Chocolate Milk

Chocolate Milk

I’ve taken plenty of workshops and training classes, but some of the best lessons I’ve learned are from my family and home life.

Today I’m sharing two of my favorites:  

“Put Away the Milk, Please” – The Importance of the Basics

When my youngest daughter was 4, she became self-sufficient when it came to making breakfast. Every morning, she’d get out the cereal box, the orange juice, and the milk.

Like most 4 year olds, she was great at getting things out; however, putting them back was not one of her strong suits.

The cereal and orange juice were easily forgiven. But the milk—oh, the milk. That was a different story. 

My favorite post-workout treat is a glass of cold chocolate milk. As an avid cyclist, I’ve used it as my post-workout recovery drink long before it was considered a “recovery drink.”

In the mornings, after I returned from my ride, I did some stretches, and pretended to do some core exercises as my thoughts drifted towards my anticipated glass of cold chocolate milk.

But, when my daughter forgot to return the milk to the refrigerator…Yep, you got it, the milk would be luke-warm.

Have you ever tried drinking luke-warm milk after a workout?

Not so great.

So, instead of downing my favorite treat, I would have to pause to patiently remind her of the importance of putting things away, especially the milk. After a while she got it, and order was restored in the world—at least where chocolate milk was concerned.

There’s a lesson in there for all of us. Regardless of whether you are a leader or individual contributor, your organization counts on you to “put away the milk.” It’s a basic responsibility. 

When the basics are done well, you have time for other meaningful work like selling your vision, evaluating your strategy, strengthening your culture, and developing your people.  

So, how much time do you spend asking others “to put away the milk?” What’s it costing you and your organization?

 Take it Upstairs - A Leader at Work and Home

In my home, anytime something needs to go up to the 2nd floor, my wife and I place it on the stairs. There’s no email, no vmail, no memo attached; it’s simply understood that if something is on the stairs, it needs to go up.

When our kids were young, we were pleasantly surprised when they took the initiative to carry something upstairs. It was unexpected, and clearly one of those “we-got-this-parenting-thing-down” moments, and it balanced out some of our “milk challenges.”

As the other adult in the house, it was expected that I’d carry things upstairs. When I did there were no gold stars, no perk-points, no attaboy-memos from the CEO. However, it was valued as it was a basic task that helped the household run smoothly.

Here’s the lesson: If you see something on the stairs, take it up. You may not have put it there, and it may not belong to you. That’s not the point.

Regardless of whether it’s a broken process or helping a short-staffed team, your job, as a leader, is to pitch in and help solve the problem. Don’t walk past it and declare it someone else’s job. When you take action, you send a powerful leadership message about the culture you wish to create.

The basics aren’t sexy. But the truth is, they never go out of style. 

So how much time do you spend on the reinforcing the basics? What are those constant reminders to fill out expense reports correctly, see the opportunities within the challenges, and behave like the competition is outside and not within costing you and your company? 

If you took time to add it up, it would probably be significant. It may be costing you stress, engagement, effectiveness, efficiency, and, most likely, top and bottom-line maximization.  For a moment, imagine what would be possible if the basics were second nature, the milk was always put away and things were matter-of-factly taken upstairs.

Are you ready to work on taking your team up a level? Contact me for a strategy call, and we’ll discuss what’s on your stairs and how I can help you find solutions. Perhaps we can even share a glass of chocolate milk.