Are you intentionally trying to learn?

“You must never feel badly about making mistakes,” explained Reason quietly, “as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.”

Norton Juster

Is it really “taking trouble” to learn from your mistakes? It is incredible how few people do this with intention and focus. Setting aside the time to conduct a review and learn is the entryway to continuous learning and development. The classic after-action review questions can facilitate the creation of so much wisdom.

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

Will you let your fears define you?

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Are your doubts an accelerant or a brake? Do you live in fear, or do you choose to use fears as a motivator? How can you turn “I don’t think I can” into “I am not sure, but I will give it my very best effort”

Where will you be in life if your fears hold you back?

Is that WHO you want to be?

What are you staring at?

“The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.”

Vance Havner

How do you convert “one day” into a reality? It is so easy to dream and ideate, but the magic happens when you convert these dreams into actions. Dr. Covey described this as “begin with the end in mind.” The key word is “begin.” Without that first step, nothing else will happen…

Can you become the rising tide?

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

Paulo Coelho

There is the old saying that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” The nuance here is that tide isn’t seeking to raise the boats; it happens due to the water movement, an external event. The same thing happens to those around us when we focus on self-leadership. We aren’t most effective at moving others because we focus on moving them; we move others when we focus on growing our leadership and capabilities. Leadership begins with self-leadership. Be the tide that raises all the boats around you.  

Are you throwing pebbles?

“Nothing succeeds like success. Get a little success, and then just get a little more.”

Maya Angelou

 Momentum is a powerful force. If you throw enough pebbles at the top of the mountain, it will eventually become an avalanche. So you have to stay with it. Success begets success! 

Who are you?

“Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck, your profession is what you’re put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.”

 Vincent Van Gogh

What are those things you would do, for free, simply because you enjoy them so much? Maybe a better question is; who are you when you do the things that awaken the spirit within you?  

Are you willing to do the hard work?

“If your dream is a big dream, and if you want your life to work on the high level you say you do, there’s no way around doing the work it takes to get you there.”

Joyce Chapman

It has always amazed me how hard people will work to AVOID the work needed to do the job right. But, if you want to be successful, if you’re going to have an impact, if you’re going to make a difference, you have to:

Do. The. Work. The good work, the work that matters.  

There’s no way around it.  

Anything less is choosing to settle for something less than God created you to be. That’s a terrible choice.  

Are you writing the story you want to live?

“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop.”

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I don’t think I would change any of the adversity I have faced in life. However, there are some times and places where, given the opportunity, I would change how I reacted. Since I can’t change the story in the past, I must focus on learning from those experiences in order to change the story being written today.  Are you intentionally seeking to write a different story?

Are you alive?

“The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.”

Sir Richard Branson

Is it more important to you to live a perfectly “safe” life or one that has risks but also has rewards?  

Are you intentionally inviting reasonable risks into your life that will force you to stretch and grow? How do you even know you’re alive if you don’t have something that scares you a little? 

Are you building on success today?

“Success is a collection of problems solved.”

I. M. Pei

There is nothing quite so refreshing as having a significant problem to solve. There is nothing quite as rewarding as the feeling of having solved that problem.    

Every day is a new opportunity to add to the collection. What problems are you going to solve today?

Are you building yourself up?

“If you go to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you. If you go to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you. Whatever good things we build end up building us.”

Jim Rohn

What happens if you don’t have goals or a plan? If you don’t have something you are intentionally working on, how can you expect to grow?

What do you see?

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Do you see your life as a series of challenges that you must endure or work, hard work, on the path to building your cathedral?  

Are you seeking challenges?

“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.”

Gever Tulley 

While there are many problems or challenges in life that I might wish to have avoided, there aren’t many outcomes of those challenges that I regret having in the quiver.  

Test yourself, not just to learn but to grow in your capacities for persistence & resilience.

Can you become the tide?

“We rise by lifting others.”

Robert Ingersoll

There is the old saying that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” What if, instead of putting your energy into rising with the tide, you spent your energy focusing on being the tide for someone else? How then would you be lifted?

Are you intelligently kind?

“When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel

Some of the most intelligent people I know are also some of the kindest. They aren’t kind because they are smart; they are kind because they understand that we are not put on this earth to do for ourselves, but instead to do for others. So they use their intelligence to bring kindness to bear for as many people as possible.  

That’s what I admire.

Are you planting the seeds of future success today?

“Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.”

David Bly

This quote is akin to having a retirement philosophy based on playing the lottery. If you do the math, it just doesn’t work. If you don’t invest, you can’t reap the returns when you need to in the future.  

To be successful means you have to choose to sacrifice. You have to put aside that shallow want and buckle down and do the work. Only then can you begin to think about the harvest.  

Where are you planting the seeds of future success today? I.E., where are you putting in the work?

Is your identity based on where you are going?

“It isn’t where you come from; it’s where you’re going that counts.”

Ella Fitzgerald

So many people choose to live their lives with labels assigned to them by their past instead of creating a new identity. The beauty of life is that we are never merely a collection of experiences and the things we have done. We all have the opportunity to be something more, to become something meaningful. So, where are you going, who do you want to become?

Are you leading?

“Good leadership requires you to surround yourself with people of diverse perspectives who can disagree with you without fear of retaliation.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin

If those in your care have fear, they will tell you what they think you want to hear. But, unfortunately, that isn’t leadership.

Besides, if everyone agrees with you, are you truly leading?  

Discretionary effort…

“If you’re interested you’ll do what’s convenient. If you’re committed you’ll do whatever it takes.”

John Assara

When a person is committed to something, you will put in the extra work required, no matter what it takes. I like to use the term “discretionary effort” to describe this. This is going above and beyond and doing whatever it takes to get the job done. The real question is this. What are those causes or initiatives that inspire you to do whatever it takes? Are you doing them?

Are you listening?

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.”

 Doug Larson

If wisdom is the reward, what is on the other side if all you do is talk? What a shame to miss out on all that is available to learn, simply because you need to be heard…

Are you seeking freedom for self, or for others?

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Nelson Mandela

“Live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

How much of our lives do we consume worried about our freedoms? Our needs? Our wants? What percentage of time do you spend on others?  

How much should you spend?

Do you have the right numbers?

“It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies.”

Thomas Paine

A few exceptional and committed people can accomplish almost anything.  

It’s been my experience that if you double the size of the team and halve the degree of commitment, 25% of the work will be done.

Which team do you want to be part of?

A great hero makes all the difference…

“What I have learned is that people become motivated when you guide them to the source of their own power and when you make heroes out of employees who personify what you want to see in the organization.” 

Anita Roddick

I make a concerted effort not to reuse or repeat the quotes I choose each morning. But, after 23+ years, repetition will inevitably happen. In some cases, it needs to happen because the wisdom conveyed is so profound.  

I have never sent the same one twice within five days through all the years that I have been sending quotes, until today. Here is the link from my previous post based on this quote.

I choose to do this today because of an experience I had yesterday with some of our team members at Red Stag. I stopped by our marketing department and conversed with a team member about a “win” they had helped create for our business. This team member (hero) brought the heat yesterday and personified our core value, “we have positive attitudes.”  Their energy, enthusiasm, excitement, and drive profoundly impacted my day and represents greatness within our organization.  

Thank you Nikki.

How are you going to focus on the good things today?

“When you focus on the good, the good gets better.”

Unknown

Whatever you choose to focus on will be what you see in the world. If you choose good, you will see good. If you choose to see the negative, then this becomes the lens for all your experiences.  

How can you reframe today and choose to focus on the good things? Start with gratitude. What are you intensely grateful for right now, this very moment. Carry this forward into your day. Do it again tomorrow. It can change everything…

How are you choosing to steer the ship today?

“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

 Gwendolyn Brooks

I was listening to a guided meditation this morning, and the instructor asked that we think back on the people that brought us to this particular moment in time. I flashed back on people and experiences that have positively influenced my life in meaningful ways. Some of these touchpoints were so minute at the moment, but over time have had an impact beyond measure. It reminded me of this verse from the book of James. ‘And consider ships: Though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. ‘James 3:4 

We all have the opportunity to help direct the course of others, to serve and influence direction, just like the rudder on a ship. Perhaps taking a moment to reflect on how we are the harvest based on the investments others have made into us can guide the energy we seek to bring into the world today. Twenty years from now, someone will be reflecting on the difference you made in their life…

Failure is an opportunity for success…

“Focus on the possibilities for success, not on the potential for failure.”

Napoleon Hill

I believe it is essential to understand that failure WILL happen. Once you are comfortable with this fact, you can embrace the opportunities in front of you with full gusto. It doesn’t mean you ignore the potential for failure; quite the opposite. Instead, you focus on the future possibilities and seek to SOLVE for the potential failure points. The opportunity is why you keep moving; the possible failure is merely a problem to be solved.  

Are you the hero, or the guide?

“What I have learned is that people become motivated when you guide them to the source of their own power and when you make heroes out of employees who personify what you want to see in the organization.”

Anita Roddick

As leaders, there is nothing more powerful than enabling others to be their best selves and bringing all that power and influence to bear in a way that surprises even them.  

The leader is never the hero; they are merely the guide…

How are you going to use this new day?

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

There is nothing more powerful than a new day, a blank sheet of paper, a fresh start. But, unfortunately, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the grind of the day that we can create blinders that narrow our thinking in a very limiting way. 

Take today, start fresh, set aside ten minutes with an open notebook, and frame out how you want to use this precious time of your life to impact and serve.  

What new thoughts come from creating this space? What new energy can you bring to bear on the world?

What are you afraid of?

“Courage is the greatest of all the virtues. Because if you haven’t courage, you may not have an opportunity to use any of the others.”

Samuel Johnson

What are you most afraid of? Failure? Danger? Something else? 

What scares me most is not living up to my potential and using all of the gifts and talents that God has blessed me to have.  This is what fuels me and gives me courage. What enables you?

‘ “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey. He called his own servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent, depending on each one’s ability. Then he went on a journey. Immediately the man who had received five talents went, put them to work, and earned five more. In the same way the man with two earned two more. But the man who had received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money. “After a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five talents approached, presented five more talents, and said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I’ve earned five more talents.’ “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy.’ “The man with two talents also approached. He said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I’ve earned two more talents.’ “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy.’ “The man who had received one talent also approached and said, ‘Master, I know you. You’re a harsh man, reaping where you haven’t sown and gathering where you haven’t scattered seed. So I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ “His master replied to him, ‘You evil, lazy servant! If you knew that I reap where I haven’t sown and gather where I haven’t scattered, then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and I would have received my money back with interest when I returned. “‘So take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. ‘ Matthew 25:14-29 

Are you ready and willing to grow?

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

Fred DeVito

I have never become a better person, player, contributor, or servant by choosing the easier path. Growth only occurs when you are willing to be pushed out of your comfort zone. How are you going to push yourself today?

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