Oswald Letter

A few lessons learned from recent events

Lessonsby Dan Oswald

Respect and appreciate those who help you succeed. For my birthday in September, my wife gave me tickets to a James Taylor concert, which we attended last night. It was fascinating to watch a man whose career has spanned my entire lifetime perform the classic hits he penned decades ago. With his quirky sense of humor and what appeared to be a genuine sense of enjoyment, he played for two hours, bantering with the audience as he went. But what struck me most was the recognition and appreciation he showed for his band.

Taylor introduced the band members individually as the show went on, commenting about each person’s unique talents and giving some small details about him or her. And after introducing each band member, he walked over to him or her and shook hands in a subtle but appropriate show of respect for the people who support him every time he takes the stage. We should take a cue from Taylor and make sure we show respect and appreciation for those who help us succeed in what we do.

Appreciate when you’re in the zone. While I was enjoying James Taylor, my Green Bay Packers were dismantling their rival, the Chicago Bears. By all accounts, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was magnificent, throwing six touchdown passes in the first half. Sometimes you just hit your groove and everything falls into place. It’s often called “being in the zone.” Rodgers must have been there to do what he did last night.

Have you ever been “in the zone” at work? Have you ever had a time when everything just seemed to go your way? It doesn’t happen every day, but when it does, make sure you enjoy it because you never know when it might happen again. I’m sure that if you asked Rodgers, he’d tell you he prepared for this game the same way he does for all the others, but somehow the results were different. You never know when you’re going to have a run of successes like that, so make sure you appreciate it for what it is.

Never give up. Speaking of football, did you happen to see the University of Alabama game on Saturday night? Alabama was playing Louisiana State University on the road in Baton Rouge. With the score tied and less than two minutes to go in the game, Alabama had the ball and was embarking on what they hoped would be the game-winning drive. Instead, they fumbled the football and gave it to LSU less than 20 yards from their end zone.

Despite the disappointment in the turn of events, Alabama held LSU to just a field goal, falling behind by three points. When they got the ball back, there was less than a minute left in the game, and they were out of time-outs. But again, they didn’t give up. They drove down the field, kicking a game-tying field goal as time expired. The game went into overtime, and Alabama pulled out a victory.

The lesson for us is to never give up. Those young Alabama players had every reason to hang their heads as they turned the ball over to the opposition, nearly guaranteeing a victory for their opponents. Instead, they battled back and overcame incredible odds to prevail in the game. Remember, even when things look dire, keep fighting, and you just might end up victorious.

What’s your approval rating? In last Tuesday’s midterm elections, the Republican Party took over the U.S. Senate, giving them control of both houses of Congress. It appears the American public is sending a message that they aren’t happy with what’s going on in Washington. I hope the Republicans understand the voters aren’t all that thrilled with their performance, either. Two months before the elections, a Gallup poll found that only 14 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing. 14 percent!

If your employees were given the opportunity to vote on the job the company’s management is doing, what would they say? What type of approval rating would you and your peers get? In a two-party system, it’s easy for each side to point fingers at the other. But in business, there aren’t two parties with differing philosophies trying to find common ground. There should be one vision, with everyone in the organization pulling in the same direction led by a unified management team. Anything less is a problem.