Indifferent = Neglect

“More business is lost every year through neglect than through any other cause.”

Rose Kennedy

It is scary to think of how much time, effort, and energy it takes to start a new relationship with a customer and how easily that can all be lost if their first experience is with a person who just doesn’t care. Neglect is the same as apathy and not caring is just not acceptable…

Not all easy days…

“Problems are to the mind what exercise is to the muscles, they toughen and make strong.”

Norman Vincent Peale

There is something exciting about having a good problem to solve. The uncertainty and unknown can be unsettling of course but I have found that to be far outweighed by the joy of a good challenge. It is through tackling tough problems that we learn and grow. I don’t want to have an easy life with no problems to solve. That would be boring and unfulfilling. Sure, at times it would be great if things were smooth and easy, but not all the time. I don’t want all easy days, for easy days don’t inspire growth. How about you?

Weakness into strength…

“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”

Michael Jordan

Most of the greats have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. There is an edge to them that you just can’t quite put your finger on. They have something to prove and no one can push them harder than they will push themselves, especially if they are challenged in some way. I am sure that we have all known people like this, or perhaps even been this person from time to time.

When should you push hard and turn another person’s perceived weakness into a strength and when should ignore that criticism and focus on leveraging the strengths that you already have? Being able to discern this is critical otherwise you could spend all of your energy trying to fix the perceptions of others and that could in itself become a great weakness…

Happy Easter!

“Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal, and new life.”

Janine de Giovanni

Easter morning is a great time to pause and reflect on our hope, opportunity for renewal, and the new life before us. It is natural to do this on Easter but what prevents us from pausing more regularly through the year to do the same thing?

This thought reminds me of one of my favorite books and movies to read and watch during the holidays; “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. At the end of the book Scrooge utters the line “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” How different would our lives be if we did the same thing through the lens of Easter? What if you simply made what many of us do naturally on Easter a much more regular and intentional act?

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 ESV

He is Risen! Happy Easter!

Translating mistakes into experiences…


“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”

Oscar Wilde

Did you make mistakes yesterday? I know that I did. I make plenty each and every day, we all do. The thing that I find missing in this quote is “reflection.” Reflection is what allows one to review their mistakes and translate those into experiences that you then learn from. A daily habit of answering three simple questions is the key to ensuring that when you make mistakes, and we all know that we will, that you can learn and grow from them. The questions that I use are:

  • What didn’t go well today?
  • What did I learn from this?
  • How will I adapt my behavior in the future to learn and grow?

There are lots of other questions, find the ones that work for you, but do it regularly so you can translate mistakes into experiences that you can then grow from.

Keep it simple on Good Friday…

  “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

Confucius

I found this quote to be thought provoking on Good Friday morning. The world is so busy, so complex, so fast at times that we can easily forget why we are doing things and what life on this earth is truly about. I know I do anyway.

So today the challenge for myself is to simply slow down, step back, breathe, and reflect on what is truly important. It is amazing how clarifying this can be…

No one needs to see…

“You have to put in many, many, many tiny efforts that nobody sees or appreciates before you achieve anything worthwhile.”

Brian Tracy

The behind the scenes work is how things are truly accomplished. The little things matter and they are likely things that no one will ever know about.

What are some of those efforts that you put in, day in and day out, that contribute to the end results? How do you stay motivated to ensure they are done the right way?

It comes down to staying focused on achieving the goal and knowing that the efforts invested, regardless of who sees them, are what is necessary to get the job done. If you are waiting on someone else to notice you are focused on the wrong things…

Over, under, around or through…

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” 

Randy Pausch

Have you ever hit the wall? Gone as far as you think you can and then had some obstacle or challenge come up that just stops everything? Running into the wall over and over is frustrating and it is easy to see how some people will just give up. But simply giving up is never the right option.

I will occasionally use a quote more than once and typically it is because of some challenge I am facing (or one I know others are facing) or is because it is particularly resonant with me at a specific time. I used today’s quote previously in October and it is fascinating to look back and reflect on why I chose it then, and what has changed since that time. (previous post here)

Today I choose this quote based on observations around organizational change and how slowly change can manifest. However, my reflections today are that perhaps change is slowed down because I am only leveraging one method to try and influence change. Overcoming challenges means you must be open to thinking different, trying new things, looking at changes in yourself first. The old axiom from Maslow, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” applies here. If my only mechanism to drive change is to use the tools I currently possess, then I am limited in my ability to influence change. Growth requires getting new tools and finding new ways to scale the wall.

The brick walls aren’t there to stop you, they might just be there so that you learn new ways to go under, over, around, or through them…

No worries…

“Problems are meant to be solved, but unfortunately, a lot of people choose to complain, worry, and cry about them.”

Edmond Mbiaka

It amazes me how much energy is spent by people worrying and complaining about problems. I have often wondered if all that energy were instead focused on overcoming challenges and fixing things what the world would be like.

Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t worry, in fact I am guilty of spending too much energy worrying and thinking about things that are not within my control. But therein lies the key to overcoming problems. Find out what is within your control and focus your energy on that, instead of complaining, worrying and crying. Whenever I get sideways and start worrying about some problem or challenge, that is how I reset my head.

What energy are you spending today complaining, worrying or crying? Where can you spend that energy instead?

It’s not me, it’s you…

“Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine.” 

Chris Hadfield

The best leader I have ever worked for did two things exceptionally well. First, he asked great questions to keep our team focused on where we were going, not just what we were doing. Second, when we achieved great results, he stepped back and gave the team all the credit. He knew it wasn’t about him and as a result his team would have done anything for him. Leadership isn’t about you…

Share the load…

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

Lena Horne

Far too often if life we try to carry our burdens alone. Perhaps it is because we want to be independent and not rely on others. Maybe it is because we don’t trust others enough to let go of something. There are many many reasons that we choose to carry a load in a manner that makes it harder than it needs to be. We have to learn how to share, to trust, to carefully position the load in a manner that won’t break us down but instead might build ourselves and others up. As I read this quote I was reminded of the famous verse in Matthew that speaks to the wisdom of bringing your burden to God.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

How do you need to carry your load differently? What changes do you need to make to keep from breaking down?

Under pressure…

“I love leaving the door open to good ideas. I love the collaborative swirl. I get charged by problem-solving, usually under some kind of stress – the sun is going down, and we have eight minutes, and we have to solve it. Great things come out of it.”

Ron Howard

I will fully admit that I like pressure. I enjoy, and feel I do my best personal work, when I am under pressure to perform. There is just nothing like a crisis or a time crunch to really drive creative problem solving. My challenge, and the leadership challenge, is to ensure that the need for the time pressure problem-solving isn’t created because we simply waited until the last minute to start…

Trust empowers growth…

“Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.” 

Booker T. Washington

WIth trust comes freedom. Freedom to act, to think, to stretch beyond where you are today and embrace what could be. Sharing with someone else that you trust them empowers them to grow. On the flip side, demonstrating that you don’t trust someone steals that opportunity from them.

How do you ensure that you convey trust through your words and behaviors?

Help me, help you…

“I believe that you can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Zig Ziglar

What percentage of your time do you spend seeking to understand and help other people with their challenges? How does this compare to the time spent on yourself and your challenges? When I think about these questions I am pretty convicted. I know I don’t spend as much time as I should seeking to help others get what they want. It isn’t that I don’t want to, not at all, I just need to be more intentional with my efforts and energy.

How do you keep a focus on helping others front and center? What are the right questions to think about as you enter any conversation or relationship? Here are a few that I am going to start using at the beginning and ending of each day as framing questions to ensure that I am focused on helping and serving others.

  • Start of the day: Who can I intentionally seek to help achieve something they want today? What questions do I need to ask in my conversations to ensure I am focused on helping others?
  • End of the day: Who did I help today? What did they want or need that I was able to assist with? What did I hear or see that creates an opportunity for me to help someone achieve their goals?

Time to quit…

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.”

 Max DePree

Sometimes you have to make hard choices. If you don’t, you can’t grow, you can’t evolve, you can’t become what you were meant to be. Do you know, and value, what you want to become more than what you currently are? If you can’t quit something that has been important in the past, you are committing to staying in the past.

Are you willing to let go of something that you have always valued and become something more? If you want to grow, you have to learn to quit…

Be a somebody…

“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.”

Robby Novak

Life is busy. It is easy at times to get caught up in our own worries, fears, challenges, opportunities and forget that we aren’t here on this earth for ourselves. Not one of us was created to be a person that only cares about themselves. We were all created to help and serve others with our own unique and special gifts and talents.

Helping others doesn’t mean that you have to sell everything you own and move to a third world country. (Though if you feel that is your calling then do it!) Sometimes it is the simplest things that can mean so much. A smile, eye contact, remembering someones name. A hand-written thank you card. There are a million ways to make another person feel special for a moment. But you have to seek them out, and you have to do them. What’s really amazing is that when you do, you feel like a somebody…

What could have been done?

“We are responsible for far more than what we have been given; we are responsible for what could have been done with all that we have been entrusted with.”

Erwin Raphael McManus

There are really two key questions to be addressed here. First, “What have I been entrusted with?” Second, “what could have been done?”

Think of all the things that we have been entrusted with. The lives of our children. Our relationships with others. Opportunities to lessen the load of another human being and serve. Chances to simply make another person smile. These are just a few of the thoughts that immediately came to mind for me this morning.

I know that I fail regularly at living out this quote fully and completely. It is too easy to become myopic and only focus on “what I have been given” instead of what I am truly entrusted with. This quote is going to require further meditation and thought as I wrestle with what it means for me and how I live my life. Specifically as I think through the “what could I have done” question.

Ultimately it comes down to answering this question. How do we live life in a manner that glorifies God by being responsible for all that He has entrusted us with? It isn’t about owning things and possessing stuff. It is about owning the responsibility and being accountable for “what could have been done.”

Do you choose to invest in your attitude?

“Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.”

Charles R. Swindoll

How much of our lives do we spend searching for the things listed in the quote above? Money, education, appearance, gifts, skills? How much time do we spend focused on improving our outlook? Our attitude? Attitude is a choice, do we spend time investing in that choice?

Where to focus?

“The largest room in the world is the room for improvement.”

Author Unknown

How often do we intentionally sit down and ask ourselves these questions?

  • What part of my life do I need to focus on improving?
  • Where should I stop putting my effort so I can focus on what truly matters?
  • What is preventing me from doing so?
  • Am I focusing my time on areas I want, or areas I need to improve?
  • What are the consequences if I don’t get better?

These are just a few questions that come to mind as I reflect on this quote. What really strikes me is the wisdom that is needed to know where to put your improvement efforts. Everything can be improved upon, knowing where to focus your efforts for maximal impact is the secret to long-term success.

Relationships + Trust = Results

“Strong relationships are the foundation of great results.”

Dan Rockwell

The most successful relationships are based on mutual trust and respect. When you have this the outcomes can be simply incredible. But it takes intentional work to build good relationships. At times it might feel like that this work is counter to driving results, that the effort and energy is being misused instead of being put directly towards achieving your desired outcomes. But this is short sighted and conveys a lack of humility and a servant leader ethos.

Putting forth the energy to build strong relationships, and to truly know and understand those that you work and live with, is the key to driving great results in the future. When relationships are strong there is a high degree of trust and with trust comes the ability to create alignment and focus on what is really important. Without trust, there is no relationship.

Who are the most important people you should be investing in right now to build stronger relationships? How much time do you spend seeking to understand the goals of others so you can help them achieve their great results? What results are you seeking to achieve together? What is the one thing you can do today that is focused on strengthening a key relationship in your life?

Be afraid…

“If it scares you it might be a good thing to try.”

Seth Godin

Fear can either motivate or paralyze. How do you respond to what scares you? Do you lean in or lean back?

If we never try anything that stretches us past the point of fear we could never achieve to the level of our capability. How can you know what you are capable of if you don’t stretch?

Why?


“Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.”

Bernard Baruch

It never ceases to amaze me how some people can see things that others miss and overlook. It’s not that they are better or smarter, they just look at things with a perpetual need to understand why things happen the way they do.

This past weekend I was doing some work around the house and my son Davis (who is seven) was helping me. I love showing and teaching him how to do things and it reminds me of how much I completely take for granted because I have known or done things for so long. We were installing a new door lock and he was using the power screwdriver and we were breaking it down into the components of how to do it the right way. Teaching him how to do this effectively was a great reminder for me on the power of “why” as he asked questions and began to understand the nuances of working with his hands.

This experience reminded me of how powerful the word “why” is in the hands of a child and how perhaps we could all use more time learning and questioning the world around us. It is way too easy to take for granted all the things you know and for your mind to go on autopilot. Stepping back and seeking to understand by asking the simple “why” question is so very valuable.

Question everything…

“The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.”

Claude Levi-Strauss

I love asking questions. When I am thinking through a big challenge one of my favorite methods of getting started is to sit down in a quiet place and list all the questions I can think of that would be relevant to solving the problem. I have found that finding the right question is often the most important part of solving any problem.

The right questions bring tremendous clarity and focus. I have a few mentors that I can count on to help me see and understand the truth about almost any situation. It amazes me how someone can ask a question of me that I hadn’t considered and it cuts through the fog like a laser beam. They never help me get there by telling me what they think, they always ask questions. This reminds me of another of my favorite verses from Proverbs.“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,” Proverbs 1:5

What are the most important questions for you to be seeking answers for today?

Temper temper…

“Men are like steel. When they lose their temper, they lose their worth.”

Chuck Norris

I studied Jiu Jitsu for 10 years when I was young and one of the first things that our sensei taught us when we started sparring was that the “person who loses their temper loses the match. When you lose your temper you are surrendering control of the match to the other person.” This was a great lesson to learn at a young age and one that has stayed with me throughout my life.

I believe this is a lesson that truly applies to all areas of life. I can’t think of a single time when I have lost my temper where it created a positive outcome. Stay focused on what you can control and don’t let your temper be the reason you lose the match…

Together, we can do great things…

“You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together, we can do great things.”

Mother Teresa

It take great humility and self-awareness to understand that you can’t be good at everything. Great teams are built around people with different and complimentary gifts. If everyone on the team is the same, then the team is built with inherent weakness. You need the strengths of others to accomplish the mission.

What are the gifts that you bring to the table to best serve others? What gifts do you need others to possess in order to accomplish great things?

To lead yourself change your mind…

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” 

George Bernard Shaw

It is amazing how much of our leadership impact and ability is based on first being able to lead oneself. If we can’t be completely candid, open and real with ourselves on our need to change, how can we expect others to change?

What is the #1 change you need to make on and in yourself to increase your impact? What is getting in your way? How can you start the change today?

Start with a good breakfast…

“Critical feedback is the breakfast of champions. Defensiveness is the dinner of losers.”

Dharmesh Shah

Why are people defensive? Is it because they don’t want to be wrong? Perhaps their own identity or self-worth is so wrapped up in something that anything that doesn’t align with their thinking is taken as a personal indictment? Regardless of why anyone might be defensive it is easy to see that there is very little positive that can come from a defensive mindset.

The best athletes are always looking for critical feedback in order to improve their game. They watch film, they solicit input from trusted coaches, they look for ways to remove flaws from their performance in order to get better. You can’t do that if you have a defensive mindset. You can’t be focused on growing and improving if you aren’t willing to see flaws as opportunities.

Some of the most impactful feedback I have ever received has come at times and places in life that it would have been easy for me to say “I don’t care what you say or think, this is who I am. I am right…” If I had taken that approach I would have missed the opportunity to learn, grow and improve. I wouldn’t have seen the “flaws in my game” and then found ways to address those flaws and hopefully improve my performance. Self-improvement is a continual and ongoing process and I know I have many more opportunities to get better by seeking out candid and critical feedback.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Make sure that you start with a good one by embracing any critical feedback offered.

Execution, not perfection…

“A good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”

General George S. Patton

There is no such thing as a perfect plan. Trying to get it just right and waiting until it is perfect means that nothing will ever get done. I’d much rather have a good plan well executed than to wait another minute to try and get something perfect. It just isn’t going to happen. Seeking perfection is the enemy of execution.

Change starts small…

“Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.”

Jim Rohn

Where does your life need to change? Are you willing to simply wait and be “lucky” in order for change to happen? To be sure we are all lucky in some form or another. But leaving life up to the vagaries of chance just isn’t an acceptable plan. To accomplish anything worth doing you have to embrace change and lean forward into change with all the gusto you have in your being.

I have found that some of the most important changes in life aren’t the biggest ones that I have embraced, but have instead been the small ones, done well and executed relentlessly, those changes have made the biggest difference.

Why is this? For me, I have found that the small changes and the willingness to embrace them, to get outside of my comfort zone, have been the catalyst for larger change. They have prepared me mentally and physically to let go of the old and embrace the new.

If you want to change something big, start with something small. Do it today…

Wish & Try

“Wishing is a form of inspiration for the lazy mind but taking Action, Persisting and finding alternative routes to your destination against all odds is the definition of a SUCCESSFUL Venture.”

Oscar Bimpong 

It is rare that I reuse quotes intentionally but this one really resonated with my as I reflected on the quote yesterday about removing “try” from my vocabulary. I think the word “wish” can fall into the same category as the word “try” if one isn’t careful. It can be an excuse if left on its own without the effort, energy and tenacity needed to turn something into action. If you combine “wish” and “try” in the same sentence you are almost guaranteed failure.

For another perspective on this quote here are the thoughts it prompted the last time I selected it.

Try nothing…

“The word try, means nothing. There’s no such thing as trying to do something. The moment you begin a task, you’re doing it. So just finish what you’re doing.”

La Tisha Honor

I love this quote. “Try” means nothing… Let that mull around in your head for a bit. How often do you use the word “try” in your vocabulary? What if you didn’t? What if you vowed never said the word again? How would that impact how you live? How you show up for the little things?

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