Category Archives: Leadership

A Change in Perspective

A lesson I have learned recently is that your present perspective is just one of many. But think about how current issues can demand much of our time, emotion, and energy. We can be so focused on the here and now that we forget that in a couple weeks it will be the there and then. Disappointment 2 weeks ago that something you wanted didn’t work out becomes the liberation that you might be destined for different things.

I think in life this happens to us more than we think. Often we have a belated appreciation for things. The same experiences, people, situations look so different with even a slight change in our circumstances. That tough and difficult boss now seems appropriately demanding; that stressful and never-ending project seems to have stretched you out of your comfort zone; that difficult and flagrant co-worker now seems to have challenged your assumptions and biases. Ideally it would help if in the midst of whatever is happening we could remember that the present perspective is just one of many.

(Inspired by the Daily Reflection–Fr. Don Talafous, St. John’s University)

I Believe in You

I keep coming back to these 4 words in my leadership journey. They are simple and clear. And powerful. I guarantee that my best work relationships have those 4 words resonate with both parties. I also think it’s true in other leadership capacities. I’ve seen recently a son of mine perform at a much higher level in basketball this spring with a new coach. I asked him why and he said, “coach believes in me.”

Conversely, my poorest relationships didn’t have those 4 words going both ways. A lot of it was me. I tend to have high expectations for myself and for others. I found myself disappointed one day and a friend told me, “Omar, there you go again, you and your high expectations. If you would just lower them you’d be a lot happier.”

Truth is, I can’t. For me, having high expectations of myself and others can work, and when it does, we all believe in each other. Then we have that solid foundation to do extraordinary things. Getting to that place, however, requires some hard work and sweat equity. No one said it would be easy. If you are willing to take it, head on, you will see a huge upside. You might have some hard conversations, or not see “eye to eye” on some things. But who said we’re always supposed to see “eye to eye” on everything?

But I also found that I was not saying those 4 words enough when I truly felt them. I was missing opportunities to engage and inspire people just because I was focused on other things. I’ve learned to pause more and recognize when that feeling is really there. Taking that time has resulted in some great work. My advice to you: Say those 4 simple words to the people working hard every day around you. It means a lot.

Betting a Lunch–The Power of a Burrito

Many of us are competitive. People that know me well have always said that if you want me to do something, tell me that I can’t do it.

“You’ll never be able to get that tennis ball out of the gutter hole on the 2nd story of the house…”

Oh yeah, I can do that no problem, I say to myself and then almost kill myself doing it.

If you are an Omar blog follower, you’ve read some of my thoughts around speculation. People speculate all the time why we can or cannot do something. So I’ve been kicking around strategies to deal with speculative people’s ideas and have resorted to a tried and true method of speculation standoff.

I’ve started making bets with people. Betting lunches.

You’d be surprised at how much interest you get when a burrito is on the line.

Recently, one of our team members was speculating about a new process that was going to deliver this and that to us. So I said, “great, the first time what you’re telling me will happen actually happens, I’ll buy you lunch.” Sure enough, he later came back with a big smile and said, “where are you taking me to lunch?” He was proud that he did it and made it happen.

I think this gave him some focus to “put his money where his mouth is” and try even harder at executing what he was saying because this gave him some motivation, as something tangible—even if it were just a burrito—was on the line. He had to walk the walk, and it gave us a fun forum to do good work, which in the end is the most important point. I, like someone did with me and the clogged gutter, used his competitiveness to drive execution. And, it was fun!

Honestly I hope most of the time that I lose the bets like this.

Try it sometime–I bet you a burrito it will work! Really.

(This blog, and the content within, is not endorsed by any Burrito company who may or may not have a long line at lunch time

50 Excuses

My mom used to say, “Presence is a virtue”. What she meant by that is that sometimes you go to things because it is the right thing to do. We went to all the reunions. We went to all the First Communions. We went to all the Baptisms. We went to all the Birthday parties. We were at everything. I have a recent example to share.

My great uncle, “Skinny” Martin, died. My mom’s Uncle, Skinny was a great guy who seemingly outlived everyone else. He was the oldest living fireman in Omaha when he died at the age of 95. Skinny’s sister Mary was my grandma, and she died nearly 30 years ago. Both my mom and her brother are also deceased. So Skinny was literally the last living relative on that side of the family. I know my Dad was close to Skinny and his death was significant for my Dad because it closed that chapter of my Dad’s life as well.

So the funeral was in Omaha, on a Tuesday. It was my 40th birthday. I have 4 children in school. 2 of my children were in after school sports that day. I had to work. I had meetings and statuses. Omaha is 400 miles away. We couldn’t leave until after work the day before. What about birthday cake and presents? My kids had tests and homework. It would be expensive. I was tired. My wife was tired.

I thought, “There are 50 excuses not to go and we’re going anyway.”

We went for my Dad. We went to show that side of the family that they were important. We went because going was the right thing to do. We went despite 50 excuses to not go.

How did it feel? It felt really good to see everyone, make my Dad proud, have older relatives meet and interact with my young children wearing their little boy suits, and just being there.

Sometimes being present means more to other people than to us. Do you ever decide to be present “just because” someone else will get satisfaction and fulfillment from you showing up? Maybe the next time you should. Continue reading