Little Lessons

The Power of Teams

Posted by Mark Fallon

Nov 30, 2018 5:01:00 AM

Super Team

Warning: The following article on teams contains no sports references, analogies or metaphors.

For me, team victories have always been more enjoyable than individual victories. It may be the feeling of camaraderie, or the process of coming together to triumph over a challenge. Or, it may be the understanding that we accomplish very little on our own, and that we all rely on others for our success.

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Topics: team, leadership, critique, success, goals

Lifting Others

Posted by Mark Fallon

Jun 29, 2018 5:01:00 AM

 

Jacobs Ladder
"I bring you the gift of these four words: 'I believe in you.' " - Blaise Pascal

If we work hard, and are a little lucky, we’ll probably reach our goals. The path may not always be clear, with curves and clouds obstructing our view of our intended destination. We may make a detour, but we continue forward. The journey can be difficult, and take longer than anticipated, but success is ours.

However, true success is about more than what we do for ourselves. We also need to consider what we do for others. Who have we helped today?

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Topics: kindness, people, personal relationships, improvement, success

The Glass in Front of You

Posted by Mark Fallon

Mar 9, 2018 3:00:00 AM

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“Being positive in a negative situation isn’t naive; it’s leadership” - Ralph Marston

On most news websites, I ignore the comments section after reading the story. However, the opposite is true for the blog that covers events in my town. The characters who post the most would fit into any novel about a small, New England town. There’s the old-timers who complain about the newcomers, the newcomers who complain about the old-timers, and then there are people who complain about everything.

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Topics: goals, attitude, positive, success

A Pause to Plan

Posted by Mark Fallon

Feb 23, 2018 5:00:00 AM

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“Let’s not make our mistakes in a hurry.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Over the next 3 weeks, I’ll be on 12 different flights visiting 5 different cities. My itinerary will include delivering a report to one client, starting a project with another, and delivering a speech to a professional group. At the same time, I’ll be finalizing sales with at least 2 different prospects. We’re also expecting the drafts of our new eBook from the designer.

My personal life is a bit more jumbled. My responsibilities as the executor of my mother’s estate involves dealing with insurance companies, banks, lawyers, and the courts. It’s also time to file taxes, and last year’s goal of being better organized with paperwork wasn’t 100% successful. The doctor’s office just changed my appointment, so now I have to change my business travel plans too.

With all of this in front of me, what should I do first?

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Topics: planning, success, reflection

Dusty Dreams

Posted by Mark Fallon

Feb 9, 2018 5:00:00 AM

Right Hip.jpg
“If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again.” – Flavia Weedn

30 years ago, this week, a doctor’s pronouncement meant the end to a dream. This month, it happened again.

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Topics: running, veteran, support, success, dreams

Problems Don’t Get Easier – Until They’re Solved

Posted by Mark Fallon

Aug 25, 2017 5:03:00 AM

 

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Topics: goals, attitude, hard work, motivation, success

What Are You Passionate About?

Posted by Mark Fallon

May 19, 2017 4:54:00 AM

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"The biggest challenge is not to add years to your life, but passion to your years." - Harvey Mackay

In the late 1990s, I managed a print and mail department for a financial services company in Boston. I enjoyed giving tours of the operation; explaining the roles people performed, the functionality of the different equipment, and the innovative technology we implemented. My employees were used to listening to my enthusiastic descriptions, as I often asked them to stop a machine, so my voice could be heard.

There’s one tour I’ll never forget. My guest was a new account representative from an equipment vendor. I included extra information on how we had adapted the equipment from her company to even better serve our needs. We ended the visit at my office, and I asked if she had any questions. “Yes,” she replied, “How can you be so passionate about mail?”

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Topics: attitude, success, passion, goals

Doing What I Say

Posted by Mark Fallon

Feb 10, 2017 5:00:00 AM

“The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice we give to others.” - Author Unknown

IMistakes.jpgn my role as a consultant, I provide management advice to my customers. Because I’ve been running marathons for a while, people reach out to me for suggestions on training, races, etc. And as person who’s now almost 50% older than half the population, I’m sometimes sought out for guidance on life issues.

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Topics: growth, reflection, success

The Great Unknown

Posted by Mark Fallon

Dec 2, 2016 5:01:00 AM

“As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

trail tunnel.jpgI like schedules. My travel itinerary is on my Surface, my Droid and a printed calendar that hangs in the kitchen. I set an appointment every few weeks just to look at my calendar – 2 months back and 2 months ahead. What have I done and where am I heading?

I love project plans – of all types. When I was in the military, I excelled at drafting operations orders (OPORD). During ROTC, we once drafted an OPORD for a training run through the streets of Boston, ending at our rival ROTC unit at another college. They were shocked when a group of cadets came through the front door, chanting “Delta!” and “Suffolk U!” as we ran through their hallways. A well-organized, well-executed raid. I think it was the first time we received both a commendation and a reprimand for the same action.

In my role as a consultant, I love the start of new projects. The opportunity to map out a major undertaking from start to finish – assigning roles, setting due dates and establishing milestones. Confirming the timelines against competing projects and responsibilities. Then hopefully, delivering the project on time for the client.

Creating a training plan for a race gives me the same thrill – the spreadsheet is a blank canvas waiting to come to life. I look back at similar races, comparing my current fitness level to the past. Then I take into consideration the season’s probable weather, known travel plans and other factors. I’m able to start the training cycle with confidence that I have a plan to show up at the starting line fully prepared.

With all of this planning, I can be sure of only one thing – I have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow.

None of us know what will take place in the future. Not tomorrow, not next year, not even in the next 5 minutes. Our past experiences suggest what will probably happen, but the unknown has a sly way of making an appearance at the most inconvenient time. The sun will probably rise in the morning, however it might have gone supernova 8 minutes ago. Or, there may be a check for a million dollars in today’s mail. We’ll find out soon enough.

Understanding that we can’t predict the future doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare for the future. In fact, the opposite is true. We can be organized and flexible at the same time. A good plan starts with a goal in mind. When something unexpected occurs, we can adjust the plan to regain the path to our objective.

When the unforeseen happens, and it will, we need to stop and assess the situation. We may have to change the times we have scheduled. We may need to find new resources – people, money, emotional support – in order to complete the plan. We may even have to reevaluate our goals, and reconsider what’s most important to us.

The ability to adapt our tactics to an unpredictable situation is essential to our success. We learn to accept what is out of our control. We take the time to focus on the actions we can control. Then take the necessary steps to enable the future we hope to achieve.

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Topics: goals, success, persistence

Boldness is Risky, Fear is Riskier

Posted by Mark Fallon

Sep 9, 2016 5:00:00 AM

“Put a grain of boldness into everything you do.” - Baltasar Gracián

Dawn.jpgMy favorite people are the ones who take bold actions: volunteering to lead projects, introducing new technologies that disrupt the daily routine, or offering solutions to their customers – before they’ve built the solution.

What do these people understand? That you must risk failure to achieve success. Playing it safe is dangerous.

It wasn’t that long ago that being successful meant having a steady job, receiving annual raises, and maybe getting a promotion every few years. If you owned a business, you retained your customers’ loyalty by providing a consistent service at a reasonable price. Why rock the boat?

Not everyone followed that model. There was always one person who tried something new. Perhaps they’d apply for a job in another department or branch. Or they’d create a new product or service. Maybe even start their own company. Risk takers.

But if you were comfortable with your salary or profit, why take risks for a little more money? If you tried to leave your department, you might not get the job. If you changed your business model, your customers might go somewhere else. If you were different, you might stand out.

Today, if you don’t stand out, you’ll be left out. Employers and customers want more. Employees are expected to be more than efficient, they need to be innovative. Companies are expected to compete on more than price, they need to add value.

There are no “safe” industries. As a consultant, I work with almost every type of company – banks, insurance companies, utilities, colleges, service bureaus and government agencies. Technology and the economy are forcing everyone to change how they deliver their products and services. The more successful companies go beyond making incremental changes, and introduce radical innovations.

However, radical doesn’t mean reckless. Smart leaders are constantly learning about their industries, about technology, and about themselves. They allocate time to educate themselves through articles, books and seminars. Learning isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity.

And these leaders act like chess players. They don’t just think about the next move, but 2 or 3 moves after that. They do more than react to the competition; they consider the long-term ramifications of their actions. Small sacrifices today may set the stage for larger wins tomorrow.

Talented risk takers understand the difference between extending their reach and grasping for something beyond their capabilities. Yet recognizing your limitations isn’t the same as putting limits on yourself. With a realistic understanding of the situation, you can fill the gaps with help from others. Successful leaders understand that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of intelligence.

Too many people choose to do nothing because they think the problem is too big to overcome or because they fear failure. But in these cases, the greatest risk is to do nothing.

At first glance, a problem may appear overwhelming. Changing a system that’s been in place for decades is daunting. With technology changing so quickly, learning about vendors and their products means investing hours in research. Implementing new processes will take time, maybe months or even years.

Not taking action means that the problem will never be solved. In most cases, it means that the problem will get worse. The only way to accomplish a difficult project is to begin working on it.

Don’t try and fix everything at once. Break the problem into parts, and prioritize your actions. Build upon your accomplishments and chart your progress. As the proverb states, “The longest journey starts with a single step.”

You’ll probably go through some miscues and setbacks. Don’t use these interim failures as an excuse to abandon your larger goals. Instead, learn from each experience and use that knowledge to overcome the next challenge. Continue driving forward.

Almost 100 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt was asked to deliver a speech at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. One paragraph, often referred to as “The Man in the Arena” has been an inspiration to me for decades.

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Topics: goals, success