A new kind of self-fulfilling prophecy…

“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”

George Washington Carver

How do you define failure? There are two types in my mind. First, attempting something and not being successful at whatever you attempted. Second, not being successful because you never actually attempt anything.

The difference is the first one can be overcome as long as you don’t buy into excuses or “reasons” of why one can’t or won’t be successful in the future. If you do buy into the excuses or reasons, you will be limiting future successes.

The second type of failure is far more insidious and damaging. Those traits become a self-fulfilling prophecy that you have to guard against if you want to avoid a life of mediocrity and unrealized potential.

No excuses. No reasons. No justification. No denial of accountability or ownership. To be successful, you must overcome and deny any and all excuses. When you do this you can also create a self-fulfilling prophecy…

Be still, and listen…

“I like to listen.

I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.

Most people never listen.”

Ernest Hemingway

The first thing that ran through my mind this morning when I read this quote was a verse from book of James; ‘Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;’ James 1:19

Oh how challenging it can be in today’s world to follow this advice and live it outwardly on a daily basis. There is so much going on that it can feel like you have to take advantage of any and all space to say what it is you want to say. In many ways ‘space’ in conversations or relationship has become uncomfortable and viewed as something that must be filled.

The challenge in our world today is that instead of listening to understand, or listening to learn, our society is wired to listen to speak, even if the person who wants to speak has little or no knowledge on a given subject. Everyone has something to say, very few have a willingness to really listen to what someone else might be thinking.

How many ways today can you find opportunities to listen, to really listen to what others have to say? Can you intentionally sit back and listen and turn off the voice in your mind that is crafting a response even as others speak? As written in the Old Testament there is ‘a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;’ Ecclesiastes 3:7

There are always people smarter than you…

“If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.”

Confucius

There is something powerful that happens when you are in a room with exceptionally smart and talented people.

There is an old saying that “a rising tide lifts all ships.” The same thing occurs when you work with and associate with people that are smarter than you. You become smarter. The entire room gets smarter and more powerful.

There are two ways that you can look at being in that room. You can either see it as intimidating and threatening OR you can embrace the opportunity to learn and grow and recognize that you can add to the conversation as well by asking insightful questions and seeking new knowledge and information.

If you aren’t in a room with smarter people than you then by default you are operating from a place of fear and choosing to limit your growth. Seems like a pretty poor choice to me…

My share, your share…

“A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.”

John Maxwell

If it is never your fault then you are not a leader. If you take all the credit, then you are not a leader.

I can’t think of anything that I have ever accomplished unilaterally and without help from someone else. What’s more, anything that has been accomplished has been made better because someone else contributed to the end product.

If you want to build trust you have to own it when things go wrong and give away the credit when things go right. Then people will trust you. Then you are a leader…

Define success…

“Where there is humility, there is more success, and lasting success.”

Patrick Lencioni

As many have said “humility is a funny thing, the first time you think you have it you actually don’t”. So what then is success?

I think the key to this quote is to defining what success really means to you. If success is serving others, enabling others, and helping others, before thinking of your own needs, then that is humility. Anything else really isn’t lasting success…

Ask the right questions, measure the right things…

“What gets measured gets improved.”

Peter Drucker

My post from yesterday was on my mind as I chose this morning’s quote. To improve (reduce) the dependence I have on digital devices means that I must measure where I am today, even if I might not really want to know the truth.

I’ve been a long believer in the old adage “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Now I know that simply managing something isn’t good enough. You have to find ways to improve and the only way to do that is by knowing exactly where you are coming FROM so that you can make progress towards where you are going TO.

But understanding the measurement of where you are is only as good as your willingness to dig in and ask the right question(s). If you aren’t willing to face the truth, and willing to really see the answers, then you aren’t going to ask the tough questions that will help you discern the truth.

So to truly improve you have to ask the right questions, AND establish the right measurements that will serve to push you out of your comfort zone. Once you know the real truth, you can’t hide from it any more.

Beware the PDM…

“The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.”

Tony Blair

In this world of continuing distraction and constant interruption the ability to say “no” is more important than ever. The hold that our digital “leashes” have over us is perhaps more akin to a “shock collar” than a leash. Just how long can you go without checking your phone for alerts, messages, etc?

I recently installed an app on my phone that measures the number of times in a day that I unlock and use my phone as well as the amount of screen time I utilize each day.

By the way, isn’t “phone” the wrong label for our devices? How much time do we actually use them as “phones” versus everything else. I remember the time when Palm Pilots and Newtons were sold as a “PDA” or “Personal Digital Assistant.” Nowadays perhaps “PDM” is a better label, “Personal Digital Master.” But I digress…

Imagine my shock and surprise when I learned that I was opening and unlocking my “phone” over 100 times a day! In a world where you sleep for 8 hours (I wish!) then in 16 hours I am unlocking and viewing my phone on average 6.25 times per hour, or just under every 10 minutes.

What does this have to do with leadership? In a word, everything. If you are leading you must be present, focused and able to serve. How can you do that if you serve a digital master that is unrelenting in it’s demands on your time? What does it say to those whom you serve if you can’t put down the digital device for as few as 10 minutes to focus on their needs?

I’m still figuring out what I need to do with this information. I just know that if I want to be a leader that is focused on serving a broader and more meaningful mission, and my team that delivers on that mission, I have to be able to say “no” to the PDM. Saying yes is easy, saying no is going to be so much harder…

Do you care enough to feed just one?

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

Mother Teresa

There is danger in grandeur. Sometimes it is easy to convince ourselves that if an idea isn’t big enough to change the world, then we shouldn’t even bother with it. Sometimes it feels like only the grandest of things truly count.

But that isn’t true at all. The things that really matter happen in the smallest of moments. They start with the simplest ideas, that then grow and take on steam, not because you set out to feed 100 people, but because you care enough to feed just one…

Empower better decisions…

“Directions are instructions given to explain how. Direction is a vision offered to explain why.”

Simon Sinek

Without a clear vision then the directions given might be unclear or lend themselves to interpretation. More importantly, if you are a person that holds on tightly to the giving of directions, then the work product can only be as good as you are…

When you focus on providing the vision (direction) and your directions (how) are used to define the guidelines of how decisions are made then you are empowering others to make even better decisions.

Without direction people aren’t empowered to figure out better directions…

Success is…

“Success is empty if you arrive at the finish line alone. The best reward is to get there surrounded by winners.”

Howard Schultz

No one ever arrived at a finish line alone. There is always a team there doing something to ensure success, whether it is behind the scenes or front and center.

Who is on your team? Have you recognized and thanked them? Have you pushed them to front and center?

This is the real reward, being able to say “thank you” and “job well done” to those that made it happen. Success is being able to say “thank you.”

Move with purpose…

“Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.”

Alfred Adler

I chose this quote today after reading James 2:14, 17, several times over the past few days and having a conversation at our LifeGroup last night about the value of committed action(s). ‘What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.’ James 2:14,17

From a leadership perspective it is incumbent upon ourselves to create the movement (actions or works) that align with our words. We have to live what we say and believe outwardly through our movements. It’s been on my mind a lot lately as I evaluate my personal leadership in all aspects of life, both at home and at work, and seek to hold myself accountable to a higher standard. That was the thought process from my post on Monday about “The man in the mirror.”

Movement (works and actions) is always what sends the most powerful message. Back to the mirror to ensure my movement is reinforcing my words…

Discretionary effort…

“Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer.”

Peter Drucker

This is such a simple and yet such a powerful statement. We as leaders must understand that our role isn’t just to manage the outputs of others but it is instead to lead and influence in a way that those we serve give voluntarily of their time and energy. We must focus on engaging with our team so that they are willing to volunteer their discretionary effort. I define this as the effort of work that goes above and beyond what is required by the job.

Think about the things that you do as a volunteer whether it is in your church, your community, etc. You do so willingly, giving from the margin of your life in order to make a difference for and with someone else.

We as leaders should look at everyone that we engage with as a volunteer and seek to enlist the energy that comes when a person gives freely of themselves in order to impact the lives of others. To do this we must serve. We must move from simply directing effort and outputs and instead harness the exponential energy that is released when people passionately and purposefully engage in their work. That is the secret sauce…

The man in the mirror…

“The best kind of accountability on a team is peer-to-peer. Peer pressure is more efficient and effective than going to the leader, anonymously complaining, and having them stop what they are doing to intervene.”

Patrick Lencioni

The key to accountability is the willingness to be wrong. Are you willing, and able, to look in the mirror and say to yourself, “you were wrong, you could or should have done or said something differently.” This is is easy to say, but incredibly hard to do, especially when emotions are involved.

Does your identity revolve around being “right” or “doing what is right?” If it is the latter then you have a tremendous leg up on 99% of the world where the default state is to point the finger at someone or something else and say it was “their fault.” If you are focused on doing what is right then that will guide your actions and make self-accountability and ownership much much easier.

I like to think of peer-to-peer accountability as an incredible opportunity to recruit others to help “watch my six” and offer insight and perspective to ensure that what I think I am saying and doing is actually what is being conveyed. Others can become the “accountability mirror” that help you own your behaviors and actions.

To build this degree of trust though is a two-way street, if a person is excellent at delivering sage advice and perspective, but can’t receive it in return, and action on it, then their insight and input will be limited because trust is limited. Foster those relationships that will tell you what you really need to hear, even if you don’t want to hear it, and seek the same from you in return.

To do this, you have to seek it out, and you have to be willing to be wrong. Accountability is ownership, and you are always the owner, 100% of the time…

Learning to grow…

“Making a wrong decision is understandable. Refusing to search continually for learning is not.”

Phil Crosby

Are you more interested in being right, or doing what is right? One of these carries with it the ability to learn and grow, the other is all about self.

We will all make wrong decisions, the key is how you learn on the other side of the decision. Is it learning based on humility and growth or is it learning with a bent towards self and self-righteousness? I would argue that if you aren’t willing to be wrong, you can’t grow and you most certainly can’t learn…

Become your best self…

“One of the marks of excellent people is that they never compare themselves with others. They only compare themselves with themselves and with their past accomplishments and future potential.”

Brian Tracy

Comparison can be such a slippery slope, it can far too quickly turn into an exercise of jealously and envy. All that really matters is making the most out of the gifts and talents that we have been given and using them to their fullest potential. Anything less diminishes God’s intent and purpose for which He created us. Seek growth not by comparing to what others have achieved, but what you could be on “your best day.” Then go make it happen.

Pause, breathe, reflect, repeat…

“To live a life fulfilled reflect on the things you have with gratitude.”

Jaren L. Davis

One of the greatest benefits of pausing to be grateful is that it shifts the mind from focusing on what we perceive to be absent to what is actually present. To be aware of the present, and understand what a gift each moment is, is what cultivates a spirit of further gratitude.

Take a moment to pause and appreciate the most simple thing such as the beauty of a long deep breath. We can’t live without breathing but only rarely do we even notice the breath. Take a deep breath, let it out, ask yourself this question, “what is the thing that I am most grateful for right now?” Answer the question and carry that spirit of gratefulness into your day. It will change your life.

Serve…

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself….  Serve and thou shall be served.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is interesting to observe how one feels when you help and serve another person. It begs the question of who is the real beneficiary of the service?

When you give yourself away, with no expectation of a return, no desire for anything back, you receive everything that truly matters. Who are you going to serve in this way today?


Leadership is…

“Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

Colin Powell

This is one of, if not my absolute, favorite leadership quotes of all time. It is definitely in my top 5 list. I know that I have used it in my daily quotes before, probably several times in the now 22 years that I have been sending out a daily message, but I looked and I haven’t used it over the past two years. So what better time than now to bring out an old favorite?

There is so much richness and wisdom in this message. To me it isn’t about the fact that people are bringing you their problems, in fact that might not be a good thing at all…

It is about whether or not your team views you through the lens of being able to help and add value to them and bring perspective and insight that would help them be more effective in solving their problems.

It is about whether or not you as a leader have created a culture and atmosphere where those that you lead and influence know that you care, deeply care, about them as a person and about their problems, challenges and successes.

To be able to lead you must be deeply introspective and self-aware if you want to grow in influence and as John Maxwell states, “Leadership is influence” (also one of my top 5 quotes of all time).

It makes me think of a number of questions that are needed to get to the heart of what is at play for anyone that is in a leadership role, whether officially designated or not. Here are some of the questions that come to mind.

Are people bringing me their challenges? Why or why not?

Am I growing, intentionally growing, my skills and talents so that I can be additive to those that I serve? Do I understand what they need from me as a leader and am I going out and purposefully growing my expertise in order to best serve them?

Have I made it safe as a leader for those I influence not to have all the answers? How or how not? Is it safe for them to bring me their problems or challenges, not because I can provide all the answers but because I can help them think through the best solution and help them guard against any blind spots?

Do I actively listen and pay attention to see if those I lead and influence are coming to me seeking input and advice? Am I constantly and continually scanning my environment to see if I am providing value to them and helping them? If no one is seeking then do I know it and am I working to find out why not?

Does my team know that I genuinely care about them as individuals, about their problems, about their challenges, about their opportunities? Not in a “I hope they know I care” kind of way but in an explicitly stated and reinforced through actions kind of way. Am I walking the talk on a daily basis that perpetuates my care and concern and when I fail, and I will fail, am I addressing that head on with them?

These questions help me to continually refine my leadership as I seek to expand my skills and capabilities. They also address another John Maxwell axiom that is a favorite of mine, “Are you really leading, or are you just taking a walk?” (I have included a link to John’s Blog here as it has such beautifully rich content and perspective).

As mentioned above “Leadership is influence.” The essential meaning of this quote is wrapping up the “how” that influence is built and delivered…

Take off the brakes…

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

Bill Gates

What is empowerment? The technical definition from dictionary.com is below and the word that stands out most to me is “enable.” When you think about the role of leadership it is to enable those whom you serve to perform and achieve their goals and objectives. Those who aren’t enabled haven’t been given the authority or power to make decisions.

Leadership without empowerment is simply a dictatorship. It breeds a culture of complacency and indecision. In today’s world life is moving to fast to have an artificial brake on decision making. Empowerment is the key to removing the brakes on effective leadership…

To see, let the mud settle…

“Your mind is like this water, my friend. When it is agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.”

Bil Keane

I love the analogy presented in this quote. When water is stirred up the silt and mud serve to prevent us from seeing what is right there in front of us. When we give ourselves the time and space to think and reflect the silt and mud settles and we can truly see.

The world today enables a life where we live in a constant state of distraction and disquiet. The world is always “pinging” us with some type of urgent call for our attention. This makes it incredibly hard to focus and really think about the most important things. All of this stuff is the “mud” in life that prevents us from seeing what is right there in front of us.

To be able to “see” fully and completely one must intentionally create the time and space that allows the mud to settle. For me that is time spent in prayer and meditation. This brings to mind a verse that I have been studying and ruminating on quite a bit this year. ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ‘ Romans 12:2

Doing this well won’t happen by accident. It takes intentional effort and the building of new habits. But it is worth it. When you can see clearly the beauty of life is revealed…

Powerful humility…

“Humility, I have learned, must never be confused with meekness. Humility is being open to the ideas of others.”

Simon Sinek

The humble person isn’t concerned at all about who is right, they just want to learn and do what is right. When they ask questions they are genuinely seeking to understand, and in so doing they are reinforcing their own willingness to grow and learn.

It isn’t weakness, it is strength, because they know who they are, and their identity isn’t wrapped around about being right. It is based on the principle of doing the right thing. Now that is powerful, and that kind of power is anything but meek….

It’s a gift, give it…

“If you aren’t gonna say exactly how and what you feel, you might as well not say anything at all.”

Johnny Cash

There is such incredible value in having the awareness to understand what you feel and why, AND the courage to communicate it to others in a way that serves to enhance the relationship, not shut it down.

To know something, and bottle it up, might rob those around you of incredible insight and knowledge. It might diminish your standing and ability to get really important things done.

Having something to say, and not saying it, is like getting someone a gift and not giving it…

Lead yourself first…

“The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.”

John Wooden

Leadership doesn’t have anything to do with roles, titles, jobs, etc. If a person is inspiring another to do something different because of their own actions or behaviors, that is leadership. As John Maxwell states, “Leadership is influence.”

Yesterday I wrote about about Catherine and the incredible experience that she created for me through her actions. She was leading through her personal example. I have had a constant stream of thoughts in my mind about her actions and that has influenced me and what I doing and saying to others.

All too often it is easy to get wrapped up in the titles and roles and forget that the most effective, yet basic and simple demonstration of leadership comes through your own actions and behaviors. These actions are rooted in your thoughts so the place to start, if you want to lead by example, is to focus on leading yourself. Set the standard for yourself, and hold yourself accountable to that standard. That becomes leadership for others, regardless of what your title is…

Catherine, thank you for going the extra mile…

“Do more than is required. What is the distance between someone who achieves their goals consistently and those who spend their lives and careers merely following? The extra mile.”

Gary Ryan Blair

Yesterday was one of those days that will eventually happen to everyone if you spend a lot of time on airplanes. But my story today isn’t simply about flight delays and cancelled flights. It is about the extraordinary and unexpected customer experience I received from one American Airlines team member. So please indulge me a little bit with the length of this post as I set up the story…

I was in Tampa, Florida for a meeting and was booked on a flight home to Charlotte, NC that was supposed to leave at 3:56 PM. Unfortunately there were severe storms in Charlotte that brought tornadoes, hail, significant flooding, and heavy winds. The Charlotte airport was closed for several hours and all flights in and out of the region were grounded. Naturally my flight was canceled and I was re-booked for a flight that was to head out later in the evening.

Myself and my colleagues headed to the airport to wait for our flights and see if perhaps we could get out on an earlier flight if at all possible. Given the situation back home, and the damage and loss of life that had occurred due to the storms, it was very easy to keep everything in perspective and just be grateful that my friends and family were safe.

During our wait I had my first interaction with Catherine, the heroine of this story who is one of the exceptional team members at the American Airlines Admirals Club in Tampa, Florida. She assisted my and my colleagues in finding seats on an earlier flight and we all headed to the gate for our ride home. Unfortunately the weather conditions had created such a backlog of traffic into Charlotte that our new flight ended up being canceled after we had boarded the plane. We made our way back to the lounge and I found myself yet again in Catherine’s line. Just as before she was incredibly gracious and re-booked myself and one of my colleagues on a flight for the next morning as our other team member was still going to try get home on a late night flight. We left and started making plans to find a hotel and a spot for dinner.

As we were walking out of the airport I received a text message from American Airlines that our newly re-booked flight for the next morning had just been canceled! At this point the situation was laughable and we both just chuckled and proceeded to the ticket counter to start working on our next flight options.

Now enters the part of the story where I was just blown away. While we were standing there in line my phone rings and it was a call from a Tampa phone number. I answered quickly thinking it was very likely the hotel where I had just booked a room calling to verify some information. To my great surprise and delight the voice on the other end of the line was Catherine, our exceptional customer experience agent from the AA lounge. She said, “Mr. Holcomb I saw that the flight I just re-booked for you was canceled so I went ahead and booked you on the very next flight tomorrow morning. I have also taken care of your colleague and re-booked him as well. I’m sorry this has been such a crazy day but we appreciate your loyalty and business.”

I was literally speechless and quite blown away that she took note of our flights, noticed that it was cancelled, and then took the initiative to re-book the flights for us. As crazy as our day had been, hers was even crazier. She was doing exactly the same thing she had done for me for many many others who were in a similar situation with canceled and delayed flights. It would have been so easy for her to simply go about the business of her day, focus on the next transaction and I would have never know the difference…

I didn‘t have any expectation that she would go the extra mile. I had no expectation that she, or anyone else would be demonstrating exceptional care and attention. After all, there were hundreds if not thousands of passengers who were experiencing exactly the same thing. But that didn’t matter, not to Catherine. She put forth the discretionary effort to ensure that I was taken care of. She demonstrated through her initiative an incredible commitment to delivering an exceptional service experience. I had no expectations at all, and I was blown away by the service I received. As a person who’s professional life has been focused on leadership, and delivering service experiences that matter, I am highly attuned to both good and bad experiences and this one was truly exceptional.

Catherine, thank you for going the extra mile and showing what a difference it can make when one person takes the initiative to truly care about the relationship a customer has with an organization and does so much more than what is simply required as part of her job. I will tell this story for years and my hat is off to you and to American Airlines for both hiring you and empowering you to go the extra mile. You have created an exceptional brand experience for myself and my colleagues. THANK YOU!

Focus!

“I don’t care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don’t harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.”

Zig Ziglar

Finishing out my 2020 3-words exercise is the word “Focus.” Knowing what to do, and how to do it, and having the ability to do it is meaningless if you can’t actually get it done. In order to get it done you have to be very judicious in the application of the word “no.”

I chose “focus” because that has a much more positive connotation than the word “no.” If I am going to start each and every day reviewing my 3-words and using those words as key anchors for the day I want the word to be positive, not negative. Knowing what to focus on is the key to being able to say “no” when appropriate and with extreme prejudice.

So my three words for 2020 are “Discernment,” “Authenticity,” and “Focus.” Landing on these three words took a great deal of thought and prayer and I am really excited to seeing how they will impact my life throughout the year. Beginning each day with these words will help me apply the meaning of this verse, ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ‘ Romans 12:2

Live authentically…

“Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.” 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today I am building on the post from yesterday and writing about the 2nd of my 3 words for 2020 is “Authenticity. I love this quote for a lot of reasons but very specifically for the last line. “Be the best of whatever you are.” This is definitely “authenticity!”

The dictionary.com definition of “authenticity” that best aligns with how I am using this word in 2020 is, “representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified.”

Rev. Martin Luther King certainly embodied this principle in his life and because of this he embraced God’s unique and special gifts and talents and used those to change the world. We all owe him an eternal debt for his willingness to embrace his true and authentic self, which ultimately cost him his life.

Now I am not saying that I want to change the world in the manner of Rev. King nor am I comparing myself to him in any way. However, I do want to emulate his example and fully embrace the gifts that God has blessed me with and live outwardly in a manner that is true to myself and what I believe and hold true as a core principles.

Certainly we all want to live in this way so why is this a focus word for me in 2020? I have found in life that without dedicated attention and focus to truly being the person that you discern yourself to be, then it is way too easy to get pulled away from your true self and caught in a vortex of living an inauthentic life that just won’t let you go.

Settling for a life like this is choosing to settle. It is choosing to be less than the person that God created you to be. It is choosing to live a life of less, not more. It is choosing to set yourself up for a life of regret and second-guessing. I can’t think of a less authentic way to live…

Finding meaning…

“We need discernment in what we see and what we hear and what we believe.”

Charles R. Swindoll

This year I have embraced a practice of choosing 3 words to guide my thoughts, decisions and actions. This is something that Chris Brogan writes about in his blog here. I have done a similar practice in the past but unfortunately over the past few years drifted away from doing it. Why do I bring this up? Because word #1 of my 3 words for 2020 is “Discernment.”

I find it interesting to start with the technical definition of the word:

For me I am using the word “discernment” specifically as it relates to understanding God’s will, and purpose, for my life on a daily basis.

It can be so easy to be on autopilot through life. We can be so busy that that it is simple to be oblivious and only along for the ride and not apply understanding or meaning to what is happening both to us and for us. Being present and aware is the first step to living a life of discernment and understanding. Without discernment, what is the meaning to life?

The chicken or the egg?

“Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.”

Stephen R. Covey

Which comes first? Leadership or Management? Neither. Discipline is the key to both leadership AND management. Without discipline you cannot become an effective leader. Discipline is what allows you to put the time and energy into determining what is most important. Discipline is what determines your ability to prioritize and define what is most important. Discipline is then the trait that allows you to carry out that vision.

If you desire to lead, you must start with self. You must learn to put in the hard work that then allows you to put the first things first. One can’t be an effective leader of others if you can’t and won’t put forth the effort to lead yourself first. You have to have the discipline to manage yourself if you desire to lead others. That’s the key. That’s what comes first…

Stop sitting, start doing…

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Dale Carnegie

At times sitting and thinking makes a lot of sense. It can be exactly what one needs to gather your thoughts and prepare for action. But sitting and thinking is always about preparing for action. One must have a hard line in the sand that defines when you stop sitting and start doing…

The highest interest rate…

“If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”

J.K. Rowling

How a person treats others can take a lot of different forms. What comes to mind for me today when I read this quote is the degree of interest one person shows to another. When I say interest I mean true and genuine interest in another person as a human being, not interested based on what they can do for you or for the organization you both might serve. I am talking about real interest in the other person, their hopes and dreams, their joys and sorrows, their trials and tribulations. This is something that can’t be faked or done in a manner of self-interest.

In my life I have know a lot of people that are interested in others based on what the relationship with that person can do for them. It is the rare and treasured soul who demonstrates through their actions a real interest in another person.

From where I sit, the true measure of a person is how they treat others with genuine interest and care, regardless of what that person can do for them. That is the interest rate that will generate the highest possible return…

Break on through…

“Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t an evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.”

Ed Catmull

How much fun would there be in doing anything new if you knew that you couldn’t fail? Perhaps more importantly how would you ever know how far you could go if you didn’t push to the point of failure?

Failing isn’t ever going to be fun but it is such a powerful ally in our growth. Perhaps the best part of failing is that you then get to learn exactly where the wall is, so that you can then step back and figure out how to break through that wall the next time!

I can honestly say that failure is the best thing I have ever done, it is what has fueled my most important growth in life. I can without a doubt say that I have learned more from failure than I ever have from success.

As “the doors” once wrote, you need to “break on through to the other side…”

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