Category: Team Building

21 Quotes to Live By

ImageMy friend and Successories® founder, Mac Anderson, once said, “The right words can engage the brain and bring an idea to life.” Mac loves quotes and I do too. Here’s the way I see it: One day a specific inspirational quote may do nothing for you and have absolutely no meaning. Then strangely enough, the very next day—because of whatever you may have experienced in your life—it suddenly hits you squarely in an “AHA”-type moment, making the message a meaningful revelation. After being surrounded by so many wonderful quotes and inspiring messages for more than a decade at Successories of Hawaii, it’s difficult to narrow down, but here’s twenty-one I’d like to share:

  1. Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. –Napoleon Hill

  2. Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. –Albert Einstein
  3. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. –Wayne Gretzky
  4. We become what we think about. –Earl Nightingale

  5. Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. –John Maxwell
  6. Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. –Vince Lombardi
  7. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. –Maya Angelou

  8. People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing.  That’s why we recommend it daily. –Zig Ziglar
  9. Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others.  Unsuccessful people are always asking, “What’s in it for me?” – Brian Tracy

  10. Happiness is not something readymade.  It comes from your own actions. –Dalai Lama
  11. In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure. –Bill Cosby

12. Baseball is the ideal forum for teaching the art of failure; the very best fail to get a hit seven out of ten times. — Sam Dunn

  1. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. –Martin Luther King Jr.
  2. Do what you can, where you are, with what you have. –Teddy Roosevelt
  3. The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me. –Ayn Rand
  4. You can’t be grace if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.  (Mary Tyler Moore)
  5. It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. –Abraham Lincoln
  6. Change your thoughts and you change your world. –Norman Vincent Peale

  7. Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn
  8. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. –Steve Jobs
  9.  It is through the way you serve others that your greatness will be felt. –Dr. Linda Andrade Wheeler

Continuous Improvement: Giving It Your All

Over the past six weeks, our training division at SuccessHawaii has been under contract to the Hawaii State Department of Education, Facilities Management Branch. I am proud of the work we accomplished together, but I am even more satisfied knowing the quality of people we have representing us in this critical function of state government. These are highly motivated employees who are responsible for the design, development, and maintenance of our public school facilities.

In quick retrospect, the past month has been a hectic one. In looking back, it was the participants within each of these focus groups, which we had the good fortune of working with, that made all the difference. In a nutshell, these highly-qualified professionals (i.e. architects, engineers, and former businesspeople) are an amazingly positive and dynamic group of people that work so collaboratively together.

The training program’s topic was entitled: “The Continuous Improvement Process: Delivering the Ultimate Service through Positive and Productive Teamwork.” 

We started this process by conducting five (5) focus groups with the various branches that fall under the Facilities Management Branch within the Office of Business Services. We followed that up with a half-day “Summary” session in which we assisted them as facilitators to boil-down a ton of input from the previous five sessions. In the end, all the various stakeholders negotiated many options to arrive at their agreed upon mission: “We take a vision and give it form through collaborative solutions to build opportunities for student achievement.”


On reflection, it has been a mini-marathon of very rewarding training workshops that achieved the goal set forth from the start. And today we completed the final, all-day training session with nearly 70 participants. Now, as I sit at my computer to debrief my thoughts, I’m taken back to my days as an athlete way-back-when. I can recall those days of giving everything I had physically and mentally, to play at peak performance. At least, to my abilities. Whether we won or lost was never the issue, it was whether you knew that you gave it your “all”. In this latest training series with the DOE, I confidently walk away knowing that we did give our very best and that’s the bottom line. Finally, consider this relevant quote on excellence from legendary coach, Vince Lombardi:

“….I firmly believe that any man’s finest hours – his greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear – is that moment when he has worked his heart out in good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”

No Goose Left Behind…

The following post comes from an ongoing training/consulting project we have with a large client organization here in Hawaii. We are in the midst of developing the custom-designed training curriculum, which began with a strategic planning and leadership training session. The Story of The Geese is a part of our “teamwork” module. It provides a perfect example of the importance of teamwork and how it can have such a profound effect on a team.

The Story of The Geese

This fall when you see geese heading south for the winter flying along in the “V” formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way.

Fact

As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an “uplift” for the bird immediately following it. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 % greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

Fact

Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go through it alone. It quickly gets back into the formation to take advantage of the “lifting” power of the bird in front of it.

Lesson

If we have as much common sense as a goose, we will stay in formation and share information with those who are headed the way we want to go. We should be willing to accept their help and give our help to others. It is harder to do something alone than together!

Fact

When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation. Another goose takes over and flies to the point position.

Lesson

It is sensible to take turns to do the hard and demanding tasks. It pays to share leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skills, capabilities, and unique arrangements of gifts, talents, or resources.

Fact

The geese flying in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Lesson

People who are part of a team and share a common direction as well as a sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another and lift each other up along the way.

The Importance of Encouragement

We need to make sure our honking is encouraging – Words of support and inspiration help energize those on the front line, helping them to keep pace in spite of the day-to-day pressures and fatigue. In groups and teams where there is encouragement, production is much greater. ‘Individual empowerment results from quality honking’.

Fact

When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two other geese will drop out of formation with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their flock.

The Importance of Empathy and Understanding

Albert Schweitzer tells the story of a flock of wild geese that had settled to rest on a pond. One of the flock had been captured by a gardener, who had clipped its wings before releasing it. When the geese started to resume their flight, this one tried frantically, but vainly, to lift itself into the air. The others, observing his struggles, flew about in obvious efforts to encourage him; but it was no use.

Thereupon, the entire flock settled back on the pond and waited, even though the urge to go on was strong within them. For several days they waited until the damaged feathers had grown sufficiently to permit the goose to fly. Meanwhile, the unethical gardener, having been converted by the ethical geese, gladly watched them as they finally rose together and all resumed their long flight. For this reason, I aptly named this article: “No Goose Left Behind”.

Finally, if we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by our team members in the good, as well as, the challenging times. So, the next time you see a formation of geese, remember…it is a REWARD, a CHALLENGE and a PRIVILEGE to be a CONTRIBUTING MEMBER of a TEAM.

The Productivity Paradox

In the June 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review, author Tony Schwartz explains how those in leadership positions have many opportunities to help their teams replenish their energy. Schwartz says, “It’s all about providing examples for others and creating a safe environment.”

Today, I listened to the corresponding, The HBR IdeaCast (iTunes podcast) and it certainly reaffirmed my position that we all need to ‘recharge our batteries’ in order to operate at our peak performance. According to Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project, the magic number happens to be, 90 minutes. That is, one hour and a half of focused work; then we need a re-energizing break. While he made it clear that the break shouldn’t necessarily equal the time spent on focused work, replenishing our energy is the critical part. The key, according to Schwartz, is how well you recover; not how long. He compared it to how some people work for a long period of time, but may not be as productive as someone working in a more focused manner. Similarly, breaks are dependent on the person, whereas some need more or less than others.

He went on to emphasize that humans are not made to operate like computers; we need to renew to succeed. Continue reading

Life Lessons from the “Wizard of Westwood”

“Success is a peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” –Coach John Wooden

I vividly recall my mom, Dr. Linda Andrade Wheeler, preparing for one of the many corporate training seminars she did when we partnered in business together at The Human Connection, Inc. It was in the early 90’s and one of the handouts to be shared with seminar participants was legendary Coach John Wooden’s, “Pyramid of Success” motivational program (a faded copy still remains in my research file, but here’s a new, printable PDF). Wooden tied success not to achievement, wealth or fame, but to how close a person came to their potential.

In essence, the Pyramid of Success consists of philosophical building blocks for winning at basketball and at life. According to John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, there are 12 lessons in leadership. At the summit of the pyramid is “success”. Each of the blocks represents a trait that a person must possess in order to become successful in life just like in playing a basketball game. At the time, as a recent Bruin graduate (1989), I was both intrigued and proud to be remotely associated–however indirectly–with such a legendary motivator and strong Christian. During his long tenure with the Bruins, Coach Wooden became affectionately known as the “Wizard of Westwood. Continue reading

Motivating Your Team In These Challenging Times

Surprise, surprise: According to a research study from the Ceridian Corporation in 2008, employees are most productive when they enjoy their work. But as you may know, even the most engaged employees can start to lose their drive if they feel overwhelmed, under-appreciated or panicking about job layoffs. So how can you as a manager keep your team members motivated when the workplace becomes stressful?

According to Ceridian, if everyone is working harder than usual because of layoffs and other cutbacks, talk openly with your team members about the situation. Acknowledge that times are difficult and let them know that you notice and appreciate their efforts. Here are some ways to keep up your team’s commitment and morale during difficult times.

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