I grew up in a big family and our mother worked during the day and at night she went to college. A true example of dedication and passion for what she believed in. So, you can imagine that there was little time for her to investigate what each of her 4 sons were passionate about. We all went to baseball summer league, boy scouts, karate and were part of the swimming team. I did not enjoy most of them but staying at home in front of the television was not an option. My mom believed in hard work and if you were not good at something, hard work would pay off. And it did but I did not enjoy it. As I got older and started making my own decisions, I did not pursue any of those activities. I only realised years later the benefits of my mother pushing us to be dedicated to everything we did.Continue reading “Work on strengths or weaknesses?… A story about finding your passion.”
Over the years I have had the wonderful opportunity of facilitating brainstorming sessions. One of my favourite tools to use, is Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats Method. Our behaviour, not our words, is the reflection of who we are. Six Thinking Hats is a brilliant tool to structure in an objective way to include the input from the individuals participating in the session and can give insight into the reflection of their personalities. The method refers to six hats that when we “wear them” we are obligated to think in a specific way. The blue hat is the leader hat that will control the discussion and the ground rules (only the facilitator will wear this hat during the entire exercise), the white hat requires pure objectivity and data driven comments, the red hat is our emotions and how we feel about the exercise, the yellow hat is for positive thinking, the black hat is for negative thinking or challenges we encounter during the solution process and the green hat is for innovative thinking or often referred to as “out of the box thinking”.
What follows are a few social conclusions that I have found in this exercise that relates to the teams’ general behaviour.Continue reading “Why Not? A story about those who dare to be different…”
I am a proud Panamanian. We are happy people that generally like to have a good time. We usually tend to disconnect from our reality by partying over the weekend. We are in essence, positive by nature. Recently, Panama qualified for their first FIFA World Cup. Our performance during this tournament was more than disappointing, but we were the happiest fans in Russia! Other countries lost in the semi-finals and it was considered a national tragedy. This Panamanian way will definitely make our lives more enjoyable but won’t create radical changes needed to take us out of a third world mindset and stop the corruption cycle that has been the trademark of our governments going back decades.
I was resting before my next fight during my latest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament when a mother of one of the kids, who was competing in the children’s competition, approached me, looking quite desperate, looking for feedback she told me that she needed my help. Her son had just lost his first fight against a more skillful kid and she insisted on showing me the video of her son’s fight to see if I could give her tips on how to improve his technique. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a sport that does not believe in talent. One improves by training constantly. There is no secret formula for overnight improvement, just like life. I looked at her and noticed that she was very concerned and recommended that she should have a talk with her son’s coach to understand the process and let him take care of his progress. She replied, “I want to help him but I do not know how”. I am also a father and completely understood her position. We do not want our kids to go through unnecessary hardship.
Over the last 2 years, I have been blessed with the wonderful opportunity to lead an operational execution team and we have managed to put together a group of fine professionals. They combine knowledge and experience but also curiosity for improvement and a hunger for growth. It has reached a point where we need to stop and look around and reflect. The conclusion I have reached is that we dedicate ourselves to execute plans that are being handed to us… right? More reflection is needed to find the real purpose: We hold in our hands the service delivery promise to our clients. Suddenly a job with no apparent complexity has become one with the highest possible stakes.
The Journey of Digitalization
In the last six months, I have been involved in the journey of digitalization. I am very passionate about it as there is no limit to what can be achieved when a large group of professionals get together and commit themselves to do things that have not been done before in the shipping business. However, this journey also brings an opportunity to start thinking about the role of humans in this process.
This article is about constant care and the maturing process. When I started working in shipping I wanted to work in operational execution. I applied so many times and never got the opportunity. I overheard a manager make a comment about me once: “He doesn’t have the required emotional intelligence to work in operations”. That did not make me feel very happy. Then I experienced the greatest motivational drive for me, that stubborn feeling when someone tells me that I cannot do something. It took me years and several applications to finally get to where I wanted to be. I was offered the wonderful opportunity of leading a team overseas.
Working as a health coach was by far one of most the most meaningful growth experiences in my life. It gave me the opportunity to drive changes in my athletes that would have a positive impact on their lives. For each one of them, the path would be different depending on the WHAT, the HOW and the WHY. WHAT they wanted to accomplish, HOW they would do it and WHY they wanted to do it. In order to move forward with the plan, the WHY has to be completely understood and to achieve this your senses have to be open for patterns and traits that are the reflection of the person. These patterns and traits are often referred to as imperfections. We look at these imperfections as things that are difficult to move away from but are apart of us but need to be changed. No wonder we perceive this path as a struggle.
I just woke up and start packing my stuff for the day. Take out my bike and check the lights. It is very foggy this morning. I Start my bike ride, take a deep breath and take one minute of silence to enjoy the scent of positivity in the air. I clear my mind. I thank God for being alive and strong enough to ride to work once again this morning. I thank Him for having a job to go to this morning. I thank Him that I have two children to support so I have enough motivation to work hard and excel in what I do. I thank Him for my brothers and their continuous support. I thank Him for my friends who care for me, making me realize that there is an abundance of kind people in this world. I give thanks to Him for my colleagues who boost my competitive spirit, teamwork and make my workplace fun. I thank Him for my boss who doesn’t let me relax, always challenging me to do better every day. I give thanks to Him for my team who gives me the opportunity every day to serve them as a leader. I give thanks to Him for the cold breeze on my face as I continue riding feeling alive and full of love at this moment. Then I thank Him for my amazing life and my wonderful day ahead.
Let’s talk about work ethics. We live in an ever changing dynamic world where words like improvement, profit, market share, EBIT and success are sometimes more common than shopping lists and people’s names. Everyone wants to lead without having a clear definition of what it takes to become a leader. I have been listening a lot lately to talks about understanding the millennials and talent retention and I agree that we need to be more flexible going forward. However, there are some rules that even if we change them in the way we explain them and drive for the teams by in, we must not change the basic essence of them. As leaders, we have a responsibility of coaching young executives in order to leave our legacy as part of their professional growth.