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See The Entire Board

By ellis j. still

cc7 to d8. b5 to xe4. Xc8+. Checkmate.

Chess is a game of strategy… a thinking game that involves a number of theories, combinations, and variations.

Whether or not if you’re an entrepreneur, a book author, have direct reports in an office setting, or hold influence or responsibility of any capacity in any area of your life, your interactions are like a game of chess. The game’s strategies and movements include the sum of individual efforts that work within their responsibilities for the greater good of the team… towards the end game. As the game player, (leader) you cannot expect to just operate within the confines of a minimal area of concern and expect huge results. You must see things on a much bigger playing field and make decisions with intention.  The following are three areas from which to play the game: 

  1. Know the capabilities of your direct reports, or the people around you. In chess, each chess piece, by rule, has a specific purpose and movement that it executes, and as the chess player, it is your goal to use these movements to fill the need for the greater good of the game. In leadership, your people will have strengths and weaknesses. It is in seeing and utilizing the strengths of your people that you position your personnel for the advancement of your company. Moreover, it is also in recognizing and exposing the strengths that are hidden within their weaknesses not only for the greater good, but for your personnel’s personal development as well, which are inter-related. 
  2. See the entire board. Leaders and business owners put together strategic plans for the future based on a set of variables that often remain static. Chess is a game that has many variables of change. Although a good chess player can technically win a game within a few moves, he doesn’t do it by thinking in a linear fashion. He does it by seeing the entire board. The big picture. If he micromanages his pawns, his knights, or his king for that matter, he would lose because he had no idea what the other pieces were doing. Pay attention to your competition. Pay attention to your competition’s promotional campaigns. Pay attention to their high level decision making. Pay attention to your industry. In today’s age of the internet and many forms of communication, being a small business owner is no excuse. It’s just one-on-one chess… you and them. 
  3. The game requires vision. A good chess player can win a game in only a few moves, although the game actually takes many moves. He or she can anticipate, or visualize, what the end-game will be. Vision in this sense of the word is a mental picture based on assumptions and strategies. This also applies to living out one’s dream… the idea or mental picture of a desire in your heart. It isn’t enough to dream – you have to come up with a plan of action… a strategy. This can be the hardest part, but once you start by researching your ideas, the momentum picks up and at that point, it is almost impossible to stop. Once you get the ball rolling your dream will take on a life of its own.  

With practice and patience, anyone can become good at chess, and good at leadership. The game of chess has a rich history, and is often thought of as being a metaphor for life and for leadership. Learning how to play chess can be researched online and in your local library. There is a blog that I also subscribe to that has been helpful to me in learning the game: http://www.mychessblog.com/ .

 Question: What is your end game? Are you seeing the entire board, or are you micro-managing to a slow but certain losing battle?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification emails. Thanks!!!
ellis
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Leadership: Succession Planning

by: ellis j. still 

You have worked hard for many years. You have accumulated skill sets through on the job learning, research, school, and through the kindness and wisdom of others. You have had a decent amount of success at your current position, and greater opportunities and challenges are knocking at your door. But what will you leave behind? Have you prepared the way for those who come after you, or moreover, do you have a company culture where the people who report to you will do the same? Are the people who take over the position able do the job just as effectively as you did if not better, or do you leave chaos in your wake? If you are a business owner, who will run your business if something were to happen to you, or if you decided that you wanted to move on to other things? 

Succession planning is simply building people up from the inside. It involves the development of a mixture of values, work ethic, and work standards. A big measurement of our performance on the job is not what we did on the job, but how well we prepared others. Any position you hold, any business you own, is temporary, and therefore it’s only a matter of time before that season of leadership is over and it is someone else’s turn. 

We don’t normally think of Jesus Christ as a manager or business owner, yet as a leader, he spent his time here on earth preparing others for the future. He got them ready to the point where they could continue on with the mission, and in the end, He said “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead I call you friends, for everything I learned from my Father, I have made known to you” (John 14:12). He led by empowering others to fish. 

A major barrier to succession leadership is self. Ego will cause people to play one’s cards close to the chest instead of teaching and growing up the people they are responsible for.  Things that create an ego include: 

Pride – “Arrogant know-it-alls stir up discord, but wise men and women listen to each other’s counsel.” (Prov 13:10 Msg). Pride leads to self promotion. Boasting. Taking all the credit. Showing off. Doing all the talking. Demanding all the attention. 

Fear – “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” (Prov 29:25 Msg). Fear leads to self protection. Hiding behind your position. Withholding information. Intimidating others. Hoarding control and revenues. Discouraging honest feedback. 

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

            -Master Yoda, Star Wars – I forget which episode  :- ) 

Self elevation, self esteem, self respect and many other forms of self makes us feel accepted to our own selves, but if you want to grow yourself and your business to new heights, the true Gospel is the call to self denial. 

Question: How well are you preparing others for when the time comes?

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved 

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification emails. Thanks, and have a great day!!!
ellis

Tied To Greatness: Creating A Movement of Inspired Young Men

by ellis j. still

On February 20, 2010, I participated in what is part of a movement for young inner city men around the world called Tied To Greatness. Tied To greatness is the brainchild of custom clothier Alex Ellis, and is an outreach program that travels across the country and abroad, reaching inner city young men through the power of exciting entertainment, powerful dialogue, and support from celebrity guests and community leaders. Mr. Ellis has been featured in Black Enterprise Magazine, has been a guest on the Steve Harvey Morning show as well as participated in Mr. Harvey’s summer youth programs, and Mr. Ellis has participated in the Disney Dreamers Academy in Disney, Florida among other things.

The program centered on inviting 300 young men and 300 adult men to a one-day mentoring experience where the adults show the young men how to tie a tie. Even through many of the young men have never owned, let alone tied a tie, the tie was not the purpose. The goal was to give young people an understanding that who they are on the inside should reflect in how they dress on the outside, and vice versa. There is nothing more frustrating than being profiled in a department store as a potential thief and you know that you are not a thief. But if you are dressed like and carry yourself as if you are a thief, you are more likely to be profiled. The reality is that people perceive and treat you based on your exterior self. Another reality is that the way you dress on the outside is also how you perceive yourself on the inside.

There also were periods of male bonding and camaraderie. Well known celebrities spoke and performed such as poet Othell Miller, EXTRA NY Correspondent AJ Calloway, branch manager of PNC Bank Wes Ifan, The Honorable Judge Dennis Nieves from the superior Court of New Jersey, a performance by tap dance performer, choreographer, and director Jason Samuels Smith from the Broadway play Bringing The Noise, Bringing the Funk, and a special presentation of Black Angels Over Tuskegee by Lamman Rucker & the Black Gents of Hollywood.

The mixture of speakers and performances captivated the audience, not because they were celebrities, but because they all had stories to tell. They all as black men had seen and lived through life’s adversities and was able to not only persevere, but to do exceedingly well by utilizing the gifts that God has given them. This program was important because it wasn’t just an assemblage of speakers talking at people, but a mentoring opportunity that engaged the young people’s minds.

The climax of the day was when the adult men were paired with young men, and were given a tie. Extra time was allowed for the two to get to know one another… a male bonding moment of sorts. The adult showed the youth how to tie the tie, had the youth practice a few times, and the tie was a gift to the young people. These were not cheap ties – these ties were quality material ties… ties that when one would look in the mirror, makes one think more about themselves, that they know that they are Tied To Greatness.

The same young men that were scowling and trying to be “hard” before the day started were now smiling with the assurance in knowing that as black men, there is much more to us than what people see on the outside, that what is on the inside must reflect what is on the outside, and vice versa. Many young men never see what success looks like… never even think about reaching for their dreams, if they had dreams to begin with. This program has opened many young people’s minds to what can be possible in their lives. They just have to believe. For more information on Tied To Greatness, visit their website at http://www.tiedtogreatness.org .

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe.
Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification emails.
Thanks!!!
ellis

Leadership: Creating a company culture of trust…

by ellis j. still

Company culture is generally defined as the shared values and practices of the employees. As a large company, an individual’s values have little effect on the company’s culture. As an entrepreneur, your values play a significant role in shaping how your company will operate. Likewise, it is important to not have a defacto (in fact, on paper) company culture cited with the vision and mission, and the dejur (real life) culture is the opposite. The dynamics of culture do not limit themselves to the workplace. These are the same values that create cultures at home, and within friendships as well.

Company culture is the heartbeat of the workplace. It’s your company’s behavior or way of life. It is how the company breathes. It is how the company grows. Within that culture there are various dynamics that when combined create the culture. This post centers on creating a company culture of trust.

Trust is a fragile emotion and once broken, is not easily repaired. When there is an environment of trust, people will go to bat for you. People will champion your cause. People will support you when you are down and when all seems lost, because they know that you will do the same for them. We are all called to unconditional love for God and our neighbors despite how they treat us, yet trust, however, is a different matter entirely.

Trust is earned over a period of time. When dating, you feel each other out… not only for compatibility, but also for a sense of trustworthiness. It’s the same with building trust in the workplace. Synonyms of trust include confidence, expectation, reliance, dependence and conviction. Customers need to know that you will follow through with your promises, that you wont take advantage of them financially to meet your short term financial projections, and that if something by chance goes wrong, you will keep them informed. It is many more times easier to lose a customer than it is to keep one. On the flip side, your coworkers (I tend to use the term coworkers instead of employees) need to know that there is trust in the ability to do their jobs, (no micro-managing) that they will be treated with respect, and that you have the ability to do right by them.

Without that trust, an environment will be created where you will not get the best out of your coworkers, you will loose repeat customers, and ultimately your business will not realize its full potential. Business is about making the numbers, but it is the intangibles that get you to the numbers – the touchy feely part that makes the numbers work. It’s building genuine relationships with people. It’s how people perceive who you are, your character and integrity (or the lack of).

The opposite of trust is distrust. Synonyms come to mind such as skepticism, apprehensiveness, trepidation, doubt, and suspect. People tend to think that being a jerk is the best way to get more out of your coworkers and the ensure the bottom line is met…. And it may, for the short term. But those customers and coworkers will never trust you again. If you are not trustworthy in the small things, how do you expect God to bless you with the greater things? How do you expect to handle the big things – i.e. grow your company?

1.) Trust takes time to maturate. Trust is a function of observable action over time. If that trust is consistently compromised, it will take considerable time and effort to repair.

1.) Do what you say you will do, and if there is a change of plans, communicate. Sometimes there is a false perception of shady behavior often alleviated by clear channels of communication.

2.) Evaluate yourself. Take a hard look at your motives behind your ever action and ask ‘is this something that will edify the person?

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe.
Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification emails.
Thanks!!!
ellis

Hello world!!! Welcome and thank you for visiting what will become an extension of me… being transparent with my thoughts, my emotions, my growth, and things that I have learned in life that I can pass on to others. I will rely heavily on your input into the various posts, as much of the writing is meant to also create dialog. Please be patient as I continue to learn and build up the site. In the beginning I will start out slow until I can build up momentum, with the goal of posting four to five times per week in the areas of book reviews, entrepreneurship, leadership, marriage life, and communities. Thanks again for visiting, and I look forward to connecting!!!

Ellis

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