The gift that keeps on giving…

“The greatest gift of leadership is a boss who wants you to be successful.”

Jon Taffer

The dictionary defines “gift” as “something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.”

Or

“As something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned.”

How do you wrap this present for those that you serve? How do you ensure that you put your leadership effort and energy INTO others, not for your sake, not for your own selfish needs, but truly into others. Because that is the definition of being a good boss, a good leader. You have to be a person that gives this gift voluntarily.

Is this a gift you give as willingly as you receive it? How can you tell when you are blessed with the gift of having a boss who truly wants you to be successful? Do you model these behaviors back to those that you lead? If you don’t have a boss like this, do you model the behaviors you want anyway?

Get out a sheet of paper. Write down three specific ways or behaviors that this leadership gift would manifest if you were to receive it from a boss. Then draw a line across the page. Under that line write down three specific ways or behaviors that would send you the opposite message. These are the things that you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of from your boss. The top of the page is your leadership gift “to do” list. The bottom of the page is your “never do” list.

Study this list regularly and hold yourself accountable to actively and intentionally doing the top of the page items. Ensure that you do the first three things regardless of whether or not you receive them. Guard against the bottom three items in your own leadership of others.

Be the greatest leadership gift another person can ever receive. Be the leader that helps someone be successful. It can truly be the gift that keeps on giving…

Turn the other cheek…

“Never regret being a good person, to the wrong people. Your behavior says everything about you, and their behavior says enough about them.”

Author Unknown

Do you value self over others or do you put the needs of others over self? If you are the former then you are a person who won’t regret being a good person, even if it hurts your own interests on occasion.

I am reminded of this verse from the book of Matthew.

“‘But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.‘” Matthew 5:38-40,42-43

I would argue that that an occasional “setback” because you are true to yourself, and your values, is well worth it. I would far rather be known as a person that is consistently good, even to those who would do me harm, than a person who is seeking to put myself above others…

Rest up…

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

Vince Lombardi

How do you know when you need to get rest? What is your mental state when you are tired and burned out? Are you aware of the behaviors you exhibit when you are burning the candles at both ends? If you aren’t, then I am sure that those around you can answer that question in excruciating detail…

Do you have the courage to ask the question and face up to the challenge of changing that person you become when fatigued?

Prioritize rest and recovery. That is what you will have to do if you want to build a life of wins and successes. You simply can’t do it when playing from behind…

Face your fears…

“Being aware of your fear is smart. Overcoming it is the mark of a successful person.”

Seth Godin

What are the things that scare you? Do you run from them? Have your fears paralyzed you or motivated you?

If you don’t face your fears, they will own you. Do you want fear to control you? Or would you rather face the fear and win?

Sometimes you just need to build some momentum. Face a fear, and win. Then do it again. And again. And again…

Change = What/Why/How/Do

“Change before you have to.”

Jack Welch

Here is a simple recipe for change. Take out a piece of paper. Ask yourself these questions.

“WHAT is the one thing I NEED to change in my life?” Write that down at the top of the page and circle it.

Now answer this question. “WHY is this change important and necessary?” Write this down in as few words as possible and underline it. Heck, grab a highlighter and and really make this line stand out. This is the most important line on the page.

Now answer this question. “HOW will I do next to make that change a reality?” Write down those answers, no more than 3 things. Rank them based on what you can do FIRST.

Now for the hard part. DO the things you wrote down. Start every day looking at your desired and needed change, remind yourself why it is important and then DO the action. When you have completed your next task mark it off and add one more. Never more than three things on your list and you only focus on the next one. As you get better and better and build momentum then you will look forward to checking off the list and seeing how much you have accomplished.

For example if your “need” is to lose 10 pounds then that is what you write at the top

WHAT = Lose 10 pounds by 12/1/19

WHY = To have a healthy body and more energy for my family

HOW = (1) Exercise 45 minutes today before lunch. (2) Track my foods/meals in an App like MyFitnesspal (3) Do not take in any calories after 7:00 PM.

DO = Check these off through the day and then build a new list tomorrow.

Change doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen simply because you want it to. Change happens when you clearly articulate what it is that you want to change. Why that change is important. How you are going to make that change happen by focusing on what to do next. Then you have to do the hard part. EXECUTE! No excuses, no complaints, no justifications. Just do it.

There are tons of books, apps, systems and methods you can use to track and manage change. I use several of them in combination but the MOST IMPORTANT factor is to clearly articulate WHAT you want to change and WHY that change is important to you. That is why it is important to revisit this daily. Never lose sight of your goal and why it is important. That will be the motivation you need to EXECUTE. W/W/H/D = CHANGE

Can’t & Won’t

“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”

Mae Jemison

There seem to be a lot of “can’t” and “won’t” people in the world. As in people that always find a reason to say “that initiative can’t possibly work” or “that idea won’t work.”

Why does this happen? When do people go from being young toddlers curious about the world and ready to try anything, because they don’t know any better, and instead turn into people that can’t or won’t see the world not for what it is, but for what it could be?

Maybe there is a better question to ask. How do you identify and find the people that don’t know the meaning of can’t and won’t? I know that those are the ones that I want to associate with. Those are the people that I want to work with. Those are the people that add fuel to the fire instead of being the fire extinguishers.

Find those people. Hang with those people. Rub off on them and let them rub off on you. Create magic with them. Do this, and your imagination will never be limited…

Solve for life…

 “Life is a journey with problems to solve, lessons to learn, but most of all, experiences to enjoy.”

Anonymous

Tomorrow there will be problems to solve…

Tomorrow there will be lessons to learn…

Today there are experiences that are just too valuable and important to miss out on and take for granted…

It is amazing how much of our lives we spend devoted to the problems and lessons but so little focused on actually being present for the experiences that are going on in the moment. The simple joy of a sunrise. The first day where you feel a cool breeze against your skin that signals that fall is finally here.

Montebello, Quebec, Canada

Life isn’t just about the problems. Life isn’t just about the lessons. Life is about the journey and the experiences we either engage in, or don’t. Don’t make the journey of your life to find out you missed out on all the richness that was available. What a harsh lesson that would be. What a terrible problem to discover too late to solve.

That would be more than a shame, that would be a journey that is hardly worth making. Live the experiences. Embrace the journey. That’s the most important problem to solve and lesson to learn…

To learn, find your joy…

“All wish to possess knowledge, but few, comparatively speaking, are willing to pay the price.”

Juvenal

What is it that you find exciting about learning? What topics motivate you to put forth the effort to study and grow? Do you find the time to embrace opportunities to gain new knowledge and wisdom? Do you intenionally create those opportunities?

I have long believed that the minute one stops learning you begin to descend into a place of complacency and then irrelevancy. Perhaps this comes from my formative years as a autodidactic where everything I learned from 5th grade until college was self-taught and self-directed. (I was home-schooled through those years and 100% of my learning was self-directed) For years I believed that this was a impediment and something that held me back, but now I believe that it was exactly the opposite, it created an insatiable thirst for knowledge and learning for topics that I was intrigued by. It never felt like work to put forth the effort into the topics I was interested in.

That is the key to learning, you must have the motivation to do the hard work. The magic happens when the effort is joyful and it doesn’t feel like labor at all. Instead the energy and time spent acquiring knowledge feels like a gift and a blessing. Motivation to invest the energy and time required to develop mastery of any subject comes in two forms.

First, a passion for the topic itself and whatever it is that you are learning. For me that would be reading books on history and leadership throughout history. I love digging into a great book on historical figures and understanding how and what they did in their lives that impacted the course of the world. For example, I am reading the book “Hamilton” right now and it is absolutely fascinating. Other great examples are the Walter Isaacson books on Steve Jobs, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Einstein. For some, reading these books would be pure torture and boredom but for me they were all fascinating and the effort to read them wasn’t work at all.

Second, a passion for the end result that comes from gaining new wisdom and knowledge. This can take many forms but it is the desire to achieve some goal that makes the hard work to attain knowledge worth the effort. An example might be a topic in college that isn’t personally interesting but is required to achieve the end state, the degree, so one puts for the effort to learn and master the material.

The key to learning is this, discover your motivation that makes it worth paying the price of learning. These will either be internal or external but they must exist or one will never be able to motivate themselves to enact the discipline required to learn something new. Learning is hard work, but it doesn’t have to be joyless work. I would strongly argue that the best way to learn is to discover your joy for the work. Then, and only then, does learning becomes easy, and worth the price…

Life is practice…

“We cannot reach the goal by mere words alone. Without practice, nothing can be achieved.”

Sri Swami Satchidananda

The beauty of practice is that it is a safe space for failure. We recognize that falling short of our goal is just part of growing and learning. We don’t beat ourselves up for failure, we simply look to start over and try again.

In practice you begin with the goal in mind and then you keep focusing on the next effort, your next attempt, with your mind focused on learning and growing through each individual effort.

How liberating would it be if we could embrace a practice mindset in all aspects of our lives? Setting clear goals and then putting in the hard work, failing along the way, and focusing on reviewing each effort with the attitude of “next time I will do it a little bit better.” It is through failure and repetition that we learn.

When we live life as a practice, we focus on the next effort, not the past failures…

To trust, look in the mirror…

“Trust is earned in the smallest of moments. It is earned not through heroic deeds, or even highly visible actions, but through paying attention, listening, and gestures of genuine care and connection.”

Brene Brown

Trust is a gift. If you want to give that gift to others, and have them trust you in turn, you must first pay attention to oneself. Are you showing genuine care and connection for others? Are you listening? Are you paying attention? Are you looking for reasons to trust someone, or reasons not to trust?

Trust is a mirror and you can only see one thing when you look in the mirror. Yourself…

Take great care of your garden…

“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.“

Epictetus

Who are the people in your life that make you better? Who are the ones that drive and push you to be better than you would or could on your own? Do you intentionally create and foster these relationships? Do you seek out people that uplift you and prune out of your life those that hold you back?

Life is all about the relationships that we have with other people. We will be a product of the time we spend with them and they will have great influence over our actions and choices.

Think of the relationships you have as a well-designed garden. In order to maximize the beauty one must cultivate and care for the plants with great diligence. This means planting new ones and removing or pruning out the dead or dying plants. Are there certain relationships you need to nurture? How about pruning? Are there any you need to remove all together?

Build a winning tomorrow…

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

Lyndon B. Johnson

How easy it is to get lost fighting the battles from our past days. We can get so wrapped up in what did, or didn’t, happen in our lives. I know that I will find myself replaying a conversation in my mind and thinking of better responses or rethinking my actions in response to a certain situation.

I believe this can be a valuable, and extremely beneficial habit to form. But it has to be done with an eye clearly on the future and how one needs to grow and evolve towards building a better self. Taking the time to reflect and learn is a powerful way to grow forward into the next day.

How do you ensure that you don’t get lost in yesterday, forgetting that the time has passed and it doesn’t define your present day or the tomorrow that is yet to come? I find that taking 15 minutes at the end of each day to answer the following questions in a daily journal helps me process the day, and focus on creating wins.

  • What happened in the past day?
  • What were my biggest wins?
  • What lessons did I learn?
  • What am I thankful for right now?
  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What did I read or hear?
  • What stood out from what I read or heard?
  • What do I need to do next to move forward on my goals?

I know these are a lot of questions to run through, and I fully admit that I don’t get to do this every single day. However when I skip a day I find the next morning to be a little less focused, a little less intentionally crafted.

Over the years I have played with the order of these questions, and with different questions, and on occasion I will replace one with a different inquiry to address a specific challenge or need in my life. For example, if I am taking time off with the family I will modify “What were my biggest wins” into “What were my biggest wins as a husband, as a father?” The point isn’t to get stuck on the questions themselves but instead to focus on learning from the day and very specifically shaping what you need to do to create wins tomorrow.

As a side note I do believe the order of the questions is very important. That’s why I end with “what did I learn” and “what do I need to do” questions. Those reset my head and help me focus on tomorrow.

To ensure that I follow through on my goals of daily reflection I use the journalling app “Day One.” I love that I can capture my thoughts in a simple to use mechanism that is always with me. I have used a paper journal to do this in the past but I found that it was too easy to forget or that it allowed me to create an excuse to not do the practice. There are tons of digital journals out there, so do whatever works for you. The key is to find a method that enables you to process today with a relentless focus on building a better future.

Be ready and mindful that today will be a ‘yesterday’ very very soon. Take the time at the end of the day to reflect and intentionally build a winning tomorrow. You’ll be glad you did.

Fact or perception?

“You might not always get what you want, but you always get what you expect.”

Charles Spurgeon

What do you expect from your day? Your relationships? Your life? Whatever it is that you expect, then that is what you will see. Your expectations become the “truths” that you perceive in the world.

Someone once told me “in the mind of the perceiver a perception is a fact.” This is such a vividly true statement and has helped me over the years to learn how to switch out of my own head and see things from a different perspective. In fact, this has likely been one of the most powerful mantras I have ever been gifted with.

The key here is that you learn to recognize that you don’t have to agree with another’s perception, just that from where they sit, what they perceive is reality. It is a fact, a statement of truth. When you learn to accept that another person sees the world differently, framed through the lens of their own expectations and experiences, it allows you to adjust your perspective and see new “truths” that you might otherwise not be open to seeing.

The key to growth, and achieving the life that you want, is to learn to tune your expectations. We are conditioned to see, and perceive, the world through a lens of experiences and expectations. When you realize that what you see might not be “true” at all, but could in fact just be a product of your own expectations, you free your mind for broader understanding.

If you want to tune your inner expectations and ensure that you are achieving all that God put you on this earth to accomplish then building an ability to get outside of your own skin and see the world through different lenses is critical.

I have lyrics for the The Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” stuck in my head:

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well, you just might find, you get what you need.”

How do your expectations need to change so you can truly discover what it is that you want?


Your choice…

“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.”

Joyce Meyer

The life that we have and lead is based on how we choose to see and interpret the world. I know people who are exceptionally blessed, yet they are always waiting for the other shoe to fall. They are always finding the bad things and focusing on those instead of the positive. I am sure that you know people who are like this as well. They can’t seem to find the good in anything or anyone. That is a choice that they make and that is the life that they choose to live.

Let’s be real. Life isn’t always fair. Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes really bad things do happen. But how we choose to act, and react, to anything that happens is what defines the type of life that we have.

I love this quote from Eeyore.

It truly does never hurt to keep looking for the sunshine. Because it will come, if we choose to seek it out. As I reflect on today’s quote these other thoughts come to mind that reinforce the power of Joyce’s words. Chew on these and see what comes to mind for you.

You cannot have a negative life and a positive mind.

You cannot have a positive life and negative friends.

You cannot live the life you were created to live with a negative mind.

Every day when we wake up we have a choice about what kind of day it is going to be. Every interaction we have with others is one where we can either see them through the lens of what we are getting from them, or we can choose to see it through the lens of what we are doing for them.

If we want to have a positive life, we have to have a positive mind. It simply won’t work any other way. It’s a choice. Make it wisely.

Willing to fail…

“All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.”

Michael John Bobak

When was the last time you were near the edge of your comfort zone? How did it make you feel? Did you want to lean into the experience? Or did you want to back away? Is getting outside of your own personally defined limits something that you seek out or turn away from?

If you want to grow, you must be willing to risk failure. You must be willing to take on more than you know you are capable of doing. To grow you must be willing to push past the point where you know that you cannot fail. This is what it means to get outside of the comfort zone. Failure becomes a possibility, and this is where the real opportunity for growth occurs.

How does this make you feel? Does the idea of regularly seeking out opportunities that push you past your personal limitations inspire or terrify you?

I think the really important question is this. What is more frightening, stretching and possibly failing, or becoming complacent and irrelevant?

I’ll choose growth and the risk of failure every time. The alternative scares me to death…

Ready. Aim. Fire. Review.

“Aim to make a difference in someone’s life every single day, including your own.”

Doe Zantamata

I love the first word in this quote. To ‘aim’ means to “to intend or direct for a particular effect or purpose.” How many days do we start out so intentionally? How often is the purpose of making a difference in someone else’s life explicitly defined and measured? How about for your own life? Without aiming you are, by default, choosing to drift without direction.

Take 5 minutes in the morning and in as few words as possible write down the answers to these three questions:

Who’s life do I specifically want to impact?

What am I going to do today to impact the life of that person?

How will I enable my ability to make a difference in someone else’s life by taking care of my own mind, body or spirit?

At the end of the day simply read what you wrote down and give yourself a simple yes/no answer on whether you were successful. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t meet your goal. But I’ll bet when you start doing this regularly you’ll have far more ‘yes’s” than ‘no’s.’

You can’t worry about what you did or didn’t do yesterday; but you can learn from it. You can’t worry about what you will or won’t be able to do tomorrow; but you can prepare for it. The key here is to AIM, and then look and see if you hit your target. If not, then start over tomorrow. Making a difference happens one day at a time.

Ready. Aim. Fire. Review.

What would you teach yourself?

“As long as you live, keep learning how to live.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

If you could go back in time and give your younger self one piece of advice what would it be?

What is the single most important lesson you have learned, thus far, that you would want yourself to know 10 years ago? 20 years ago?

What would have the answer to that question have been one year ago? Five years ago?

The beauty of a life spent continually learning is that the more you learn the more you realize you need to know. What lessons are you learning right now that you will be able to apply through the remainder of your life?

Taste your food…

“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).”

James Baraz

What are you doing right now? (Besides the obvious reading of this post, thank you very much!) What is going on around you? What are you seeing, sensing and perceiving?

If you took one minute to simply notice the current happenings in your life what would you see? What would you feel? What would stand out? Would it be positive? Negative? How many of the things that you notice will disappear into the background once you “resume life?”

So much our lives are lived in autopilot mode. We simply exist, rinse, wash and repeat. We don’t see, or appreciate, the simple things that create beauty or add the unique flavors and seasonings to our experiences.

I am very much a novice in this area of awareness and mindfulness. I can fully and honestly say that I have spent the vast majority, if not almost all, of my life living either in the past or in the future. Being fully present and in the moment has always been a struggle for me. In a lot of cases it seemed like a waste of time to be present. In general, the present was simply to be tolerated and whatever task or thing that was in front of me was a means to the next end; something to be accomplished in order to achieve my goals or fulfill my next desire.

But what if there was more to how we lived our lives? How much of life’s simple joys do we miss because we aren’t present in the moment? How many things simply pass us by? For example, do you enjoy the rich taste of your coffee after the first sip? Or do you even taste the coffee at all as you wait for the caffeine to kick in? I know that I only rarely taste anything after the first bite. Unfortunately I know that this is a paradigm that applies to so many areas of my life.

If you, like me, know that there is potentially so much life available and you want learn more I highly recommend checking out these books and podcasts to get started.

10% Happier – How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story

The Drive Podcast – Sam Harris – The Transformative Power of Mindfulness

The Drive Podcast – Dan Harris – 10% Happier

Take a deep breath, be present, and revel in the fact that no matter what it is you are experiencing it is all temporary. One can’t live an authentic life of service to others if you aren’t present in your own life. In fact, I can think of no better reason than that to learn how to focus on being present.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize that while you ate a full meal you didn’t actually taste anything…

Love what you are doing…

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”

Pelé

There truly is no such thing as an “overnight success.” Sure, luck or chance can play a role, but one has to be ready for those opportunities when they arise. You can’t look at someone who happened to win the lottery as successful. Winning the lottery isn’t success, that is just being incredibly lucky against the odds, though based on all the research on the unhappiness of lottery winners I am not certain it is all that lucky…

Soccer star Pele in action during World Cup competition.

I think it is important to remember that “success” is, or should be, internally defined, not externally defined based on whatever the world has decided success should look like. An artist who devotes their life to capturing a certain quality of light in their paintings is successful if they achieve their goal and are happy with the result. They might never sell a single painting, but they weren’t working and sacrificing in order to sell their work, they invested their time, effort and energy because they loved the work itself.

How do you define success? Is it through the lens of the modern world? Money, fame, fortune? Or is your definition of success based on something internal and intrinsic to oneself? Can you consider yourself successful if you are never rich and famous? What is it that you want to achieve, and will follow the recipe mentioned in this quote above to accomplish?

Regardless of how you define success, and what it is that you want to achieve, you can’t get there without demonstrating the attributes of “hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” These principles apply to everything in life, your marriage, your hobbies, your family relationships, your work, your projects, etc.

What stands out to me the most is this, if you don’t “love what you are doing or learning to do,” you are going to have a hard time generating the energy necessary to do all the other things required to make yourself successful.

Take the time to define your success and ensure that you truly love what it is you are doing. Then the hard work won’t feel quite so hard.

Properly gauge your disappointments…

“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

When you look back at life what are your greatest disappointments? At the time did you recognize them as disappointments or is it only through the lens of time that you recognize them as regrets?

I find that there are many times I am disappointed by something that happens within daily life, but when I take a moment to pause and think about what is truly important I realize that whatever minor setback or disappointment I am dealing with at the moment isn’t all that important. In a month, a year or five years, it won’t even matter… What will matter is focusing on what is truly important.

Do you know what is truly important? Do you have a clear definition of what WILL MATTER in a month, a year or five years? Are those things clearly defined and serving as a compass in your life? What is the anchor for your hope?

This quote reminds me of this verse from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Regardless of your religious beliefs, do you have a clearly defined compass for your hope? Are you using that compass to properly gauge your daily disappointments?

Care greatly…

“A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”

John Wooden

What is the defining characteristic of a coach who can deliver correction in this way? Feedback can come from anyone, but without a key attribute, it can cause resentment, distrust and have the exact opposite of the intended effect. What is this critical variable?

The feedback has to come from a place of genuine care and concern in the coach towards the person that will be receiving the correction. The great coaches are giving the correction because they deeply care about YOU, not about themselves, not about winning at all costs, but because you need to hear something in order to live up to your potential. They care enough about you to ensure that you receive candid and honest input. The great coaches are always seeking to build you up so you can be the best possible version of yourself.

This type of relationship doesn’t happen overnight and it isn’t based on words or promises. It is based on actions demonstrated by the coach showing that their #1 focus is to help you become successful and they will serve that promise faithfully, even when it hurts.

I have had the fortune and privilege to work with, and see in action, both great coaches and horrible coaches. Without fail, all of the great ones shared the trait mentioned above. The very best of them could deliver the fiercest feedback and leave one both chagrined and hungry for more at the same time. When I was on the receiving end I always knew they had my best interests at heart and they weren’t going to let me get in my own way. The worst ones? Well, that is fodder for another day.

If you want to be a great coach, start by cultivating the relationships with those that you serve and ensure that they know you care greatly about their success. If you can’t do this, don’t fake it. They will know and your feedback won’t be very effective in the long-term. In fact, I would say that if you can’t coach with genuine care for those that you serve you should consider a career change. Great coaches care greatly. Period.

Today is the foundation of tomorrow…

“Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow.”

Robert Kiyosaki

Maybe tomorrow will be the right time to start that project, but not today, I’m too busy…

Next week will be a better time to tackle that tough conversation head on, but not today, I just don’t have the energy to deal with it…

I’ll start reading that book on breaking bad habits next month, but not right now, there is just too much going on and I don’t have time…

I’ll start spending more time with my family when I get through this busy season at work, but I can’t right now, they’ll understand that I am doing this for them anyway…

It is amazing how many excuses we can create to put off or delay work that will make the biggest difference in our lives. In our “instant gratification” society it seems that all that matters is living in the moment. The easy things we embrace, but the hard things we put off or ignore. But if we want to create a tomorrow that we will be able to live in fully and completely, we have to do the work today.

Yesterday can’t be changed, fixed or undone. Tomorrow is just a dream. Today is the only day that matters if you want to make your visions come true. Live it fully and completely and do the work that will be the foundation for your future.

Check the compass!

“Direction is more important than speed. We are so busy looking at our speedometers that we forget the milestone.”

Unknown

Where are you going?

Where do you want to be one year from today? What if instead of one year, it took two years? Would that devalue the direction you are headed? Would an inability to achieve some goal within your desired timeframe diminish the goal or make it null?

If the goal is right, then not achieving it as fast as possible, in some personally assigned timeframe, shouldn’t impact the direction itself.

There’s no question that we live in the age of agility and speed. Everything is happening faster and faster and we need to be able to act and react with temerity.

But if we focus on speed over direction we are surrendering ourselves to live a life that is reactive instead of one that is filled with purpose and clear direction.

One should spend as much time looking at your life’s compass as you do the speedometer. In general it isn’t nearly as much fun to look at a compass as a speedometer, because if you are headed in the right direction the indicators on a compass don’t change whereas the speedometer symbolizes so much action and energy.

But what good does it do if you get to the wrong place as fast as possible?

Truth is fertilizer for growth…

“All progress begins with telling the truth.”

Dan Sullivan

Lying to yourself, or others, is poisonous on so many levels. An inability to both see, and tell, the truth is one of the most limiting and self-destructive behaviors one can exhibit.

If you are lying to yourself about anything you are only hurting yourself. You won’t be able to grow and learn and you will forever be captive to a “victim mentality.” When you are lying to yourself about something, about anything, you are saying that it is someone’s else’s fault or responsibility for whatever situation you find yourself in. If you want to grow, you have to be able to tell yourself the truth first.

If you are lying to others, for whatever reason, you are making a conscious choice to put the relationship at risk. You are making a choice to value self over others. If the relationship is important, and valuable, then speaking truth will enable further grow and progress, even if it hurts at the time. Mistruths and lies become poison for growth.

To truly get better, start by committing to only tell the truth, both to yourself and to others. There is simply no other way.

The dawn is coming…

“Failure is often that early morning hour of darkness which precedes the dawning of the day of success.”

Leigh Mitchell Hodges

The lens through which one views failure is critical for creating a life of success and growth. I have found that there are two ways to look at failure.

First, you can see failure as an indictment of self and this manifests in seeing yourself as a failure. “I am a failure.” This isn’t healthy nor is it true. No one is a failure at an individual level. We will all fail many times in life. Heck, we likely fail on a daily basis as we fall short of being the person that we were created to be. But that doesn’t mean that we are a failure as a human being.

Second, you can see failure as a specific unsuccessful set of actions or behaviors in a particular moment in time. You might fail to achieve some goal, some target, etc.. But that doesn’t mean that you are a failure as a person. It just means that we were unsuccessful in our attempt at something. We have simply failed through our actions to create an outcome we desired.

The most important component in building a life of continual growth is looking at your failures through the lens of learning. One must constantly and continually seek our your failures with the intent to learn. Lean in to your frustrations, defeats and shortfalls. This is how you can create the “dawning day of success.”

Questions are the barometer of leadership effectiveness…

“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.”

Pierre Marc-Gaston

The types of questions that one asks, as are asked, serve as a barometer of leadership effectiveness and capability. You can break this up into two broad categories.

First, the questions one asks indicate a desire to understand. Habit number six of the Stephen Covey “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” I love this particular habit and it is one of my absolute favorites. The quality of the questions you ask sends a strong message to the person you are engaged with. It lets them know that you care, that you are deeply interested in what they have to say, that you are prioritizing THEM at that moment in your relationship. Demonstrating an ability to ask good questions that provoke deep thought AND communicate genuine care and concern is a critical element of effective leadership.

Second, as a leader the questions that others ask you serves as an incredible feedback mechanism on your ability to communicate with clarity as well as the overall effectiveness of your leadership and the culture you have created.

By paying attention to the specific content contained within the questions you are asked one can get immediate feedback on your ability to communicate and create understanding. The burden of communication is on the sender of the message and by listening to the questions not just to provide an answer, but to measure one’s effectiveness as a communicator one can refine and improve the message that is being delivered.

The types of questions that are asked provides a strong message about the culture of leadership you are creating. Are people willing to ask deep questions that challenge your thinking or position on a topic you are discussing? If so, then you have created a positive leadership environment that values doing what is right over being right. But if the questions being asked dance around the tough topics or, perhaps more importantly, they aren’t asked at all, then as a leader you are getting incredibly valuable feedback on the culture that you have created.

Pay close attention to the questions being asked. They can tell a very compelling story…

The contagion of beginning…

“If we wait for the moment when everything is ready, we will never begin.”

Ivan Turgenev

Everything can be improved upon. No idea, concept or plan is perfect. In fact, everything we do in life falls far short of being as good as it possibly could be. And that is okay.

Take a deep breath. Let it out. Yes, nothing we ever do will be perfect, and that is okay.

As a person that likes to do things “right” I know how hard it can be to balance between making sure that some idea is “ready” and when is it “ready enough.”

We can always wait one more day, and then begin. We can always rehearse the presentation or pitch just one more time. We can always review and edit the plan (or the blog post) just a little bit more and make it better. But what if “one more day” turns into never? What if the extra time rehearsing makes the presentation feel scripted or canned instead of real and authentic? What the extra time editing and reviewing removes the real and raw emotion and prevents “publish” from ever being clicked? What great works have been lost to the annals of time because the creator of the work spent all their time getting ready, but never actually started on the effort itself?

Seek to find the balance between “right” and “right now.” Know when you have reached the point of “good enough” and then begin. Make the commitment to beginning a higher priority that the commitment to getting ready.

Throughout life I have found that waiting can be contagious, but so is taking action. Be sure that you are a carrier of the contagion of beginning, and not the carrier of the disease of seeking perfection before beginning.

Find your purpose, and live it…

“If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”

John Irving

What is it that you love to do? Have you found a way to make a living from it? So many people in this world have “jobs” that they do to simply earn a living. If you can find the beautiful intersection between a calling, a passion, and God gifted purpose you are a lucky soul indeed.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Perhaps you aren’t lucky at all, perhaps you are just blessed…

Who have you become?

“A goal is not about what you accomplish.  It’s about what you become.”

Michael Hyatt

Who have you become through the pursuit of your goals? When you take the time to think about it doesn’t that transformation matter more than the achievement of the goal itself? I can’t think of one goal that I have achieved in life that had a more lasting impact than the person that I became through the pursuit of the objective.

The example that comes to mind was the goal of completing my first Ironman race. Completing that race was awesome, but the personal journey I went through to make that a reality was far more impactful. I achieved that goal 8 years ago but the lessons I learned, and the person I became, I have carried with me every day since then. The process of achieving that goal shaped and reshaped me into a better person.

What goals have shaped your life? What goals are you pursuing right now will shape the life you live in the future? Who are you becoming through the pursuit of your goals?

I choose…

“Optimists enrich the present, enhance the future, challenge the improbable and attain the impossible.”

William Arthur

When something happens you can always choose to see the negative, the bad, the downside. But seeing the world this way won’t create change. Seeing the world through this lens won’t move the mountains that might just need to be moved. Instead…

I choose to see the world through the lens of what might be…

I choose to see the world that isn’t yet, but could be…

I choose to see a future that is different, boldly different…

I choose a life of more, because that is the only way change will ever happen…

Be true to yourself…

“A truly strong person does not need the approval of others any more than a lion needs the approval of sheep.”

Vernon Howard

Who are you? At your core are you confident and secure in what you believe and why you believe it?

Knowing what this means for you doesn’t mean that one doesn’t have much to learn in life, but being strong and confident in WHO YOU ARE and YOUR CORE VALUES is what allows you to continue to learn and grow in a positive and fulfilling direction.

This morning I heard the following verse which aligns so well to my interpretation of this quote. “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” Luke 6:26 ESV

Don’t sacrifice your morals and values seeking the approval of others. Be strong, and stand up for what you believe in.

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