4 Steps to Leading at a Higher Level

Do you want to grow as a leader?

Here are four simple tips to help you get to the next level:

1.  Ask questions – Over the years I’ve tried to develop my skill of asking questions. It has opened up amazing opportunities to learn and see perspectives that I would never have otherwise.

2.  Learn broadly – books, podcast, articles, master mind groups, coaching. Take responsibility for learning and broadly engaging ideas.

3.  Writing – I’m not a strong writer. However, I have found that writing on a daily basis is not only a challenge for me but also a source of nourishment and fresh ideas. It can be a journal, or a blog, or prayer list, but getting into the habit of writing every day will develop you into a greater leader.

4.  Slow down – take some time every day to slow down. If you are already a high performing leader then there are endless demands for your time and attention. It could be 1 hour a day or 10 minutes every few hours, but set aside time to slow down and look around. What sounds do you notice? What is going on around you? How are you feeling? What do you need to do before the day is over? Go for a walk. Slowing down will reset you for leading at a higher capacity as the day moves forward.

What are you doing to grow as a leader? To be a lifelong learner?

-Greg

Determining Our Identity: Outward, Inward, Or Something Else?

For most of human history, identity came from the community you belonged to. Your family. Your tribe. Etc. Because of this you knew the rules in which to play by. The value of seeking the community good and living with personal integrity was very important in that context. However modern man has shifted this idea that we gain our identity from outside of ourselves to the idea that our identity must come from within ourselves. The culture message is: Don’t seek affirmation from others. Affirm yourself and the choices that you make. This is when you will find yourself.

Just look at almost any Disney movie. Moana needs to leave the island and her family to discover who she is. Elsa needs to “let it go” and find herself on her own. In the article 12 Disney Movies That Should Inspire Your Twenties, the writer brings out the fact that most of the time the focus is on the individual forming their own way and own identity. In business, this has led to a huge shift in the focus being on “how do I contribute to the tribe” to a focus on my personal performance.

How has this change affected us? Sebastian Junger wrote a book called Tribe. One of the most interesting sections of the book is about the 2008 financial crisis. For decades the personal banking industry was all about celebrating personal performance. When mortgage bankers approved lots of people for home loans, they got huge personal paychecks! The reward was on personal performance not on community good. Junger says that if the financial crisis happened in pre-modern times, we would have taken all the bankers, all the subprime mortgage guys, and thrown them out of the tribe. They would have been ex-communicated. They would not have been able to work. But what did we do? Basically we bailed them out and propped them up. Now it’s about external performance (think “Too Big To Fail”) and not about personal integrity.

The old way of looking outward for identity was insufficient. It couldn’t make sense of diversity. Different races, views, ideas, innovation, etc. However, the modern way is lacking as well. When the focus is only on the individual, you lose a foundation strong enough to build your identity.

As C.S. Lewis said in The Abolition of Man, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” 

If you can’t look outward to others or deep enough within to answer questions of identity, then where can we turn? Maybe the answer is upward.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” -Col 3:1-3

-Greg

Begin With The End In Mind

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” -James 4:13-14

 

I'm all about reverse engineering, or as Steven Covey would say, “begin with the end in mind." For years, I've been doing this with my life as well. What are the most important things that I want to accomplish by the end of my life, and how can I make sure that I'm prioritizing those areas?

When I was introduced to the Life in Weeks calendar on the Wait But Why website, I knew I had to have one!

It takes your life and breaks it down by weeks for 90 years. First, I’ll share how I approached it, and then I'll give a few thoughts that I had along the way.

Once I got the poster, I started to think about how I wanted to break down my life by seasons. I came up with a few:

Red shows before I started school.

Green shows the years that I was in high school.

Blue is for college years.

Orange is for the time that we spent in New Mexico.

Dark blue is our time in DFW.

I also marked off with a highlighter all of the years past 77. I'm going to consider years after 77 as a bonus.

Here are the significant moments that I marked as well:

·         When I got my driver’s license.

·         When Tiffany and I got married.

·         When I started working with Aggies for Christ.

·         When we built our first home.

·         When Brynlee was born and significant birthdays (every 5 and 10 years).

·         When I became the lead minister at University Church in NM.

·         When Bailee was born.

·         Significant anniversaries for Tiffany and me (every 5 years).

·         When we started Property Doctors.

·         When we moved into our home on Doral Dr.

Here are some of the unexpected epiphanies that I had as I filled out the poster:

·         I have a lot of squares filled in, and yet I also have a lot of squares still open!

·         It was humbling to see how much time I've been given.

·         I'm almost half-way to that 77 mark!

As I was marking off the boxes, I couldn't help but have a sense of thankfulness for the blessings that I've been able to experience in that time that I've been given. It was also inspiring to see that very likely, I still have a lot of squares to fill in! Squares to take on new adventures, to dream big and bold dreams, to have experiences that I haven't had before.

The season of having kids in the home will be gone very quickly.  It was really wild for me to see that Brynlee is 2/3 of the way to no longer living in our home and Bailee is over half-way to that point. That gives me a massive sense of urgency and priority with the time that I spend with them. What do I want them to learn, see and do before they leave our home? What am I modeling that will help them excel spiritually, physically, relationally, and professionally? Am I making every week I have left with them one that I approach with purpose and intention?

James 4:14 says “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” When you're marking off your life week by week, it really reinforces this idea. Life is short. Whether we live 22, 37, 77, or 102 years. Life is short, but eternity is not. I want to live with that perspective.

So what do I do now?

This has helped give further clarity on the most important things that I want to accomplish/work towards in my life.

Right now, I have about 7 things that I would like to see accomplished if I get to live to be 77. As a person who tends to be on the planning side, I'm excited to use this to guide my yearly life plan that I do every year at the Tappe Group Summit which governs my monthly and daily plans.

If you were to fill out your life by weeks, what events would you put on it? What highlights would you be most proud of? What do you want to add to it in the future?

-Greg

My Life Calendar

My Life Calendar

Perspective

Perspective

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The Secret to a Productive Morning Routine

Mornings are not my natural strength. However, I see and believe the research that shows how powerful the morning hours can be. So, over the years, I've worked hard to develop a stronger morning routine.

Success really came when I learned one HUGE key. The secret that not enough people talk about is that the key to a great morning is not found in the morning. It starts with a great night routine. If you've been around The Tappe Group for long, you know that we teach Purposed Performance. The purpose is in the past tense. It's something that is thought through before you face that difficult situation. It's the same with your morning routine. It must begin before your alarm goes off.

Here is what works for me, and maybe it'll help you as well.

  • Just before or after dinner

    • I spend about 10 minutes going over my daily routine. Did I accomplish my "Big 3" for the day? If not, can I get them done in the next 15 minutes or so? If I can, I do them right then. If I can't, then I decide if I need to do it tomorrow, or if I need not to do it at all. I also quickly check email one more time, to make sure something isn't burning down. For me to respond at this time, something LITERALLY has to be burning down.

    • Spend time with the family, wind down.

  • 8:45 pm

    • The kids begin their bedtime routine. Full transparency, Tiff does most of this.

    • Drink a glass of water. We lose tons of water at night time. I want to try to limit dehydration as much as possible.

  • 9:00 pm

    • Pray with the kids and tuck them into bed.

  • 9:30 pm

    • Make a cup of hot tea. My favorite right now is Thé Au Jasmin by Sunflower. I let it steep for about 5 minutes. (And if Boo had a good day then maybe I'll make us some popcorn.)

  • 10 pm

    • I go to my bed and go over my plans for tomorrow. What are the Big 3 things I need to accomplish? Write down any notes that I need to make for myself, and take one final look at my schedule.

  • 10:15 pm

    • Alexa comes on with "rain sounds." SOOOO NICE!

  • 10:30 pm

    • The phone, computer and iPad are up at the charging station. I keep a note pad by my bed. This helps because if I think of something, I have to write it down or I'll be worried that I'll forget it by the morning.

  • 11 pm

    • Tiffany and I don't watch a lot of TV, but if we are watching something, it goes off by 11:00.

Some other hacks that help me get some good ZZZzz's

I like heavy comforters, but I live in Texas where it is 102⁰ at 9pm during the summer. So around 9:00, I turn down the air to 69-70⁰ so that by bedtime, it's nice and cool.

I LOVE my pillow! This thing is amazing.

Buy awesome sheets. You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars, but find some that you really like.

We don't make our bed like the Hilton or if we are in the Army every day, but it's really relaxing to enter a bed that looks good. So pull the sheet up, fluff the pillows, and make it.

Alexa "rain sounds" LOVE LOVE LOVE! This automatically comes on at 10:15pm and stays on for 4 hours.

Keep the kids out. Our kids are 12 and 9. They are old enough to solve 99% of problems they face. Unless there is gushing blood, the house is on fire, or zombies are literally in the house, there is really no reason for them to come into our room. It can wait until the morning.

I know I'm a little different than most, but if I have alcohol in the evening, it keeps me up. So I try not to drink alcohol in the evenings. (FYI - don't be alarmed when you see me drinking at lunch.)

What would you add to the list? What’s one thing you do at night that makes for a productive morning? Comment below.

-Greg

Remember This

“Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

-2 Corinthians 9:6-8

For some of you, this will not be a surprise, but it's easy for me to be in a hurry and get distracted. I have a significant case of shiny object syndrome. The downfall to this is that it causes me to forget things that, when I slow down, are very important to me.

For example, my keys fall into that category.  🔑  When I'm distracted, they can end up almost anywhere. On the couch, in my bag, left in the front door handle. I've even left my car running while I went into a meeting! When I slow down, I realize that they are important to me. I keep track of them, and when I get home, I place them on this really great hook that my wife has mounted on the wall by the garage door.

I even do this with food. I know food is essential. However, when I get in a hurry or distracted, I tend to skip several meals without even noticing it.

Now those are a little superficial, but the point is that I need reminders because I'm prone to forget.

That is why I love this verse that starts with "remember this." I want to be a person that is generous with my time and resources; however, when I get distracted and consumed with my schedule, it's easy for me to forget. This is the reason why I choose this verse. As a reminder, to live with a heart towards generosity.

What do you do to focus on what is most important to you?

-Greg

3 Million copies!

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3 MILLION! That’s how many copies of this book have been sold. I’ve heard about it for years but somehow just recently read it. 
We tend to think that our lives are defined by the huge moments we experience. Getting married, having kids, graduations, moving someplace new, really huge life experiences. What if life is really defined by something much smaller? What if it’s defined by the thousands of words that we use each and every day? This book pulls back the curtain by acknowledging that communication is harder for us than we often like to admit, and then gives us the tools we need so our communication can be done with purpose and on purpose.

Kerry Patterson defines a crucial conversation as a conversation that has 1) high stakes, 2) opposing opinions, and 3) strong emotions. I know the degree varies, but that’s just about every conversation that we have! The goal is dialog. The author defines dialog as “the free flow of meaning between two or more people.” Conversations do not naturally go this way. In their natural state, conversations are filled with bullying, silence, manipulations, masking, resentment, hurt, and the list could go on.

He says that we need to enter conversations with mutual purpose and mutual respect. This is the key to having great conversations. Then he moves to what he calls “The Path to Action.” 
1. See and Hear – This is where you seek to understand not only what the person you are talking to is saying but also why they are saying it. 
2. Tell a Story – We are always telling ourselves stories. We need to take control of our stories and make sure they are based upon reality. 
3. Feel – The stories that we tell ourselves cause us to feel specific ways. Here are some good questions to ask ourselves… What emotion is this conversation creating? Am I, reacting (unconsciously) or choosing to respond (consciously) based out of my feelings? What evidence do I have to support the story that I’m telling myself? 
4. Act - This is when you bring clarity to the conversation. What action is going to be taken and what is the plan moving forward?

We live in a world full of words. However, it seems like we are a long way away from knowing how to use those words to navigate positive conversations. This book is a huge step in the right direction.

-Greg

Internal Solutions

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It’s easy to think that the problems we have are because of external factors. However, the truth is, most of the time our problems (especially the deep ones) are internal. It’s hard to look inward. When we do, we tend to find a self in conflict with warring identities, fears and purposes. When we face these, that’s when we find answers to the problems we face. - Greg

Never Stop Learning

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“There is no end to education. It’s not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is the process of learning.”

As soon as I saw the title of this book, I knew how to read this. As many of you know, growing up, school wasn’t my strength. Around this time of the year, I would start to get anxiety about going back to school because I disliked it so much. I found it to be an annoying bureaucracy of busywork. Full disclaimer: I exasperated the problem by being a lazy smart-mouth jerk of a student. Hard to believe, I know.

The message I had picked up in school was learning = degrees and degrees = success. Therefore, since I wasn’t focused on degrees, I must not like learning. However, that was never the reality. I’ve always loved learning! I just did it differently than sitting in a classroom. Now I’ve come to see that learning is a lifestyle, not a destination. It’s not a degree, certification, letters before or after your name. Those are accomplishments, but learning is more than that.
This book helps us to see that learning is a lifestyle that we need to pursue, not a destination to reach.
Bradley Staats gives us 8 steps to “Never Stop Learning”
1. Learn from Failure
2. Focus on Process, Not Outcome
3. Ask the Right Questions
4. Recharge and Reflect
5. Be Yourself
6. Play to your Strengths
7. Specialize Today, Seek Variety Tomorrow
8. Learn from others

-Greg

Realtors are you 24/7?

Realtors, I love you. You are some of the hardest-working, most professional, most-driven people I know.

However, recently I’ve been in more and more rooms with agents. Let’s say I’m in front of 5-10 realtors, right? I ask this simple question: “When do you work?” Almost guaranteed, 80 percent of the room — sometimes 100 percent — will say some variation of: “I work all the time. 24/7, etc”

I have a lot of hot takes on this, so let’s dive into it.

The reality: It’s not true.

It’s physically not possible. You do sleep some, you do eat at some point during the day, you do scroll on Facebook and, even occasionally, watch Netflix. You got a family? You probably spend some time with them as well. A beer once in a while isn’t so bad … oh, and how about the gym? Now, yes, while getting that beer or hitting that gym you might be networking and meeting people, and that’s kinda sorta work, but the reality is that you don’t actually work 24/7. No one really does, even those that claim it. (In fact, the people that claim they work 24/7 probably work less than average.) In reality, per science, the ceiling on human productivity is about 55 hours/week. If you’re locked in M-F, that’s still a series of 11-hour days. It’s a lot of work. But it’s not 24/7, no.

Isn’t real estate about freedom?

Think for a moment why you got into real estate. My guess was for FREEDOM. Financial freedom, time freedom, travel freedom. If you are “working” or tied to your phone 24/7, does that really sound like freedom?  

A note on client expectations

The common objection to this whole context is “I have to work 24/7, or else my clients won’t use me.” OK. I want you to think like this: except in the case of absolute emergency with your body or your car, do you expect a doctor or mechanic to be available at 3 am? Most people do not. Do you know a lot of people you’ve worked with who prefer to sign house documents or go over context and financials at 2:15 am? Maybe there are a few people on the planet like that, sure. They are not common. Most clients also have families and lives outside of buying a home. They want to do the transactions within regular, reputable hours for their betterment as well. Bottom line: this is your business. You set the expectations on when you can be available, and you meet the tougher clients where they’re at. But keep everything within acceptable boundaries.

PS: You are more than your job

If you invest an overwhelming majority of your energy, time, and passion into your career, where does that ultimately get you?  I want you to invest a lot into the professional dimension of your life but what if you were also able to invest time in other dimensions? How would that affect the joy and love that you have for life? In fact, ever heard of a “Four-Way Win?” It’s a reputable concept — Wharton business school professor came up with it! — where you — WAIT FOR IT!! — get more done by focusing on work less. A-ha!

The solutions that are in front of you

Realize that you are in charge of your schedule: You and you alone detect when you will work and do not work. No one else has that power over you. Set boundaries that you and those that love you think will lead you to have a great life. Then communicate those boundaries to the clients that are wanting to work with you. Most of the time, you will find, that they are 100% okay with it.

Work when you work, and be off when you’re off: If you are sitting at your home office and scrolling Facebook 95% of the time, that is NOT real work! Also when you are at the dinner table with your family, that’s a great time to be off, so leave the phone in the other room. So many of us try to overlap being at work and being off and what ends up happening is that we do neither well. 

Seek clarity: Clarity on your purpose, clarity on your goals, clarity on when you will work, clarity on expectations for clients, clarity on what you will and will not do, clarity on what you delegate, and on and on the list can go. Clarity first with yourself and then with those around you will bring a level of focus to your life that will allow you to be successful in all areas of life. A quick note on delegation too: although this study was done with lawyers and not realtors, it showed that the most effective delegators made way more money than those who couldn’t delegate. Something to consider.

Our culture has come up with this idea that it’s a badge of honor to “always be working” or to always be “busy.” In fact, there’s a whole set of research now about how impressed Americans are by “busyness.”  Despite all this focus in those directions, the reality is that in just about every measurable way, people are not happier. They have more stress, higher anxiety, and less joy than they did a generation ago. That doesn’t mean the “good old days” were perfect, but maybe we are not heading in the right direction either. 

I can’t say that I’ve always modeled this well. I remember a friend telling me that I need “balance” in my life. I really don’t know how to measure or obtain that. I tended to be more on the side of- I sprint like crazy for six months and then am forced to mentally, emotionally and physically cruise for a month. What I want in life is calibration: different facets of my life that function together and are in line with my greater purposes. Where my relational life isn’t robbed by my professional life and my professional life is sabotaged by my relational life. Shouldn’t we all want that?

Greg – Coach/Trainer – The Tappe Group

 

The Gold Watch Era

You’ve probably heard the term. If not, it refers to this: during the Mad Men era, where you start working for a company after earning your college degree, you slowly move up the corporate ladder, getting a yearly Christmas bonus, an occasional plaque, and when you have reached a certain milestone with a company (either 20+ years or end of a career), you receive a gold watch.

The Current Era

It’s a bit different. First of all, the average job tenure in America right now is about 4.6 years — which is, perhaps surprisingly an increase from 1983, when it was 3.5 years. But still, no one is getting a gold watch at 4.6 years! What is interesting is that I work with dozens of companies and I don’t hear much talk about awards for longevity? However, I do hear a lot about awards for top performer, most sales, highest recruitment, or highest % of growth. Just look at your Facebook feed, you will see the recognition flow out monthly, quarterly, and annually. Now, it can be argued that it’s better than the large majority of companies that are likely to do nothing at all to recognize their employees.

The question that I want to ask is, what should we be rewarding and what are the foundational values behind our awards. It will have to be addressed at another time, but philosophically, values should drive awards just as ethics should drive laws, not the other way around.

The Gold Watch –

It celebrates loyalty, commitment, and steadfastness. Those are good things, right? 

The idea of monthly awards celebrating selling, performance, and hustle; also good things.

The problem is, they both have weaknesses as well.

The gold watch approach can lead towards apathy, mediocre performance, and decreasing creativity.

The top producer awards can fuel self-serving, individualistic behavior, selling over valuing people, and an unhealthy workaholic approach.

Is This a Business Issue or a Societal Issue?

That’s the interesting question to me.

For most of human history, identity came from the tribe — i.e. the group we participated in. This is what gave us meaning and validation. If the tribe succeeded, we counted that as our success. Spartans could hunt and kill Helots, but they were expected to die for the sake of Sparta. You grew corn so you could trade it with your neighbor who grew fruit. You had a mutual desire to see success for the whole as you worked in your individual area. Identity came from the success of the whole.

Modern man has flipped that.

Now, we are told our identity comes from within. Just think of all of the Disney movies that talk about going and “finding yourself.” Leave the island (tribe) and find out who you are (Moana). Frozen is about the need to escape to find and accept your true self. Meaning comes from within.

The question, then: do we need to disconnect from community to find ourselves or do we find ourselves as part of a community?

Should we award those that make the whole better or should we award those that achieve great things on their own?

That is the True Question

A lot of companies do have signs hanging up in the office like “TOGETHER WE WIN,” but then their entire incentive and recognition system is individually-driven.

That doesn’t work.

There needs to be three attributes to how this is designed:

  • Be purposeful, as in- What is the purpose of recognizing people? What behaviors in others are you hoping to inspire?

  • Be intentional, as in- Do it regularly and proclaim the intent and the reasons for this person or this team receiving the recognition when it happens. This requires some creativity. Maybe you reward for some different reasons other than what is typically thought about. Think of ways you can reward activity and effort over just results.

  • Be aligned between how you compensate/reward and what you believe are your core values

Again, cultures that often talk of togetherness and collaboration and winning as a team only have recognition programs for top sales guys. Those cultures are lying to all the other employees, and eventually those employees will see through that. (It might take years, yes.)

But if you have a culture of collaboration and reward teams of 3-4 people that worked across departments/silos together, then you are sending the message that “Teams and collaboration do matter!”

That’s purposeful, intentional, and aligned.

Think More About What You’re Doing, Too

Consider this:

There are roughly 2,400 Google searches per month for ’employee recognition ideas.’ That’s really not that many when you consider how many people are managers/bosses in the world, and the low volume shouldn’t be too surprising.

In this book I recently read, The Carrot Principle, they discuss one particular set of employee recognition ideas.

Let me set this up for you.

They refer to another book, Hardwiring Excellence, and four questions you can ask an employee at 90 days. The four questions are all good ones:

  • Have we lived up to our promises to you?

  • What do you think we do best?

  • What have you seen in your other jobs that might work here?

  • Have we done anything in 90 days where you might consider leaving?

These four questions are awesome to ask at the three-month mark. It’s all about showing the employee you value them.

It’s an easy, cost-effective version of employee recognition ideas.

So in various studies around these four questions, consultants have asked employees one simple question:

  • Has your manager ever asked you any of these four questions?

In years and years of asking that question, they’ve never heard the word “yes.”

That’s a problem.

Again: rewards and recognition are about purpose, intent, and alignment. Focus there.