Find your lobster suit!

Sometimes wearing a lobster suit can change the entire game.
I know it did for me.


I booked career presentation number 500 today, or at least close to number 500! I admit it’s not a perfect science.

Not sure why it struck a sentimental cord with me but it did. Maybe it has to do with my being 53 years of age, the changing of seasons or watching my kids grow up faster than wheat in Melville, Saskatchewan. Worth noting, Melville was named for Charles Melville Hays, former General Manager of the Grand Trunk Railway which, if you know your 1970’s music, inspired the name of one of the greatest bands ever, Grand Funk Railroad. How is that for a water cooler fact!

Okay, I digress. So, why am I all sentimental? I believe it has to do with my sitting down and thinking back on the presentations that transcended time and stayed with me. Presentations that stood out. Presentations that gave me more than I offered.

I always loved presenting and coaching people up. I didn’t think it would become a full time gig until the spring of 1989.

As a member of the Ottawa Rough Riders, I was often called on to host or attend events the organization would run or support. My boss at the time, Jo-Anne Polak, the only female GM in professional football and considered to be a marketing genius, decided the team should host a marquee fundraiser. With her roots in the East Coast, it made complete sense to host a lobster dinner. Great idea? To be honest, it was a good idea but to suggest it was great would have been a stretch. So, the team was going to host a lobster gala. The story doesn’t stop there. In addition to the team hosting the fundraiser, she suggested I serve as the event emcee and that I would work for free! Yep, no pay, which to be honest, I was okay with. Jo-Anne had become my official supplier of free game tickets so as gamblers say, her ticket supply and my working for free was a push. The wild card in all this was the very real possibility that, as my boss, she could have me traded to Winnipeg in a blink of an eye! Melville, SK I could kind of live with but Winterpeg? Umm…No. So, I really had no say in the matter so far. Then things took an interesting turn.

Remember the part about her being a marketing genius? This is where the genius comes into play. She suggests I emcee the event in a….wait for it….lobster suit!

At first, I irresponsibly and irrationally said, “Sure, what the hell.”. Then the reality began to set in along with the discomfort. I had no worry about serving as emcee but had some hesitation when it came to dressing as a crustacean. Now, I could have worn a suit and tie or a team sweater and pulled it off but I knew that wouldn’t work. The fact of the matter was, I had to wear the lobster suit. It was meant to be. I was meant to wear the suit the same way King Arthur was destined to bare the sword Excalibur after it was handed to him by the lady of the lake.

Many of you are likely thinking, “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.” I agree and I admit that was borrowed from the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

It doesn’t change the fact that the lobster suit and I were meant to be.

On event day, I was piped into the Civic Center Assembly Hall by the Ottawa Fire Department Pipe and Drum, and it was then that I knew somehow, someway, I would dedicate my energy toward presenting.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Ken-Lobster-2-1-1024x819.png
Teammate Dean Dorsey and I at the Ottawa Rough Riders Lobster Gala!

Rather than embarrassingly make my way to the podium on stage, I opted to walk in like I was the heavyweight champion of the world. I chose to own the room before I even entered it. Before I even said a word to the sold out audience, I knew I had won.

Initially, the suit was a tad uncomfortable but not from the perspective of fit but rather from the perspective of the experience being so new. Sure there were stares of astonishment from everyone in attendance, including teammates and my girlfriend, followed by laughter, but any concerns I had were far outweighed by what the moment brought me. Sometimes you need to stand up when everyone is sitting down. Sometimes, going with something new despite the discomfort is the way to go. Stepping out from the comfort zone and out of what we have worn in the past may be just what the doctor ordered.

Having Jo-Anne there with a smile of affirmation certainly helped as well.

The power that comes with self determination is significant to say the least.

Today, when I am not introducing, “There is an “i” in Team” concepts or tailoring client specific strategies, I am doing my best to help my children find the courage to wear their lobster suits and discard them after they have learned what they needed from them.

We are all going to spend our time doing something, so make sure it is something worth spending your time on. By doing so, you will find your “right place and right time”.

Wearing that lobster suit opened doors to experiences that went beyond my ability to catch a football.

Find your lobster suit and head upstream. You will be amazed at what you find on the horizon.

Ken Evraire is an outside of the box team builder, leadership and coaching consultant who now aspires to become a documentary producer! Stay tuned!

Ken can be reached at ken@kenevraire.com.

Invest in self is a step in the right direction.

Well…a new year is upon us! The obvious blog would be to suggest the value of a life altering resolution that will either help you get past a tough 2018 or to build on a prosperous 2018.

Either option is far too easy. Rather than adopt and all or nothing approach that will likely set you up to fail, let me suggest another avenue of thought.

Take time out to recognize what will be the arrival of an abundance of momentum building portals that accompany all decisions that you make. No matter what turn comes your way, good bad or indifferent, consider it a momentum building opportunity. Every crossroad is a potential investment opportunity.

Get into the habit of investing, be it in yourself, those you care for or those you may lead. Now, the process is not perfect. There are no guarantees but the mere effort is a victory in and of itself. Swing the bat! Don’t let it sit on your shoulders. Should you strike out, don’t stop swinging the bat. If you do, you fall into the New Year’s Resolution trap. The all or nothing inevitably leads you to nothing. Casino’s stay open because they win. They always have and always will.

So, what are the next best steps? First and foremost, know that you are human and perfection is not the goal. Being perfectly imperfect is!

Here are 4 keys that can help you invest in yourself and in turn invest in others around you.

Key #1- BREATH. Breathing connects the physical to the mental and provides a great physiological and psychological balance that will allow you to slow things down and see the entire board. Slowing things down is the difference between a major league baseball player making 20 million dollars a season and a guy riding a bus in double A baseball wondering how he can get to the next level. The star slows down a 98 mph fastball, the minor leaguer see’s the 98 mph fastball as a 100 mph fastball!

Check out former Navy Seal Mark Divine and founder of Seal Fit training as he explains breathing techniques when facing stressful situations. If it works for a Navy Seal, it should work for us just fine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1sBsaDy0FQ

Key #2 – POSITIVITY.  Positivity will allow you to establish mental control when combined with healthy internal dialogue. I admit at times, It’s easier said than done, but positivity allows you to manage stress and the health benefits that accompany the positivity approach are invaluable. Our thought process highway can race on the edge of control. How we manage the hundreds to thousands of thoughts we have each day is key to our success.

Key #3 VISUALIZATION – now that you are slowing things down you can see the board with a new sense of clarity. You can now make decisions that ebb and flow rather than stand disjointed and disconnected. Elite athletes always talk about muscle memory. Now the brain is not a muscle but it certainly behaves like one. The brain can be trained to improve to improve cognitive functions like working memory or math skills. One can’t help but believe it can be trained to become a better decision making machine. We believe what we think we see. See the forest beyond the trees.

Key #4 MICRO-GOALS…breakdown your to-do list into pieces so you can enjoy smaller victories and in turn build the type of momentum that will take you in the direction you so desire.

Success begets success. NHL teams break down their regular seasons into 4-5 game segments. The idea of trying to win 50 of 82 games can feel daunting on so many levels and can lead to the all or nothing approach to failure. Asking your team to win 3 of 5 over period of 10 days is far more manageable. Rather than focus on one large victory, turn your energy toward 10-15 micro-goals.

Flying is a lot easier when you don’t have a piano on your back!

I wish you the best in 2019!

If you are thinking of hosting a leadership seminar, coach up clinic or a team building session, consider creating a tailor made opportunity with me. Simply email me at ken@kenevraire.com.

Best of the best,

Ken

Ken Evraire is a team building, leadership and coaching consultant. He combines over 20 years of experience from his work in the corporate sector and from over 10 years during his time as a professional athlete.

First Step in Leadership? Learn to Learn

I am coaching tyke football for the Nepean Eagles and I am excited!

My excitement extends from my love for the game and from my wanting to coach my 8 year old son who has decided he wants to play!

I get to coach kids up!

We will win some games and lose some games. That is a guarantee. Funny thing is the kids forget the scores of the games (win or lose) about 24 hours after the fact, so the focus for me is not on the scoreboard. Yes, I want them to compete but more importantly I want them to learn how to learn and the value of putting themselves in the position to compete that will invariably offer a high rate of success.

Now keep in mind, the team is made up of 7-9 year old boys who for the most part have very little knowledge of the game. They may think they know a lot about the game but in all honesty, they don’t know squat which is why I am excited.  They are a fresh canvas and their football experience as a tyke can set the tone on their relationship with the game as a player and/or as a future coach.

WORTH NOTING>>>The photo below is not of the Eagles! 

Let’s continue!

There is a great responsibility with being a coach! I have seen far too many get locked in on the trophy rather than the teaching! I have seen a lot of coaches enjoy early success but have no plan B in place when the opposition figures them out. Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I have seen a dynamic running back who is the fastest kid on the field take off on a sweep and score a bunch of touchdowns but look lost when a well prepared team neutralizes his speed. The kid is looking to the bench for answers and the coach is telling the kid to run the play, not wanting to admit that the play doesn’t work and that the failure to develop a plan B, a counter punch is on him!

So, coaching up means coaching with competency! Competency begins with a willingness to grow, to evolve.

Which leads me to share what I think is an invaluable foundation for anyone who is tasked with helping others up to succeed regardless of the arena! It could be  a tyke football team or a high tech startup. Football team or Fortune 500 company.

Initially described as “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill”, the theory was developed at Gordon Training International by its employee Noel Burch in the 1970’s. I found it while studying former Navy Seal Mark Divine (https://sealfit.com) and how Navy Seals are trained in a bid to enhance their performance in the field. Now, I am not asking my Eagle tykes to plank for an hour but I will utilize the “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill” theory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 4 stages are as follows…

  • Unconscious Incompetence – Almost all of the kids have no idea what they don’t know! They may think the way I coach isn’t useful. They will want to go run into each other with no sense of technique or skill because they are unaware that they lack the technique and skill. The only way to move to the next level of consciousness is to coach up until the light comes on. Once that light goes on..the real learning begins! By coaching up I can stimulate the kids desire to learn and that is when the game becomes a craft!
  • Conscious Incompetence – So, now I have an athlete that has conceded to the fact that there is a skill or knowledge deficit.  This is a stage where the margin for error is great! Coaching Up with a high degree of competence will set the tone. When a kid bumps into his/ former coach a few years down the road, how the coach taught that athlete in this stage will determine how they react. Happy and excited = coaching success! Unimpressed and disconnected = coaching failure.  No one is perfect. No one masters a skill in a moment. The making of mistakes in a safe environment is integral to the learning process at this stage. Explaining the 5W’s (what, when, where, who and why) is invaluable! Hey kids, this is what we are going to do, when we are going to do it, why we are going to do it, where we are going to do it and who will do it!) Again, it goes back to their becoming craftsmen or craftswomen!
  • Conscious Competence – The Eagles now know how to do something! Tackle, throw a ball, carry a ball or run a play! Yet, repeating the skill a couple of times does not make one a master. To get there, some muscle and mental memory work is required. That requires concentration! The kids may get the play right, then try again and misstep, try again and misstep, then try again and get it done correctly. Limiting the number of missteps requires a refining of the conscious involvement requires concentration. Practice makes almost perfect!
  • Unconscious Competence – Ah grasshopper! You are now a master! You have put the time in! The light is on, the motor is purring like a kitten and you can drive the mission
    with one hand on the steering wheel and one hanging out the window! The kids have had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

Once the Eagles have mastered a skill they can now build on what they have learned and begin the process of mastering another skill. Soon, based on habit forming behavior, they can source out the new challenge and attack it on their own, trusting the learning process.

When you ascend to the top of a mountain, you don’t stand there overlooking the land below and exclaim to the world, “I am a mountain climber…lets go sit on the couch!”.

No, you want to climb more mountains. Bigger, taller mountains!

You want to build on what you know. You want to experience the “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill” again, again and again!

My goal is to prepare the kids for the challenges that lie ahead, short term and long term. I want to coach them up to succeed in the now and for that moment when they move up to the next level of play! I want them to apply “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill” to all that they choose to do and for it to become a habit that they can rely on in all facets of their lives.

By doing so, the victory lies in the moment when I bump into them ten years down the road. If they are excited and remember their football experience like it occurred the day before, then I did my job! If they turn the other way or have little to say…I failed!

Coaching and leadership has absolutely nothing to do with the little trophy they give you for winning a game. Changing someones life through empowerment will never fit on a mantle at home!

Ken Evraire is an award-winning leadership coach and team builder. As a former professional athlete, he has learned from great coaches and learned even more from the bad ones!

To contact Ken email him at ken@kenevraire.com.

To learn more about Ken, visit his website www.ken
evraire.com
or visit him Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kenevrairedotcom/ or on twitter https://twitter.com/kevraire17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leadership and the Average Employee

I read a blog on the Canada Human Resources Centre site about three distinct categories that job seekers are broken into and the groupings made complete sense. There is group 1- the top performers, group 2 – the average performers and group 3 – the low performers. What struck me as interesting is that the top performers made up 16% of the population, low performers also made up another 16% and the average performers made up a whopping 68% of the audience. (http://www.canadahrcentre.com/base/finding-top-talent-among-majority-of-average-performers/)

Initially, I understood that it would be tough for employers to find the top performers and I also understood the need to avoid the below average performers. So, the search for the right candidate would center on the large body of average performers. So far it made complete sense to me.

What turned my compass askew was the suggested solution.

The blog forwarded the notion that somehow and someway the HR teams had to sort through the average performers to find the best of the average performers. This struck me as odd. The onus was being put on the employee to be above average without any thought of taking the average employee and working to make them top performers. The margin between an average employee and an above average employee could not be that great. Why spend time splitting hairs.

Now, I get the need for due diligence as it relates to hiring a new CEO. The financial investment associated with finding a new leader is usually far greater than that of a standard employee search. The hiring of the wrong CEO could be disastrous but the hiring of the wrong technician likely has little to no effect.

Yet, how do you find the best of the average group in an expeditious and cost-effective manner? The fact of the matter is you don’t. It is an imperfect process. How many times have you heard an HR Director say “We really lucked out finding her” or “I can’t believe we found him”? Finding the perfect employee can be a crapshoot on the best of days.

So perhaps the search for the best of the average is not the way to go. Perhaps the focus should be on creating an environment that supports growth.

I coach football and on a number of occasions I have had player’s tryout and coaches on my staff inform me that the kid though talented is un-coachable. The natural reaction is to red flag the athlete. His margin for error would be slim. He would be forced to work under that added pressure, fear making mistakes rather than simply go out and compete in an instinctual manner and as a result he would likely fail.

My first thought when being told about an un-coachable kid is…”Who coached him?” Maybe just maybe the player did not flourish under another coach because the system did not fit, his skills were not being utilized properly or he was not put in a position to succeed? Maybe there was a reason why he was average and not a top performer?

If I judged him based on his past I would have been no better than his previous coach. It’s akin to a kid showing up for the first day of school with a mark of C- without doing any work. Now, he may be un-coachable. As the leader of the team, the onus is on me to find out. As a leader, I choose to coach him up.

So, perhaps the focus should be on creating a culture that cultivates success, is cognizant of the importance of the invested individual and celebrates their work.

Average employees will remain average unless you create the opportunity to turn them into top performers and that responsibility falls on the shoulders of leadership. The common denominator that links all CEO’s with each and every staff member is the valuation of time. Everyone gets up and goes to work. Some work in the mailroom, some work in the corner office on the top floor. When the day ends, each and every one of them would like to believe they are part of something. Something that justifies their spending their time and energy on, something that goes beyond salaries and benefits!

A power with people leadership approach will turn average employees into top performers. Leadership isn’t a title. It’s an active, organic, ever changing responsibility that requires a genuine, honest effort. Contrary to what many coaches have trumpeted through the years, there is an “I” in Team and each individual requires a tailored coaching effort. Is it tough to do? It sure is. Yet, anything worth anything requires an effort! At the end of the day, you turn the average into great and you attract the great. It’s a win-win situation.