Courage > Comfort

“You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.”

Brené Brown

Which of these appeals more to you? It is easy to say “courage” but then you have to follow it up with action. I think another way of saying this is “You can choose change, or you can choose complacency, but you cannot choose both.”

It takes courage to change. It takes courage to recognize that something needs to be better. It takes courage to take action and hold yourself accountable to a higher standard than anyone else.

If you choose comfort that is your choice. Just don’t be upset if you don’t achieve what you dream about. It takes courage not comfort to achieve your dreams.

Excellent attitude…

“Excellence is not a skill, it’s an attitude.”

Ralph Marston

How do you define excellence? Doesn’t the way you define excellence, and your commitment to it, define your attitude? Does that attitude inspire others with your vision of excellence and engender the same ideals in themselves?

What does it mean to you if someone were to describe you as having an “attitude of excellence?” Does that reflect who you are and what you believe?

What are you willing to quit doing?

“You will never find time for anything. If you want the time, you must make it.”

Charles Buxton

What do you wish you had time for? How long have you been wishing for it? What is it going to take for you to be able to do it? What are you willing to quit doing in order to make the thing you want to do happen?

I often wish that there were 36 hours in a day. But there still wouldn’t be enough time do do all the things I want to do. Since I can’t conjure up more hours in the day I guess I’ll focus on answering the questions written above. I think the last one is the most important…

Steadfast & Persevere…

“Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.”

Bill Russell

We are all going to get knocked down every once in a while. Without some setbacks now and again how does one develop mental toughness and the determination to overcome? Interestingly if you substitute ‘steadfastness’ and ‘perseverance’ for ‘concentration’ and ‘mental toughness’ you have a very similar parallel from these verses in the book of James which I have been studying for the past several days.

‘Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” James 5:11

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

Without concentration and mental toughness, or steadfastness and perseverance, one can’t learn from the inevitable trials and setbacks in life and emerge a better version of themselves…

Always a student, never a master…

“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.”

Conrad Hall

There is always more to learn. Sometimes the lesson taught might be the same, but the learnings are far far different. The master is one who has no more to learn. No more to grow, no more to see. To claim mastery is to give up humility. Never a master, forever a student.

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:6-10

To seek mastery above all else requires the surrender of humility. Not a worthy exchange…

The antidote…

“Positive thinking is more than just a tagline. It changes the way we behave. And I firmly believe that when I am positive, it not only makes me better, but it also makes those around me better.”

Harvey Mackay

I am always amazed at how many people choose to be miserable. They choose to see the negative and be cynical about the world instead of embracing the beautiful and the positive. It is a choice that we all have and that we all make on a daily basis.

I certainly am not perfect and can have those moments of negativity as well. However, when that happens I have found that perfect antidote is to pause and simply reflect on what I am grateful for right at that very moment. Without fail I have found that gratitude is a very powerful counter to negative thinking.

The impact this has on you will absolutely have an effect on those around you. We like to be around positive people. Negative people are the ones who just suck the energy from you.

On those bad days or in those bad moments we should pause and answer this question. “What I am most grateful for in my life right now?”


What’s on the scoreboard?

“Work and live to serve others, leave the world a little better than you found it.”

David Sarnoff 

When you get up in the morning and orient yourself to the day ahead do you calibrate your mind to keep score of how much you are going to get or how much you are going to give? How do you put points on your scoreboard for life?

Accountable to our own standards…

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.”

Ray Kroc

You have to set higher standards for yourself than you do for anyone and everyone around you. But standards alone aren’t enough. You have to hold yourself accountable to those standards, and do so publicly, if you want to lead others effectively. There is no quicker way to undermine your own leadership than by being a “do as I say not as I do” leader.

We are all going to fall short at times and fail to meet our standards. We are human, it’s going to happen. However that isn’t an excuse, we have to be self-accountable before we can hold others accountable. Amazingly enough, when can be transparent enough to publicly show our shortfalls, and how we are going to address them, our leadership influence grows.

Ownership starts with self. Leadership starts with self…

Sometimes we all need a good swift kick in the pants…

“Dreams will get you nowhere, a good kick in the pants will take you a long way.”

Baltasar Gracian

I’d like to think that no one can give me a swift kick me in the pants harder than I can do it to myself but that isn’t remotely close to being true. We can’t see our own blind spots and sometimes it takes a swift kick to remind us that we do in fact have them.

I can say without any doubts that I have learned some incredibly valuable lessons throughout life from those swift kicks. They were the ones that helped me shape my dreams and reshape myself. They were the kicks that got me back on track when I had gone astray. Those kicks have been the ones that fuel me when the going gets tough. I am grateful for every single one of them…


Just do it…

“The most important thing you can do to achieve your goals is to make sure that as soon as you set them you immediately begin to create momentum.”

Tony Robbins

Goals that are too far over the horizon are hard to use to motivate yourself to do the things that need to be done now. Taking that goal and breaking it into the building blocks that you can focus your energy on is what really matters.

The Nike slogan says it best. “Just do it.”  If you don’t you can’t build the momentum you need and you have no one to blame but yourself.

Comfortable being uncomfortable…

“Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay.”

Jiddu Krishnamurti 

“Tradition” is just an another way of saying “that’s the way it has always been done.” Security in what has always worked is just another step towards irrelevancy. In today’s world we have to become comfortable being uncomfortable…

A new beginning every day…

“The magic in new beginnings is truly the most powerful of them all.”

Josiyah Martin

Every day is a chance for a new beginning. I know that I fall short of my capabilities daily and every morning is an opportunity for a new beginning. It’s easy to overlook this in life. We get caught up in what is going on and forget that we have a choice every morning to treat the day as a new beginning, a powerful chance to be more…

The first thing I thought of was the joy of finding Christ as my Savior and how that is a truly liberating and powerful new beginning.

‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Best & Worst…

“We can not predict what will happen tomorrow, but we can prepare ourselves to face it.”

Ophelia Callens

What is the best, and worst, that can happen? When you think about life in these extremes you can begin to prepare for a future that might become reality, but isn’t guaranteed.

Sometimes being prepared is all the difference needed to turn a worst into a best instead…

Like water in the desert…

“The sweetest of all sounds is praise.”

Xenophon

Receiving praise is like discovering water in a journey across the desert. Too far between and you will wither and die. Too much and you become desensitized and unappreciative.

How do you ensure that you give the right amount regardless of what you do or do not receive?

Lay the foundation well…

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Walt Disney

All the goals, resolutions, objectives and aspirations in the world don’t mean a thing if you don’t execute against them. But execution alone isn’t enough. You have to have very specific and measurable actions and outcomes that show whether or not you are making progress towards those goals.

Saying “I want to lose weight” isn’t good enough. Nor is “I want to weigh ABC pounds.” Those are nice, but you have to have a plan. You have to break those goals into smaller objectives that are specific and measurable. Then you have to do them and hold yourself accountable for getting it done.

None of this is rocket science, I am sure it is all stuff that you have read before. But then why do so many people fail to accomplish their goals? Why do so many people (including myself) come off the rails and fall short of their goals?

I believe the answer is simple. We (most especially me) get focused on the over the horizon goal and lose sight of the shorter term, here and now “next step” goals and the results that come from achieving these objectives.

Think of it this way. If you want to build a house you have to have a vision, and then create a plan. Then you must get architectural drawings to ensure that you have specific work steps detailed and outlined. But at some point it comes down to getting started and doing the hard work that no one will ever see. Digging the foundation and laying the bricks that they entire home will be built upon. If you take any shortcuts there and don’t do your best work the house will never last and it will never live up to the vision you created in your mind.

Today is the day where you must start working to achieve your goals by breaking the work into measurable components and then as Walt Disney said, “quit talking and begin doing.”

Time to start the new year!

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet.”

Anne Frank

I love this quote when thinking about the new year. Too often we get mired in where we have been, and forget about where we are going and, more importantly, who we are going to spend time with.

I am very goal driven so it is easy for me to get locked into a regimen of objectives and tasks and forget to focus on the people I am blessed to have in my life. One of my goals for 2019 is to capture the special moments each week involving the people I love and journal about them so I can capture those moments and not lose them in a sea of forgotten memories. Who knows, maybe some of those moments will be the best days of my life!

I hope you have a blessed and Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve Reflection…

“There we both sat and rested for a while, facing the rising sun the way we’d climbed, for looking back can sometimes help you on.”

Dante

On December 31st of each year I like to sit, preferably by a fire, and simply reflect on the year that is just ending and contemplate what is coming in the new year. I find that thinking through the goals and objectives I have for the coming year framed through the lens of the year just ending provides remarkable clarity and insight.

One of my favorite exercises on New Year’s Eve is to think about what I would like to be thinking about and reflecting on as a key success next year on 12/31The question I specifically like to reflect on is: “What specific things must I accomplish in the next 12 months to make the year a success?  “Next year on 12/31 what do I want to have accomplished or completed?”

I hope everyone has a very safe, happy and prosperous New Year!

Fear of the unknown…

“One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end.”

Jiddu Krishnamurti

As 2018 draws to a close it is a natural time to pause and reflect on the year behind as well as the year yet to come. In thinking about this quote it brings to mind some questions that I am going to use to spur my thinking and reflection time.

What is coming in 2019 that excites me? Scares me?

What “unknown” happened in 2018 that should help me prepare for 2019?

What needs to come to an end to make the next year truly powerful and impactful?

What “known” thing or circumstance do I need to let go of?

Just a few questions that I am using to reflect on this year and prepare for the year ahead.

10 words or less…

“Greatness is more than potential. It is the execution of that potential. Beyond the raw talent. You need the appropriate training. You need the discipline. You need the inspiration. You need the drive.” 

Eric A. Burns

All the raw talent in the world won’t create a champion. The champions are created in the training room practicing their skills and building on their God given gifts. This takes desire and motivation beyond simply “doing your best.”

What gets you to give the extra 10% that no one is asking for? What motivates you to push beyond what is expected? What drives you to excel?

If you can’t answer this in 10 words or less then keep working on it. It has to be on the tip of your tongue when you wake up, when you go to bed, when you hit hard times, when you lose, and when you win. That’s how you push yourself to get better.

What price is worth your life?

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

Henry David Thoreau

This is so easy to forget when we are busy and in the thick of getting things done. Every decision we make about where to spend our time is a decision on where to invest our life.

How do you decide on where to invest? More importantly, how do you decide when to stop investing? In other words, how do you decide that something is no longer worth investing your time and energy, i.e, your life? Sometimes if we have been doing something for a long time we don’t even realize that we aren’t getting value anymore.

Where would, or should, you invest your precious life?

You don’t win on emotion…

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

Tony Dungy

Execution is everything. Without great execution nothing else really matters. The greatest idea or plan in the world is worthless without relentless execution and a focus on getting the work done.

One thing that stands out for me on this quote is the “you don’t win on emotion” sentence. Emotion can be great fuel for winning and can be a tremendous catalyst for action but it won’t be the reason you win. Without intense focus and direction all the emotion in the world won’t create great execution.

Too often, myself most certainly included, emotion has been an excuse or a “reason” for poor performance. Things like “I am just not passionate about this,” or “my emotions got the best of me” are just excuses for not executing the game play properly.

Look in the mirror. The only person that prevents you from getting the work done is yourself. “No excuses. No explanation. You don’t win on emotion. You win on execution…”

Make the time…

“Family and friends are hidden treasures, seek them and enjoy their riches.”

Wanda Hope Carter 

During the holidays we get to see family and friends that we might not see but a few times a year. During the year we get always seem to be so busy that we put those we love lower on the totem pole that we should, or at least I know that I do…

One thing that I am committing to doing in 2019 is planning the year out in advance with specific times for getting with friends and family and sharing time together. It seems crazy to be looking out a year in advance but without intentionally planning the time I know that it just won’t happen. I am not committing to specific events, just blocking the time on the calendar and lining up key relationships that I want to really focus on growing. Not sure how it will work out, but I know that it can’t hurt. Plan your work, work your plan!

Merry Christmas!

“The only real blind person at Christmas-time is he who has not Christmas in his heart.”

Helen Keller

The joy and power of the gift that we celebrate today is beyond all measure and comprehension. I hope and pray that everyone can find the true joy of Christmas in their heart today and keep it forever.

‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’

Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas!

What it is about…

“Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” 

Calvin Coolidge

It’s not about gifts, it is about giving…

It’s not about me, it’s about others…

It’s not about being right, it’s about being together…

It’s not about us, it’s about Him…

Tell me how this doesn’t apply the other 364 days of the year? Merry Christmas Eve!

Slow down…

“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast — you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”

Eddie Cantor

The Christmas season always seems to go by too quickly. It is an endless stream of activity and events and then you blink and it is just gone. I feel this way every year.

This is an example of life itself. We can become so focused on getting to the goal, that we forget to pay attention to what is going on around us. I can easily see where you might even forget where you are going, and why.

I am committed to slowing down a bit these next few days and really focusing on the WHO I am spending time with and WHY we are celebrating together.

Take it all in, the time will pass by far too quickly…

The joy of giving…

“Christmas is a tonic for our souls. It moves us to think of others rather than of ourselves. It directs our thoughts to giving.”

B.C. Forbes

This quote reminds of two verses that I was studying this morning.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” 1 Corinthians 10:24

It is easy to forget with all the hype in today’s world that through Christmas we are celebrating an eternal gift received by giving to others thoughtfully and without a focus on ourselves. Today I am committed to focusing not on the tasks or shopping lists, but on the pure joy of giving to others.

Find gratitude!

“It is so easy to forget how blessed we are! That’s why maintaining an attitude of gratitude is something we need to do on purpose.” 

Joyce Meyer

Sometimes we can be so busy that it is hard to stop and really reflect on how many gifts and blessings we have been given in life. Having gratitude just for the simplest things that we so often take for granted.

I love to read about history and I am always amazed at just how hard life was not all that many years ago. Yet today we get frustrated if our Starbucks coffee isn’t perfect or if someone gets the closer parking spot and we have to walk 30 more feet.

Every day we are the recipient of some blessing or gift. Take the time to find and express gratitude daily. It will change your life.

If you want to hear the music, do the work…


“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”

Peter Drucker

A great symphony isn’t of any value unless there is an orchestra there to bring it to life. To convert the written notes into the music which fills the air takes tremendous effort, collaboration and direction from many people all aiming for the same thing, to bring to life what is essentially just a written plan.

I don’t know anyone who achieved anything without dedicating themselves to the work necessary to turn their plans into a new reality. There are no free rides in life. Do the work, the hard work, or you won’t be able to hear the music…

What great looks like…

“What’s celebrated is repeated.  The behaviors that are celebrated are repeated.  The decisions that are celebrated are repeated.  The values that are celebrated are repeated.”

Andy Stanley

Very bluntly I am not good at this.  It has always been a challenge for me to pause and slow down long enough to celebrate success.  For anything that is accomplished I am immediately thinking and working on the next thing.  As a person who derives my motivation internally it just doesn’t hit my radar screen.  This is not a good or positive trait and is one that I continually have to work on.  I find that this quote does an excellent job driving the “why” behind the celebration and reinforces what a leader must do to help their team achieve continued success.

To perform at a high level a team must know what great looks like.  When they achieve success celebration is what reinforces the behaviors that it took to get there and instills them into the culture.  In essence, celebration is creating the culture of the team or organization based on success and winning and instilling a desire to do it again.  

Thinking more on this it brings some questions to mind.  Without a celebration will anyone know what great looks like?  How would anyone know to do it again?  If you don’t celebrate, will people know what it is that is valued by, and expected from, you as a leader?

Expectations vs. Recommendations.

“When setting expectations, no matter what has been said or written, if substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable — if there are no consequences — that poor performance becomes the new standard. Therefore, leaders must enforce standards.”

Jocko Willink

I have long held to a simple yet effective three step formula of leadership responsibility and accountability.  

  1. Set clear expectations
  2. Coach, Train, Provide Feedback to those expectations
  3. Hold accountable to the expectations

It is the leaders responsibility to ensure that his or her  team understands what is expected of them, that the proper coaching and training has occurred, and then that absolute accountability to those expectations has been enforced.  

Without enforcement then any expectations are merely recommendations, coaching and training is a waste of time, and accountability doesn’t mean anything…  

Decide!

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

Amelia Earhart

There is great freedom that comes when you make a tough decision.  It is like the clouds part and you can see the blue sky and the sunshine after weeks of rain and fog.  Just making that decision can feel like a tremendous weight is lifted from your shoulders. 

So make a decision!  If it is the wrong one then you can make another one but don’t wait.  Waiting for perfect information, perfect timing or perfect insight means that nothing ever gets done.  

I am reminded of this verse from James that has been a guide to me in my decision making many times in life.  “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17

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