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Entry date: 4-2-2022 - Inspiration in the AM - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

I was inspired by something discussed with my friend, Tom, on our morning walk yesterday. We were talking about a potential opportunity he has in front of him in the future as we strolled up 21st avenue just before dawn. It was very quiet out yesterday and the stillness of the early morning was contributing, I think, to the philosophical nature of our chat.

As we talked, we both started to share what we believe helps make a business successful and we agreed upon the idea that the people who work in a business, no matter what kind of business it is, should be important to those who are in charge. I shared that I am a firm believer that if you help people believe in themselves, give them the right tools to do their job, and make your expectations clear, most people will be happy and work hard for you.

In my experience as both as a leader and one being led, these have been the workplaces that felt the best to me. A workplace where people are valued and everyone understands that the client will be best taken care of if the person helping them understands their job, is encouraged to do it well, and is given the space to be good, if not great, at it. This starts with making sure that people believe in themselves.

Now, some of you reading this will think I am going to talk about some sort of kumbaya shit and I am not, but to be good at anything, you must believe you can be good at it. Lots of people out there have never learned to believe in themselves and that is just sad. Everyone out there can be good at something. I do believe that. Even the fuck ups. They can be good at something if someone is willing to take them to show them how.

I worked at Perryville Correctional Facility on the west side of Phoenix. While I was there, I met, as William S. Burroughs would say, “all manner of fuck ups.” My job was to teach the ladies who were incarcerated how to have business conversations with decision makers in small, medium, and large companies on behalf of our clients: SAP, Microsoft, Dell, and similar firms.

The biggest obstacle was not giving these ladies some technical knowledge or going over basic sales skills. A lot of them were natural salespeople who had been selling all manner of things for most of their lives and the technical knowledge would easily come for those who were engaged. The biggest obstacle was getting them to believe they could be successful on the phones.

If you have worked in a call center, you probably know that the hardest part of the job is getting past the idea you are bothering people. If you believe in yourself and believe you have something to offer someone that will help them do their job better, then you are not bothering them. You are helping them. If you believe in yourself, you also can more easily wrap your head around the idea that what you have to say is important.

I have a sign in my classroom that says, “Your Voice Matters.” If you do not believe this simple sentence, you do not believe in yourself. If you do not believe in yourself, you will not be able to achieve what you truly want to achieve. It seems simple, but it is not.

The way I go about helping people believe in themselves begins with listening. I listen to the people I teach, work with, care about, love. I show them their voice matters by asking them questions, being there if they need me, and only offering advice if it is requested (unless you are my child). I also do my best to show them respect and model respectful behavior. A lot of people who do not believe in themselves have not been treated very well. They do not believe their voice matters.

The other huge thing here is to empower people to make good decisions. This takes some patience and empathy. If you are leading people, this means meeting them where they are at and managing them in a way that shows you care, have clear boundaries and expectations, and allow them to make decisions, when applicable, related to how they do their job. In addition, you make sure they have the tools they need to be successful. Sometimes this is giving them enough rope to hang themselves, sure, but when people believe in themselves, they are more likely to make something useful out of the rope.

See you tomorrow.

Totally unrelated photo by Lisa H. I'm definitely not empowering Geordie. He's empowering me.

Listen to Total Chaos.

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