Motivating

After a bad day, a pilot gets a lift

August 30, 2016

Part of the job of a military leader involves helping raw recruits gain confidence so that they feel like they belong in the unit. Otherwise, their self-doubt can make them a liability to the team.

Part of the job of a military leader involves helping raw recruits gain confidence so that they feel like they belong in the unit. Otherwise, their self-doubt can make them a liability to the team.

As a new fighter pilot, JV Venable recalls the day he participated in his first operational fighter squadron. In poor weather, Venable was among four jets forced to fly a complex maneuver in the skies over Turkey. He did not execute well.

While he landed safely, he knew his squad noticed his shaky piloting. Because he was new to the unit, he worried that he had lost any chance to establish credibility.

In the van heading home, the most respected member of the squad, Bill “Blaze” Binger, exclaimed, “I got to tell you boys, that was one of the worst approaches of my life. I was all over the sky and never did settle into a smooth rhythm. It was mighty ugly!”

Venable suddenly relaxed. He figured that if the team leader felt so disappointed in his performance, Venable’s mistakes didn’t stand out as much.

“If someone with his experience and reputation could fly a bad approach, then maybe I wasn’t so bad after all,” Venable thought. 

Later, Venable realized that Binger had been flying right behind him—and could see Venable’s every bob and weave. It made Venable appreciate Binger’s self-criticism even more.

“To this day, I don’t know if he was really talking about himself,” Venable says. “Or if he was trying to let me know that even the best fall short every now and then.”

Venable went on to lead the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and a combat group of 1,100 airmen in the Persian Gulf.

— Adapted from “Building Commitment on Your Team,” JV Venable, www.greatleadershipbydan.com.

8 phrases that instantly convince people to follow you

June 24, 2016

Not everyone is a brilliant orator, but it only takes a few words—precisely timed and honestly delivered—to truly command attention and respect. Here are eight phrases totaling less than 40 words. Use them and you’ll stick in people’s minds long after you’ve left the room.

Help poor performers bounce back

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During the 2002 baseball season, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim fell into a slump. Mike Scioscia, the manager, brought his team together by leveling with them.

Why motivation flows from meaning

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As a teenager, Barry Schwartz took summer jobs doing menial labor in clothing factories. He found the work boring and unrewarding.

Pick winners to go into battle

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Retired Lt. Gen. Frank Kearney was deputy commander for the U.S. Special Operations Command. The three-star general helped oversee 62,000 people with a $10 billion budget.

The talk that led to the Final Four

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In 2005, Bob Rotella gave a pep talk to George Mason University’s basketball team. A sports psychologist, Rotella sought to spur the players to see themselves as champions.

Let your imagination fly

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After Walt Disney’s death in 1966, Marty Sklar rose to lead the company’s “Imagineering” arm, which conceptualizes, plans and builds Disney attractions. Dur­­­­ing the 1970s oil crisis, he dealt with uncertainty over a new park based on one of Disney’s favorite ideas, the Experi­­men­­tal Prototype Community of Tomor­­­row, or EPCOT …

How a ship’s bell rings success

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Asked for the best ways to motivate her workforce, Cheri Beranek, CEO of ­Minneapolis-based fiber connectivity company Clearfield, says you start by listening and end by celebrating every success.

Why Drew Brees chose the Saints

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In early 2006, two NFL teams sought to sign star quarterback Drew Brees. Initially, Brees figured he’d choose the Miami Dolphins over the New Orleans Saints. After visiting both cities and meeting with team executives, Brees began to rethink the situation.

Let adversity spur you on

September 2, 2015

Doris Hart won three Wimbledon titles on one day in 1951: singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles. But her greatest feat may have been competing in tennis at all.