The Melting Point: How to Stay Cool and Sustain World-class Business Performance – Book Summary

The Melting Point: How to Stay Cool and Sustain World-class Business Performance

By Dr. Christian Marcolli     

Before diving into the content of this book, I want to compliment the author and publisher on the format of the book pages. I read about 15 business books every year and most of them have a traditional textbook look and feel. You know what that does to inspired reading – well, this book is not at all like reading a textbook. It’s more on the order of attractively designed help pages with white space and clean font. I know. Normally that aspect doesn’t find its way into a book review, but I was impressed and am giving credit where it’s deserved.

This book title is cleverly relevant today. The Melting Point: How to Stay Cool and Sustain World-class Business Performance by Dr. Christian Marcolli, recognizes the volatility of workplaces, teams, groups, and communities today. Dr. Marcolli said, “We have reached the Melting Point when we no longer fully control our thinking, our emotions, and our behaviors, in a positive and impactful way.”  The final words of that sentence, at least to me, are the theme of this book. We all reach the point of meltdown but can we somehow transform the potentially negative into a positive and impactful outcome?

Becoming First Class

Life is not going to slow down, demands are not likely to either. Projects are never assigned with the expectation that you will do the minimum to just get by. No, expectations are geared toward high-performance today and high-performance tomorrow, even if there are obstacles and encumbering circumstances. That’s where this book comes in. You will learn to apply the most important factors when the heat is on: staying cool, raising your Melting Point

The author clearly understands the process of building a career and the pattern that unfolds as executive capacity is developed. He says, “Top performers have three recognizable traits – passion, adaptability, and coolness. But top performers also make key transitions as they develop.“ 

If you are an emerging leader on the trajectory of rising to your calling, this book is like spending time with a life coach, business mentor, career advisor, and professional counselor. In fact, Dr. Marcolli says, “We need to understand why life has become so tough for business leaders in today’s challenging workplace.” Then he coaches you through it.

Feeling the Heat

Who doesn’t feel the heat in today’s environment? Be it at work or home, the pace is red hot. We can blame it on relentless change, advancing technology, omnipresent globalization, but blame is a negative word and we are after positive transformation here. Instead look into the factors contributing to rising pressure and learn what can be done to face the challenges in a positive, influential way. Marcolli states it in plain language,” The intense workplace isn’t going to go away, and leaders need to understand the impact of this – on themselves, on their teams, and on their organizations.” Through the pages of this book, the author coaches leaders through the process of growing into their roles and experiencing an executive performance transformation. He says there are four stages of Executive Performance Transformation. 1) Drawn in, 2) Obsessed, 3) Ready for Success, 4) Playful

To grow through these stages, you need to be exposed to challenges and stress. I’m guessing, you will have no trouble identifying with the challenges and stress part. When you read this book, you will be guided through the stages of how you arrive at playfulness where you are responsible for yourself and individuals on your team, and the key operative words here are that you are ‘enjoying it’.

To make the trek from ‘Drawn in’ to ‘Playful’ requires that you have an intimate understanding of your Melting Point. 

“The key success factor for business leaders, executives, and corporate performers to sustainably deliver world-class performance is the ability to raise their Melting Point.” 

When you understand it and the factors interacting to determine your melting point your reaction can go from panic to peace. The author describes how these three factors are interrelated and how they affect your Melting Point.

1)      Mental and emotional constitution – how much we can take before we melt down

2)     Situational pressures – what is happening in your world over a short timeframe that causes you intense stress

3)     Constant pressures – then there is the constant pressure which is characteristic of your role

What creates heat for you? Dr. Marcolli gives us 15 examples of what might create heat for each of us, some of which may be relevant to you, but not to someone else. Examples of the fifteen are: Long hours, Office politics, Travel, Executive isolation, Career moves, Family crisis, Health issues, and here’s one for every person reading this – Always “ON”.

“When top performers reach their Melting Point, it is never simply the result of situational and constant pressures. It is compounded by the elements mentioned above combined with their basic psychological constitution.”

Our culture seems to turn up the heat and create environments of volatility in consistent repetition. There is rarely time to cool off before another heated occurrence confronts us. Raising Your Melting Point takes all the symptoms, causes, elements, experiences, and boils them down into recommendations for raising your Melting Point. In the final chapter of his book, Dr. Marcolli presents the six Ps of Personal Leadership Excellence which leads to raising your Melting Point. Passion, Precision, Perception, Peace, Presence, and Persistence

He also discusses the ten specific behavioral patterns needed to raise your Melting Point. When you read the book, don’t skip the chapters leading up to this one and be sure to read the real-life case studies that are serious eye openers of how executives have learned to raise their Melting Point.  I am putting in a plug for the last chapter that walks you through those important ‘10 key behavioral patterns’ to raise your melting point. Dr. Christian Marcolli has written a solid guide that’s transparent and easily understood so you can raise your melting point, not overnight, but through practice and progress.

https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/the-melting-point-how-to-stay-cool-and-sustain-world-class-business-performance/

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Truths Told by the Garden of Leadership

I can’t believe a year has passed since a friend posted a photo of his greenhouse in progress. Absent of philosophical comment to prompt my thinking it instantly occurred to me that this visualCarey Green - Greenhouse image for blog post could be a metaphor for life – at least for mine. The compartments, the vegetation, the curled hose, the tractor, the bicycles, even the walkway dusted with mulch and dirt, everything a picture of life under a glass shield.

It was the tractor that caught my attention first. It seemed out of place. What could a huge piece of machinery do inside the small space of a greenhouse? The tractor, motorized and bulky, was incompatible in its current surroundings and certainly couldn’t work effectively with such boundaries. Beyond the walls, however, it was a qualified, worthy tool of the gardener.  How many times in life do we find we’ve outgrown our surroundings, not in a prideful sense, but simply because we’ve expanded our horizons or discovered knew interests outside the familiar.

It seems a lifetime ago now, but there was a time when my family planted gardens that covered 2 full acres of land. I never mastered the detection of vegetable or fruit by the shape or size of the seed, nor could I identify them by their foliage. The plants had to reach near maturity before I recognized their purpose. Inside me are grains of talent, seeds of interests, roots of abilities, and developing shoots of aspirations. As depicted in the photo, each compartment illustrates the unique traits that grow into mature plants, distinct in stature, design, color, and purpose. I’ve come to realize that I am often late to recognize opportunity and am still coming to realize what I am meant for.

The gardener plans the space, nurtures the soil, plants the seeds, and prepares to work hard to see the garden proliferate and thrive. If planted, left alone and unattended, weeds will encroach and choke out even the heartiest of plants.  Much like a mentor, coach or leader, the master gardener tends the neophyte plants using tools, and his own hands to remove the pests and irritants from among the healthy plants. Things like rumors, gossip, bad attitudes, and demoralizing character cannot be allowed to fester. As debris is discovered from this scavenge, it’s cut, swept, and tossed into the trash can awaiting permanent extermination. This is also a portrayal of leadership and followship. The good leader prepares the space, provides the nutrients, and removes the obstacles, creating an environment for professional growth where followers can thrive. What can happen given the right conditions? Isaiah 32:15 “…the spirit is poured from on high and the desert becomes a fertile field.”

The gardener brings water because without it, the plants will turn back to dust. Isaiah 58:11 “The Lord will guide you always; you will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.” The hose strung along the path is like the whole of life, isn’t it? Think of how free flowing our activities are at times. Life goes along smoothly when suddenly there’s a crimp in the flow and devastated we turn back until we regain our resolve. Then we’re off again in tenacious pursuit of our dream that compels us forward. Notice how in the photo, the hose has many curls and returns? Notice too, the solid nozzle at the end – the ornament that, when pressed by force, releases life giving water. Inside the hose, water lays dormant until the gardener grasps the hose, nozzle in hand and squeezes with just the right pressure to lightly sprinkle the plants or sufficiently soak them all the way to the roots. Leaders are like this gardener who scans conditions, matching talent with opportunity to grow team members to excellent harvest.

I love that all this takes place under a crystal dome where glorious sun shines in and all the varmints stay out. Our environment is never fully protected, there are chaotic times, optimism wanes and the economy fails us. The greenhouse, like our organizations are built to provide for livelihood and growth, but even with premium care and planning, not all things will grow. Some will stagnate, some will leave, some will turn to dust – but many will thrive in the environment. Be thankful in all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.”

What about the bicycles? Well – what about them? What is their meaning in this allegory? All work and no play … and now you create the rest of the story.

 

Photo credit: Carey Green

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9nwe9_xzw  –  My feet may fail, but I know God will never fail me.

Developing the Heart of a Servant Leader

Mark Deterding founded Triune Leadership Services to coach and train leaders who want to develop a heart for servant leadership.

“My desire is to build momentum for a movement of servant leadership across the world. I decided to write my first book using a series of daily messages to aid people in stepping up their activity in this area. As I counsel and consult with business leaders, it’s increasingly evident they are looking for ways to lift people up. This book, The Model of Servant Leadership, offers 140 messages arranged around the topic of becoming a leader who pours into people as talented and valued individuals. My prayer is that you read one message a day from this book while working to implement it in your life.  Then share with others what you are working on that day and watch your sphere of influence grow and flourish.”

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This is where to get your own copy of this book.  It comes in 3 formats. Kindle, Soft cover, Hardback http://www.triuneleadershipservices.com/a-model-of-servant-leadership/#more-1855

Under New Management: How Leading Organizations are Upending Business as Usual – Book Report

My first thought as I finished this book? Where was this management philosophy and leadership style when I was working 9 to 5? The good news is, the word is on the street that what was proven to work in the past, no longer works today. In fact, many management techniques of the past didn’t work back then either, and this generation is moving on. To be transparent here, I admit that a few of the ideas presented by author, David Burkus, are strikingly alien to me – but I hold high hope for corporations who dare to go beyond what has always been done. This book was so well organized and segmented by subject, it was a pleasure to read, uncomplicated to absorb, and therefore easy relate to.

From the first page, where I read “Management Needs New Management” I was all in. He starts with an interesting history lesson of a well know ‘mature’ corporation and ends the section with this quote, “We need to ask ourselves whether we can find better ways of working for the future.” Then David Burkus proceeds to offer solutions to faulty management practices embedded into our workplaces today. Under New Management book cover

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and writing the review. I urge you to pick up a copy for yourself. It’s full of real life case studies told in lively, interesting dialog that will hold your attention while being memorable. For corporations ready to try on some new management styles, Under New Management: How Leading Organizations are Upending Business as Usual is like opening the closet door.

Read the full book report here: Under New Management: How Leading Organizations are Upending Business as Usual

Out of the Question: How Curious Leaders Win – book summary

This book, Out of the Question: How Curious Leaders Win seemed tailor made for me. I’m a question asker, note taker, contemplative listener, and a life-long learner. The authors Guy Parsons and Allan Milham wrote this book for leaders who need to engage with their teams and improve results through optimal interactions. From leadership styles to productive conversations, it’s all here in this one volume. These authors expertly portray with clarity the differences between Knowers and Learners. They basically focus on Leaders who are called Knower Leaders or Learner Leaders, but they also bring into the picture unique ways to be a leader of Knowers and Learners.Out_of_question_book cover

The authors also talk about the power of the pause. “Ask yourself how often, when things don’t go according to plan, you pause to reflect and learn before charging forward.” If you want to have a productive conversation turn off the reactionary noise, and pause.

“Asking questions is a way to take a trip through uncharted territory as opposed to be trapped on a prescribed route.” The idea of a journey rather than a trip is enticing. As long as the destination is known, the trip becomes more of an adventure when the specific course is undefined. This is, in essence, the advantage of always learning and being grounded in a learning mindset.

The key for the leader is to be a Learner Leader and cultivate a learning culture in their organization.  If you are a leader, being a Learner Leader will keep you on track to engage, inspire, innovate, and win.

To read more about this book, the full summary is posted at bizcatalyst360.comhttp://bizcatalyst360.com/out-of-the-question-how-curious-leaders-win/

Overcoming an Imperfect Boss – book review

Why is it so hard to work for someone else? Karin Hurt attempts to answer that in her book Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. “The boss-subordinate relationship is unnatural by design. We look to a person we have not chosen (whom we may or may not respect) for affirmation, evaluation, and reward. Then we have to figure out what will make that person happy. Further we take this unnatural structure and make it even more awkward through performance feedback systems.”

Let’s admit right off the bat that your boss might be flawed. Nobody expects perfection in a boss or in a subordinate, but there are ways to ease the tension and work through the issues anyway. Karin describes some ways to help navigate the labyrinth of boss-subordinate relationships and in the process build a better workplace.  I won’t cover all of them in this short book review but when you read the whole book you will recognize that you have lived in nearly identical situations.

Speaking from her knowledge as a boss and as a subordinate, Karin’s presentation of experiences will grasp your attention and, like me, you won’t want to put the book down.

Read the full review here. http://bizcatalyst360.com/overcoming-an-imperfect-boss-a-practical-guide-to-building-a-better-relationship-with-your-boss/

The fallacy of loss

Before you start reading this, I have to give you an easy out. It’s going to be a long and complicated post. Fair warning …

Are you recovering from loss? We experience loss in a heartbeat, but the recovery period is what takes time.  In the past year my concentration has been on living joyfully through this practice: “Focus on what you have, not on what you’ve lost. Capitalize on what you can do, not on what you cannot.” It’s proven true, at least in my life, that where my thoughts are focused, my actions form. I’m sure when Proverbs 4:23 was written, God knew that loss would cause us distressing grief. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Sometimes the toughest challenge in our day is not in the act, but in the thought before it. What we think, becomes our act.

This is why allowing our thought life to be obsessively tangled in what we’ve lost or what we can’t do has treacherous outcomes.  Look how it’s so clearly defined in Proverbs 15:28 “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” I’m not saying that loss always causes us to become wicked, but when there is no constraint over demoralizing thoughts, we can follow regret on its descent into despair. We can stay there in the pit or we can find our way out.

But what about all I’ve lost? That’s my reality. I’ve lost something I need.  True.

The problem with loss is that it’s now in the past where nothing can change it. We don’t get a do-over. What we get is a chance to go on. Proverbs 12:25  expresses it well “Anxiety in a person’s heart causes depression, but an encouraging word brings him joy.” I’m not all that fond of the book of Lamentations. Even the meaning of the word settles around me like gray dissonance. But every now and then, out of the grieving comes a promise like this one in Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Today, let this be your encouragement – just a small spark of hope in your search for what you have left, while you accept what you have lost. In Hebrews 10:24-25 the writer describes “Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds, to gather together, and encourage each other.” How many friends do you have? How many of them would you support in their loss? How many of them would support you in yours?

You know? I love reading the books written by the Apostle Paul. He was the bull in the China shop, the fighter, the athlete, the eternal optimist. Wasn’t he? One thing I’ve learned from Paul – there are no losers in life. Huh, then what did he mean when he wrote this verse in 1 Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”  I think Paul was acknowledging that there are competitions and there are games and athletic events that can be used as analogy for life. In sports, there is loss because someone’s keeping score. There are no scorekeepers in real life. God is not keeping score.

I believe Paul meant we all must keep focusing on the goal ahead of us – not what we had in the past.  In fact, he writes it out for us not once but twice in Philippians. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize …” Philippians 3:12 and 3:14 He also told us to “Forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead.” It’s impossible to be a loser when we ““Focus on what you have, not on what you’ve lost. Capitalize on what you can do, not on what you cannot.”

In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul writes as a mentor to Timothy “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” I wish I could mentor everyone who needs encouragement like Paul did. What a hero he would be by today’s standards. Faithful warrior for truth, leader, mentor, challenger, athlete, friend – The Apostle Paul

If you’re struggling with loss and need encouragement while you get your footing and drag yourself into your new normal, I pray that you will remember to focus on what you have, not on what you’ve lost and capitalize on what you can do, not on what you cannot. Remember the same God who protected and lead David makes the same offer to you.  Psalm 139:5 “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.”

Bonus thought to contemplate

Have you ever wondered why there isn’t a book of Paul? He wrote many of the books in the New Testament and may have been the ghost writer of the book of Hebrews. I’m no *Bible scholar, but I think God didn’t give Paul permission to have a book named for him because he struggled with pride.  OK so I have not justification for that, but remember when Paul said he was given a thorn in his flesh?   2 Corinthians 12:7 “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”  I’ve heard people say the thorn was having to deal with certain irritating people sent to serve with him and others have said it was poor eyesight. I’m taking creative license and saying – what if it was his proclivity to thinking that he was the poster child for gifted, talented, and handsome? What if God didn’t title any of his books The Book of Paul because it would have made him prideful and useless in God’s kingdom?

Prayer: Lord protect my thoughts, put a shield around my heart, help me accept what I have lost and reach out for what I can do with what I have left. Keep my attitude one of gratitude and give me a new appreciation for your provision in my life. Empty my mind of negative thoughts and replace them with your promises. I love you Lord. Be first in my life. Amen

*Footnote: If it weren’t for my trusty study Bibles and the efficient look up available at BibleGateway, I wouldn’t be able to share the number of scriptures that I do. I remember scripture from past hours of reading and memorization, but the address, where to find it, requires the help of a concordance or online keyword look-ups.

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