Friday, November 2, 2007


80% of the population will not even try to accomplish something they themselves define as great if there is a 20% chance of failure. - Unknown


I am a project manager and a leader. I'm just hard coded a certain way. I get people telling me things that would make HR cringe and folks ask for my advice. I tell you this because I hope to give you some insight into why I think projects (both work and personal) fail.

I have been in a conference all week and what is most stunning to me is how corporations/people pay huge sums of money for point blank feedback and honesty. (There is a bright business future for me yet!) I am known for brutal, yet tactful honesty in my business. I believe honesty is the only real policy. I also am too damn lazy to remember any lies or exaggerations I told to whom.

We saw Howard Putnam (retired CEO of Southwest Airlines) speak on Wednesday morning. He was great! I could work with this man as the leader of my company. He said, "Turbulence is inevitable. Misery is optional." I totally agree. Your attitude will decide your altitude to stay with a flight analogy. I think most people in the U.S.A. have it too easy. For evidence on that fly thru O'Hare, LaGuardia or Kennedy in the summer. People getting upset because of weather or the airline is fixing a valve on the ENGINE...hmmm. I say take all the time you need. I'd rather chill out in the airport than leave on time and end up as a splotch on the tarmac and the lead story of the 10pm news. As long as the airline tells me that they are fixing something on the plane or the real reason we are delayed (like someone clogged a lavatory or the pilot spilled coffee on the controls)...I'm fine. Just be honest. In life and in corporate "leadership" this is severely lacking these days. There is just no accountability toward performance and attaining your personal or corporate goals. In corporate America we see CEOs getting $59.2 million in compensation, as one example. When their organization has poor profits during the year, a major catastrophe hits their firm or employees who aren't properly compensated want more money because the corporate goal is to be a "mid level payer" and talent is walking out the door along with morale...does that executive take a pay cut? Hell no. Isn't that counter to what the goal should be? It should be to strengthen the company and get employees to invest mentally in their company. Can you imagine the strength of companies if we worked as hard as we play in America? It happens here in times of crisis. Why not all the time? Its not a higher priority goal.

The challenge is to define what you are really after in life and then build a plan toward it. Execute the plan while making adjustments for the world around you until you get to that goal. Most people don't ever do the first part. How the hell do you build a plan (even if you are dedicated enough to work the plan)? Think of all the world's "great" people...some conversation starters - Walt Disney, the Wright Brothers, Alexander G. Bell, Thomas Edison, da Vinci, - all of these people had ideas and they kept hammering away at them until they achieved them. I told my team once when things were looking grim, "We've successfully found 291 ways of how not to integrate this SAP module! We are contacting SAP and telling them we are going to solve this because we don't quit." We solved it on try number 293 with 90 minutes to spare before our deadline. I was so proud of my team for not quitting.

The world will always tell you "No" or "You can't whatever". When I was a freshman at Hoffman Estates High School the varsity cross country coach Jim Swift told me, "You'll never be a great athlete." This was just after I had sustained my second injury of the season due to over training and a broken wrist and snapped tendon from gym class. I didn't say anything out loud to the coach but I was pretty steamed. I knew I was not a good athlete but I am a great athlete. Mainly because I don't quit...ever. I'm like the Terminator. I remember being mad because Scott Molina was nick named the Terminator and I wanted that nickname. we are 20+ years later and I still hold several swimming records at Hoffman HS and the time I swam in the state finals would still be competitive today.

How did I get there? Was I born a good swimmer? Hell no. I worked really hard. I had the negative stimulus from Mr. Swift but that really wasn't my motivation. It was positive. I'm very positive. In my head I would visualize my race on every repeat in the water with the announcer from ABC in my head, "Here comes Mitera! Look at him go! He looks like a grand prix motor car!" Then on the next one I'd do it all again. I did have great high school teachers and coaches who were positive. Mr. Reiff (a history teacher and track coach was one of my favorites), Ms. Lakin-Davis (a science teacher who I consider a friend today) and most of all Mr. Tom Fidler - my swimming coach at Hoffman who believed in us and built us up to believe in ourselves and hard work. When I'm going slow in a workout or screw up at work I can still hear him, "Come on Mitera! You can do better! Again!" I was the first (along with my teammate/friend Joel) to be varsity four years in ANY SPORT at Hoffman Estates HS. Freshman year - strong all around Sophomore year - just missed state in three events Junior year - DQ'd in a mistaken identity situation (guy next to me did the miscue and I got the DQ - still gets me to this day) Senior year - undefeated until I just missed beating the state champ at the Sectional and then 13th at the State meet. Not bad for a guy who would never be a good athlete, eh? I'll never forget how happy Tom was for me. Now that is a coach!

I'll be away from the PC for a few days. I'm working on the new plan - 3 months, 6 months, 1 yr, 3 yrs, 5 yrs, 10 years +. Career, Physical, Financial, Family, Spiritual, Educational, Community - complete with success metrics and everything. You can have it all. It isn't easy but anything worth having isn't easy.

Be amazing.

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