What is your plan for the day?

“No excuses. No explanation. You don’t win on emotion. You win on execution.”

Tony Dungy

To execute, you have to have a plan. Of course, it might be the wrong or even a terrible one, but you must have a plan in mind when you begin each day. The time will pass, the day will end, and when you look back later in life, you will see a series of days well spent pursuing plans that mattered or wasted time and squandered opportunities. I don’t know about you, but the latter certainly makes me emotional. So there are no excuses; get after the day with a plan in mind!

Are you willing and able?

“The will to win is worth nothing unless you have the will to prepare.”


Sleep in or work out?

Studying industry news or an extra episode of a Netflix show?

Many people want to win, but very few are able to enforce their will to make it happen.  

How about you?

Are you willing to go the second mile?

“Do your work with your whole heart and you will succeed – there is so little competition.”

Elbert Hubbard

One of my favorite verses from the New Testament is Matthew 5:41-42. Here Jesus is teaching that when one is pressed into work, you are to do so beyond the minimum commitment (in those times, this was one mile carrying a heavy load) and go the second mile. Can you imagine how few people are willing to DOUBLE the required effort and do so willingly? No wonder there is so little competition along the second mile. 

‘If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.’ Matthew 5:41 

How are you curating your quiet spaces?

“The faster and busier things get, the more we need to build thinking time into our schedule. And the noisier things get, the more we need to build quiet reflection spaces in which we can truly focus.”

Greg McKeown

How do you feel when setting aside time to think? Do you feel guilty for not being busy? Are you distracted by thoughts that you are ‘missing’ something on one of the many digital devices that easily enslave us?

How about a quiet space? DO you have a place or routine that allows you to think without undue distractions? What does quiet ‘sound’ like for you? Is it mental peace and quiet or something more? Do you require physical separation from the noisy world?

We each have 168 hours or 10,080 minutes to invest each week. How many of those minutes are you able to intentionally spend in that quiet place doing the deep thinking required to enable long-term success? Be honest with yourself; if the answer is zero, how are you going to change the answer?

Are you building bridges or barriers?

“In times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers.”

T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman)

It is incredible how stuck people become on winning, at all costs. Instead of viewing a challenge with the long view and thinking about win/win solutions, much energy is spent winning the moment’s battle.  

Our world today is filled with so much uncertainty and volatility (VUCA is a post for another day) that aligning where appropriate instead of hunkering down to fight alone is a much more strategic and long-term approach.  

Be a builder, but know what it is you are building…

Do you have a plan to learn?

“The swiftest way to triple your success is to double your investment in personal development.”

Robin Sharma

Where do you want to be one year from today? What is the gap between where you want to be and where you currently are? Do you have a personal development plan to close that gap? Do you have a prioritized list of books to read, podcasts to listen to, and online courses to sign up for? Perhaps more importantly, have you scheduled the time to do these things? Is it on your calendar daily, weekly or monthly? If the answer to any of the questions is “no, ” what are you waiting for? Success is on the other side of hard work.

“But I don’t have time to do these things!” 

It is easy to let our time be an asset we don’t manage. So easy to watch one more episode of the latest show on Netflix. So easy to skip the hour you have set aside to read to handle urgent but unimportant emails or tasks. Doing those things might be fun or necessary, but they aren’t helping you grow. If you want to be better, different, or more successful, you must invest the time. Schedule the time. Start with something simple, but schedule it. Plan your work so you can work your plan.  

Next, find a mentor, ask them for one book to read, and then do it. It’s your life you are managing; manage it. Finally, ask yourself, on August 8th, 2022, how much will I have grown? The time is going to pass; use it wisely and with intent.

Are you focused on the right problem?

“Leaders inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they place the blame.”

Courtney Lynch

“I should have handled this differently than I did, and I own that. Now, what are we going to do differently next time to ensure a different outcome? I will be holding you accountable for meeting our mutually agreed upon expectations. Are you willing and able to own those results?”

That’s certainly a lot better than “what the heck were you thinking,” or any other variety of blameshifting…

Are you failing to succeed?

“Sometimes failure is the tuition you pay for success.”

Craig Groeschel

One of my favorite exercises to complete after any significant initiative, personal or professional, good or bad, is the After Action Review.  These five questions allow you to codify success or failure and begin learning and growth.  

  1. What were our intended results? 
  2. What were our actual results?
  3. What caused our results?
  4. What will we do the same next time?
  5. What will we do differently?

In preparation for any key initiative taking the time to think through a variation of the first three questions is highly impactful and will maximize your likelihood of success.  

  1. What are my intended results?
  2. How will I measure those results?
  3. What will cause these results?

Everyone will fail; the question is whether or not you can convert this experience into one with a positive return on investment? Why pay the tuition if you aren’t going to learn anything? 

We are each accountable and responsible…

“To be accountable means that we are willing to be responsible to another person for our behavior and it implies a level of submission to another’s opinions and viewpoints.”

Wayde Goodall

“Willing to be responsible to another person for OUR behavior.” I particularly like this portion of the quote; it means you must maintain a willingness to be accountable for your behaviors’ impact on others, whether intentional or not. 

The second portion of the quote, “implies a level of submission to another’s opinions and viewpoints,” conveys that one must actively seek an understanding of how your behaviors impact others. Since you are responsible, you are then accountable for that impact.

We don’t live in a vacuum, our behaviors have a profound impact on the lives of others, and we can’t blindly say, “that’s just the way that I am.” That isn’t accountability.

The freedom to be better…

“Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.”

Albert Camus

The 4th of July is THE American holiday. It is a time when we get together with friends and family and celebrate our nation’s birth and the freedoms we enjoy with cookouts and fireworks. However, it is so easy to take those freedoms for granted. Perhaps today should be more than barbecue and outdoor fun. Today is an opportunity to reflect on the chance you have to choose to be a better person. Our Freedom wasn’t free, and we should leave the world a better place than when we arrived. Happy Freedom to “be better” day!

man with fireworks
Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

To feel alive, find a way to be outside…

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.”

Edward Abbey

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take the boys for a hike at Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountain National park. My goal was to get them outside for some good exercise and expose them to something new and different. I spoke to the park ranger, who suggested an easy trail that wouldn’t overwhelm short legs but would give plenty to see and experience along the way, and we set out on our adventure.  

We discovered remarkable rocks, amazing sticks, daddy long legs, turkey vultures, and weird bugs along the way. We discussed different plants and the challenges of walking on trails with lots of roots and rocks. Then, at the mid-point of our hike, we “discovered” a two-hundred-year-old cabin built entirely by hand that blew the boy’s minds. (Although the giant chocolate chip cookies I surprised them with might have been the discovery that genuinely excited them.)

A simple three-mile hike “for the boys” turned into a grand adventure and a reconnection with nature for me.  

Three things I learned or was reminded of yesterday.  

  1. There is incredible value to being “disconnected,” especially in today’s hyperconnected world. My mobile phone didn’t work for about four to five hours, and for that brief time, no distractions were pulling away from the incredible world around us. It amazed me how quickly I could put the phone aside when I knew it wasn’t going to work. There was no draw to check emails, texts, or other messages. This disconnection allowed me to be present in each moment without fear of “missing out.” Instead, I didn’t miss out on what was going on right there in the moment.  
  2. Being outside in nature is a constant exercise in “new” things. I have been in love with the outdoors my entire life. ‘Ranger Rick,’ ‘National Geographic,’ ‘Sports Afield,’ and ‘Outdoor Life’ were some of my favorite readings as a young boy. However, no matter how much you have read or seen, there is always something new to experience or do. Nature is wild and dynamic; it is never the same experience twice. I was reminded of this as I answered constant questions and explained different plants, scat signs, and other things you can only find when you get out in the woods. It was new for the boys and new for me.
  3. Being outside and seeing the grandness of the “wilderness” (as it were…) is a phenomenal way to recharge the batteries and reconnect with our heritage as a species. Humans are not built to live in concrete boxes, breathing sterile air in temperature-controlled environments with no discomforts other than self-imposed mental stressors. We are made to be part of nature, to be challenged by nature, and to feel alive because of nature.  

This was supposed to be a trip for the boys, but it ended up being for me. ‘Wilderness’ is essential for the soul, just as water and bread are vital for the body.

Cades Cove, Tennessee

Who is helping you execute your great ideas?

“Ideas are easy. Execution is everything. It takes a team to win.”

John Doerr

“Hey, wouldn’t it be great if…” 

How many great ideas have you had in life? How many initiatives are started but never finished or reached the goal line? Be brutally honest with yourself. Do you wish you could improve your focus and discipline and ensure that the most important things are executed fully?

The key to execution is building a habit of exceptional discipline. While you can do this independently, it is much easier if you have a team to help hold you accountable along the way. So who is on your team, and how are you guaranteeing relentless execution through robust dialogue, feedback, and accountability?  

Do you want to look back in ten years and measure yourself based on how many remarkable initiatives you started or how well you executed the most critical and impactful things?

The Facts vs. The Truth

“There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.”

Maya Angelou

Fact: A lot is going on right now, and I don’t have time to write a daily blog post.  

Truth: I am a better leader, learner, and thinker when I take the time to write.

Fact: I have a limited and finite amount of time; I have to ensure that I spend it in a manner that maximizes return on invested time.

Truth: Writing clarifies my thinking, and the returns compound over time.

Fact: I don’t know how many people will ever read or be impacted by what I write.

Truth: I will…

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