People are Interesting Creatures

Tall. Short.
Wide. Thin.
Happy. Sad.
Content. Upset.
Introvert. Extrovert.
People are interesting creatures.

Many words describe people. When you examine all the many things a person can be at one time it’s incredibly overwhelming and yet completely comforting at once. No one “likes” being labeled, but our capacity to comprehend the vast array of qualities is our only attempt at understanding and dealing with our own existence and mortality.

The difference between animals and humans is that humans are conscious that they are conscious. Humans have a conscience. Animals are conscious creatures; they move, eat, sleep and operate independently but they act solely on instinct and their current mood or demeanor. I suppose some humans do this too, but I’m thinking about all of humanity in this post.

Humans have choice. Humans can define their own reality and can act either with or against their conscience. The word “can” is important here…possible, but not necessarily acted out. I’m not trying to get into a nature versus nurture argument, but choice is always present and humans have the ability to think and decide. Certainly there are consequences for those choices, but choice is always an option nevertheless; even no decision is a decision.

The older I get, the more books that I read and the more people I meet, I see how wonderful the world is and how mysterious creation can be…I see things all at once and not at all at the same time. I cannot often comprehend every aspect of what I experience, but I feel the wholeness and the magnitude all at once.

As I continue to age, and hopefully grow in wisdom as I do, I see the completeness of the human experience. People are not just words, but living beings trying at once to be something for themselves and something for others, some combination of the two. I see life and death as not just singular events in time but rather on a continuum of human existence in the world as we know it.

People are interesting creatures.

Whether I’m thinking about someone I’ve known a long time or meeting someone new, I can’t help but think about what that person is thinking and feeling and what led them to the place they are now and where they are headed in life. I also think about my own ability to think about what I’m thinking about and think about what I’m feeling. And it’s interesting how we connect or disconnect at various stages in time depending on how we and others are either thinking or feeling.

So many little things can get in the way of those fragile connections that aren’t readily apparent to all people at all times…and this happens constantly over time. We’re at once trying to deal with ourselves (either consciously or unconsciously) and with others whom we have thoughts and feelings for on a wide spectrum. And each person has various motivations and is being acted on both internally and externally and all of a sudden it’s no wonder that human existence has been plagued with horrible atrocities and wonderful advancements at every stage since its existence.

And yet the sun rises and sets.
The earth keeps spinning.
And time is constantly moving forward.

I don’t know what the answer is, or even if there is a question. But I do know that people are interesting creatures.

On Collaboration and Teamwork

I think we’ve got a lot to learn from each other, and certainly in more ways than one. Let’s just keep this sports and work related though.

Start with your staff. If you’ve got a problem, use the people you already work with to help solve it. Engage your fellow employees from other areas of your organization in a think tank type of session to help them understand your problem in addition to the circumstances surrounding why it’s a problem in the first place. They’ll know the office politics, the economics of your situation, the resources you have to work with and will likely have a good “outside the box” perspective on your problem.

The problems with this scenario though are these:
– Most people aren’t comfortable enough to admit they don’t have all the answers and are afraid and fearful in some ways
– They don’t recognize they have problems in the first place
– Nobody has any “time” and no one makes it a priority to work together in the first place

BEING COMFORTABLE, FACE YOUR FEAR
Maybe that sounds a little harsh, but seriously, I think we all have a little of that fear in us that we might look incompetent, we might not be smart enough, or we might realize and have to face the fact that we’re not actually doing our best after all. It would take a pretty humble person to be able to honestly open themselves up that much so as to let everyone in on what they are doing – but it has to start somewhere. You can start with a few trusted colleagues and advisers and slowly expand the group you’re engaging into your work. From there, you can begin to build a culture of teamwork and collaboration – after all, we do work in athletics right? Take a lesson from your coaches.

RECOGNIZE PROBLEMS
This one is a tricky one because no one wants to be the person who is just pointing out problems all the time and not seeming like they never do anything but complain. But then if you really care about your organization you will want to do everything to greatest possible extent. Given that foundation you also have to understand where the other person is coming from, what their goals are and what they are trying to achieve. That person may be evaluated and judged based on something you don’t know about, so in their mind they are doing a great job, while you may see things differently. This is one of those things you have to evaluate yourself, use caution, and be sensitive towards.

TIME
We’ve all got the same amount of time and we’ve all got that going for us. Which is nice. So how are you making the best use of your time? Productivity is a skill that can be learned, but only with the right mindset, so yes, just like everything else in life, you must start with yourself. Make your mind up and decide what is going to be most important, then act accordingly. Discipline your mind to push further and open yourself up to working more as a team player with the best interest of advancing your organizations goals.

If you’ve read any of the other posts on this blog, you already know that the topic of goals comes up frequently – and that’s because it is so incredibly important to everything you should be doing. No matter the job title or duties, all positions must be oriented in the same direction or all are doomed to fail. That’s it. Use the time you have to get things pointed in the right direction, collaborate with your staff, and develop a sense of teamwork with your peers. If nothing else, it will make going to work much more enjoyable, for which more productive outcomes will result.

Go Forth!

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Attention

Attention is the most valuable thing customers can give you. Even more than money. This is what I heard while listening to a podcast recently and something I thought we in sports ought to be thankful for. Our fans love us. Some hate us. The challenge, however is to not to be so mundane and normal that eventually so many fans end up not having an opinion at all that we don’t matter.

Consider how many social networks you personally belong to and how busy your life may seem, even if only in terms of the things trying to draw you attention. Work, family, friends, social media, professional development, late nights, early mornings. Whoo! It can be exhausting, I know.

Now stop thinking about yourself and consider how busy your fans might be and the attention they pay you…very well the first step of the “sales escalator.” First they have to notice you, then come all the other things like spending money and eventually becoming fans, although with sports you’ve never really had to spend a whole lot of money to be considered so.

Do you know who you fans are? Who your customers are? Why they buy tickets? Why they donate? Why they buy the merch items that they do? What items sell the best at your concession stands? What kinds of other things do they do when they are not being fans? Much of that will depend on the market you are in, but there will be some crossover, sure.

Start with the why. Then the who. Then the what.

– Why do you do what you do? Answer this one personally as well as an organization. How does what you do as an individual fit in with what the organization is trying to accomplish?

– Who are your fans? Yes, demographics are important, but even more so now as we find ourselves being segmented online into tribes, psychographics are just as, if not MORE important. You can’t serve them if you don’t know who they are and at least something about what they believe.

– What are you going to do about? If you’re reading this, surely you’ve already got something going – great! Now step back and think about these other things with a constant eye toward evaluation and improvement.

Take every opportunity to gather insight into who your fans are – I think everyone ought to work customer service during at least some point in their careers, because that is really where the rubber meets the road. What better way to get to know your fans than to talk to them directly. As open as you are with your friends, so are most people you’ll find when you get them face to face at a game. Whether it’s a bad situation or someone with a genuine compliment, those are opportunities to not only make their day and create a memory for them, but to learn and gain insight for yourself.

Attention.

Your fans are giving you the one thing they can never take back or get more of….attention. Once time has passed, there’s no getting that back. Money and personal cash flow has the potential to rise and fall, but the most precious thing we have is our time and attention. Remember that too when thinking about your friends and family – they deserve your attention as much as your fans deserve your teams’.

Go Forth!