The 13th quality of a Team Player according to John C. Maxwell in “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player” is “relational”. “Relational” refers to the ability to relate to others as well as connect and build relationships. A team rises and falls based on the state of the relationships within the team. John C. Maxwell puts it most succinctly when he wrote “becoming highly relational brings individual and team success”.
John C. Maxwell identifies five keys to solid relationships:
Respect: Respect places value on other people even before they have earned it. Without respect, there can be only the most superficial of relationships. Superficial relationships will never result in a team. The ability to respect others requires an attitude of appreciation for human nature and lays a healthy foundation for relationships. Profound respect requires the ability to recognize and appreciate that people are different from one another.
Shared experiences: Time spent working alongside one another creates history, understanding and shared experience. The shared experiences don’t have to be grandiose or unique, just shared.
The day-to-day routine of the work fosters knowledge of one another. Shared experiences build history.
Trust: Respect may be the foundation, but trust is the framework of relationships. Trust is not a given. It is developed through respect and shared experiences. However, trust must initially be given before it is developed. Those who can’t or won’t trust are as detrimental to the team as those who betray trust.
Reciprocity: Relationships involve give and take from each person. Every person must become relational. Even one person failing to build relationships will hold the entire team back. It is unhealthy to have members who only give or only take. There must be an easy flow between people. Reciprocity is about keeping things equal at all times. It is, however, about maintaining a healthy balance over time.
Mutual Enjoyment: Strong relationships find the enjoyment, reward and fun in the times together. The little things are just as important at the big things. Find ways to share your lives. Remember, we are talking about what makes a strong team rather than just a group of coworkers. Working well together is critical, but knowing each other is just as important. Time spent socializing outside of work helps you get to know each other. A coworker of mine once said you really don’t know a coworker until you know them outside of work. He was right. Eat lunch together. Share family picnics. As a group, find ways to spend time together outside of work. Get to really know each other.
Relational people focus on improving their ability to work with and support a diverse group of people. They place a priority on communicating and connecting with others. Do team members have to be the greatest of friends? No, not really. However, teammates can have strong positive relationships if everyone focuses on the 5 keys to solid relationships and puts the team ahead of individual ego.
In John C. Maxwell’s book “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player”, “Prepared” is the 12th attribute. This is one that trips up most teams. A team might identify where the team is going (the mission) and anticipate most of the eventualities (obstacles) that may be encountered along the way. However, most fail to prepare for the journey. They would rather just start running the route and plan on fixing things as they go along. People spend more time planning their next vacation than they do their lives or their work. Preparation, however, is a key to success for your team.
Maxwell states “Preparation may not guarantee a win, but it sure puts you in a position for one.” Without preparation, even the most detailed mission is unnecessarily hampered. If your team is to be successful as a team, each member must be as well prepared as possible.
Become accomplished at assessing. Keep re-evaluating the state of preparedness. Assess what may be needed to support the team mission and what may be encountered along the way. No winging it! Prepare for any eventuality including attitude changes, varying commitment levels and distractions.
How do you prepare? The first step is for the team as a group to assess the entire team, each individual and the overall state of preparedness. This isn’t a time to find fault. Focus on the strengths of each person and the team. Encourage team members to privately assess themselves and develop a plan of self-development. Support and encourage each other. Use your own experience to evaluate past mistakes and successes. Learn from them. Use this personal information to help prepare for the future.
Once the team knows where they are starting from, the team can then assess what to expect along the journey. The details are critical to proper preparation. You can’t succeed if the team doesn’t know what to prepare for! All the preparation is so that the team can take correct action when the time is right. Sharpen the saw before you start cutting down the trees.
What preparations do you need to make now?
“Mission conscious” is the 11th quality of a team player discussed by John C. Maxwell in “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player”.
Generally, when we are traveling we have a destination in mind. If we don’t, then we might enjoy a few hours of aimless wandering, but certainly not a lifetime. We are trying to go somewhere and we need to identify where – identify our mission, our purpose. The mission is our destination or direction. Intentionally keeping it at the forefront of our minds at all times, being mission conscious, helps assure that we fulfill it. Strong team players understand this and make a point of being mission conscious at all times. They also help other team players stay mission conscious in the face of distractions and obstacles.
To be mission conscious, the team must first have a mission. Most clinics have never identified and discussed their mission. There is, at best, a vague idea (show up for work, do what the boss says, get tasks done) without any clarity. Without clarity, there can be no focus.
Your team is going somewhere or many somewheres! In the absence of a team mission, everyone is wandering in the desert without a map. A team mission provides the “where”. It provides direction. Mission conscious teamwork is the how.
As a team player, inspire your team to discuss and identify the team’s mission. Engage all members, from the very top of your organization to the bottom, in the discussion. Seek resources to help guide this process. Talk about the mission every meeting. Share it with your clients. Involve new staff, even during the interview process. Weigh everyone and everything against the mission.
For a team to fulfill the mission, someone needs to lead. Who is the leader on the team? This is not always the person with highest authority. Consistently support the leader in pursuit of the mission. This doesn’t mean you should blindly follow. It does mean that you allow the leader to lead the entire team while you support that role through your example and mission commitment. Put the team mission above your personal mission. Sacrifice for the greater good. Do what it takes to follow the team mission each and every day – not just when it is convenient or you feel like it.
What is your team’s mission and are you focused on it?
“Intentional” is the 10th quality that John C. Maxwell’s describes in “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player.” This is a tough one for many people, myself included. We start off our day with the best of intentions only to be pulled this way and that by the constant input of others. “Putting out fires” becomes the norm. At the end of a very busy day, we find we are no closer to our goals.
Becoming intentional is a deliberate act placing priorities squarely where they belong – above all the “urgent” and “important.” If we have intentionally identified our goals and we know why they are important to us, staying focused on them despite distractions is the next step. Intentionally going about our day, week, month and years brings us closer and closer to our goals. Spending the majority of our time and energy on that which contributes rather than distracts definitely takes commitment to our intentions.
According to Maxwell, to successfully become intentional, we must first know our strengths and weaknesses. This requires in-depth self-evaluation and honesty.
Once you know yourself fairly well, the game plan is to focus on working within your strengths. The only weaknesses you should focus on are those of character – integrity, discipline, etc. All other weaknesses should take a back seat to the focus on your strengths. Consider a flash light – adjust it to a wide beam and the light is weak and diffuse. It can’t penetrate the gloom. Now, adjust the focus to a narrow point and the beam can cut through the fog. Develop laser focus!
The next step to becoming intentional is to use a calendar to map out your days, weeks and even years! Personally, I find it best to use a paper calendar or day planner. It gives me a better perspective than an electronic version. I do use an electronic version for appointments, procedures, and other events that involve other team members, but I use a paper one to keep myself on track. My daily goals including any reading I want to get done, online classes, places I need to be, phone calls and letters to send, etc. I look at it first thing every morning and several times throughout the day. Each Sunday, I review the upcoming weeks and I tweak the upcoming year at least once a month. Without keeping my schedule in front of me at all times, it is much too easy to get off track. If I get too far off track, the amount of energy required to get back on track is extreme.
Becoming intentional isn’t an overnight process. Commit to the long haul. Commit to the daily, incremental process of achieving big, long term goals. Nothing great is ever achieved overnight – including becoming a great team player. Figure out what you want, what the price is and pay it!
Continuing with our implementation of John C. Maxwell’s book “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player”, the ninth quality is enthusiastic. A team player determines her attitude rather than letting circumstances determine how she feels. If she runs hot or cold based on circumstances, no one wants to be around her. A team player takes responsibility for setting the tone for the entire team by taking responsibility for her own attitude. A team player chooses to be enthusiastic.
Enthusiasm is contagious, but then so is a sour attitude. Which would you rather spread around – enthusiasm or gloom? Which would you rather be known for?
How is enthusiasm exhibited and shared? Energy! Go about your tasks with eager energy. Move quickly and assuredly. Be eager about your day. Keep a smile on your face. Sing. Put energy in your pace. A “Tigger” performance might be a little over the top, but then sometimes it is just the right move. Tigger is much more inspiring than Eeyore. Bring in treats or funny cards. Wear fun scrubs. Use color. Most importantly – wear that smile!
Don’t wait until you feel enthusiastic to behave with energy. If you act enthusiastic long enough you will start to feel enthusiastic, plus you will influence others to do the same. It is a lot like creating a current in a swimming pool. One person walking in the water in one direction begins to create a small current. Slowly the current builds making it easier to walk. Others in the middle of the pool gradually join the walk creating a stronger and stronger current. The more people exhibiting enthusiasm, the more irresistible the current becomes. Even clients become involved and are attracted to the enthusiastic environment. When someone sour walks in, they can’t help but join the current or leave the pool!
Pitfalls for enthusiasm include negative conversations. There is nothing worse for deflating enthusiasm in a team. Help people stay focused on the positive. Walk away from negative conversations or turn them into positive ones. Protect your own attitude! Beware the “harmless” conversations that poison your attitude. You know the ones I am talking about. Where a co-worker wants to make sure everyone knows she felt slighted by someone at work. Or the one who starts conversations with “I’m not one to complain, but…” How about the one who starts with “You know I really like Sally but…” These conversations and thousands like them are slippery slopes into negativity. They are black holes for enthusiasm and absolute poison to the team!
Fatigue, poor diet and lack of proper rest can all have a negative effect on your own attitude. Protect your attitude by making good lifestyle and health choices. When you do have the occasional late night or cold, enthusiasm may be the last thing you feel but it still needs to be the first thing you exhibit. We are not talking “Pollyanna” here. Make the choice to share enthusiasm each and every day. Some days you will be the one creating the current and some days you will be one of its supporters.
Onward and Upward!
In chapter 8 of John C. Maxwell’s book “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player”, the topic is adding value to others or enlarging. According to the dictionary, enlarging is defined as “increasing capacity or scope; to expand; to magnify; to amplify.” Quite a powerful concept!
Maxwell emphasizes that a team player adds value to others through inspiration and equipping. It isn’t all about “me” – it is all about others when you are part of a healthy team. The simple act of encouraging others helps them move up to the next level.
In order to provide encouragement, you first have to discover each person’s talents and strengths. Observe and compliment that which they do well. Be a “good finder” and then encourage based on what you find. Keeping your kind thoughts to yourself blesses no one – so share them!
Focus on encouraging each person according to their needs. Maxwell emphasizes the need to encourage teammates to stretch out of their comfort zone, but not out of their gift zone. If you know someone is struggling with changing a skill level or attitude, look for opportunities to “speak it into being.” For instance, if a coworker is struggling with changing her attitude, compliment her in such a way that you acknowledge the challenge and state you are impressed with the progress she is making. Even if the progress is minimal, by acknowledging the effort you are helping speak it into being.
Team members who excel at adding value to others help teammates shine. They magnify others. They give away credit. They provide opportunities for others to grow. They also enlarge themselves so that they can support the team better. Enlargers light up a room when they walk in.
Do you light up a room when you walk in or when you walk out?
It is not human nature to be disciplined. Just take a look at a group of two year old children for evidence! Discipline is a learned behavior.
John C. Maxwell writes in “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player” that team players develop discipline in three areas.
First, a team player needs to develop discipline in her thinking. Albert Einstein once said “Thinking is hard work. That is why so few do it.” Average as a veterinary technician is not difficult to achieve. However, a team player strives to be excellent, not average. She is always seeking correct information to expand her personal and professional knowledge and skill. Reading, attending conferences, listening to audio CDs and attending online classes are some of the resources a team player utilizes to develop discipline in her thinking.
Second, a team player needs emotional discipline. He develops an above average emotional IQ. He disciplines his emotions rather than allowing his emotions to control him. People who are controlled by their emotions are no fun to be around nor do they contribute to a healthy team culture.
Third, a team player follows through with action. Knowledge and talent only go so far if the veterinary technician does not apply it to her work and relationships. What she does with her knowledge and talent matters, good or bad.
Developing discipline starts with a decision to do so, followed by a commitment. Figure out what you want, calculate the price and pay it – with time and consistent effort. Build discipline in little daily steps. Each time you complete a discipline builder you are exercising your “discipline muscles”. Start small.
Let me use an example all of us can relate to on some level. Consistent, healthy eating is a reasonable goal. However, if you have a long history of bad eating habits, deciding to change everything all at once would probably set most of us up for failure. We need to develop discipline. The “want” is healthy eating. The price is giving up all the junk food, no more fast food restaurant runs, eating more fruits and vegetables, and changing a life long habit of poor eating.
Most people attempt to pay the full price on day one. I suggest that it is necessary to build the discipline to eat healthier a little bit at a time. Add one new component daily to change your eating habits. Commit to bringing lunch to work rather than running to the local fast food restaurant. Don’t change anything else at first. Not what you put in the bag lunch. Not how many calories. One little step! Each day that you manage to follow through on the decision develops your discipline muscles. When you are ready, add another step. This same technique can be applied to anything and will help develop discipline.
To apply this technique to develop disciplined thinking, build slowly. Commit to reading veterinary journal articles or textbooks 15 minutes per day. Routinely stretching yourself by studying new material – veterinary medical, teamwork, or interpersonal – develops discipline with the added benefit of growing personally and professionally. Then increase to reading 30 minutes per day. Next consider adding listening to educational audio CDs during your commute rather than music. Stretch your brain and develop discipline in your thinking!
Whether it is a client or coworker, we have all worked with someone who does not have emotional discipline.
Not much fun to be around are they?
Emotional IQ can be increased with daily effort. Both the level of emotional reaction and the length of time of the reaction can be improved. Is it really an appropriate response to become irate because a coworker didn’t clean the exam table after herself? On a rational level, no. A fleeting moment of irritation might not even be the appropriate reaction. On a scale of 1-1is it really worth reacting to on an emotional level at all? This doesn’t mean that you don’t address the issue of the dirty exam table, but an emotional reaction isn’t productive and it could even be damaging to your health.
The decision not to overreact emotionally to perceived provocation can be reinforced with little discipline builders. For instance, if you are in the habit of verbally striking out, try breathing through your nose for at least two minutes. Why? Because it is not physically possible to speak while breathing through your nose! Use those two minutes to gain control over your emotions. Relax. With practice, you will be able to decrease the amount of time it takes you to gain control over yourself and respond at an appropriate emotional level.
Discipline is an inside job that has both internal and external impact. Team players recognize the value to self as well as the team.
Commit to developing discipline for yourself and your team. Build your “discipline muscles”.
The sixth quality in John C. Maxwell’s book “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player” is dependable. I have no doubt you know what it is like to work with someone who is not dependable. Maybe you couldn’t count on her to show up for work on time. Or maybe he couldn’t be counted on to finish assigned tasks with attention to detail. Maybe she didn’t perform consistently day to day – some days she is on it and some days not. Maybe he couldn’t be counted on to consistently maintain a good attitude. Regardless, someone who is not dependable isn’t actually a team player.
In the veterinary field, dependability can make the difference between life and death for an animal and safety for the people. On a less dramatic level, dependability means consistent daily performance in support of the team’s endeavors.
What does a dependable person look like?
Can your team count on you? Even when the workload is challenging? Even when you are tired? Even when you are assigned your least favorite task? Even when no one is looking? Are you dependable?
The fifth quality of John C. Maxwell’s “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player”, is competent. Now, there’s a thought! A team player must be competent, not just a nice person. I am sure you can think of someone whom everyone likes, but simply isn’t qualified to do the job she is assigned. The entire team carries a heavier work load to make up for her shortcomings. This is detrimental to the team over the long haul no matter how much everyone likes the weak link.
According to Merriam-Webster, competence is defined as “the quality of being competent; possession of required skill, knowledge, qualification, or capacity.”
For the new team member, competence is assessed during the interview process. Minimum qualifications in skill level, knowledge base, and aptitude are evaluated. The best candidate is selected, hired and training is begun.
As a team player, it is your responsibility to help her develop competence specific to your clinic or lab – to build on her competencies. The entire team must give her the grace to fail, make mistakes and learn over a reasonable period of time.
I point out “giving grace” because I know how easy it is for the existing team to pre-judge and condemn the new person prematurely. Let your manager/supervisor do the judging. Your role is to do everything possible to help the new person achieve a reasonable level of competence in those first few months. If she truly doesn’t have the basic level of competency required to develop the competence specific to your clinic or lab, the manager/supervisor will figure it out with time and the team’s support. Just make sure it isn’t a case of the fully competent new technician improperly trained by the team. Many a competent person is condemned by poor coaching!
What makes someone competent? Competence requires aptitude, a commitment to excellence, consistency, attention to detail, experience, and a hunger to learn.
Where is your competence level? What are your competencies? Be honest. Ask your team these questions about you. Now is the time to evaluate yourself because your team needs you at your best so the team can be at its best.
John C. Maxwell puts it very bluntly in Chapter 4 of “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player” that there is no team if members aren’t communicative. If even one person is not willing to communicate, the entire team suffers. By the way, just talking isn’t communicating. Communication involves so much more. Listening, understanding and openness are but a few of the other components of real communication. Each team member must deliberately be communicative.
Barriers to communication must be eliminated. One such barrier is isolation or cliques. Cliques should not to be tolerated. New staff must be welcomed rather than shunned or isolated. Personality conflicts must be explored and eliminated. Each team member must be open to each of the others. Each must know the others.
It is too easy within a clinic to have cliques, overt or subtle. New staff members are often held off by senior staff. This is not necessarily deliberate, but a factor of unfamiliarity. It is the responsibility of the senior staff members to initiate building relationships with new staff. But, it is also the responsibility of new staff to foster relationships with the existing staff. Welcome the opportunity to know each other and develop an even stronger team.
It is common to have teams within a team in larger practices. Whether it is teams defined by assignments (surgery versus laboratory) or by licensure (RVTs versus animal assistants), staff are often divided from each other. Once again, cliques, regardless of justification, shouldn’t be permitted in a team. Open communication between groups is critical to the health of a team. Isolation of any kind will be a fatal blow to a team.
The 24 hour rule is an excellent one for a team to follow. Conflict, misunderstanding, and hurt feelings can fester, destroying a team from within. Addressing issues within 24 hours increases the chance of creating understanding and clearing the air. Note the word “understanding” – each party must start off by recognizing the need to understand the other before seeking to be understood. Call on the help of other teammates if mediation is required. Remember our discussions about Difficult Conversations?
Quite often there are sincere attempts at communication within a team, but the potential for misunderstanding remains. John C. Maxwell recommends following important verbal communication with written. Written communication is an opportunity for further clarity, keeps the doors of communication open, and allows team members to further understand each other. However, verbal communication must precede written communication. Written communication is only for the purposes of reiterating the verbal. Please avoid written communication as the primary form of discussion or sharing. It will only lead to misunderstanding. The reader is often overly sensitive. The writer is generally not sensitive enough. Talk to each other first!
Developing and maintaining open communication within a team is a daily task.
Another excellent book that will aid in this endeavor is “Difficult Conversations – How to Discuss What Matters Most” by Stone, Patton, and Heen.
Committed is the third quality described in John C. Maxwell’s book “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player”. He is referring to commitment to the team. Vince Lombardi defined it as “individual commitment to a group effort.”
Commitment is a rarity. The very word can strike fear in someone’s heart – or create a mental image of something nebulous applicable only to personal relationships.
Most people are only as committed as it is convenient to be. Commitment is often not recognized or even part of the daily vocabulary. People give very little thought to what they are committed to and, yet, their results are clear indicators of where their commitments lie.
The majority of people are only committed to the team as long as their personal objectives are met. When something begins to require more effort than a person is willing to put out or requires them to subordinate their own agenda for the greater good of the team, out goes their “commitment”!
Commitment is a promise made and kept, even when you don’t like someone on the team, are having a bad day, or don’t get what you want. When you have a group of people fully committed to the team, everything improves, from culture all the way to personal rewards.
John C. Maxwell points out that commitments are easier to keep if tied to personal values.
What if you are truly committed to the team, but there is a team member who is not? The team’s commitment sets the bar for everyone. Either they match it or eventually they leave the organization. Why do they leave? The uncommitted are always uncomfortable around the committed. Just make sure they don’t pull you down with them! Stick to your promise of commitment. Be the shining example of integrity.
Commitment is a choice, not a condition. There’s no such thing as a little bit committed. You either are or you aren’t.
“A team is many voices with a single heart.”
Collaborative is the second quality described in John C. Maxwell’s book “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player”. He sums it up quite aptly with the following definitions.
What does collaboration look like in the veterinary practice? According to JCM, there are four areas of focus for developing collaboration. Perception, attitude, focus and results.
Our perception of ourselves and others influences teamwork. Do we see each other as competitors or teammates? Are we competing for personal advantage or are we humble enough to care more about the bigger team vision? A team culture is built on mutual respect and a commitment to the greater good even when it conflicts with personal gain or comfort.
Assuming teamwork is the goal then we must choose to put aside attitudes of pettiness, distrust, personality conflicts, and selfishness in order to create collaboration. Whether or not you like someone personally is irrelevant to collaboration. Communication must be respectful and open. Collaboration is a choice to work with each other despite boundaries, real and imagined. Collaborators bring their very best to the table each day rather than “just enough”.
“What’s in it for me” is a focus not suited to teamwork nor collaboration. It isn’t all about “me”! Collaborative effort in the veterinary practice requires being aware of others on the team and choosing to do what is best for all even when it might inconvenience the individual. For example, I am done with all of my work so I could leave for the day. However, a truly collaborative team player would look for opportunities to help other team members complete their work so everyone leaves at a decent hour albeit later than scheduled. Completing tasks not assigned to you without hesitation or grousing is collaborative. Tidying up a room used by someone else. Veterinarians mopping a floor or emptying the trash. Veterinary technicians putting files away for the receptionist. These are all examples of ways to collaborate with your teammates.
True collaboration creates synergy. What I can accomplish on my own is much smaller than what all of us can accomplish together. Collaboration is so critical to a team’s success that it is the foundation of the MBA program at Harvard University. From the very first day, each MBA candidate is assigned to a team. They remain with this team throughout the entire program and are evaluated based completely on the results of the team. If there is no collaboration, the entire team fails the program. Collaboration is required to achieve an MBA!
I am sure you have seen examples of the results of collaboration in your work place. A perfect example is when the work load becomes almost overwhelming but everyone jumps in to help. The energy level is up. Everyone is working at their peak. The team pools their talents and experience. The day ends with everyone feeling great about the day despite the chaos. Collaboration creates great results.
I hope all of you foster collaboration in your workplace. Be the example. Lead the way!
In John C. Maxwell’s The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player, “adaptable” is listed as the first quality. Dictionary.com defines it as “able to adjust oneself readily to different conditions.” What does “adaptable” look like in a veterinary team?
Every day we must adapt to different conditions or we get bogged down in conflict. Just look at a typical day with clients.
Each client has a distinct personality and unique set of needs and expectations. Within the framework of team-guiding principles, each client requires a slightly different touch to create a win-win relationship. Communicating with the fearful or overly-protective client is quite different than communicating with the confident client. Appropriate communication in the language best-suited to the client’s personality and expectations creates an open dialogue with trust and clear understanding of what to expect.
It is up to us to adapt our communication style to each person in order to foster healthy communication. Incidentally, adaptation on our part helps bring out the best in the client, calm the nervous ones, build trust and maintain open lines of communication. It also inspires the client to work with rather than against the veterinary team.
Change is inevitable. Members of the team who are best able to adapt to change quickly thrive year after year.
New co-workers, policies and procedures, administrators, buyouts and layoffs all represent changes outside our control. Adapting to them quickly pays off in less stress and more opportunities to succeed.
Greeting change with fear or resistance is not a healthy response. Evaluate the situation. Seek to understand how to foster something positive from the change. Adapt with a positive attitude and a new role within the framework of the situation or suffer the consequences of failing to adapt. Remember what happened to payphone companies when they refused to change during the advent of the cell phone!
The science of veterinary medicine is always changing. “We have always done it this way” is the death knell of any organization. It takes adaptability to survive and thrive in any field, including our profession.
Thirty years ago, the veterinary profession didn’t think they needed licensed, educated veterinary technicians. Aren’t you glad the profession has and is adapting?
How medicine is practiced has changed dramatically over the last 30 years. Those who resist each advancement without first evaluating it become less valuable team members. “The old way worked just fine.” isn’t a healthy response in the face of new information substantiated by scientific validation.
What does it take to be adaptable?
Remember that inflexibility is stressful, holds the entire team hostage, and is a one way path to “extinction”. There is no box to think outside of other than the one you create or allow others to put you in. Bend rather than break when it is time to adapt.
Teamwork is at the core of every successful veterinary practice, but what does a team player look like?
Author John C. Maxwell’s book “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player”1 is a great place to start on the journey to identifying and developing team players. I would like to spend the next few months delving into this topic as it applies to veterinary technicians using this book as the guide.
Maxwell’s list of a team player’s qualities includes:
As you look around your team, I am sure you find many of these qualities. Each team member is stronger in some areas than others. This makes sense. This is why a team is more powerful than individuals. Real teams are synergistic. What do you contribute to your team? Where are your strengths as a team player?
As I look at this list, I see several areas where I can improve my contribution. However, I also see where some of my strengths lie. With the team as my focus, I can improve my role as a team player and help support others in their own development.
I hope you pick up a copy of this wonderful book to read and share with your team.
Come join the journey as I examine the qualities of a team player.
It is human nature to dislike and resist change.
We hang onto that old comfy pair of jeans even though they are falling apart at the seams.
We ignore the warning signs that we need to change our spending habits. So what if those habits have created incredible debt!
We maintain daily routines when we no longer remember why we started in the first place. Always brushing our teeth bottom right to left and top right to left. Putting the left shoe on before the right. Trying to do things in a different order leaves us feeling discombobulated.
We freak out when our employer brings in a new piece of equipment we have to learn to use. The old way was working just fine!
We always sleep on the same side of the bed even though we have the entire bed to ourselves.
We dislike change. In some cases, we even fear change. We often pretend it isn’t going to happen and isn’t happening. We are the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand. Keep that attitude and change will bite you in the butt!
Change is inevitable no matter how much we try to avoid or ignore it. It is natural. It happens whether or not we want it. Sometimes change happens to us and sometimes it happens because of us. Change can be evolutionary, happening over time. Sometimes it is acute, happening without warning.
Now, progress is another story. Progress isn’t inevitable. Progress is definitely optional. It comes about because we intentionally create it out of impending or desired change.
Embrace the inevitability of change. We would do well to pay attention to what is going on around us so we recognize the signs of or need for change. Prepare. Intentionally direct change.
Don’t be an old fuddy-duddy whining about change and lamenting the good old days. Deliberately, intentionally create progress out of change.
Fun is something we can all use more of in our lives. Deliberately setting out to have fun at work usually isn’t at the top of most people’s priority list. Not even their monthly list! Why ever not? Life is short. Make fun a priority in your clinic.
Here are a few of the ways that clinics, practices, and veterinary teaching hospitals across the world add a little more fun to their workday.
The University of California Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital celebrates Halloween in a big way. Their Transfusion Medicine department hosts an all day “Haunted House” in an conference room. Definitely a creepy, fun place. Other hospital services contribute fun Halloween food & drinks.
A small clinic in Tennessee has an annual “Elvis Presley Day” on Elvis’ birthday. Everyone dresses up as Elvis. Even some of the clients! Elvis croons from the CD player all day. Of course, there is tons of food including peanut butter and banana sandwiches – one of Elvis’s favorites.
One of the largest small animal practices in the USA has “goody Friday” once a month. A team of employees dressed in wacky costumes goes through the halls bringing ice cream, candy and cake to one and all. Sugar coma sure to follow!
An equine clinic in New Zealand has an annual talent contest. Clients and staff are invited to this festive Saturday afternoon to participate or just watch. They have been doing this for 8 years now and it keeps getting bigger and bigger. Last year, the free event was four hours long with competitions in singing, musical instruments, yodeling, acrobatics, and barrel racing. Local businesses donate prizes and several hundred people came. WOW!
The owner of a practice in Warren, Michigan surprises her staff each summer with lunch, shopping and a movie. The staff never knows when the surprise date will be, but it has been a tradition for several years now.
At another hospital, one of the staff frequently surprises her co-workers with candy treats or pizza. Such a morale booster!
Once we even had a water pistol fight in the back hallway on the second floor of the Teaching Hospital. We got a little carried away when one of the administrators grabbed a kennel hose and used it. We had to stop when people on the first floor complained about water mysteriously leaking from their ceiling. Ooops!
What do you and your co-workers do to bring a little more fun into your routine?
I have heard fear referred to as “False Evidence Appearing Real”. OK, makes sense to me, but fear itself is a very real feeling. Until we conquer our fears they control us.
My top 5 fears (in no particular order) are:
I also know I am in the driver’s seat. If I want these fears to go away, I have the power to overcome them.
What are your top 5 fears? What are you doing about them?
Learning to be a better leader or supervisor is a day-to-day process. Tapping into those with proven results helps tremendously. Reading books written by and about such people is a great way to learn from the best.
But, how do you know which books to read? If you are like me, you are overwhelmed by the choices available in the bookstores. I love to read, but finding credible authors can be tricky.
I found the best way to decide what to read is ask people with proven leadership results for a list of what they read. I am very fortunate to have such people in my life. They are in the top 15 leadership gurus in the Nation. I would like to share their starter book list with you. I have to admit I have not read all of them, but I have read most of them.
The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz, Ph.D.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
How to Have Confidence and Power by Les Giblin
Personality Plus by Florence Littauer
Bringing Out the Best in People by Alan Loy McGinnis
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
The Ant and the Elephant: Leadership For the Self by Vince Poscente
Launching a Leadership Revolution by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward
The World’s Most Powerful Leadership Principle by James C. Hunter
The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
Visioneering by Andy Stanley
The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson
Attitude is Everything by Jeff Keller
Be a People Person by John C. Maxwell
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Developing the Leader within You by John C. Maxwell
A Leader’s Legacy by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
Leadership and Liberty by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward
Psychology of Winning by Dr. Dennis Waitley
Wooden by Coach John Wooden
Character Counts ed. Os Guinness
17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player by John C. Maxwell
Trust: The One Thing that Makes or Breaks a Leader by Les T. Csorba
Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Churchill on Leadership by Steven F. Hayward
Good to Great by Jim Collins
The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey
The Coming Aristocracy by Oliver DeMille
The DNA of Relationships by Dr. Gary Smalley
The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge
How Should We Then Live? by Francis A. Schaeffer
Simon Says by Chuck Goetschel
If you really want to dig into some serious leadership material, use the bibliography from “Launching the Leadership Revolution ” by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward.
What does it take to excel as a veterinary technician?
A decision followed by commitment backed by correct action over time.
What does it take to lose some weight?
A decision followed by commitment backed by correct action over time.
What does it take to complete a college degree?
A decision followed by commitment backed by correct action over time.
What does it take to change your life?
A decision followed by commitment backed by correct action over time.
What are you waiting for?
What motivates people to do high quality work? There are numerous studies on this topic. The results are quite surprising.
Dan PinkAmerican writer, speechwriter, and motivational speaker gave a fascinating talk about two particular studies. Turns out, money is not necessarily the best motivator!
I had always thought money was the primary motivator for the majority of people – bigger financial reward results in better performance. Not so. MIT conducted a study using a large group of their students. The results clearly indicate that financial rewards worked quite well as long as the task was strictly mechanical in nature. Higher monetary reward resulted in greater performance. However, if the task even slightly involved the most minor of cognitive skills a larger monetary reward resulted in a poorer performance!
A second study followed, on the assumption that the monetary reward offered in the first study wasn’t significant enough. So, they repeated the study in a rural part of India offering 2 weeks, 4 weeks and 8 weeks of salary as the three levels of reward. The results were similar to the first study. People at the middle level did not perform any better than those at the poorest level. And, those at the highest level of reward did the poorest of all!
So, what does motivate people to do their best? Once they are paid enough to remove concern about income from the picture, there are three major motivators – autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Autonomy is the desire to be self-directed. The key is that employees want to do something innovative and excellent, so the best thing an employer can do is offer the opportunity to excel and then get out of the way.
Mastery is the desire of many people. To continue growing in their profession and hobbies is both satisfying and fun! Support the desire of employees to learn and grow. Provide opportunities for them to try new things.
Purpose is one of the most powerful motivators of all. Flourishing people are animated by a sense of purpose or passion. Purpose isn’t a superficial mission statement touted by the corporation. It comes from a shared vision for the future.
Look for the proper motivators for your co-workers and employees. Each person may be motivated by one or more of these three – what works for one will not work for another. Treat them like real people rather than workhorses motivated by a carrot.
What motivates you to intentionally strive for excellence?
As veterinary technicians, we work around death and dying almost every day. We live on both sides of the grief fence: helping those who are grieving and dealing with our own grief. I do not pretend to be an expert on either. However, I would like to share a few suggestions on how to help your clients and yourself when faced with the loss of a beloved pet or patient.
The loss of a pet can be quite traumatic. As veterinary care professionals, our responsibility is to ease the suffering of the animal. It is also our responsibility as human beings to help our clients when they are hurting. We all have experienced the loss of a pet ourselves. It is painful. We understand what our clients go through, even if only at the superficial level.
Many people suffering this loss, including us, go through a second source of pain – at the hands of those who wish to offer solace, but don’t know how. Out of anxiety or naiveté, well-meaning people do and say hurtful things. Or worse, they ignore the suffering person because they don’t know what to say or do. They are afraid to do the wrong thing so they do nothing.
Learning what to say and do is not difficult. Sometimes you will feel that you have failed. Don’t expect gratitude or appreciation for your efforts as the grieving clients can only focus on themselves at the time. Some clients are embarrassed by their emotional state. However, your kind efforts will not go unnoticed and do have an impact.
Provide the client with a kind and empathetic ear. Listen without the need to fix their suffering. Don’t share your story unless asked. Accept the other person’s feelings without judging. It is hard to just listen without the need to make the other person feel better. Trying to make the other person feel better faster is rushing them through their pain. Simply let them know you care and are willing to share their pain. Be comfortable with their crying and silences.
“I’m so sorry.”
“I’d give anything to be able to make it better for you but I know I can’t. Just know that we all care.”
“Thank you for sharing Fifi with us. She was a treasure.”
“Are you feeling better yet?”
“I understand exactly have you feel.”
“You are actually lucky. It could have been much worse if…”
“You shouldn’t feel that way.”
Follow up with a kind, sincere note a month or so later to express your concern. A written note of caring means so much to a grieving client especially after some time has passed and everyone else has forgotten. Let them know you are thinking of them.
Next week I’d like to offer some suggestions about how to process your grief.
When someone you work with experiences a success, what do you do? Do you notice? Do you give a brief “good job” and quickly move on? Do you even acknowledge the win or do you treat it as nothing less than what is required of them?
In your busy, busy day, it is very easy to be so focused on the tasks at hand you fail to notice or acknowledge what has been accomplished. But, if you ignore the successes of your coworkers, you miss a critical opportunity to inspire them onto further successes. And you miss the opportunity to strengthen the team.
Celebrate wins. When a coworker places an IV catheter in a difficult vein, sincerely acknowledge the person. When the boss manages to get the additional space or equipment you requested, celebrate his efforts and success. When the receptionist who has difficulty working with challenging clients successfully defuses an irate client, celebrate his efforts. When a coworker completes her night courses and achieves her degree, celebrate.
Celebrating wins does several important things for you and your team:
Celebrating wins must be done in a timely fashion. The annual Employee Appreciation BBQ isn’t enough if it is the only recognition given. Celebrate events at the time they happen. Acknowledge the successes of others within 24 hours of the event.
Celebrating wins promotes a healthy team atmosphere and this results in a great working environment!
I attended a leadership conference this weekend – what a blast! There were about 2500 people there from a diverse range of professions and backgrounds. Every one of them was a hungry student focused on learning and applying as much as possible. The topics covered an extensive range including attitude, communication, self-discipline and character.
I picked up all kinds of great information. I can’t begin to share everything with you, but I would like to share some of my favorite one-liners.
I hope you find one or two of these inspiring or thought-provoking.
Onward and Upward!
Remember the Golden Rule? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Such a simple, powerful concept and yet it is all but forgotten in today’s hurry up world of me, me, me. From the guy who cuts us off on the freeway to the coworkers who gossip, respect for others isn’t the default behavior anymore. A sincere “thank you” or “please” is rarely heard.
Best-selling author Deborah Norville defines respect in her book “The Power of Respect” as “acknowledging the value and uniqueness of others and being mindful of their feelings, while at the same time trying to put myself in their position.”
Respect requires we pay attention to our interactions with others. It requires we take responsibility for understanding others before we react. Stephen Covey reminds us to “…seek to understand before seeking to be understood.” Wow! How different life would be if all of us consistently sought to understand before choosing our reaction.
When a client is rude or abrasive, we can respect them enough to seek to understand before we react. Maybe the client is simply afraid of loss, facing financial ruin unrelated to their pet’s medical requirements, or even in the midst of a nasty divorce. If you were having a bad day, how would you like others to respond? Seek first to understand why the client is rude rather than striking back. The simple act of understanding is an act of respect and often goes a long way toward a positive outcome.
How about the veterinary student intern with the snotty attitude? Seek first to understand. Veterinary students are often living in a constant state of panic and fear. Fear of failure and panic that someone may realize the she doesn’t know everything. Weren’t you the “new” person at some point? Weren’t you at least a little bit worried that you might mess something up? What if you sought to understand why the student is arrogant? Do you think you might be able to open a dialogue resulting in a win-win for both of you?
Self-respect is critical to working with others as well as to your own success. How can you respect others if you don’t respect yourself? The Golden Rule also applies to you.
What does self-respect look like? Some of the signs of self-respect are:
I am sure you can think of other signs of self-respect. Make a list for yourself and spend some time assuring you are actually acting on them.
“He that respects himself is safe from others; he wears a coat of mail that no one can pierce.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Remember, respect can be cultivated. You can grow it in yourself and influence it in others. Try it! You will like it!
What do Red Box and credit card companies have in common? Red Box rents DVDs for $1 per day. They provide an inexpensive way for you and me to watch new releases in the comfort of our own home. Great deal for us! But, how do they make much money off such a low rental fee? Sure, they could do it on volume. However, why would they take the risk that all of us would follow sound financial principles by returning our DVDs the very next day?
Credit card companies loan us money for anything and everything our heart desires. For those of us who follow sound financial principles and pay off our monthly credit card bill each month, this is a great deal. Why would the credit card companies take the risk that all of us might follow sound financial principles?
Both Red Box and the credit card companies know their risk is almost non-existent. They count on human nature to kick in. Human nature will not follow principles. Human nature follows convenience and comfort.
Red Box makes their money off those of us who do not return the DVDs the next day. They know human nature is to procrastinate, forget, get busy, etc. That $1 rental quickly turns into a $5-30 rental! There is nothing wrong with Red Box’s model.
Credit card companies know human nature is to overspend and fail to pay off the bill in full each month. They can count on it! They make their money off human nature. And, they make tons of it. There is nothing wrong with their business model.
What other companies have businesses based on human nature? How about that gym membership? The Massage Envy subscription? How about the Groupon coupons that are purchased but never redeemed?
How much money are we piddling away by letting human nature rather than discipline lead our lives? Companies bank on human nature and get their monies worth. Do you?
We vent to others about coworkers, clients, our family, and life in general.
Vent – what exactly do we mean by that? For some reason verbal tirades are politely defined as “venting” when quite often they are a form of “puking” on others.
Had a bad day or encounter? Rather than working on our attitude or perspective, we puke all over people.
Offended by a coworker? Puke all over another coworker and call it “just venting to a friend.”
Frustrated with a client? Puke all over one of your favorite clients because, surely, they will understand. They are such good, rational people.
Angry with the boss? Puke all over a friend or your spouse. Of course, they will put up with your venting if they really love you.
Irritated with your teenager? Puke all over your spouse or mother. You have every right to be irritated and you want them to join you in your frustration.
How often do you actually ask for permission to vent? Could you be puking on someone who is rather tired of such behavior? Someone who finds it stressful?
How often is venting evidence of a self-centered focus? Didn’t get your way again? Does it offend you to be surrounded by people of inferior quality?
You are only as big as the smallest thing that bothers you. Venting is a verbal temper tantrum better suited to a 3-year-old child.
Toughen up, buttercup!
Hope my venting didn’t bother you too much.
Is anyone ever actually born to be a leader? Was Cameron Diaz born to be a great actress? Was Abraham Lincoln born to be President of the USA? Was Tony Blair born to be Prime Minister of England?
Seems to me that people create themselves to be what they become. They make a choice, take steps to make it happen and become what they are eventually known for achieving.
Were you born to be a veterinary technician? I think not. You made choices over your lifetime that led you to where you are presently.
YOU have the power to choose. Choose your future! Go for it!
Veterinary Technicians have come a long, long way since the time before the first ones were ever certified, licensed or registered. It took courage and vision to get where we are today. The initial pioneers took what were simple kennel assistant positions and developed them into the profession we know and love today. We each owe them a debt of gratitude.
Now we have 10 specialties and more on the way. The recognition for each specialty has been pioneered by a handful of technicians, veterinarians and associations. People who willingly took on the mantle of leadership. I don't think they realize that they have influenced our profession in a way that benefits us all. I don't think they realize they are leaders. I don't think they understand they are pioneers in a long line of pioneers.
Our profession continues to advance and grow with time and support. I know each of you plays a role in fostering this. Never forget that you, too, are a pioneer in a long line of pioneers forever changing the role of the veterinary technician.
Onward and Upward!
I have heard it said that attitude is everything. I don’t doubt this, but I would add that if attitude isn’t everything, it is the difference maker. Either way, attitude is critical in all aspects of our life – a relationships, finances, health, success, etc.
We wear our attitude like a coat, and everyone can see it. Like the clothes we wear, attitude is a choice. We choose the attitude we wear, therefore, we choose our future.
I attended a lecture recently on the topic “Seven Deadly Attitudes.” Deadly? Deadly to our lives, future and present.
What are these attitudes?
“I’m a customer. I am entitled to always being right. I am entitled to treating the cashier as my servant.”
“I’m an employee. I am entitled to a raise due to longevity with the company even though I am only an average performer.”
“I’m an adult son/daughter. I am entitled to financial support from my parents.”
“I just turned 16. I am entitled to a new car from my parents.”
Overcome your entitled attitude! First, choose to do so. Do things freely, without expectations. Express appreciation to others. Remind yourself that no one owes you anything.
Overcome your grumpy attitude! First, choose to do so. Get plenty of rest. Eat nutritious foods and get regular exercise. Fill your brain with positive information and eliminate the negative sources. Don’t overcommit yourself. Serve others with a kind heart. Smile – it’s the best way to destroy frown lines and it’s very contagious.
Overcome your critical attitude! First, choose to overcome it. Acknowledge that you are critical and stop it cold. Choose to accept, approve and appreciate others as they are. Become a “good finder” for others and shine a light on their strengths and talents.
“She has a nicer car than I do, but I work harder than she does.”
“It isn’t fair my co-worker gets to go to the conference and I don’t.”
“What make him so special?”
“It’s not fair. It’s not fair. It’s not fair.”
Overcome your envious nature! First, choose to do so. Count your blessings. Praise others for their success and rewards. Foster contentment with your own life – not complacency, as you will continue to strive to grow and improve – but contentment with your blessings. Refuse to see someone else’s success as evidence of failure on your part, but instead, see others’ success as a beacon toward achieving your own goals.
“Breakfast should be promptly at 8am.”
“The first appointment of the day should not be any earlier than 8:15.”
“Only one person should be on vacation at a time.”
Don’t “should” on me! Overcome your inflexible attitude! First, choose to do so. Choose to do things differently from your routine. Recognize that very little is ever black and white. Circumstances change and so must responses. Welcome change. Change is inevitable. Progress is optional. Choose progress!
“I’m never going to get ahead because I am over 40 years old.”
“I come from a divorced family, so it is not my fault my marriage failed.”
“Take pity on me. Nothing is my fault. I have no power in my own life.”
Overcome your victimized attitude! First, choose to do so. Forgive and let go. Stop giving life to the attitude and take responsibility for changing your life.
“Why should I bother going on a diet. There is no way I will succeed.”
“Uh oh, we get a new boss next week. I bet he is a dictator!”
“I might as well cancel my vacation. With my luck, it will rain.”
Overcome your pessimistic attitude! First, choose to do so. Limit your exposure to negative input. Increase your positive input. Serve others.
“Attitudes are habits of the mind.” according to Laurie Woodward. She is right. Habits can be changed. Replace yours with attitudes worthy of you.
My last several articles have been on the heavy side so I decided to take a break and share some more of my favorite quotes. When you need something positive to feed your brain, try these.
The worst prison would be a closed heart.
Winning isn’t everything – but making the effort is.
I have come to realize that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
Choose an attitude of gratitude.
Lost time is never found again.
A lie gets halfway round the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.
Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.
Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.
Don’t let people drive you crazy when you know it’s in walking distance.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the staircase.
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Character is power.
Life is like a box of chocolates, so I adapt to what I get!
Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.
Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.
The buck stops here!
Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.
It is common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.
If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
Choose a favorite quote – one of these or one you find elsewhere. Keep it where you can see it every day.
Feed your brain something uplifting. You deserve it!
I am a student of leadership, not an accomplished leader. In studying successful leaders, it has become very apparent they all have some things in common.
For instance, all leaders encounter challenges. They choose to rise to the occasion. This is what leaders do. Leaders care about people enough to strive to do right by them regardless of the circumstances or even because of the circumstances.
The uniform of a leader is thick skin. Thick enough to let the whining, self-righteous, dishonorable treatment they receive from others bounce off. This does not mean a leader is cold-hearted, insensitive or untouchable. No mortal wound must make it through the thick skin and yet, leaders must also have great heart for their people. There is very fine line to walk between thick skin and great heart.
Only a handful of leaders ever successfully walk this line. I have had the great fortune to personally know several who walk this line with success and grace. I know several others who are well on their way to achieving this balance. I do my best to emulate the successful ones while supporting and encouraging the ones that are learning.
Who are you emulating? What are you doing to encourage and support the leaders you know?
Seth Godin wrote recently about the hazards of brand exceptionalism.the belief that something is unique and exceptional The focus of his article was companies and their products. After reading it several times, I realized there was a lesson here for veterinary technicians and veterinarians.
Over time and through diligent effort, we become the best we can under the circumstances. We have invested the time and effort into learning our job well. We don’t do anything wrong. Our clients like us. We have exceptional results in our patient care. There comes a point when we believe that our technical skills, our ability to relate to our clients, our success as a team, and our veterinary medical knowledge are our best under the circumstances. Of course, our boss should give us a raise – we are doing our very best. Of course, the clients should always trust us – we are the very best at what we do. Of course, we should be the senior tech – we have been here longer and we know more than the others.
The danger lies in believing that we are at our very best level. When we believe this, we stop growing and improving. We rest on our past performance. How far does that get anyone when the science behind our profession is constantly changing? How far that does that get anyone when the market is in a constant state of flux? How far does that get anyone when the client culture is changing? Not very far.
I am not saying that our egos are out of line. We really are doing our best under the circumstances. However, the circumstances are always changing.
A little humility is in order. We need to continue to grow – ourselves, our practice, our people skills, and our understanding of our profession. If we don’t, we rapidly become obsolete because we are no longer doing our very best under the circumstances.
Best is always just over the horizon. Onward and Upward!
As a long-time supervisor, I have worked with some amazing veterinary technicians – talented, knowledgeable people who are passionate about their work. I have learned a great deal about people from technicians over the last 30 years. I love people!
However, there are still many things that confuse me. For instance, the technicians I have had the pleasure of working with are all hard-working people when times are busy. When the workload is heaviest, they consistently rise to the occasion and kick butt! I have seen technicians manage workloads that are freakishly heavy and yet they get it all done in a timely manner with phenomenal accuracy. Awesome!
But, when the workload is light, something seems to go wrong. Efficiency decreases. Accuracy drops. Tardiness increases. Teamwork disappears. Torpor sets in. How is it that highly-motivated, hard-working people who rise to a challenging day, turn into zombies when the caseload is light?
I have come to the conclusion that some people are directed by circumstances rather than self-directed. On the days with heavy workloads, some people aren’t choosing to rise to the occasion – they are only responding to external pressure.
So, the challenge for me as a supervisor is two-fold:
Darn! It all comes down to leadership again! Guess I’d better continue to improve my game.
Onward and Upward!
I love quotes! When someone can put into just a few words a powerful truth, it rings clearly in our hearts and minds.
Here are just a few of my favorites.
You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.
Change is inevitable. Progress is optional.
If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.
If you are going through hell, keep going.
I ask not for a lighter burden, but broader shoulders.
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.
Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.
Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.
Gossip is the coward’s way to commit murder.
If you can dream it, you can do it.
The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.
Winning is not a sometime thing, is an all the time thing. You don’t do things right once in a while…you do them right all the time.
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.
Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within.
“Success seems largely a matter of holding on after others have let go.” William Feather
In today’s society, people still dream of achieving great goals. However, too many are unwilling to endure the struggle that must come before the victory may be won.
When I find it challenging to continue moving forward, I remind myself of those who persevered in the face of obstacles.
Helen Keller – lost her vision and hearing at 10 months of age – went on to become a famous author and humanitarian.
Chuck Yeager, test pilot – thrown from a horse fracturing two ribs – went on to break world record 2 days later despite the incredible pain exacerbated by the speed.
John Lennon – an aunt told him he would never make a living playing a guitar – went on to become a world famous musician and composer.
Thomas Edison, inventor – was kicked out of school for asking too many questions – went on to invent hundreds of products.
JK Rowling, children’s author – a single mother on welfare – went on to become a best selling author.
Jerry Yang – only knew one word of English at age 10 – went on to become co-founder of Yahoo
Henry Ford – wanted to become a watchmaker – went on to become an auto maker, overshot just a little!
Steve Jobs – didn’t have start up money, but had an idea he believed in. So, he sold his VW to make 50 circuit boards – went on to become CEO of Apple Computers.
Albert Einstein, scientist – didn’t talk until age 3 and was deemed a slow learner in school – went on to change how we understand the world.
Walt Disney, animator and film maker – started a movie company with only $750 – went on to win 32 Oscars
Dwight Eisenhower – denied an appointment at Annapolis – went on to become the Allied Supreme Commander
Michelle Kwan, Ice Skater – critics said she lacked focus and skills – went on to win 5 World Championships
John Wooden, coach – missed the final shot in the High School Championship game –went on to win 10 NCAA titles as a coach
Bill Gates – dropped out of Harvard to work on a little idea – went on to become CEO of Microsoft.
Michael Jordan – did not make the cut for high school basketball team – went on to become a World Champion 6 times.
Bethany Hamilton, surfer – at 13 years old, a shark took her arm while she was surfing –– went on to surfing competitively again within 6 months and winning.
And my favorite example of perseverance – Abraham Lincoln. His fiancée died. He failed in business twice. He had a nervous breakdown. He was defeated in eight elections. Yet, he went on to become the President of the USA!
They are all choices. If you have a dream, do the work to achieve it long enough to finish. Choose to finish!
Do people fire companies? You betcha!
Just think about the less than satisfactory experiences you have had with companies.
The barista at your local coffee shop let a friend jump in line in front of you?
The pharmaceutical company who lost your order, but the customer service rep insists you didn’t place one?
The restaurant where the waiter delivers the wrong dish to your table. You point out that you didn’t order it and ask him to please bring the correct dish. The waiter insists that you did order the dish he delivered and you will have to pay for it even if he gets you something else.
The veterinarian who is 30 minutes late seeing your pet. When you ask the receptionist how much longer it will be, the curt reply is “He is busy. You will just have to wait.”
Hmmm, do you think that you will return to any of these establishments if given the choice? Not likely. You are more likely to “fire” each of them.
Each was a minor experience on its own. One or two bad experiences and you choose to go elsewhere.
This is also true for your clients. They are not likely to be any more forgiving than you are about negative experiences. Gives you something to think about, doesn’t it?
“Universities, unfortunately, are not always the best place to learn. Too many of them are less places of higher learning than they are high-class vocational schools. Too many produce narrow-minded specialists who may be wizards at making money, but who are unfinished as people. These specialists have been taught how to do, but they have not learned how to be. Instead of studying philosophy, history, and literature - which are the experiences of all humankind – they study specific technologies. What problems can technology solve, unless the users of that technology have first grappled with the primary questions?” Warren Bennis1
Formal education or not, do you feel as if there are gaps in your learning? I certainly do.
I have a degree from a prestigious university. The experience gained and knowledge developed while attending the university was well worth the time and expense. However, the education was so focused on science as to leave no time for history, philosophy, sociology, and literature. I was not exposed to the thinking of the great men and women of our past. I sincerely wish I had been, so I could better understand the human condition and how mankind has gotten where we are today.
I have been most fortunate to have people in my life, including my father, who learn for the sake of learning. Their example has inspired me to take on the responsibility for my own continued education. This has allowed me to fill in some of the “gaps” left unfilled during my time at the university.
As I fill those gaps, I find that I am better able to understand why people do what people do, why our country is in its current straits, how money works, what it takes to be a leader in my home and community, and how to grow myself into the best person I can be. Knowledge really is power. Power to understand and power to influence my own life.
I attended the university to learn how to do a job – “human doing.” I study a more classical education to learn how to be a person – “human being.”
What are you studying?
1 Warren Gamaliel Bennis is an American scholar, organizational consultant and author, widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of Leadership studies.
Sitting here staring out the window, I began to wonder about life and all its mysteries. There are some things that have perplexed me for decades.
I have spent some time reflecting on the last 10 years, doing a “check up from the neck up.”
As I review the years, I find that I have changed jobs, once unexpectedly; become a grandmother (three times); lost friends to cancer and Parkinson’s; built a home; watched the economy crash; built a business; saw the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the tsunamis in Thailand and Japan; had a friend brutalized by a psycho; and came home to find my husband on the floor with a fractured pelvis. Tears, laughter, fear, frustration, joy, anger, surprise and sorrow are all part of the flavor of life. These last 10 years have been sprinkled with many spices of life!
I also managed to learn and relearn a few things.
The Veterinary Technicians who have gone before you have helped put the profession where it is today. They built a bridge for all of us.
The Bridge Builder
An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”
We owe those pioneers so much. We can repay them by continuing to expand and promote our profession. Be a bridge builder!
Pride is part of a normal healthy psyche – It is the direct result of knowing we have done our very best and given our all. However, there is a very fine line between healthy and unhealthy pride. How do we know when our pride has become unhealthy and is becoming a problem?
1) Believing that we don’t need to continue learning:
“I know this inside and out.”
“No one has anything to teach me on this topic.”
Closing our mind makes for a dark, stuffy brain! Seek knowledge. Accept that others may be able to contribute a new perspective or information. Remember, none of us ever knows everything.
2) Treating people differently based on their position in life:
A grocery store clerk deserves the same kindness and respect that our boss or company president deserves. Rank is not a factor.
A truly good person is kind and respectful to all.
If our first reaction when someone else receives recognition is to think something unkind or self-justifying, pride has become a problem.
“She has it so much easier than I do.”
“He is a brown-noser.”
Put pride aside and celebrate the victory of others.
John Wooden said, “It’s amazing how much we can accomplish if no one cares who gets the credit.”
4) Over-talking or turning the conversation onto yourself:
If you find that you are doing all the talking or are turning every conversation onto yourself, pride may be a problem. Learn to fully listen to others. Encourage others to talk. Exhibit sincere interest in what others have to say.
We have two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionately!
5) Speaking or thinking ill of others:
If we tear others down, we make ourselves look small. Everyone is our superior in some way. Find a reason to edify and uplift others. Criticizing and condemning are signs of pride gone bad.
6) Correcting others:
Never, ever correct someone except when asked, and temper your reply with tact and positive words. Make certain the person truly wants to hear the bad with the good.
If you aren’t certain, only comment on the good. Uplift and encourage. It is not our place to reproach.
When asked for feedback, point out what was done well first, then gently comment on what may have been done differently (NOT better). Carefully consider referring them to a book or CD that might help them.
“I know when I am not satisfied with my performance, I re-read ____. It has always been helpful to me. Maybe you will find it helpful also.”
Some of you might wonder how I decide what to write about each week. Primarily I write about the lessons I am learning and applying to myself. Pride is one that keeps smacking me upside my head in my own life. Lesson repeated until lesson learned!!! Ouch!
Keep pride under control and watch yourself grow!
There are social sins. I am not talking about politically incorrect statements, but behaviors that are unacceptable in a healthy society. The ones that come to mind are lying, gossip, and slander.
Strong relationships are the key to success in any community and trust is the foundation of healthy relationships. Lying deals a deathblow to any relationship. Don’t even go there, because the likelihood that you will ever repair the relationship is highly unlikely. Even a well-hidden lie or a “white lie” will slowly but surely destroy the strength of a relationship.
Gossip might be factual or not, but it will undermine a community. We all know it and yet so many of us can’t resist sharing “what Suzie said that Tommy said that Michelle said”. (sigh)
If you are the gossiper, stop it! You aren’t helping yourself or anyone else. If you are listening to gossip, you are encouraging gossip. You are just as guilty as the gossiper! Walk away. Better yet, tell the person sharing gossip about Suzie “Let’s go see Suzie and see what she has to say about this”. I’ll bet you find the gossiper is suddenly too busy to go see Suzie!
Slander is malicious gossip. Demeaning, criticizing and condemning others using false information causes harm to someone’s character. Slander damages the psyche and performance of all individuals who come in contact with it.
Slanderers should be avoided like the plague, as they are highly contagious. The muck they create will dirty everyone who comes within earshot! Call the slanderer on it right then and there. Emphatically assure that the slanderer know you will not tolerate such behavior. If there are others present, so much the better. Take a stand that sets a better example.
Social sins are rampant in society. How about where you work? What example are you setting?
Recently, the manager of a 9-veterinarian practice with 40 staff members consulted with me on conflict resolution in the practice. In an initial interview, I always look for clues to the practice culture. This manager handed me a whopper! She asked, “Why can’t staff just come to work, get their work done and go home. Why do they need all this touchy-feely attention?” Hmm, I think I know where the problems in this practice might start.
Why indeed do we need all that “touchy-feely stuff?” Simply put, it is because we are working with people and people need to know they are valued. Studies indicate that the number one reason people are dissatisfied with their jobs is not money but lack of appreciation.
How can you help people feel appreciated? It doesn’t take money or a lot of time. Start by genuinely fostering a belief in yourself that people are valuable.
There are a variety of ways to express your appreciation that can be used in a work environment or even in your personal relationships.
None of these are difficult, but they carry great weight when done with sincerity.
A wise sage I know sent this to me recently:
“Try this thought puzzle – there are two ways to get things done: One engine is willpower. It takes a lot of energy because you are pushing yourself and you have to keep pushing or you stop and drift backwards.
The other engine is your heart. This engine pulls. It doesn't take as much energy because once you find it, the pull is always there. It doesn't take as much energy to follow your heart.
I'm not saying that it's easy. It is just easier.
And I've always thought people who told me I should find what I loved and do it were a little off – how do you tell what you love to do until you've done it?”
How do you find what you love to do? Here are a few questions to get you started on finding your passion.
Once you have found your passion, spend some time pursuing it every week. The sense of fulfillment just might be powerful.
There are some amazing books out there that will help you identify your passion. One of my favorites is “Simon Says: Living Your Life Purpose…Not Just Following the Crowd” by Chuck Goetschel.
I attended a Leadership mini-seminar this week with an excellent speaker. He taught several key points I will share with you over the next couple of weeks.
First, let me share with you a rating system he uses when working with others. He rates each encounter on a scale of 1 to 5.
Try rating each of your encounters this week. Where could you improve?
Leaders light up the room when they walk in. Others always feel better for having spent time with a leader.
Do you light up the room when you walk in or when you walk out?
For some people, every thought they have flies right out their mouth. For others, they never share their thoughts regardless of the circumstances.
Sometimes silence is golden. And, sometimes it is unfair to you and others.
We all agree difficult conversations are a normal part of life. However, did you know there are times that you should not pursue a difficult conversation?
Timing has a direct and powerful impact on the success of any challenging conversation. In general, it is best to address a personal issue within 24-48 hours. There are several exceptions to this. If you or the other person is still royally ticked off after 24-48 hours, it is probably not a good idea to bring up the topic if your intent is to have a positive outcome. Best to wait until you are both willing to consider resolution.
Of course, waiting too long creates its own problems. Resentment, resistance, and fear can build over time. Heard the one about “making a mountain out of a mole hill”? Choose your timing with specific intent.
Never have a difficult conversation until you first identify your purpose. If your purpose does not include seeking a win-win resolution, please consider refraining from initiating the conversation. Purpose will be the foundation of the conversation. Make sure it is clear in your mind and share it with the other party. Their purpose might be at odds with yours! You don’t have to have the same reason for the conversation, but you do have to have the same goals – understanding and resolution.
Another reason not to pursue a difficult conversation is when there simply isn’t enough time. Hit and run is never effective. Starting a difficult conversation on the elevator as you are both leaving for the day is tantamount to throwing gas on a fire. Choose a time that works best for both of you. “I would like an opportunity to hear more about your perspective on this. When would be a good time for us to sit down together for an hour?”
One last point when considering whether or not to pursue a challenging conversation – the setting can influence whether or not to pursue a difficult conversation. Hallways and cafeterias are definitely not a good idea. Are there people present who should not be part of the conversation? Choose a private place to carry on important conversations so that the environment is not a distraction.
Ask yourself these questions before you initiate a difficult conversation.
If you answered no to any of these questions, rethink initiating the conversation.
When last we met, I offered suggestions on how to work with the four personality types. Let’s take a step back for just a few minutes. Recognizing your own personality type is critical before you begin a difficult conversation. How you think will be the primary influencer in how you behave during any conversation. The “glasses” you see the world through could be smeared with Vaseline and warping reality!
Points to ponder as you prepare for a difficult conversation when you are a:
“D” or “Choleric”
“I” or “Sanguine”
“S” or “Phlegmatic”
“C” or “Melancholy”
With this knowledge of yourself, you have the rudimentary tools necessary to help create dynamic, constructive conversations rather than tension-filled battles of words.
In the first part of this series, I wrote about the four basic personality types. Better communication is possible if we understand our own personality type and those of others. This understanding provides us with the tools to speak the “language” of others. Season all conversation with sincerity. Flattery or false appreciation will create an insurmountable wall.
Here is a brief synopsis on each personality type as it relates to communication. For greater detail, I highly recommend you refer to “Positive Personality Profiles” by Rohm and “Personality Plus” by Littauer. Both books are very valuable.
Points to ponder as you prepare for a difficult conversation with type:
“D” or “Choleric”
“I” or “Sanguine”
“S” or Phlegmatic
“C” or “Melancholy”
Understanding others is critical to the success of any conversation – it is more than critical in a difficult conversation. However, understanding yourself comes first. Figure out which personality type you are and recognize your needs. Look at the conversation from your perspective before you get into the actual conversation. Where are your potential pitfalls?
Next week, I will discuss the personality types as they pertain to your side of the conversation.
Difficult conversations. We all have them: telling the boss we made a mistake; running into a co-worker who is routinely disrespectful; disappointing a spouse or child; apologizing to just about anyone. And, then there is the encounter with an upset or furious client. These all qualify as difficult conversations.
Difficult conversations are a normal part of life, unless you are a hermit living on top of a mountain somewhere. If you live with, work with, or are surrounded by people, you will have difficult conversations. You can’t eliminate them, but you can become more effective when having them.
We generally have only two choices when faced with a difficult conversation – Confront or Avoid. Sometimes this hardly seems much of a choice. If we avoid the conversation, the situation will not fix itself and will most likely fester and fume until there is a major eruption. If we choose to confront without proper preparation it can be volatile or, at the very least, rob us of our chance to be effective.
According to the authors of “Difficult Conversations – How to Discuss What Matters Most”, each conversation is actually three in one. There is the “what happened?” conversation, the feelings conversation, and the identity conversation. There really isn’t much we can control in these three conversations except one critical thing – how we react.
If we stop our ego and fear long enough to truly understand what the other person is saying and what they are not, we have an opportunity to turn a difficult conversation into a constructive one.
Seek to understand before seeking to be understood. Put aside your preconceived ideas and convictions to fully hear the other person. Really listen. Encourage the other person to share. Rarely does someone bring up what is most important in the first few minutes - remember this. Keep them talking and eventually they will tell you what is really on their mind.
How do you keep someone talking? There are many ways to actively encourage another to share. Sometimes I use all or part of this sentence “Oh, really? Why’s that?” As the person begins to slow down I will prompt with “Oh?” or “Oh, really?” Or, “Oh really, why’s that?” Even an occasional nod of the head with an “I see” works.
These conversation techniques allows the person to continue talking until they truly run out and finally hit what is at the crux of the matter in their mind. Now is your opportunity to jump in and share what you have been so patiently waiting for! NOT! Now is the time to confirm that you have indeed understood the other person.
“What you have just shared is very important to me. Let me make sure I understand correctly.” Paraphrase the most important points in your own words giving them the opportunity to correct you or embellish. Be careful! This is not the time to start the discussion phase or you will end up in a place of conflict. Listen. Keep them talking until they run out again. “Ah, I think I understand now.” Paraphrase once again.
Your effort to truly understand what the other person has said will go a long way toward helping the other person feel appreciated, less fearful or angry, and willing to listen to you. Now you start your side of conversation, right? No, before you do, ask one more thing. “Is there anything else you would like to add?” If not, now it is your turn. If there is something, then go back to listening fully, paraphrasing when appropriate.
Start gently when it is time for you to share your perspective or concerns. “You have given me a great deal to think about that I had not considered before. I really appreciate your honesty as well as the points you presented. I hope to convey my ideas/concerns in as clear a manner and I appreciate your patience with my efforts.”
As you continue, present your side without placing blame, assigning intentions to others, or trying to prove a point. Simply share your point of view without the intention of persuading. By doing so, you encourage conversation instead of debate, learning instead of battle.
When you finish presenting your perspective, inform the other person, “I am not sure I have been articulate enough to convey my thoughts/ideas effectively. Would you mind sharing with me the points you gathered from what I said?” Once again, be careful not to let this part turn into a debate. Listen. Let them finish. If they are wrong about something you said then simply state “I see I have not been as clear as I could be. Bear with me for a moment while I try to be more accurate. I meant to say…” You have taken responsibility for the lack of accuracy onto yourself rather than blaming the other person. This leaves them free to fully listen without feeling defensive. Learning can continue. Have them paraphrase again.
If you have confirmed that you understand each other, ask them to be your partner in figuring out the solution. “I can see that we have differing perspectives. I wonder if the two of us could…” or “Let’s work on how we might resolve this.” or “I need your help putting this into perspective.”
If you are still misunderstanding each other, ask for their help. “I am still having difficulty expressing myself. Do you have any suggestions?” Then listen. They will share keys to their own thinking that you will be able to use to express yourself more clearly.
Listen. Learn. Eventually the resolution will be win-win.
Difficult people. Sigh. No matter what you do in life or how nice you are, inevitably you will encounter difficult people. How you manage them is a factor of how you think. How you think is influenced by your genetics and your life experiences. I bet you have heard all of this before.
What I bet you have not heard is that you can change how you think, and therefore how you respond to difficult people. The better you become at working with difficult people, the more valuable you are in your profession.
If up to this point, you are thinking the difficult people I am referring to are your clients – think again. Yes, some of your clients are indeed difficult. However, the most challenging people you routinely encounter in veterinary medicine are your co-workers. In fact, I would venture to say you spend more of your waking hours with them than with your own spouse.
How do you work with difficult people? This is not something that comes naturally to me. I have had to study this topic for over two decades to get to the point where I don’t automatically bulldoze over them. There is your first hint that I used to be one of the “difficult people”! (Kacy and Leslie, keep your comments to yourself!). My basic personality hasn’t changed over the past 20 years, I’ve simply learned how to work with others whose personalities are different from my own. I still have that bulldozer in me, but have learned how to best utilize it and when to not use it at all.
Over the next few weeks I will delve into the topic of working with difficult people, and share with you the lessons I have learned from some top leadership and communication authors. I will also recommend books that were recommended to me by some of the same authors as well as my mentors. I am not a expert in this area, but am sharing with you some of the lessons I have learned from experts about working and playing well with others. Understanding the basics of psychology will help you to work with difficult people.
Let’s start at the foundation of personality and work our way up. I recommend Florence Littauer’s book “Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself” and Robert A. Rohm, Ph.D “Positive Personality Profiles”. Both books work under the premise that there are four basic personality types. Each person has traits of more than one of the personality types. However, they are predominantly one or two.
The first personality type is one I know quite intimately as I am primarily of this type. Littauer calls it the “choleric” and Rohm calls it the “D”. The D is often the one we refer to as the “natural” leader. We are the ones who believe if you want something done right, do it yourself. We are frequently wrong, but never in doubt. D’s are task oriented and love a challenge. Without challenges, they quickly become bored. Their strengths are independence, optimism, practicality, problem resolution, productivity and decisiveness.
The second personality type Littauer refers to as the “sanguine” and Rohm the “I”. “I’s” are inspirational, people oriented, and high-energy. They are the life of the party and the class clown. They love to talk, often whether someone is listening or not. Honesty is not as important to them as telling a good story. I’s are dreamers and erratic. They want very much to be liked. Their strengths are friendliness, compassion and fun.
The third personality type Littauer refers to as “melancholy” and Rohm the “C”. “C’s” are cautious and very, very detail oriented. They tend to be neat and tidy in all they do. “C’s” are the critical thinkers. They frequently succumb to analysis paralysis – over thinking to the point of failure to take action. Their very strengths involve their attention to detail and intellect. Minds like steel traps never forgetting a detail. Because of their penchant for detail, they contribute to projects by breaking them down into the manageable component parts.
The final personality type Littauer refers to as the “phlegmatic” and Rohm the “S”. “S’s” require a sense of security. They tend to be experts at passive resistance and can appear submissive. Frequently they are “people pleasers”. Their strengths are that of cooperation, dependability, outer calm, and kindness. They are often the peacekeeper in a family or work place.
Which personality types are you? Read the books to find out. Next week I will share with you why understanding the personality types is key to working with difficult people.
And, so a new year begins! I am not sure why first is the designated day for beginning anew. Any day would serve just as well. How about February 11 or 1? Why wait the entire year to decide to commit to something new? I have no idea how the tradition started, but I do know making and keeping resolutions are two different things.
If you want to succeed at keeping a resolution, there are plenty of advisors telling you how. I am not going to advise you how since the only person who should offer the advice is someone who consistently keeps resolutions. Definitely not me!
However, I can offer you one simple piece of advice. A resolution that you are passionate about and put effort into daily is one you will keep.
So, review the list of resolutions you are thinking about making and pick one or two that mean the most to you. Work on them daily with a laser focus. Don’t let anything distract you. Work with the intention of winning and you will!
Onward and Upward!