Better than mediocre

Self-improvement is hard work. It’s so much easier to just let things slide. Whether it’s doing something about your weight, writing a book (instead of talking about it), building a better widget, or developing a topnotch company culture or world-class organization, striving for better rather than mediocre puts you in a small, increasingly rare group of people.

We all like to point fingers at others, criticizing their lack of vision, ability to balance budgets, or throw a baseball. It’s much easier to identify the short-comings of others. Our own face in the mirror gets a free pass more than it should.

Back in 2009, June 23 to be exact, my weight was at its apex. I knew it was time to institute a strategy. Know what it was? Eat less, exercise more. No fancy diets or bizarre combination of foods. I tried to cut 500-1,000 calories from my daily intake, tracking it via a nice free online tool called FitDay. I also joined a gym and began regularly leaving the house at 4:30 to get a workout in before my workday duties made getting away impossible. You make room for what’s important in life and this had become a priority.

The weight began coming off and five months after beginning my new routine, I weighed 55 pounds less than when I started. I’ve gained about 10 pounds of that back over the last year. Did I mention that discipline is hard? Summer’s here and I’ll kick up my biking and drop a few pounds May through September, and even allow myself ice cream as a treat. It’s not all about denial.

There are other areas where Americans are falling short. This blog post by noted career and HR blogger, social media strategist, and “Pixie of the Apocalypse” as Laurie Ruettimann calls herself at her website, the Cynical Girl, highlights a problem that Americans have—we just don’t give a damn anymore! We’ve given up.

Is this an exaggeration? I don’t think so. I see this lack of energy and lack of passion for excellence everywhere I go. If you don’t see it, it just might be that you are part of the problem.

There are still companies, organizations and people that dare to be different. They take personal responsibility and own what they are about.

On Saturday, we had a family gathering and the Bruins/Sabres game was on the Tee Vee. It was the final regular season game and in the second period, a piece of curved plexiglass broke off near the Bruins’ bench. A glass changeover can really take the air out of a hockey game especially if there’s a long delay.

Instead, almost immediately, a member of the TD Garden facilities crew came running across the ice, nearly falling down, climbed up on the boards, dis-assembled the brackets holding the offending piece of glass and then, two guys came skating out with hockey skates (I kid you not) delivering the glass; it got put back, the bracket was re-assembled, screws tightened—all this within about five minutes, and the game resumed. Why can’t everything run like this?

Here are a couple of thoughts I had about this that exemplify the right way of doing things. The events people keep backup glass on-hand, even odd, curved kinds, like the one near the Bruins’ bench. They’ve obviously prepped for these types of events because the guy was on the ice as soon as the refs stopped play. There were two guys slapping skates on and getting the plexiglass, while the other staffer was taking the broken piece out. This was too well-choreographed not to have been talked about, with contingency plans put in place ready for implementation, and staff trained to know exactly what to do, making what could have been a show-stopper seem like an everyday occurrence.

This should be the norm. Unfortunately, I know that it’s the exception.

The Jim Baumer Experience (JBE) is about creating a culture of excellence, where passion and going the extra mile is part of the mission. If that sounds like a match for you and your business or organization, we should talk.