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James Meadows
Works at Assemblies of God
Attended University of Phoenix
Lives in Kansas City, Missouri
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James Meadows

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LLML NUMBER 5

Some of us are better at knowing the difference between valuable desired plants and worthless undesired weeds.  More than once, I have mowed over something only later to learn from my better half that I had destroyed a valuable desired plant.  This leads me to LLML (Leadership Lessons from Mowing the Lawn) Number 5:

Communicate with your team and all affected parties.

Leadership involves many responsibilities and they are all very important.  However, without thorough communication throughout your network, everything you do will be hindered.  People will not understand you without communication.  People will not respond without communication.  People will not know how to support you without communication.  Communication is your leadership’s life blood.

When we are communicating properly, we maximize our odds of success with our network.  When we are not communicating properly, we minimize our odds of success with our network.  If I had been in better communication with my wife, then I probably would not have mowed over that valuable desired plant.  LLML Number 5:

Communicate with your team and all affected parties.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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James Meadows

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LLML NUMBER 3

When I was a kid, I spent many hours watching my dad mow the lawn.  I thought that I understood what the job involved.  One day I became old enough for my dad to delegate the lawn mowing to me.  Wow!  I discovered that what I thought I knew about lawn mowing was a bit different than what I was now learning.  I didn’t fully appreciate some of the blood, sweat, and tears that could be involved in mowing the lawn.  LLML (Leadership Lessons from Mowing the Lawn) Number 3 is subtly simple:

There’s always more to the job than meets your eye.

As leaders, we can sometimes lose track of what goes into a job.  Just because you or I might not be the person performing that particular job is no excuse for not appreciating the totality of that job.  It seems that the more compassionate and thoughtful a leader is, the more likely he or she is to have that awareness.  I’m sure we have all seen cases in which someone in authority flippantly gave an order, not fully realizing all that could be involved.  This is a mistake on two levels.

That leader loses the respect of his workers for being so flippant and essentially disrespectful to the team.

That leader loses a knowledge of the cost calculations associated with performing the larger project, thereby threatening to undermine its success.

LLML Number 3 has always amazed me.  It continuously causes me to rear back in respect at any job regardless of how simple or obvious it may appear on the surface.  Understanding this should automatically instill a respect to anyone for any job.  How do you rate yourself when it comes to assessing other people’s jobs?  LLML Number 3:

There’s always more to the job than meets your eye.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM MOWING THE LAWN

I have had more things hit me while mowing the lawn than you can imagine.  And by things I don’t mean bugs, grass, snakes, dirt clumps, bees, animal poop, pebbles, and various other projectiles that the mower or Mother Nature decide to send my way.  All those things do hit me.  However, I am now referring to much more important things such as ideas, insights, perspectives, and directions.

There is something about mowing the lawn that predisposes my mind and my soul to go into a meditative, calm state.  Mowing the lawn requires some effort and skill, but not nearly enough to absorb 100% of my cranial capacity.  Therefore, I always find that it provides a perfect time to zone out and focus in.  I am far enough removed from my routine tasks, duties, and responsibilities that I can subconsciously approach them differently.  Some of my best ideas, insights, perspectives, and directions have come to me while I was mowing the lawn.  That leads to my first LLML (leadership lessons from mowing the lawn):

Find a place to reflect.

Every leader who is genuinely concerned with his or her leadership quality absolutely knows that personal and professional growth is a nonnegotiable.  We as leaders must always be growing.  Failing to grow translates to retreat.  When you stand still, everything else will leave you in its wake.  That is not a good place to be.

Regardless of whether it is mowing the lawn, running laps, taking a drive, going on a sabbatical, or staring at the night’s stars, we must create those places in which we can reflect on what we are doing, why we are doing it, how we are doing it, and whether we can do it better.  That place will be different for you than it is for me or a colleague or a friend.  LLML Number 1 simply affirms that we find that place to reflect.

As leaders, we can sometimes be so hard-charging that we forget to reassess how much value we are adding.  It is in those times of reflection that we just might experience a revelation.  And that revelation can be the most important moment of your day, week, year, or even your life.  LLML Number 1:

Find a place to reflect.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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AN ECONOMY MAKEOVER

It is always interesting to reflect on how the American workplace has changed over the decades, especially concerning fundamental changes to the playing field.  As we have progressed from the previous century to the new one, thanks to technology, the playing field had enlarged in a very big-time way.  We have gone global.  Today we live and operate in a global economy.

Business globalization’s irreversibility has been difficult for many to accept.  Accept it or not, it is here to stay.  It is our new reality.  The smart company and the smart person will adapt and overcome.  What else can we do?

Tragically, these sweeping global changes have resulted in economic and job disruption for many.  We all feel that pain one way or another.  However, trying to turn the clock back is not the answer.  We must continue to contribute to the economy we hope to achieve.  We must continue to search for creative solutions to every challenge.  We must commit to moving forward productively and ethically.  By taking this positive approach, we will maximize the opportunities for everyone involved and we will not forget those facing the biggest challenges and disruptions.  I like the way that Thomas Friedman summarizes this imperative in his seminal work, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006):

“The great challenge for our time will be to absorb these changes in ways that do not overwhelm people but also do not leave them behind.  None of this will be easy.  But this is our task.  It is inevitable and unavoidable.” (pp. 46-47).

We are in the middle of an economy makeover.  We owe it to ourselves and to each other to get involved.  When we do that, we will achieve the best possible outcomes.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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A DIGITIZATION CONTEMPLATION

It is always interesting to reflect on how the American workplace has changed over the decades, especially concerning science and technology.  For example, the digitization of our world.  In moving from the latter half of the 20th century into the 21st century, we have experienced an absolutely overwhelming digital transformation.  Exactly how we perceived that transformation going into it, during it, and our projections about its future are the subjects of deep analysis by millions.  People have been fooled, people have been heroes, and people have been oblivious.  All three kinds of people have navigated the digitization tornado.  What some have pondered has been fascinating.

One of the most interesting paradoxical positions about the digitization tornado came to me from a former colleague in the chemical industry many years ago.  I say paradoxical because he articulated something incredibly shortsighted that did not happen and he simultaneously articulated something incredibly powerful that did happen:

The Shortsighted—“Digitization will never threaten or replace traditional wet chemistry photography.”  (We know what happened there!)

The Incredibly Powerful—“The youngest generation won’t believe anything is real unless they can see it in digital form.”  (Just look at how attached some people are to their devices.  Does that give you a clue?)

It amazes me that such a failed statement and such a prescient statement can come from the same person.  But such reality underscores the subtle deception and difficulty of capturing and capitalizing upon a trend.  And is that not our constant challenge every single day in this amazingly complex, hi-tech world?

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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YOU DON’T SUCCEED IN THE PAST

If time machines were not as expensive as they are, then we would always have the option of succeeding in the past.  Think about all the do-overs we could enjoy!  Unfortunately, in the current space-time continuum, that is not truly an option for any of us.  That said, we should all know how to manage our pasts.  Gert Boyle (chairman of Columbia Sportswear) has a life-changing recommendation about doing that (“How Did I Get Here?: Gert Boyle” Bloomberg Businessweek, 3/14/16–3/20/16, p. 84):

“Don’t get hung up on ‘should’ve’—yesterday’s never gonna come around again, so get on with it.”

I have seen too many people wallow in their past.  This is true personally and professionally.  Therefore, Boyle has it right: get on with your life.

Getting on with your life doesn’t mean that we don’t take every opportunity to learn from our past.  The past teaches lessons we cannot afford to miss.  Just remember not to park there.

You never succeed in your past, but you can ensure more success in your future.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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LLML NUMBER 4

In the time that I have spent mowing the lawn, many things have gone right.  In the time that I have spent mowing the lawn, many things have gone wrong.  Here is the short list of the things that have gone wrong:

Wheel fell off.

Suffered a laceration from trying to free a blade.

Brand new mower defective out of the box.

Handle assembly disengaged.

Wheel cracked.

Broke a blade.

Mower threw a rock at me.

Overfilled the oil.

Hit a hunk of metal and bent the shaft, destroying the engine.

Axle broke.

Throttle cable disconnected.

Things have gone wrong while I was mowing the lawn.  Isn’t that true of leadership?  Things do go wrong.  LLML (Leadership Lessons from Mowing the Lawn) Number 4 is an obvious yet important reminder:

No one is immune to Murphy’s Law.

As leaders, we can sometimes optimistically believe that we are immune to Murphy’s Law.  Unfortunately, given enough time, we learn that we are mistaken.  Therefore, the best approach we can take is prepare for the unexpected, have backup plans, and be flexible.  Eventually, things will go wrong and that is precisely when you will be glad that you prepared for the unexpected, had backup plans, and chose to be flexible.  LLML Number 4:

No one is immune to Murphy’s Law.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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LLML NUMBER 2

LLML (Leadership Lessons from Mowing the Lawn) Number 2 begins this way:  Each time that I mow my lawn, I have to be certain that I have specific resources in place ahead of time.  Being in the middle of mowing my lawn is not the time to figure out that I need to refill the gas tank but my gas can happens to be empty.  LLML Number 2:

Resource your project before you try to execute it.

It is easy to become excited about a new project.  As wonderful as that project may be however, without sufficient resourcing, it will never get off the ground.  Some of the biggest mistakes that I have witnessed in project planning and execution have their roots in resourcing.  Failing to resource a project sufficiently is planning to fail.  The bigger the project, the bigger the failure.  Once you run out of gas, the mowing stops.

In addition to the obvious practical level, sufficient resourcing is vital to a project on the teamwork and leadership level.  How did you feel the last time your boss gave you a great new project, but without sufficient resources to get it done?  Good working relationships will usually weather through such challenges, but it is a stress that could have been avoided with sufficient resourcing ahead of time.  LLML Number 2:

Resource your project before you try to execute it.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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GENERATIONS ON GENERATIONS

The American workplace has certainly changed as we have transitioned from the old century to the new one.  Improvements in standards of living, nutrition, lifestyle, healthcare, and wellness have increased lifespan.  There never has been a better time to be alive and working.

These better times translate to more generations actively participating in the workplace.  Interesting dynamics never seen before have arisen.  For example, the generation that came into this world from about 1980 to 2000 is called the millennials.  The millennials now exceed the baby boomers in numbers.  In spite of how powerful an effect the baby boomers have had and will continue to have on our society, in a sense because of their size, the millennials will be the “new baby boomers.”  Companies are continuing to adjust their management style to connect more effectively with the millennials.

We are currently in an American workplace never seen in the past.  For the first time, the argument can be made that we have five distinct generations working side by side.  That has created and will continue to create exciting and important opportunities.  Some organizations have effectively carried the ball past the goal posts thereby capitalizing on each generation’s value.  Other organizations have fumbled the ball thereby losing each generation’s value.

If you want your organization to be known for the touchdowns instead of the fumbles, then you absolutely must reassess everything that you do with an awareness of this unprecedented generational mix.  Not every generation thinks the same way on any number of topics or factors about the workplace.  This does not necessarily mean that one generation is intrinsically wrong or right.  It does mean that we all should be more open to new approaches about how we do business together.  Here is a very short list of some of the areas that you would do well to reassess within your organization to keep everyone on the winning track:

HR policies.

Values.

Employee motivations.

Communication styles.

Social media.

Societal trends.

Software and hardware.

Healthcare and wellness.

Family structure.

Higher education.

Mentoring.

Benefits and perks.

Training approaches.

Career pathing.

Leadership development and succession planning.

As any good chef knows, when you have more ingredients in the recipe, you should be able to make a superior dish.  It’s just a matter of getting all those great ingredients to work together.  We can do exactly that with our multiple generations in the workplace today.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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DIVERSITY DIVIDENDS

Reflecting on how the American workplace has changed as we have transitioned from the old century to the new one, diversity stands out as a significant topic.  More than ever before, organizations of all sizes have recognized that diversity adds value.  Major corporations have taken the lead throughout this development as misunderstandings about diversity have continued to evaporate.

Employees sometimes approach their organization’s diversity training program with a preconception that is far from the truth.  Employees sometimes believe that diversity means that the company wants to change each individual’s values, attitudes, convictions, and beliefs.  However, if diversity training is administered correctly, then nothing could be further from the truth.  You are entitled to your values, attitudes, convictions, and beliefs.  I am entitled to mine.  Your values, attitudes, convictions, and beliefs are part of what make you you and me me.

On the contrary, diversity celebrates those differences.  It respects those differences.  Simultaneously, it reinforces that you do not have to agree with or embrace the other person’s values, attitudes, convictions, and beliefs.  Again, they are part of what make you you and me me.

Fundamentally, diversity training aims simply to raise awareness.  Increased awareness does not equal agreement.  It does, however, create respect.

When we choose to celebrate and embrace diversity, we add value.  Adding value drives profitability.  How does this happen?  The answer is seen in the simple diversity principle of blind spots.  If I surround myself with people just like me, then it becomes very unlikely that I will ever identify my blind spots.  However, if I surround myself with people who are different from me, then it becomes very likely that I will identify my blind spots, learn how to compensate for them, and be receptive to my diverse group’s input.  This is a two-way street.  My diverse group will also benefit from the insights that I offer to them, insights that derive from my being different from the group.

Repeatedly, it is the diverse group or organization that performs better than the homogenous one.  The superior performance is naturally rewarded with improved quality, customer experience, sales, and growth.  This is why increasing numbers of companies are making diversity a top priority.  For many, it is named as one of their core values.

Our increasingly complex world is not going to become any easier to navigate.  Nevertheless, as more organizations engage in diversity deployment, everyone stands to enjoy diversity dividends.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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DO YOU MIND IF I WHAT?

It is always interesting to reflect on how the American workplace has changed over the decades.  Trend analysis can reveal insights about where we’ve been, where we’re heading, and how we can better position ourselves to identify future trends.  For example, smoking.

When I first entered the workplace many decades ago, smoking was an acceptable, common habit that many workers practiced.  Obviously, today we are intentional about restricting smoking in and near the workplace.  That policy stems from many concerns:

Health.

Safety.

Comfort.

Morale.

Corporate liability.

Governmental regulation.

Interestingly, it all started with a little bit of knowledge.  Once we as a society became aware of the scientific evidence identifying smoking and secondhand smoke as health risks, that was the beginning of the end for smoking in the workplace.  (Yes, I realize that localized and regional deviations exist, but I am speaking on the broader trend-evolution level.)  In some cases and depending on how you look at the history, it has taken a long time to make the changes that we wanted to make.  However, the point is that the trend has clearly been to eliminate smoking in the workplace or otherwise make a reasonable accommodation for smokers while protecting nonsmokers and customers.  That is where we have arrived.

As those in the legal and PR professions are wont to say, “what did you know and when did you know it?”  Culpability is based on knowledge.  We as a society have chosen to act on the scientific evidence about smoking.  Our collective conscience (thankfully) required we could do nothing less.

In the early 1980s, a worker I know at a Fortune 500 company confronted his HR department with some of the earliest data identifying the escalating costs to companies associated with smoking in the workplace.  This involved such tangible outcomes as increased wear and tear on the heating, AC, and ventilation system, increased worker sick time, and decreased worker productivity.  He suggested that his company ban smoking in the workplace.  Rather than even consider evaluating the research, his HR representative simply fell back on the Dilbertesian line of “that is our policy.”

What I like about truth is that it eventually prevails.  Decades later, that worker’s suggestion has been implemented not only in that particular company, but throughout the American workplace.  Today, we take it for granted that smoking in the workplace is not acceptable.

What did we know and when did we know it?  If you want to get an idea of future trends, look at what we know and when we knew it.  That will very likely spell out what the next workplace trend will be.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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THE DIFFERENCE THAT CONNECTS

Gert Boyle was never afraid to try something different in Columbia Sportswear’s advertising strategy.  Not everyone around her necessarily felt the same way at the time.  In an interview with David Whitford, Boyle explains that some seriously doubted whether her Tough Mother advertising campaign would work.  Nevertheless, she moved the campaign forward, and it moved the company forward, as she explains:

“We did it anyway, and it was successful.  Because it’s different.  You can look at nine-tenths of the manufacturers of outerwear, skiwear, anything like that—they’re all the same ads.  All these gorgeous people who couldn’t possibly do on skis what they’re supposed to be doing.  Then you've got the little old lady.  That’s what sets us apart.  Not because we make better clothing, but because the advertising gets your attention.”

Good advertising is usually different from the norm.  That doesn’t mean that you are different just to be different.  Rather, you are different in a way that captures people’s attention.  It is the marked difference that lodges in the memory, and it is the memory that attaches the company to the consumer, and that calls the customer to you.

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fsb/fsb_archive/2003/09/01/350789/

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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People
Work
Occupation
Training Team Manager, Business Consultant, Freelance Corporate Writer, Ordained Minister, and Associate Faculty Member
Employment
  • Assemblies of God
    Ordained Minister, 1985 - present
  • Jimfreelance.com
    Freelance Corporate Writer, 1988 - present
  • Reliableinsights.com
    Business Consultant, 1999 - present
  • University of Phoenix
    Associate Faculty, 2010 - present
  • Tyco Integrated Security
    Training Team Manager, 2005 - present
  • Central Bible College
    Adjunct Faculty, 1997 - 2002
  • AT&T
    Quality Manager, 1996 - 2005
  • New Paradigm Business Enterprises
    Owner, 1995 - 1996
  • Assemblies of God
    Data Control Clerk, 1986 - 1988
  • Eastman Kodak
    Chemical Technician, 1978 - 1985
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Kansas City, Missouri
Story
Introduction
  • Assemblies of God Ordained Minister.
  • Tyco Integrated Security Training Team Manager.
  • Freelance Corporate Writer.
  • Business Consultant.
  • University of Phoenix Associate Faculty.
  • Passionate about all I do, and always carry an indelible sense of humor.
  • Although I am involved in many different disciplines, I continuously find they synergistically cross-pollinate to make me even more effective in each one.
  • Business blog www.blog.reliableinsights.com.
  • Business humor blog www.recallredeemerman.blogspot.com.

 

Bragging rights
Survived Y2K and three teenagers. Married 32 years to the same wonderful woman. Two-time winner of the AT&T Winning Spirit Award.
Education
  • University of Phoenix
    M.B.A., 2007 - 2009
  • Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
    D.Min. (all but project), 1993 - 1996
  • Assemblies of God Theological Seminary
    M.Div. Pastoral Counseling, 1986 - 1988
  • Central Bible College
    Theology and Philosophy, 1985 - 1985
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
    B.S. Chemistry, 1978 - 1983
  • Broome Community College
    A.A.S. Chemical Technology, 1975 - 1978
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Relationship
Married
Other names
James T. Meadows; Jim Meadows