Tuesday, December 16, 2008

24 Lessons in High Performance Leadership

Lesson Ten
Build a High Performance Team

While out on the beach, I laid out a plan. After listing the people in order by respect, I drew two columns.

The first column was labeled, Weaknesses. This column can get very long, very quickly because we notice weaknesses first and then tend to concentrate on them. You might ask, "Why write down all those negative things?" This list will become a map through the minefield.

I labeled other column Strengths. Then I stared at the blank column: it was as though I had writer’s block. Perhaps I hated to admit this person had any strengths. But she was the most respected person in the office: she had to have strengths. I forced myself to concentrate on her strengths: mathematical ability, loyalty to the company, a good sense of humor, an appreciation for the finer things in life, and so on.

Things I wouldn’t have necessarily associated with strengths on the job began to add up. I began to realize the things that made a person strong as a whole were strengths he or she could apply on the job. My focus then shifted from the long list of weaknesses to the long list of strengths just beside it within each person. The old dog was learning a new trick.

Once I realized how many strengths this woman had, strengths that weren’t being recognized or put to use in our organization, I was bursting with enthusiasm to talk to her strengths the next time I had the chance. She immediately noticed I was enthusiastic about her potential. I reflected back to her the things she felt were important and valuable. What she thought and felt became my priorities; I would no longer impose my priorities.

We can transplant hearts and other vital organs from one person to another, but we can’t transplant strengths. Managers try every day––and the operations have never been successful. Our job, therefore, is to be a catalyst between their strengths and the way we'd like to see the job done. You’ll keep adding to both lists over time.

Do not leave these lists around the office. This is an exercise for you alone. Keep your lists at home. Each evening, take a few minutes to pick a couple of team members from your chart to connect with individually the next day in a coaching session. Select one or two strengths from each person’s lists that you help them to use more in some part of their jobs.

Here are some ways to get started:

Begin with the most respected member of your team: This person is the most influential.

Make two lists for each person: Put weaknesses in one column and strengths in the other. The second list will be more difficult because of the long-term propensity to focus on weaknesses.

Lay out a coaching strategy for each person: Based the plan on your awareness of his or her weaknesses, but emphasize strengths.

"Be aware of their weaknesses, but talk to their strengths."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

24 Lessons in High Performance Leadership

Lesson Nine

Put the Chips Back In Place

When my boss announced that he was searching for my replacement, I did what any sane and logical manager would have done: I went to the beach. My salespeople needed some breathing space, as much as I needed to be alone with my thoughts, the waves, the sand, and a legal pad of paper. That's where I realized that there was a barrier or fence in my organization, with my people on one side and me on the other. And the fence looked different depending on which side you were on. With this revelation came my first major team-building technique.

Only one factor united all of the people on the other side of the fence: they all hated me. That bond wasn’t healthy, but it was strong. I needed to end our segregation.

I could have invoked the power of my position and ordered my people to come over to my side of the fence. But, I knew that authority doesn't produce real cooperation.

Another option was to crawl over to their side of the fence and try to recreate the wonderful camaraderie we had when I came on board as the new salesperson. But that wouldn’t be leadership either.

Then I realized that I couldn’t win over all of my people at one time. At best, I was going to earn their trust one by one. My first thought was to go after the highest producer in the office. But something told me that could foster jealousy among the other team members. The situation could become even more divisive. I needed to win over someone to whom the others would listen.

It dawned on me that the most influential member of the team was not necessarily the superstar but the person whom the others respected the most. Using this new criterion, I rated my team members, from the most respected on down the line. I was incorporating the values of my people into my thinking. The ratings I used were theirs, not mine.

Then, I went to work on the number one most respected person on my list. Before long, that person was actually saying some decent things about me. Why? Because that person was beginning to truly feel that I was open and receptive to the team’s way of thinking. Soon, number two on my list headed for my side of the fence. Then came number three, four, and so on. Once I’d won over about a third of the people, the most respected third, others started heading my way from the far side of the fence. Your people vote every day to decide which side of the fence to be on.

Here's how to get started on the fence technique:

Determine which of your team members is the most respected.

Identify which qualities make this person so trusted.

Rank your team members in order of peer respect: Keep the list for your eyes only.

"Determination makes failure impossible."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

24 Lessons in High Performance Management

Lesson Eight
Take Steps to Grow as a Leader

You shouldn’t wait to start learning how successful leaders think and act until your boss starts looking for your replacement. If I had known then what I know now, my boss would have never come in and set my pants on fire. I would have paid $10,000 for a single copy of this book back then.

The way others successfully handle pressure can educate you so that you’ll never have to experience similar situations. Do you know someone who never seems to be on the hot seat? It might well be that while you had your nose to the grindstone that person had his or her head up and looking and learning from other people’s experiences.

That means:

• Attending seminars, live or online.
• Reading books, magazines, and newspapers.
• Taking to lunch people from whom you can learn.
• Monitoring your own people for things you can learn.
• Gobbling up audio/video multimedia training programs.

It’s not enough to merely study. True learning is the application of knowledge. Things get exciting for everybody when successful techniques are put into practice. Keeping all of your great new knowledge in your head won’t do a thing to increase productivity.

I speak three to five times every week there’s never been an audience that didn’t have at least a few educated failures. Some of them possess enormous amounts of information about the latest leadership methods, yet they’re stagnated or failing. When I ask them how many of the new techniques and strategies they have incorporated into their organization’s daily routines, they hesitate to answer. The truth hurts. The fact is that for most of us there’s a gap between how we do our jobs and the way we know how to do our jobs.

How did you score yourself on the ten leadership characteristics outlined earlier? Now, do it again––as your people would probably rate you as a leader. If you’re gutsy, you might want one or more of your people who have read that lesson to do the rating.

The score your people give you is the real one. You're only as effective as your people’s perception of you. The rating the employees give their boss is always the most accurate measure of effectiveness.

Here are three tough points to consider. You might even want to jot down your reactions:

Imagine your improvement over the past year charted on a graph: If you asked your team members to graph out the improvement they've seen in you as a leader in the past year, what would their graph look like?
• Plan your growth: What do you need to start planning in order to grow as a leader in the next twelve months?
• Think about how you’ve improved as a leader by handling problems: Pick a problem that your leadership has solved. What did you learn from it?

"Take a mentor to lunch before somebody else eats yours."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

24 Lessons in High-Performance Management

Lesson Seven
Cultivate Characteristics of an Effective Organization

These days, the word creativity makes many businesspeople automatically think of finances, in the same way that stretching used to be something you only did during exercise. But creativity here is originality of thought and execution, which are becoming increasingly necessary in today’s business arena. Creativity is the power that leads to progress.

When the heat’s on, the same old way of handling situations just won’t cut it any more. In fact, the same old routines are probably what got you into those situations. Down pressures are changing in nature and intensity. Up pressures are coming from the rapidly changing dynamics of a workforce with a new identity. Lack of originality in thinking and behavior is a sign that you're oblivious to the vise slowly closing.

Any effective organization has an energy you can sense as soon as you enter the office––even if there’s only one person there at the time. The thought might even pop into your head that this could be a fun place to work. Andrew Carnegie, the great industrialist, said, "I've found there is little success where there is little laughter."

When you walk into an organization with low or no energy, you feel that too. It’s like walking into a big refrigeration unit: the chill makes you shiver––even if there’s only one person there. Some organizations might as well have a sign on the wall that says: Fun is forbidden. Anyone caught enjoying what they’re doing will be punished.

Where there is no fun, there is no energy. How long does it take to detect energy or lack of it in an office? Within five seconds, you can tell how much fun it is to work there. Your customers can tell the same thing within five seconds of being greeted by one of your team members.

Change is what happens when you mix creativity and energy. An effective organization is a changing organization. You can’t reverse that equation, because it’s possible for management to change the look, the staff, the location, and a thousand other things about an organization in an attempt to produce effectiveness artificially.

Change that does not emerge from a healthy combination of creativity and energy will feel synthetic. Creativity combined with energy produces change from within. Changes imposed from outside feel like impositions. Changes from within are self-regulated and guided by realism.

Here are three methods of building energy, creativity, and change:

Analyze the steps used to solve a very difficult problem: Think of one that you or a team member handled in recent months. What did you do?

Consider your team from an outsider’s perspective: Learn what "vibes" the average customer picks up when initially meeting any of your team members.

Identify a change you can initiate right now: What one thing could you do at this point to make your organization more effective?

"Team morale and customer service,
on a scale of 1-10, receive the same score."

Monday, November 3, 2008

24 Lessons in High-Performance Management

Lesson Six
Practice Humanagement

Humanagement is simply the ability to use the job to develop the person while having fun in the process. My entire emphasis changed as I stopped managing my people like a herd of livestock and began leading them as people. It occurred to me I could help each individual unlock his or her talent, as well as:

• Set more meaningful goals (personal and professional).
• Better understand and plan their time.
• Use more of their creativity.
• Better handle their stress.
• Feel safe pushing their envelope.

If I had an office full of happy, growing people, I thought, there’s no telling what we could accomplish. Sure enough, when they began going home at night with their minds renewed and enriched instead of sore, tired, and aggravated, our entire universe expanded beyond anything we would have previously thought possible.

Don’t forget the “while having fun in the process” part. I don’t mean you open the office with a joke every morning. My experience has proven time and again that people who grow and develop and become more capable of handling problems are happier. They are happier because they are more fulfilled and actualized. When employees become more fulfilled and actualized, morale goes up. With higher morale comes higher productivity. I’ve never seen it fail.

Staff turnover also drops. With low staff turnover comes more bonding and team spirit. High turnover results in suspicion and a lack of personal investment in the job. It’s difficult to feel a part of an organization if the probability of losing your job is high. There are the managers who swear their organization has a terrific atmosphere, but people leave because the money is not competitive. There are also bureaucracies where people stay forever, even though they are miserable. A good logo for them would be: “Repeating Yesterday, Inc; Home of the Living Dead.”

Nobody is having fun in either case. People leave organizations because they’re not happy, not because there's more money elsewhere. The value of having fun on the job ranks above money. Enjoyable work in an enjoyable environment exerts a stronger hold on people than higher wages in an unpleasant job and environment. Here are three ways to help get positioned and mentally prepared to practice Humanagement:

Decide on ways to practice Humangement: Think about ways you can set a better example for your team.

Rate yourself from the perspective of your team members: If you ask them to rate how much fun they have working for you, what grade would they give you?

Imagine yourself the topic of conversation: If you were a fly on the wall in the homes of the people who work for you, what would they be saying about you in the evening?

"Help a team member grow, and you will receive respect in return."

Monday, October 27, 2008

24 Lessons in High-Performance Management

Lesson Five
Develop Characteristics of Great Leaders

Here is a list of 10 characteristics that are common in high performing leaders. They do not come naturally. Great leaders develop them. The characteristics of great leaders are universal and timeless. They reflect what leaders choose to believe and how they decide to behave. Great leaders demonstrate all ten characteristics––-regardless of their field.

1. Uncompromising integrity: It's the foundation for quality and service to both internal and external customers. The would-be leader who doesn't have this will be a "flash in the pan".
2. Absence of pettiness: The greatest drain of energy in an organization is pettiness. Eliminating it results in high energy. Leaders understand the difference between interesting and important.
3. Works on things by priority: This results in stability under pressure and makes for an excellent problem solver. A leader who works by priorities prepares a daily priority list; he or she starts with #1 and doesn't deal with #2 when finished, but instead deals with the new #1, and so on.
4. Courageous: Leaders don't lead life meekly, they know there is a deep well of courage within each of us, whether or no we use it. Leaders do what they fear to keep fear from taking charge. Their credo is "It's always too soon to quit!"
5. Committed: Leaders know that they won’t die an early death by working hard in a job they love. They never hear low achievers saying to them, "Slow down! You're going to ruin your health!" Their work is a developed art form.
6. Goal oriented: Focus is the antidote for pain in the accomplishment of stellar goals. Leaders understand that a lack of goals starts the process of both physical and mental shutdown.
7. Unorthodox: These are the creators, the innovators, and the think-outside-the-box types. They learn from their successes and from their failures. They are originals, not copies.
8. Inspired enthusiasm that's contagious: Leaders grow enthusiastic as they achieve their daily goals, which are part of a larger plan, not just daily tasks. They are acutely aware that without this contagious enthusiasm whatever mood they have will also be contagious.
9. Level headed in times of crisis: These people do not come aparts or cry in their beer. They are steady and therefore grasp the needed facts quickly. They know that conflict overcome is strength gained.
10. Desire to help others grow: Leaders know there is no saturation to education and that passing along knowledge and growth experiences builds synergistic relations and camaraderie.

Here are some suggestions for taking the road to greatness:

Rate yourself for each characteristic: On a scale of 1 to 10, how great are you?

Rate yourself from the prospective of your team members: Would they agree with how you’re rated yourself? If not, why not?

Focus on three points for improvement: Pick out three characteristics to improve in yourself and map out a plan for that improvement.

"An organization quits improving right after the manger quits improving."

Monday, October 20, 2008

24 Lessons in High-Performance Management

Lesson Four
Search for What Works

I love it when people fight against incredible odds to triumph over problems. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale once said, "You're only as big as the problem that stops you." I am thankful for men and women who were bigger than the problems that would have stopped and did stop so many others. The world got better right after they got better.

During the dark hours when my boss was out looking for my replacement, I started reading articles about successful people in newspapers and magazines. When I came across someone local, I called the person and said, "You don't know me, but my name is Danny Cox and I've just destroyed the number one office in my company by taking it from first place to thirty-sixth in three months. My boss is looking for my replacement right now. Can I have lunch with you?"

These successful people not only took my calls, but also agreed to have lunch with me. Some sensed the urgency in my voice; others just wanted to meet the person who could single-handedly wreak havoc on an entire organization. The one quality in every one of these success stories was an entrepreneurial spirit. Each saw me as a challenge––or at least a curiosity.

I listened and learned and immediately started applying the lessons. I have never stopped seeking out the advice and counsel of effective leaders. Take someone to lunch before someone else eats yours. Pay attention to what's happening in your organization, your industry, and your local business community, so you can learn without experiencing your own disasters.

Work on yourself first. Your pursuit of excellence will set the agenda for everyone in your organization. Just before you drift off to sleep, ask yourself, "Who am I impressing…?" When people are impressed, they say, "You do good work." When they're inspired, they say, "I wish I did my work as well as you do yours."

You must lead by your example of excellence. Think of it this way: Somebody somewhere is going to get better because you’re reading this book.

Here are some ways to start your pursuit of excellence:

Learn from the leaders around you: List the three people you admire most within your organization and the three you admire most outside of your organization. They should be accessible to you. Take these people individually to lunch or, at least, talk with them about their secrets to successful leadership. They’ll enjoy telling you.

Put those methods and techniques to work: Apply what you learn to your leadership challenges. Give your benefactors feedback on how their methods and techniques work for you––and tell them about any innovations you come up with.

Focus on inspiring rather than impressing: When you impress, you rise above others. When you inspire, you bring them up with you.

"To achieve great things, know more than the average person considers necessary."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

24 Lessons in High-Performance Management

Lesson Three
Lift Your Limitations

After returning to the top position, our office leveled off in production exactly where we had been when I took over. Once we returned to our previous level of performance, we went no further; we unknowingly reached our self-imposed barrier.

I emphasize the word self because the barriers are not imposed by the company or customers. A self-imposed barrier is nothing more than the dividing line between developed and undeveloped potential. Yet, we look at that line as though it’s a wall. Self-imposed barriers are not walls around our lives. They are the margins of our lives where nothing has been written––yet. A self-imposed barrier is nothing more than the dividing line between developed and undeveloped potential. Yet, we look at that line as though it's a wall.

Imagine what the world would be like if explorers throughout history believed that they couldn't go anywhere for the first time. That's what we were up against after my office was back at number one. Pushing production higher than ever before meant venturing into uncharted territory. We had reached the collective personal barriers of the team.

My people were not slouches. They were the best in the company and would have been the best in any company. We were already receiving monthly awards for being the top office. Success became a barrier for us. Walt Disney is remembered to this day throughout the Disney organization for warning his staff against “resting on their laurels." Ralph Waldo Emerson put it even more profoundly when he said, "A great man is always willing to be little. Whilst he sits on the cushion of advantages, he goes to sleep."

Another great executive once said to me, "Good is the enemy of best and best is the enemy of better." When most people get to be good, they start to think, "What's the point of struggling to be best? Isn't good, good enough?"

I challenged my team to break through their personal production records and they responded. I asked them to focus on their own records on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly basis, instead of other people's records. When they did, energy, morale, and production skyrocketed.

As our performance received increasing acclamation and overall attention, I was asked where I got all of those great people and how I built such a record-breaking team. Did I steal top producers from our competition or recruit at the top business schools? The one-word answer was "no." They were just ordinary people who discovered they could do the most extraordinary things with their newly discovered potential.

Here are some things you can do right now to help develop undeveloped potential in your team:

Meet individually with your key people to set goals: Tell them, "Don't worry about breaking anyone else's personal record. Just think about breaking your own record on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis."

Monitor each team member's progress continuously: Help that person stay focused.

Celebrate record-breaking performances: Do this on a regular basis to show your support and appreciation for your team's effort.

"Accomplishment is your birthright. Limitations are adopted."


Each time there has been a downturn in economic conditions the requests for my “Leadership When the Heat’s On” program have gone up. Such is the case now. Presentations are tailored for each particular client’s needs. The structure is built around the maxims in my “Leader’s Dozen” which are listed below.

Please keep in mind my track record where 145 salespeople increased production 800% in a five and one-half year period and that included two recession years.

The best IS yet to be!


The Leader’s Dozen:

1. The ultimate reward for the leader of people is to be able to say at the end of the day, “I saw someone grow today and I helped.”

2. Charisma = Intensity (goal, focus and direction) and Enthusiasm (expectancy of better things to come).

3. High performance is often the result of a sudden change of direction.

4. To achieve great things, know more than the average manager considers necessary.

5. An organization quits improving right after the manager does.

6. Help a team member grow and you receive respect in return.

7. On a scale of 1 – 10, team morale and customer service receive the same score.

8. Take a mentor to lunch before somebody else eats yours. (It’s not necessary the mentor be in your industry since great leadership principles are non-industry specific.)

9. Be aware of a team member’s weaknesses but talk to his or her strengths.

10. An organization will never rise above the quality of its leadership.

11. Fear has no strength of its own, only that which you choose to give it. Ironically, that’s the very strength you need to overcome it.

12. Your team members are just as good as you are at planning their time.

13. If you don’t have enthusiasm that’s contagious what ever you do have is also contagious.

Danny Cox Acceleration Unlimited
Copyright 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

24 Lessons in High-Performance Management

Lesson Two
Use Problems to Enhance Your Career

I've broken the sound barrier over 2,000 times at the controls of everything from the F-86 Sabre and the F-102 Delta Dagger to the F-101 Voodoo and the F-16 Viper. I have knocked off a lot of plaster and broken countless windows. My extra duty job in the Air Force was to speak to groups of upset, hostile civilians and convince them that those sonic booms were "the sound of freedom."

Having built a reputation in the military as the "sonic boom salesman," I got into sales when I stopped flying. Those hostile audiences must have provided excellent training, because the transition went smoothly. I did so well in my first year as a salesperson that the company executives asked me to manage one of the sales offices.

I managed that small office for a year with some success. One year later, the same executives showed up again to promote me to manager of the top office in the 36-office chain.

That's when I started making the same mistakes nearly every manager makes. I urged my people not to think of me as their boss, but as a friend who was always right. My goal was to turn everyone in that office into a copy of me. It made perfect sense at the time. Turning the salespeople into Danny Cox clones seemed to be what my bosses wanted to do. If I could get my salespeople to do the job exactly as I had done it, they wouldn't bring me any problems that I hadn't already solved.

Under my management, the number-one office plummeted to number 36 out of 36. One day, as I was trying to figure out the problem, my boss showed up in my office, unannounced, without his usual smile and pleasant demeanor.

"Cox," he said through clenched teeth. "I can now see that it was a mistake making you the manager of this office and I feel it's only fair to tell you that I'm already looking for your replacement."

That was the shortest and the most effective motivational seminar I ever attended. I needed to learn how to lead––and I needed to learn fast.

I sought out the counsel of many successful people and soon learned that I needed to work on myself, not the salespeople. Salespeople get better right after their manager.

The techniques I began using had such an immediate effect that within two weeks my boss stopped looking for a replacement. We were heading back to number one.

Here are three ways you can start turning problems into opportunities:

Think of a problem in the past that turned out to be a positive.

Chose a problem that you can turn into a positive if you apply the right attitude and plan.

Decide on one thing you can do in the next 24 hours to improve your leadership style.

"High performance is often the result of a sudden change in direction."

Monday, September 22, 2008

24 Lessons in High-Performance Management

Lesson One
Leadership When the Heat's On

Only a few feet separate the lead pilot's tailpipe from the nose of my supersonic fighter as we rip through the sky at speeds in excess of 500 miles per hour. I feel the blast from his engine vibrating through my feet on the rudder pedals and through my right hand on the control stick. There are seven more jets behind me packed just as tight in our nine-ship formation.

Almost with one motion, the nose of each fighter gently drops below the horizon. The airspeed builds until the lead pilot pulls back on the stick. The nose of every fighter rises in perfect symmetry as the G forces build. I feel the blood being forced into my legs and feet. All nine of us are now experiencing the same 5 G force ––5 times our body weight. We tighten our leg and abdominal muscles to keep blood in our upper extremities to avoid blacking out.

I concentrate on keeping my hand on the throttle. If it slips off, the G force will push it down between the side panel and my ejection seat. I will lose my ability to make minor throttle adjustments and hold precise position. As we curve over the top of our perfect loop, the world switches places with the sky. The G forces diminish down the backside. I steal a millisecond glance at the two rear view mirrors. Everyone is still tucked in tight. The G pressure builds again as our lead pilot pulls the nose back up to level flight and eight pilots follow in perfect unison.

The lead pilot takes us through a series of horizon tumbling rolls followed by a formation shift to a nine-ship diamond. It's my turn to fly center position as we make a high-speed, low-level pass over the airfield. The noise of eight other jets in front and back, and on both sides, flying two to three yards from wingtip to wingtip is deafening. It's high performance flying right to the edge. There is only one word to describe it: exhilarating. WOW! How I love it!

It's the ultimate team experience. The difference between life and death can be how well we learn from our successes and failures. Our synergy comes from courage, creativity, and being there for each other, no matter what. After leaving the Air Force and entering the corporate world, I had to transfer the principles of individual and team high performance to new challenges.

I had to make some tremendous adjustments, but my drive to again be a part of a high performance team was strong. I sought out advice and counsel from the most successful people I could find in various industries. What they taught me, along with some innovations of my own, put my new team into a supersonic climb. In five years, we increased production 800 percent, morale soared and turnover dropped to nearly zero.

Consider this your supersonic flight plan as you discover how my team broke the old records and continued to break the new ones. You're going to find out how to become the lead pilot for your team and a barrier-breaking leader.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Legend of Speaking Profession

Last week was an exciting week in two ways. First, I received the “Legend of the Speaking Profession” designation in Hagerstown, MD from the Veteran Speakers Retreat What an honor! Many friends were there, including Jim Cathcart, who also received the same honor.

The second great thing was locating and visiting my colonial ancestors home near Hagerstown. The current owners were very hospitable in showing us the Shelby homestead now sitting on 500 acres. Above is a photo of this historical site. It was formerly 5,000 acres. Several of the Shelbys were born there in that home. Five of my relatives were Officers in George Washington’s Army.

We sat in the living room (parlor) of the stone portion of the house built in 1750. What conversations must have been carried on in that room as the Revolutionary War approached!

The other half of the house is the NEW part built in 1800. By the way, the home is immaculate and is kept like a museum by the owners.

Tedi, my archaeologist, was thrilled with the silver coins that have been dug up, as well as tools and furniture pieces from the mid 1700’s.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"The Sonic Boom Salesman" Flies Again!

One of the greatest thrills I’ve had so far in the 21st century was the day I blasted off the runway at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland in an F-16 Viper along with the pilot-in-command, Brigadier General David Wherley.

The flight included a supersonic run twenty-five miles off the Maryland coast with speed building to Mach 1.5, one and a half times the speed of sound (1000 + MPH). Aerobatics followed that with aileron rolls, barrel rolls and a loop. The flight was topped off with a high performance vertical climb.

It was quite a ride and given as an orientation for the two half-day programs I presented for the Washington, DC Air National Guard the day prior. The morning program was Leadership When the Heat's On for officers and non-commissioned officers. Then in the afternoon I presented to the recruiters my There Are No Limits program.

Breaking the sound barrier was not new for me. I have broken the barrier almost 2000 times in various high performance fighters I flew in the Air Force, which included the 1200-MPH "Voodoo." In lay terms that's twenty miles per minute or one mile every three seconds!

At those speeds you can break plenty of windows and knock off great chunks of plaster. That's how I picked up the nickname, "The Sonic Boom Salesman." I went out to the communities hard hit by these "booms" and spoke to the hostile, upset civilian audiences. My speech title back in those years was "Better Boomed than Bombed"––a hard hitting speech!

And, yes, I can handle any audience you put in front of me.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Butt Snappers

After speaking ten years of my life flying supersonic at twice the speed of sound a major problem was solved by the Air Force. To this day I think it has some real cross over value to the business world.

As jet fighters were being introduced to the Air Force, a problem arose with ejection seats. Jets flew faster and higher than their propeller predecessors and pilot ejection, in cases of emergency, became a more sophisticated and dangerous predicament. Ejection seats were separated from the cockpit by an explosive charge equal to a 35mm artillery shell to insure that the pilot cleared the aircraft before the parachute deployed.

The pilot simply needed to roll forward out of the seat once clear of the aircraft and the parachute would be free to open. parachute would be free to open. Unfortunately, a common problem started to pop up (no pun intended) in some ejections. Some pilots would pull up both arm rests exposing the ejection seat triggers and squeeze them detonating the explosive that launched the pilot and seat 150 to 175 feet above the aircraft.

Then, instead of letting go, some pilots kept a death grip on the seat handles, reluctant to separate themselves from the last tangible piece of the airplane that had, until then, always been a safe place. As long as the pilot remained in the ejection seat, the parachute remained trapped against the seat back, unable to open. Striking the ground at 200 miles per hour, still sitting in an ejection seat with an unopened parachute will ruin your whole day!

The Air Force went back to the ejection seat manufacturers with the problem and the government contractors returned with a solution. The new design called for a 2-inch webbed strap that attached to the front edge of the seat, under the pilot and behind him, and attached to an electronic take-up reel behind the headrest. Two seconds after ejection, the electronic take-up reel would immediately take up the slack, forcing the pilot forward out of the seat thus freeing the parachute to open. The pilot was “butt-snapped “ to safety.

A body in motion tends to remain in motion and a body at rest tends to remain at rest until acted upon by an external force. Dr. Alexis Carrel used this definition of inertia in a sentence:

Life leaps like a geyser for those who drill through the rock of inertia.

In a seminar, I once quoted Dr. Carrel and gave a lengthy dissertation on the role of external forces to overcoming inertia. After I had finished, one of those in attendance came up to me and winked.

“I know what you’re trying to say about overcoming inertia,” the man said. “What you mean to say is that we need butt snappers on every chair around the office.”

A butt-snapper, as he described it, is something akin to a spring-loaded whoopee cushion. The bottom line is that, when detonated, it launches your rear end out of the chair. So, if words like external forces overcoming inertia leave you uninspired, think about what butt snappers on everyone’s chairs would do to productivity around the office. Think about how much a butt snapper on your own chair would do for your personal productivity.

Excerpted from Danny Cox's book, Seize the Day: 7 Steps to Achieving the Extraordinary in an Ordinary World.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Road Block to Higher Productivity: Fear vs. Courage

"Once when Marshall Ney was going into battle, looking down at his knees which were smiting together, he said, 'You may well shake; you would shake worse yet if you knew where I am going to take you."
-- Orison Swett Marden

What or who builds self-imposed barriers? A stonemason named Fear, one who is highly skilled in building powerful barriers from nonexistent stones. Where does this craftsman live? In our minds. He's always there, but it's up to us whether he lives in the back of our minds or the front of our minds.

Fear is the sworn enemy of adventure, which is perhaps the most exhilarating force driving no-limits achievement. And Fear goes exactly where we tell him to go.

We move Fear from the back of our minds to the front of our minds by shifting our concentration away from our own courage, and choosing instead to focus on that which frightens us. Not only does that action change Fear's location, but through the process of concentration, it means we actually start to strengthen Fear. Fear has no strength of its own; its only strength is that which we choose to give it.

When Fear defeats us, it does so because of our own mental focus. And unfortunately, the strength we pass along to Fear is the very strength we need to overcome it! If, on the other hand, we choose to push our goals, wrapped in courage, to the forefront of our minds, then barriers break.

You already possess sufficient courage to initiate this process and see your personal adventure through. A person may not be born with an overabundance of talent, but he or she will certainly possess all the courage needed, whether used or unused, to develop the talent that is there. Long after passing on to the next world, we will be remembered by family and friends, not necessarily for our inborn talents, but for the amount of courage we used, especially during our times of trial. The strength and vividness of the memories our loved ones and friends hold of us after we are gone will be directly proportional to the amount of courage we have chosen to use.

Immediate Action: Starve your fear! Feed your courage! Embrace your adventure!

Point to Ponder: "Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there." (From above the fireplace at Hinds' Head Hotel, near London.)

"We're tied with straw and think it's chain."
Danny Cox

Excerpted from Danny Cox’s book, There Are No Limits: Breaking the Barriers to Personal High Performance.

Visit this Blog often as new articles are being posted for managers and sales people/employees.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Danny Cox, The Accelerationist

My clients refer to me as “The Accelerationist”, 1: one who causes faster movement, higher efficiency and increased productivity, 2: one who boldly crosses barriers, 3: an adventurer at high speed

In future Blogs I will Post other articles from my three best selling books, Leadership When the Heat’s On Second Edition: Building A record Breaking Team, Seize The Day: Seven Steps To Achieving The Extraordinary In an Ordinary World and There Are No Limits: Breaking The Barriers In Personal High Performance.

This Post features my most popular article from Leadership When The Heat's On. You can find more information about my Keynotes and Seminars and also my books on my website at http://www.dannycox.com.

Ten Leadership Characteristics
Danny Cox

No organization can rise above the quality of its leadership. Because leadership is a position that must be earned day in and day out, there are important personal choices that both new and experienced leaders must make on a regular basis. Effective leaders are first and foremost effective people.

Personal ethics can't be separated from professional ethics. Therefore, the character of the leader is essential. The following list of ten characteristics is a valuable guide for quality living in addition to being critical criteria for leadership.

1. A high standard of personal ethics leads the list. Honest Abe Lincoln, who walked miles to return a customer's change, is a classic example of how personal ethics are reflected in professional conduct. Decisions made under pressure and/or temptation separate the great ones from the impostors.

2. High energy. Dealing with petty issues does not exhaust great leaders. These people know right from wrong as well as the difference between what's truly important and what's merely interesting.

3. The ability to work priorities shares equal importance with setting priorities. Many brilliant priority lists end up in the landfill of life. The difference between setting priorities and working them through is the difference between a dreamer and a doer.

4. Courage. The willingness to take risks and accept responsibility for the outcome is a consistent quality among effective leaders. Either you or your fears will control everything you do. An organization will be no bolder than the leader.

5. Committed and dedicated hard working leaders will eventually develop dedicated and hard working organizations regardless of who they start with or the experience they bring to the job.

6. Unorthodox leaders have an urge to create and don't have the patience to wait for a phone to ring before acting. Effective leaders are innovators who bore easily and prefer shaping tomorrow to repeating yesterday.

7. Great leaders have the goal orientation to make tough decisions. Goal orientation produces a drive and energy that shield us from the pain of the task. Keeping an organization focused increases efficiency.

8. Inspired enthusiasm is like the pilot light on the oven. Genuine enthusiasm is contagious. People look to their leaders for enthusiasm. The inspiration level of the organization is directly proportionate to the enthusiasm of the leader--be it high or low.

9. Level-headed people make realistic leaders who respond to problems rather than simply react. A leader who can stay cool under pressure inspires confidence among those in the organization and empowers them to do the same.

10. The desire to help others succeed is the mark of a truly great leader. Synergy is created when a leader truly invests his or her efforts in the success of others. Zig Ziglar says it like this, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care about them."

Whether you're trying to increase your own effectiveness as a leader or are trying to develop leadership talent within your organization, keep studying the characteristics of those you consider to be great leaders.

Remember that leadership is an art, not a science and the difference between a genuinely effective leader and a short-term motivator can be found in the personal decisions an individual makes when choosing how to live his or her life. Long-term commitment to the principles described above will produce an effective leader and, over time, an inspired organization.

Excerpted from Leadership When The Heat's On 2nd Edition
By Danny Cox (McGraw-Hill).