The Stanley Effect.
Three Central Tenets, One Huge Inspiration.
I’m leaning into my independence and taking creative license this month. This is one of the perks of being my own boss! Not only have I delayed the release of DRIVEN’s monthly newsletter and blog article by one week, but today’s piece is not even our traditional type of posting. Instead, it’s a tribute to Stanley.
If you don’t know him, Stanley is considered a visionary in the NYC business community, a mentor to dozens, a diligent source for professionals looking for employment, a seasoned romantic matchmaker, and an incredible all-around connector. And, oh yes: Stanley is my father.
Ironically, this column aligns with my Word of the Year: Cadence. I used to believe that word myopically applied to actions like walking, pacing a coaching session, or even conducting a team check-in. But I continue to discover how “cadence” can be applied to different situations and perspectives. There is, for instance, a cadence related to the progression of a lifetime. And I’m currently witnessing this with Stanley, as he begins to admittedly “slow down” (a laughable assertion from this self-proclaimed “Octogenarian on the Go”).
In considering his confession, I’ve been marinating on the lessons Stanley has taught me in our now 57-year relationship. And once again, I chuckled.
You see, when I was ten, my father asserted, “If I die tomorrow, I’ll have fulfilled my duty as a father. You know and understand my morals and my values. It’s now your turn to go out into the world and find your own answers. And I hope you’ll share them with me”.
To this, I replied, “Are you dying? Do you have cancer?”
After this temporary overreaction to his statement, I began seeking out my own answers, and have continued this aproach ever since. And despite all of our differences, where we “agree to disagree”, there are three central tenets I’ve adopted as my own.
These principles create an intentional balance in our lives, allowing both of us to feel fulfilled, both professionally and personally. I hope these resonate with you, too.
An Absolute Dedication to Physical Fitness.
Stanley derives the full benefits of exercise from a simple pair of sneakers. When I was born, Stanley started to jog. This was decades before running became a cultural phenomenon. To acquire sneakers, he would stand barefoot on two blank pieces of paper. Mom would draw the outline of his feet and send them off to a shoemaker who “specialized” in running shoes. The company: New Balance!
Fast-forward to the 21st century, and each of us considers exercise to be the most important thing we can do for our health and well-being every day. Where we differ is our exercise of choice. Stanley is a die-hard runner. Brisk walking (my daily “march”) suits my body better. I embrace knowing that as long as my heart rate passes 120 beats per minute for 20 minutes, I’ve completed a daily cardiovascular workout. This is not only essential for short- and long-term health, but also the key to allowing time for reflection, processing, planning, and dreaming.
A Commitment to Both Reflection and Focus with Work
Speaking of reflection, another habit I’ve adopted from Stanley’s playbook is a balance between focused work and reflection.
Focus is Concentrated: Stanley used to challenge himself to imagine that a hypothetical fire alarm was pulled each day at 9:15am in a traditional office setting. His focus was to attend to the most important tasks of the day during the first 15 minutes of work. Then, if he had to suddenly leave the building, he knew the essentials were covered.
Since we now have more flexibility in working remotely, I’ve adapted this for my coaching clients and guided them to do their most focused work in alignment with their circadian rhythms. Are you an early riser or a night owl? Carving out that 15-minute block of time for your MOST IMPORTANT work is the key to honing your focus and your productivity.
Reflection is Expansive: Stanley is conscientious about logging his Month in Review. It’s a memo to an imaginary Board of Advisors to report on what went well, where and why he fell short of expectations, and what he can do better in the future. For years I did a Week-in-Review until I discovered the Clever Fox calendar. I now do a month in review using their helpful and thoughtful tools and prompts.
Your Network is More Valuable than Your Net Worth
Stanley is the ultimate extrovert. Being amongst people is his oxygen. Put him in a room full of strangers, and before long, he’ll meet everyone in the group, connecting with each person in his own unique way.
In contrast, I am a proud introvert. Networking events exhaust me, which is tough, because building a solid network is a business essential. Thankfully, I’ve teased out and defined four phases of networking. I have embraced the process of nurturing my network and not only have I been able to help people connect in Stanley fashion, but I enjoy rich and deep connections with dozens of people globally. My motto is, “I surround myself with people I aspire to be like.” This has made doing business abundantly rich and rewarding.
I could go on for pages sharing the wisdom I’ve gained from my father. And through this month, I’ll share a couple of other nuggets of Stanley’s wisdom.
AND, if you happen to know Stanley, you probably have a story about how he’s impacted your life, too. Please feel free to share these with me!
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