uncooked
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 2 sliced green onions
Heat olive oil in large dutch oven.
Season the sausage with Cajun seasoning and saute in oil until brown.
Add chicken pieces and stir to coat. Once chicken is incorporated with the sausage and seasoning remove the meat from the pan and set aside.
In the same dutch oven saute the onion, green pepper, celery and garlic until soft.
Sprinkle with flour and toss.
Stir in the crushed tomatoes and all of the seasonings including Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces.
Cook for 10 minutes
Stir in the rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked.
Serve garnished with green onions.
This recipe was adapted from allrecipes.
If you want to add shrimp add pealed and deveined shrimp to dutch oven 5 minutes before cooking time is over.
Great Leaders Connect Their Teams
This week I was reminded that great leaders connect their teams. The company I worked for hit Chapter 7. It will be on the list if you Google COVID Chapter 7 casualties. Really, it was a private equity casualty exacerbated by COVID 19. I always knew that it wouldn’t last forever, but I never thought in my wildest dreams that PE could take out a $1.3B company in such short order.
A realtor needed access to our downtown Chicago location this week and I must tell you it was apocalyptic. As I approached the store, I would normally see the hustle and bustle of commuters walking and riding bikes. This trip all I saw was plywood protecting the local businesses. The Target here was still closed. Already in a funk having to visit this once great store; a two-story beauty with a spectacular view of the skyline, my mood sank even further.
Human Connection The Prescription for Happiness, Well Being and Successful Teams
Always early for meetings I was surprised to see an entourage waiting outside the store when I arrived. (more…)
“The first duty of love is to listen.” Paul Tillich
This last week has been a very hard week. I almost didn’t post. This is a painful time for us. The events going on around all of us are heartbreaking.
Like so many of you, I am sad, angry, and devastated by recent events in our country. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others are senseless, inexcusable and reflect the deeply ingrained racial prejudice and injustice that still exists in our communities today.
As a mom, a wife, a leader it is stirring many emotions and questions. How can this happen? What can I do? I think back to my own experiences and wonder if I could have done more. I remember an employee sharing with me how often he was needlessly pulled over on the way to work because of the color of his skin. It seems minor compared to today’s devastation but is it? Where does it start and how does it end? We must believe we are all made better by diversity and center on the notion of creating a world where everyone respected, appreciated and able to be themselves.
We need change. It begins not only by speaking out, but by listening. Listen to those around you as they share what it’s like to be a person of color in our country today or LGBTQ or Middle Eastern. We need to open our ears and then our hearts. Listen more and talk less. We don’t need to respond we just need to care. We don’t have those experiences and can’t even imagine them, but we can care and love.
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama
You are going to leave a leadership legacy whether you are intentional or not. Take the time to create a meaningful Leadership Legacy Statement and write your own story.
Happy Memorial Day 2020
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.” John F Kennedy
“If you want to thank a soldier, be the kind of American worth fighting for.”
“It takes the best in each of us to make the best world for all of us.”
Memorial Day is about taking a time out and remembering. As a leader when people take a time out how do you want them to remember you? What type of memorial impression are you leaving on them? Are you creating the leadership legacy that you expect?
Perhaps leaving a legacy is too far out there for you to think about today. How about this? When you enter the room are those you lead excited to see you? (more…)
Leaders are Humble and Kind
I just began training for a half marathon that was rescheduled to July. Check out Martian races. This is my favorite event because it’s my chance to give back to the running community as a pacer. Also, I love to wear fun martian costumes so that the runners can see where the pacer is. Who knows if the event will go on or not, but I choose optimism. Besides, being locked in my house with all of the food requires a great deal of exercise. I’m not going to lie, getting back on a schedule has not been easy, but even yesterday with a 100% chance of rain all day I got my butt out there and did it.
I also spent a little time watching TV. I adore The Masked Singer. Everyone is so positive and supportive. It takes me to a happy place. The judges support the singers and they support each other – even when sometimes they make such a ridiculous remark – that would be mostly Judge Ken Jeong – they support each other. No spoilers if you aren’t caught up, but this week Rhino sang the most beautiful Tim McGraw song, Humble and Kind. Here are a few of the lyrics (more…)
Make every Monday a Mindful Monday.
To all the mom’s out there I hope that you had a wonderful Mother’s Day
“Behind all of your stories is your mother’s story because hers is where yours began”. Mitch Albom
My family spoiled me with a few of our family traditions. Decadent homemade pecan rolls and bacon, onion, and cheese quiche.
This is why I run marathons
Not running 30-50 miles per week would have me weighing in at 300 pounds. Berta is the 300 pound Italian girl inside me who is dying to come out. That is why in addition to this podcast I also host a Facebook page called Thompson Challenge. It is all about being 1% better than you were yesterday. It mostly focuses on being better in a physical way, but we include all types of self-improvement. So check it out @ThompsonChallenge and there is also a Facebook page for this podcast @TheEverydayLeaderPodcast.
Both are intertwined. Why? Because you cannot get better in one area of your life without it trickling into other areas. It’s just impossible. Here’s an example say my goal is to lose weight by cutting out dining out. My intent is to improve myself by getting my weight under control, but I’m also improving my finances with all of the money I am not spending eating out. See how that works. So, by getting 1% better every day doing Thompson Challenge there is no way that somehow it doesn’t make me a better leader. I speak of compound interest in the intro to this podcast. Thompson Challenge adds residual income. You continue to get paid in your leadership improvement after the work is done in the self-improvement department.
This month is fun on the Thompson Challenge. It’s 7 days of awesomeness. (more…)