Can we talk about life balance? Or, perhaps better stated, is there any way to avoid talking about life balance? It’s all the rage you know. Just ask the nearest Millennial (born between 1981 and 2000) their thoughts on work and you’ll soon hear something akin to “I work to live…I don’t live to work.”
This may be one of the few things that Millennials and their employers consistently agree upon. The other being that Millennials are “special.” Yep, not many in my children’s generation “work for the man.” They seem to prefer to work for themselves on the man’s dime. Unless of course, they’re working to become the next dot-com billionaire, so work-life balance gets tossed out with last night’s leftover pizza stepped on while rolling out of their cot at the office.
Doing your best means giving your best effort with the best possible attitude, recognizing that both are always within your control. Doing your best means working hard and smart, while living a balanced life. Working hard does not mean over-working to the neglect of one’s health, family and other higher priorities. Working hard does mean that, for brief seasons, life balance may be impossible to maintain, but we are deeply committed to restoring it as soon as possible.
Much of what I’ve said to our five children during my 39 years of fatherhood has fallen upon deaf and distracted ears. There is one thing, however, that to this day each of them can recite at gunpoint. I can see them now with their eyeballs rolling back into their heads whenever I would ask them my favorite question, “What are the only two things that you can always control in life?” They’d bemoan their reply (think Eeyore to Pooh), “Yeah Dad, we know…effort and attitude.” “That’s right, kids!” I’d say. “Everything else is partially or completely out of your control.”
I’ve thought about my 1-2 effort-attitude punch a great deal over nearly four decades now. It may be slightly overstated, but not by much. I like it for two primary reasons. First, it takes away any excuses for not giving your best effort while having the best possible attitude. It’s simply unacceptable to do otherwise, because both are completely in your control. Second, it helps you stay laser-focused on that which you can control, so you don’t have time or energy to worry about the myriad of things you can’t.
We believe investigating our curiosities leads to discoveries, inventions, and innovations that improve the world around us. To unleash individual and collective creativity we must have the courage to test new ideas, confront possible failure, and discard obsolete ideas.
Back in the dot-com crazy days, I was determined to leverage our technical prowess into the next Google. I started thinking about how technology might be used to relieve some of the bottlenecks within our business. One of the biggest was the reference-checking process. It’s the bane of every recruiter’s existence. Chief among the many problems within the reference checking process was the fact that most employers have policies prohibiting employees from giving references on former employees. So, we came up with a solution to most of the reference checking problems. We called it 3references.com—the world’s first and only clearinghouse for job references via the Internet.
We believe that we can accomplish more together than any one of us could ever accomplish alone. While we do not believe that winning is everything, we do believe that consistently doing our best in a winning effort is vital to long term success.
You may not yet believe in miracles, though one day you will. But, if you’re a hockey fan and old enough to remember the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, you witnessed a “Miracle on Ice.” Perhaps you’ve seen the movie by that title chronicling the amazing story of Team USA capturing the gold medal against all odds? Sports Illustrated named this “one freezing moment” Top Sports Moment of the 20th Century in 1999.
So, without checking your smart phone, can you name one player on that gold medal winning hockey team? I doubt that one in 100 Americans can. Why? Because the “Miracle on Ice” was perhaps the greatest team effort in the history of sport…and there is no “I” in team.
We believe in lifelong learning for teammates and clients alike. We consider “teaching our teammates/clients to fish” (rather than fostering an unhealthy dependency upon us) to be an important part of the work we do.
One of the many benefits of being a lost ball in high tech weeds all these years has been to be surrounded by true IT pros for whom lifelong learning is a way of life. You can’t survive in the technology industry without continuing education along the way. However, outsiders would be amazed at how little sales guys like me understand about the underlying technology they’re selling. Those who know me aren’t the least surprised to hear me say that.
Since entering the IT industry in 1978, I’ve actually never sold one byte of technology. I’ve simply been selling the services of really smart folks who understand the technology whilst remaining comfortably clueless as to the ingredients within the acronym soup du jour. I understand people who understand technology.
We are committed to doing the right thing every time with our Core Values and Values in Action as our guide. When we fall short and do the wrong thing, we make it right.
It may sound a bit extreme to say that we virtually always know what the right thing to do is, but we do. And, I’m including you in “we.” I’m not referring here to typical business decisions like what new products to launch, what markets to enter or exit and who to hire to make it all happen. No, I’m referring to matters of ethics, morals and values. So long as you’re clear on what your ethics, morals and values are, what you should do is usually pretty clear in light of them. In our experience, the proverbial “moral dilemma” is a rare occurrence once your morals have been clarified, memorialized and agreed upon.
We encourage an open exchange of ideas and the healthy conflict that naturally follows from discussing matters of substance. We believe that unanimity is rare and therefore rarely required; while unity is essential once an issue has been fairly debated.
In his seminal book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni contends that the absence, not the presence, of conflict is the death knell of any organization. I couldn’t agree more. The reason is simple yet profound. Absence of conflict indicates the absence of caring. Why argue about what’s going on within the organization when all you really care about is what you’ll be doing after the five o’clock bell?
To speak the truth in love is to communicate accurately with proper motive and with the best interests of our listeners at heart. There is no middle ground between honesty and dishonesty—to deceive is to be dishonest.
We believe that the highest compliment we can pay to someone is to listen with understanding, while listening poorly can be highly offensive.
I’ve heard my friend, Dr. Tim Gardner, speak on many occasions. I wholeheartedly agree with his thought-provoking mantra—“The heart cry of every person is to know and be known and to love and be loved.” I further believe that knowledge of and love for another human being begins by listening with understanding to their heart cries.
I knew it was the wrong thing to do. But, I wasn’t willing to pay the price for doing the right thing. Besides, I gave the customer exactly what he asked for—a fair market value lease extension. Just like we’d done many times before. This time, however, I noticed a purchase option within the original lease granting them the right to buy the equipment for $250,000 less than the cost of the lease extension. I would soon learn that integrity cannot be bought, but it can be very expensive.