5 Steps to Goal Setting Success

Many people think that goal setting is the true secret to success in any area of life. Although setting a goal may seem simple, achieving it is usually another question altogether.

The ability to achieve your goals is the true secret to success!

Why is that? Because you will never achieve your goals unless you:

(1) Know exactly what you want

(2) Are passionate about your goal

(3) Have a solid, realistic plan of action

This is what marks the difference between nebulous dreams and wishes – and truly achievable goals!

Many obstacles and challenges will fly right in your face when you are going after a goal. Here are 5 time-tested methods that will help get the success you deserve.

1. Know exactly what your goal is: Your first job is to discover exactly what your goal is. What will achieving that goal really look like? Be as specific as possible about exactly what your desired result is. Your success will be a measure of your clarity – since an achievable goal plan cannot be created around a nebulous “dream.”  If your goal is to create a more successful business, what will that look like? Are you thinking in terms of simply hiring someone else to give you more free time? Are you looking for a very specific monthly profit? On the other hand, can your goal be best expressed in terms of a certain lifestyle? Regardless of what you want, the best way to get it is to first clarify exactly what you want in as much detail as possible. This can be hard work. However, without a clear mental picture, you will never have the focus required to achieve your goal.

2. Be willing to pay the “entry fee”: Success takes dedicated planning and effort. In a way, it is like building a house. In the beginning, all you have is a rough concept. Then you develop a complete set of plans – and you immediately move closer to success. The same is true of creating a better lifestyle, or a more successful business. However, there is always an “entry fee” to be paid for success. The entry fee? Creating more success in your business may mean less recreational time. Writing your own book may require less TV. Being closer to your children may require adjusting your work or social activities. It is the “full glass” deal. If your life (your time) is already full to the top, there is no room for something new. The entry fee is carving out the time to create that something new.

3. Focus on your goal every day: I am sure you probably want to achieve your goal as fast as possible. That is why clear mental focus is so very important. Consistent daily focus is necessary to “burn in” the new neural pathways you need to create your new goal. Without daily focus, the old mental habits that have kept you from your goal will continue to take over. This happens automatically – since these old habits replay 24/7 deep in your subconscious mind. The only way to override subconscious anti-success messages is to focus on what you DO want – and build new neural networks! That is why success is an every-day event. Re-commit to your goal every day. Do not let your goal take a back seat to the daily tasks and distractions that will try to take over. Life WILL try to get in your way. Just get, and stay, on course every day. Focus on your goal, and on success!

4. Get passionate: One of the most powerful tools in your “success tool box” is having real passion for your goal. Why passion? Because intense passionate desire for your goal will help, you burn in those new neural pathways even faster. Many, many scientific studies have shown that intense emotion (passion) is a key success tool. PLUS (and this is really a “big” plus) intense passion will also help you rapidly override any inappropriate old “failure messages” stored in your subconscious mind.

5. Take consistent action: In many ways, actually taking action can be the most difficult step. Successful goal achievement is built by taking one small action after another. The word is ACTION! If you commit to take at least one small action each day, your actions WILL add up and make a difference. So avoid sitting back waiting for that big second when everything will magically “just happen.” You CAN create whatever you want in life. The secret is to determine exactly what you want, then pursue it passionately. But remember — in the end, only action counts! You cannot just dream about it! You have to DO IT!

Posted in Business Coach, CEO Coaching, Corporate Coaching, Credit Union Executives Coaching, Developing Leadership Skills, Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Goal Setting, Leadership & Executive Development for Credit Unions, Leadership Coach, Leadership Development, Leadership Development for Credit Unions, Management Coaching, Positive Behavior Chanage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Myths about Motivating Credit Union Employees

If you are a credit union CEO and your employees lack motivation, do not be too quick to blame them. Managers and organizational practices are frequently the problem.

In The Truth about Managing People (FT Press, 2007), Stephen P. Robbins, PhD, examines 10 common myths about motivation.

Myth #1: People just lack the motivation to work.
If you believe this myth, think about three things that may be going on in your employees’ minds. Ask yourself:

  1. Do your employees believe their maximum efforts will be recognized in performance appraisals? For many employees, the response is a resounding “no.” If they think their best efforts will yield only a mediocre review, they will suffer from low motivation.
  2. Do employees believe a good performance appraisal will lead to organizational rewards? When pay is allocated on seniority or special relationships, employees perceive the performance-reward relationship to be weak and demotivating.
  3. Are the rewards that employees receive the ones they want? Some people want promotions, others desire pay, and still others seek more interesting assignments. When rewards are not tailored to employees’ specific wants and motivating drives, incentives are sub optimized.

Myth #2: Happy workers are productive workers.

We assume satisfied workers are more productive. This theory plays out as flexible work hours, onsite childcare and workout facilities, retirement plans and attractive workplaces. While these amenities are nice benefits, they really are not incentives for high performance.

The evidence suggests that productive workers are more likely to be happy workers, rather than the reverse. If you do a good job, you feel positive about your efforts. This fuels your energy to accomplish more. Higher productivity should be recognized with praise, increased pay and the opportunity to earn even greater rewards.

Myth #3: Tell employees to do their best and let them find their own path. A mountain of evidence shows us that people perform best when they are given goals:

  • Specific goals increase performance.
  • Difficult goals, when accepted, result in higher performance.
  • Feedback leads to higher performance.

When you give an assignment with instructions to “do your best,” you are not providing enough specificity.

Myth #4: People want to set their own goals.
In spite of the logic behind participatory management, there is little evidence to show that goals set between employee and managers are superior to those unilaterally assigned by the boss.

For participation to work:

In reality, some people do not want the responsibilities that come with participation. They prefer to be told what to do and let the boss do the worrying.

Myth #5: Happiness leads to “flow” experiences.
When you are deeply involved in your work, you lose track of time—a state known as flow.
Flow experiences are periods of deep concentration during which workers report feelings of gratitude and satisfaction. To enter into flow, employees must be:

  • Challenged
  • Goal-directed
  • Provided with feedback
  • Allowed total concentration and creativity, without distractions and interruptions.

Myth #6: Feedback needs to address personal qualities. Telling employees that they are doing a “good job” is not good enough. Neither are comments about attitudes or efforts. Feedback must be specific and about behaviors not personal attributes.

No matter how upset you may be, limit feedback to job-related issues and never criticize someone personally.

Myth #7: Reward behaviors that indicate high performance.
Unfortunately, it is easy—and often tempting—to measure the wrong indicators. For example, the number of phone calls an employee places does not measure customer relationships or sales. In addition, when managers reward individual accomplishments, yet consistently say they are team-focused, employees take notice. When you discuss the importance of quality work, pay special attention to employees who exceed their production goals, but churn out below-average work.

Myth #8: Reward absolute results.
Employees compare their work situations to those of friends, colleagues, competitors or prior jobs. They assess how equitably they are being treated.

Your team will likely be motivated when members feel they are equitably rewarded for their contributions. When they feel under-rewarded, they become angry and this perceived inequity could lead to absences, reduced productivity, fudging on expenses and/or requests for a raise.

Myth #9: Low-skilled workers receive pay and benefits commensurate with their value. How do you motivate individuals who earn very low wages and lack opportunities to significantly increase their pay or receive promotions? Traditional approaches have focused on providing more flexible work schedules and filling these jobs with teenagers or retired people. However, something is not working: turnover rates at fast-food restaurant chains still hover at around 300 percent annually.

Some chains have experimented with stock options and incentive pay, broader responsibilities for inventory, scheduling and hiring and retirement plans, health insurance and scholarship money. Nevertheless, over a four-year period, turnover rates have been only minimally reduced: approximately 160% to 223%. Unless pay and benefits are, significantly increased, high turnovers probably have to be expected in these jobs

Myth #10: You can methodically apply motivation strategies to create high performance.
Job success depends on having adequate support resources. No matter how motivated Credit union employees may be, they will not perform well if they lack equipment, workspace, supplies, skills or others’ cooperation. They will quickly lose motivation, no matter the incentives or rewards offered. As you determine why a particular worker is performing poorly, examine the work environment to see if it is supportive. Employee performance is a combination and interaction of:

  • Attitude
  • Ability
  • Motivation
  • Opportunity
Posted in Business Coach, CEO Coaching, Corporate Coaching, Credit Union Executives Coaching, Developing Leadership Skills, Effective Communication, Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Leadership & Executive Development for Credit Unions, Leadership Coach, Leadership Development, Leadership Development for Credit Unions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What If We Invest in the Improvement of Our Staff and They Quit?

That is not a joke. There are leaders that use that excuse not to make an investment in their people out of fear that they will be throwing good money after bad should the staff member decide to seek opportunities elsewhere.

The leader is the one with a developmental issue and their leadership blind spots are Empathy and/or Practical Thinking. Specifically, leaders whose blind spot is Empathy has difficulty understanding others, poor understanding or appreciation of others, is insensitive/tactless, and emotionally distant. Leaders who demonstrate a blind spot in Practical Thinking do not exercise common sense, they are not an implementer and have a poor understanding of the work process.

You know leaders like that and are frustrated if you happen to work for one that feels investing in their people is too risky because they make quit. If you are a human resources professional, you are pulling out your hair right about now. Leaders that are unwilling to invest in their people are doomed to failure. Despite more than 30,000 books that have been written on the topic of leadership, not one has ever said that the leader has to make all the decisions by themselves. The investment in their teams and people will have measurable results to the organization and its stakeholders. Whether that is improved customer loyalty, reduced staff turnover, more share of wallet, improved revenues, reduced waste , etc., the team and staff are the ones that are at the point of contact with the customer, not the leader, and it is the team and staff that make the leader look good.

The recession and years of economic upheaval have battered balance and income sheets across the nation and that is true of credit unions and other not-for-profits too. Despite the economy, burdensome and expensive regulations, and reduced spreads, many organizations have thrived and grown. The strategies of each may be different; however, one common thread is these successful leaders looked at their teams and staff differently. They recognize that fully competent staff is critical to their success and that of the organization. They had a firm grasp on the concept that when the economy healed, their organization would be left behind if its teams and staff were not prepared for a new normal, to grow loyal customers, and to be better leaders. These leaders are independent and have a clear sense of direction. They do not intend to explain to their board of directors why their competition has blown by them or their brand has been tarnished due to ill-prepared and improperly trained staff.

Successful leaders see the question as “What If We Don’t Invest In Our Teams and Staff And They Stay”? The consequences outweigh the results. Strategic goals are missed, profits don’t meet forecasts, the board asks uncomfortable questions, and great employees leave because they are unappreciated and not provided the training and tools to do a better job for you. What are left are employees that are unhappy and it shows at the point of connection to your customers.

As a leader in today’s complex business environment, investing in the professional development of your team and staff is the most cost-effective method of ensuring the success of yourself and your organization. If they stay without training and improved attitude and skills, what’s your future look like?

Posted in Business Coach, CEO Coaching, Credit Union Executives Coaching, Developing Leadership Skills, Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Leadership & Executive Development for Credit Unions, Leadership Coach, Leadership Development, Leadership Development for Credit Unions, Management Coaching, Team Building | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Executive Strategic Planning

…it’s not just for fall and it’s not only for Fortune 500 companies.

Elements of the strategic thinking process. Executive Strategic Planning can take as few as 16-20 hours, or as many as 30 or 40.

The variables include:  How many participants; how complex the company situation is; how contentious some of the issues are; and whether the Market Plan, Sales Plan, and Follow-Up Tools are included in the group planning process ( vs. being delegated after plan completion to relevant departments). 

Structure options are two and one-half to three days retreat, or two hours at a time, in conjunction with a professional development process or some other regularly occurring meeting.

Posted in Critical Goal Categories, Goal Setting, Implementing Your Strategic Plan, Mission Statement, Solutions to Your Challenges, Strategic Advisor, strategic planning, Strategy, Values Statement, Vision Statement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Four Agreements

” The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom”, by Don Migel Ruiz and Janet Mills. A good read for all leaders, and those who aspire to become one.

Posted in Business Coach, CEO Coaching, Corporate Coaching, Corporate Coaching Services, Developing Leadership Skills, Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Leadership Coach, Leadership Development, Management Coaching, Positive Behavior Chanage, Right Action, self improvement, Success Coach, Team Building, Trust, Values, Values Statement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is Your Credit Union’s Member Loyalty Score?

In his book, The Ultimate Question, Fred Reichfield (www.theultimatequestion.com) suggests a simple measurement to determine customer* loyalty. His contention is that you have three types or levels of customers resulting from their experience with your organization. Determining which category each one of your customers falls into can be measured by asking one question, “How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend?”

* I served as a credit union CEO, so I empathize with the term “member” vs. customer. It doesn’t matter what figure of speech is used…it’s the message I want you to learn.

If the responses were sorted on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being ‘not at all likely’ to 10 being ‘extremely likely’, the responses of 9-10 are your loyal customers and provide you with the best word of mouth advertising; 7-8’s are generally not excited about their experience but found their experience to be okay or average; while anyone rating their experience as a 6 or lower is clearly not happy with their experience and may even be angry.

Here is how it ties directly to your revenues and potential profits.

Your Loyal Customers (9-10) are those who are absolutely delighted with your products or services and their experience during the entire purchasing process and follow up. These customers will promote your organization through word of mouth (referrals) and will repeatedly purchase your goods or services. They are your loyal customers.

Your Neutralizers (7-8) are those who are unenthusiastic about their experience with your organization, not totally turned off, but not enthusiastic about it either. They are open to buying from your competitors or perhaps you if the right promotion or situation arises. They are your Neutralizers.

Your Diminishers (0-6) are those customers who are unhappy enough with their experience and with your organization to actively look for an alternative source for your products or services which immediately costs you a revenue opportunity. Your diminishers will raise expenses because now you need to spend more on marketing or advertising. They are Diminishers because they not only will not come back, but they will also actively try to take others with them.

Identifying the percentage of your customers who fall into each category: Loyal, Neutralizers, and Diminishers provide you with metric that will indicate future strength and direction for your organization. We call this metric the Customer Loyalty Score. You may have heard that referred to as Net Promoter Score (NPS). http://npscalculator.com/

This one simple metric can provide you with an indication of your long-term future because this formula is an absolute predictor of your members future purchasing behavior as opposed to their opinions which are collected through a traditional satisfaction survey. If your customer loyalty metric is going down, your future is not strong and proactive decisions may be needed. If this metric is going up, so will your profits and long-term growth. This metric can be to member relationships, as a Credit Union’s net profit is to financial performance.

This single metric can for the first time provide a target for management and the entire organization to focus upon as an indicator of your credit union’s growth. No longer should it be the goal to only satisfy a member, but rather it needs to focus on how to make loyal members for your credit union! This metric should be a critical goal and included in your dashboard/balanced scorecard. Your bonus should depend, in part, on raising it.

As I facilitate executive strategic planning in credit unions, I ask the VP-Marketing what is the credit union’s net promoter score and the reply is almost always, “I don’t know as we don’t track that”. I believe that is a mistake. You cannot get that data from member satisfaction surveys.

Article was originally posted by: Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC has specialized in helping businesses achieve high levels of excellence and success by adopting customer loyalty strategies as a critical success factor of organizational success.

Adapted by: Tom Randle, Chief Encouragement Officer, KES Group LLC, is an affiliate of Resource Associates Corp., and served as a credit union CEO for 25 years. To contact Tom, tom@kesgroupllc.com, or (941)650-9027.


Posted in Credit Union Executives Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Leadership & Executive Development for Credit Unions, Leadership Development for Credit Unions, Member Loyalty, strategic planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I Know How You Feel”

…actually, you do not and cannot know how another human feels. It is usually disingenuous to say that. It likely infuriates the other person and demonstrates, once again, your lack of empathy and understanding. For leaders, that may be problematic and label you as insincere.

Once others perceive that you are not genuine, they will cease to admire, respect and follow you. Careers have ended because of that. And, you need to check yourself.

We all know someone that has lost a child; had their home burn to the ground; or lost a job, etc. When you say, “I know how you feel”, to that person, you are full of crap. Unless you, too, have felt that pain and had a hole in your heart so large you thought it could never be healed.

Think about that. There is not even a word in the English language to describe the grief a parent experiences when they outlive their children. When you lose both parents, it can be described as being orphaned and that may describe how you feel. But, there is no word for burying you child.

Leaders carry great responsibilities. Among them is being thoughtful with their words and actions. It may not be important that your staff like, or fear, you…but they must respect you in order to be good followers and for you to succeed as the leader of the organization, department, etc. Exhibiting a glaring lack of empathy will come back to bite you.

Don’t know the difference between empathy and understanding? It is said that understanding is the ability to perceive and explain the meaning or the nature of somebody or something. While empathy may be defined as the ability to identify with and understand somebody else’s feelings or difficulties. It’s subtle and often we use the terms inter-changeably.

I advise my clients too hardly ever, if ever, say to anyone “I know how you feel”. It isn’t worth the risk and consequences. All the other person wants is for you to be there with them.

Posted in CEO Coaching, Developing Leadership Skills, Effective Communication, Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Leadership Development, Management Coaching, self improvement, Success Coach, Team Building | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What are Your Goals for the Next 30 Days?

Focus, Prioritization, Action …

November 2017

Focus, prioritization, and action are some of the key ingredients to a successful business. Without them, you will keep spinning your wheels.

Many entrepreneurs try to chase too many targets at once and end up overwhelmed rather than focusing on their business. They spend all of their energy carrying out daily tasks leaving little time for the most important part of their day – their own business!

Being a small business owner often means wearing a number of different hats. How many of you act as the CEO, the general manager, the accountant, the salesperson, the computer technician, the secretary, the receptionist, etc.? Sound familiar?

Many entrepreneurs try to chase too many targets at once and end up overwhelmed rather than focusing on their business. They spend all their energy carrying out daily tasks leaving little time for the most important part of their day – their own business!

To avoid this, spend some time focusing on your business and decide which strategies will be most helpful in developing your own marketing plan. In order to grow and succeed in your business, you first need to have a clear idea of what you want to do and where you want to go. In other words, have you defined your objectives? In addition, more importantly, have you put them in writing?

Writing your objectives on a weekly basis and being very specific in each area of your business can give you the opportunity to create strategic alliances with other entrepreneurs, triple your database, increase your revenue, and maybe even leave time for writing that book you’ve always talked about.

You can make your big dreams a reality!

When you write your objectives on a weekly or monthly basis, it makes you actually work on them and act faster. If you are not specific and just say, “I will have money, or I will have more clients,” then yes, these things will come, but the question is “when”? You do not have any deadline to accomplish them by! However, if you decide that by November 30th you will have 6 new clients, you will then do something in order to get those clients instead of praying or waiting to see if this will happen.

In my last networking event, I asked my members, “What are your goals for the next 30 days?” Some answered without hesitation while others had to think about it. In addition, somebody told me, “Thanks for reminding me that I need to work on my goals, I had actually forgotten about it.”

I found that the best way of incorporating time for your objectives and marketing plan into your schedule is to set up an appointment with yourself. Moreover, whatever happens, even if there is a client emergency, never cancel this appointment with yourself.

Make a decision that once a month or once a week you will spend an hour or two working on your business, focusing on: strategies to get more clients, new products or services to offer, special campaigns to make more sales and writing articles for your newsletter, newspapers, or ezine directories to promote your business. The more links you get, the more traffic you will receive on your website (by the way, do you have a website? If not this should be one of your objectives for the next 30 days). Do you have a newsletter? This is the easiest and cheapest way to communicate on a regular basis with your clients and prospects in order to promote and grow your business. This can be another objective for the next 30 days.

Take the time to plan strategies that will help to grow your business. Consider yourself as your most important client. Do for yourself what you do for your clients. Your business needs all your attention, all your energy, and all your dedication. Your future and your success depend on it.

Posted in Business Coach, CEO Coaching, Corporate Coaching, Corporate Coaching Services, Credit Union Executives Coaching, Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Goal Setting, Implementing Your Strategic Plan, strategic planning, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Unleash All Your Leadership Potential

There is a steady flow of information in the form of books, articles, white papers, and training all in the context of  “what is leadership” or “how to develop a leader?” In this article, I will avoid those two questions and write about two others that I believe might be on the minds of many readers and they are:

Why does better leadership make a difference? and

How does better leadership achieve those differences?

Leadership is a unique form of human behavior that requires the integration of character, knowledge, and experience. What can you do if you step up and unleash your leadership potential? Change the world.

Your journey to unleashing your leadership potential begins with a greater understanding of self. Discover your personality traits and how they relate to leadership. When we know ourselves, we can maximize our positive traits and become aware of our weaker areas, which helps us to achieve our leadership potential. Once you understand and know yourself, next you must hone your communication skills. These are not limited to your public speaking skills either. This includes your writing style and your body language. Your ability to communicate effectively enhances your ability to improve interpersonal relationships. Another important skill is to learn how to learn. Examine different teaching methods and learning styles to identify how you and those you may lead learn best. This skill will greatly enhance your ability to make decisions and give clear instructions.

An exceptional leader recognizes the value of harnessing the skills and abilities of team members and leads them toward greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Leader is not a title, and leadership is not something you are born into. Leadership is something you develop.

This is what Dr. Ken Blanchard, had to say about good leaders in his book “The Heart of A Leader”: “If you want to know why your people are not performing well, step up to the mirror and take a peek.”

7 Personal Characteristics of a Good Leader

What makes a good leader? What personal qualities are needed for leadership? What characterizes good leadership? Here are seven important personal qualities found in a good leader:

  1. A good leader has an exemplary character. It is of utmost importance that a leader is trustworthy to lead others. A leader needs to be trusted and be known to live their life with honesty and integrity.  A good leader walks the talk and in doing so earns the right to have responsibility for others. True authority is born from respect for the good character and trustworthiness of the person who leads.
  2. A good leader is enthusiastic about his/her work or cause and also about his/her role as a leader. People will respond more openly to a person of passion and dedication. Leaders need to be able to be a source of inspiration, and be a motivator towards the required action or cause. Although the responsibilities and roles of a leader may be different, the leader needs to be seen as part of the team working towards the goal. This kind of leader will not be afraid to roll up his/her sleeves and get dirty.
  3. A good leader is confident. In order to lead and set direction, a leader needs to appear confident as a person and in the leadership role. Such a person inspires confidence in others and draws out the trust and best efforts of the team to complete the task well. A leader who conveys confidence towards the proposed objective inspires the best effort from team members.
  4. A leader also needs to function in an orderly and purposeful manner in situations of uncertainty. People look to the leader during times of uncertainty and unfamiliarity and find reassurance and security when the leader portrays confidence and a positive demeanor.
  5. Good leaders are tolerant of ambiguity and remain calm, composed and steadfast to the main purpose. Storms, emotions, and crises come and go and a good leader takes these as part of the journey and keeps a cool head.
  6. A good leader as well as keeping the main goal in focus is able to think analytically. Not only does a good leader view a situation as a whole, but is able to break it down into sub parts for closer inspection. Not only is the goal in view but a good leader can also break it down into manageable steps and make progress towards it.
  7. A good leader is committed to excellence. Second best does not lead to success. The good leader not only maintains high standards, but also is proactive in raising the bar in order to achieve excellence in all areas.

These seven personal characteristics are foundational to good leadership. Some characteristics may be more naturally present in the personality of a leader. However, each of these characteristics can also be developed and strengthened. A good leader whether they naturally possess these qualities or not, will be diligent to consistently develop and strengthen them in his/her leadership role.

Posted in Business Coach, CEO Coaching, Credit Union Executives Coaching, Developing Leadership Skills, Executive Coaching, Executive Leadership Coaching, Leadership & Executive Development for Credit Unions, Leadership Coach, Leadership Development, Leadership Development for Credit Unions, Management Coaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adding a Few Layers of Context

“First, things are seen plainer after the events have occurred; second, that the most confident critics are generally those who know the least about the matter criticized.” — Ulysses S. Grant

This was not the first real estate crisis in Florida, and it will not be the last. Swampland and hucksters have been in Florida for 150 years.

Persons that repeatedly took cash out or bought too much house with nothing down found themselves “upside down”. We called it “jingle mail” as we received the keys to the abandoned houses in the mail when the owner walked away from their legal and moral obligation.

The number of homeowners allowed to purchase more house than they could afford with little or nothing down has been substantially under-reported. If you want to know what fueled this housing crisis, and why your home’s value dropped with it, just look out your kitchen window at your neighbor’s home. They financed it via “liar loans” with nothing down, no income verification, no verified capacity to repay the debt, and did so with an adjustable rate mortgage that benefitted the mortgage broker.

When they walked away, the resulting foreclosure or short sale reduced your property value, too. You get to look at knee-high grass, a green swimming pool and vandalism of the property by the departing owners. It is common that the owners destroy the interior as they leave. That is especially so when renters, who may be current in their obligation, learn they are being evicted because their property owner, who accepted the rent each month, did not pay the mortgage company. That happened to my son, btw.

***Note: Watch the Oscar-winning movie The Big Short for a great look inside the housing bubble.

Homeowners were allowed to default on their mortgage payments for years while remaining in the house, and the larger mortgages were the last to be foreclosed upon because the smaller mortgage balances were easier to sell. Big banks and lenders were swamped with workouts, and the backlog of volume created apathy with the mortgage holders. Frequently, they would not even take a call from the debtors until the mortgage was in arrears over 90 days. I knew people who remained in their home for 18 months without making any payments. The mortgage holders could not produce proof that they owned the mortgage, as the mortgages were packaged with others and sold to the secondary market.

All these factors combined to create unstable economic conditions of historic proportions and adversely affect almost all industries. Businesses were forced to close their doors and lay off staff in numbers not witnessed in many generations. Ultimately, my employer, too, succumbed to the pressure and did likewise.

For my family, I felt with the real estate market in full implosion, and more than 50% of our equity vaporized, the best decision was to move to a place with a much lower cost-of-living. Doing so was predicated on the expectation that I was an experienced, respected CEO in my industry and would land another position shortly.

We could have stayed in our Sarasota home. My wife had a 20 year job she loved, and I had accepted the position of interim-CEO, Sarasota Habitat for Humanity. I could have stayed there at 66% of my previous salary, but I could not secure another position remotely equal to the one I had lost.

An unintended consequence of this experience was that my wife resigned her 20 year position with a dental practice, left all her friends, workout buddies, executive home, familiar surroundings and followed me to rural NE Georgia. The redhead is resistant to change and was depressed for the better part of three years. The only jobs she could secure in the small mountain town were barista at Starbucks for eight months and then three years in the optical department of our Walmart.

Both honorable jobs and she enjoyed them. Still, it was a blow to my male psyche and to my heart to sit at home conducting job searches while my wife was working at Walmart.

It is worth noting here that, post-merger, the displaced staff in almost all cases never find jobs anywhere close to the salary they lost. Lifetime earnings, retirement and health care insurance are also affected.

I said to my loving, supportive wife that the experience caused me to lose my faith in God, and regretfully, that feeling lasted for a while.

In his book Win at Losing, Sam Weinman makes the case that failure can be used as fuel. The question, “Did you fail, or just lose?” is uncomfortable. Weinman suggests that failure implies fault; losing, however, may be beyond your control. Chances are that you did not fail…rather, you lost to someone better prepared or to someone who had information you didn’t.

After 25 years as a Credit Union CEO, I can speak to feelings of failure…and to how it feels to lose, big-time. The 2008 Banking Collapse ended my career. The economic tsunami rolled over my entire organization due to mortgage losses created by big banks and mortgage lenders. In spite of the examiner stating that this was an economic crisis, and not a management event, I felt I was a failure. It’s taken me many years to understand and accept that it was a loss beyond my control.

I disagree with Weinman, though, that “no pain, no gain” is a positive approach to life. Calling that phrase science-based and using terms like “post-traumatic growth” is dishonorable to anyone who suffers from PTSD and only serves to further embolden the type of people who seek safe places in clichés like this when things get messy and more than their feelings and egos are hurt.

Losing is debilitating. Even though learning from your losses is an opportunity for personal and professional growth, it’s not a necessity to lose in order to gain. If you are consistently losing when it comes to your jobs, promotions, relationships or your health, then its time you did something very differently.

Realizing you’ve lost and not failed will alleviate stress and improve your well-being. Research has proven that. I had a Director who said stress was good. But, he was wrong. Unless you are an athlete who chooses to channel stress in short increments to sharpen your focus and improve performance, stress can kill you, literally.

Acknowledging your part in the experience is an important step. When you fail or lose, you often blame others. That’s not productive, either. The problem is never external. Both the problem and the answer always lie within you. Yes. The problem is there outside of you. But, it’s how you choose to deal with it that determines the overall impact on your life. You are the only one who can allow your outside influences and circumstances to crush your enthusiasm, motivation and desire and ability to do the honorable things you need to do to detach from the situation.

There is value in making mistakes, on that I agree. But, if you continue to criticize yourself for past errors, you perpetuate the very behavior you want to change. To stop the cycle, you must take responsibility for your failures.

Failure is a state of mind. Unsuccessful people allow life’s setbacks to discourage and defeat them. Successful people view setbacks as learning experiences and bounce back stronger…every time.

After more than 40 years of experience, it’s my observation that people fail to achieve their dreams of an abundant, satisfying life and career when the arrogance of their egos gets in the way…not that they would admit it.

Leaders are not born. Leadership is learned. Everything, except intelligence, we acquire after birth. We are not born in God’s image to be arrogant and devoid of integrity and ethics. Being a product of our past experiences is something all of us, as humans, have in common. That does not have to limit or define who or what we can become.

Beyond 25 years as a Credit Union CEO, I have my military experience and leadership roles in both for-profit and not-for-profit worlds, and I’ve served on numerous boards of directors as a volunteer, and continue to do so.

In all of these positions, I saw pride and self-conceit become limitations. Arrogance grows unchecked and becomes hubris, which stifles the qualities that we admire most such as empathy, passion, heart, feelings, admiration, reverence and wonder. Name one leader that you admire that does not now, or did when they were alive, possess these endearing qualities.

Like you, I have former friends, business associates and others with whom I crossed paths that I would have liked to slap silly…But they don’t need my judgment. They are their own worst enemies.

As a certified business coach, I work exclusively with ethical, successful leaders who are prepared to make positive behavioral changes in themselves, their teams and their organizations. All my clients have come to a crossroad and acknowledge that in order to achieve work-life balance, something must change. It wakes them up at 2 am.

Whether the changes they need to make are mental, social, spiritual or family-related is unique to each individual; however, the changes they make always impact their family and career development.

All men and women who’ve left a mark on the world possessed courage. They faced the challenges in their life; they spoke out and had the courage of their convictions to back them up. Courage isn’t inherited, either. You develop it by believing in yourself and adhering to your values and goals. Courage attracts others to follow, respect and support you.

“Courage,” Sir Winston Churchill said, “is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear…Courage is the first of human qualities…because it is the quality which guarantees all others.”

Courage and confidence grows as you face challenges, set goals and strive to achieve them. Partner with a positive attitude, and it makes it almost impossible to fail. That doesn’t mean those of us who live by these principles aren’t afraid. We saddle up anyway and in doing so, inspire others.

I’m a leader who has shouldered the costs, and it’s my duty to share my story to help facilitate the return of honor to the financial and banking system and to my life.

Posted in Banking Collapse of 2008, Credit Union Executives Coaching, Ethics, Executive Leadership Coaching, Honor, Integrity, Leadership & Executive Development for Credit Unions, Leadership Coach, Leadership Development, Leadership Development for Credit Unions, Organizational Culture, Regulatory Systems, Right Action, Trust, Values | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment