Strategy vs. Execution…

“Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless.”

Morris Chang

I love how this quote frames the importance of both strategy and execution so succinctly.  How do you measure success?  Is it by having great intent, or by achieving great results?   It is the results in life that matter right?  But only if they are created through intentional focus and effort.  Time is going to pass either way, so we better make it count… 

Start today!

“You will never win if you never begin.”

Helen Rowland

Starting something new can often be the hardest part.  The work can appear to be  overwhelming when you look at the goal and how much needs to be done to make it a reality.  The key is to break whatever it is into the smallest tasks and just start today.  

I signed up for my first Ironman race having only done one sprint triathlon and one half marathon. I was in way over my head and had no business trying to take on that extreme of an endurance race.  But when the race morning arrived one year later I was very relaxed and I knew, barring any unforeseen accidents, I had already won the day and finished the race.  It wasn’t because I had discovered some unknown physical gifts, it was simply because one year earlier I had committed to my goal and then planned my work out to achieve that goal. The Ironman race itself ended up being a reward for all the work that happened in the year it took to prepare.  Finishing the race was the easy part once I had a plan and committed to the daily effort.  Just starting every single day with the task for the day was the key.

Whatever it is that you want to achieve find the one small thing that you can do to start today and do it.  Even if it is simply writing the goal down and capturing why it is important.  It starts today.

Who is doing the measuring?

“The best way to measure how much you’ve grown isn’t by inches or the number of laps you can now run around the track, or even your grade point average — though those things are important, to be sure. It’s what you’ve done with your time, how you’ve chosen to spend your days, and whom you’ve touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.”

R.J. Palacio

How do you measure the impact you have had on the lives of others?  It’s certainly easy to measure tangible things like those mentioned above, and I agree that they are definitely important, but what the impact of a kind word, a simple smile, a display of genuine concern for another person?  

I would bet that most people will never be aware of the positive impact that they have had my life.  I can think of many specific examples where the actions of another have had profound impact on who I am as a person today.  They weren’t trying to impact me, they were living and behaving in accordance with their deepest beliefs, choosing how they spent their time, and in so doing they touched my life.  

When I read this quote I immediately thought of a video that a good friend shared with me earlier this week.  

These “God Moments” or “Shoulder Taps” are so powerful  and so easy to overlook in today’s hyper busy and always connected and digitally measured world.  It makes me step back and think about how so much of life today is spent measuring success in “likes,” “favorites,” and “retweets.” The real measure of success is positively impacting the lives of others and ultimately it is being being measured, just not by me…

 

What your problem isn’t, and what it is…

“Let me take some pressure off. Your problem is not discipline. Your problem is not organization. Your problem is not that you have yet to stumble upon the perfect schedule. And your problem is not that the folks at home demand too much of your time. The problem is this: there’s not enough time to get everything done that you’re convinced—or others have convinced you—needs to get done.”

Andy Stanley

Sometimes I read a quote and it just hits me between the eyes.  This is one of those.  Let me start by saying that Andy Stanley is one of my absolute favorites.  He has a special gift and if you ever get a chance to hear him speak please take full advantage of it.  He is exceptional.

There’s not enough time.  Period.  End of story.  It just can’t all be done.  When you come to terms with this fact it is liberating.  Give up the feeling of failure and insufficiency and and instead embrace the feeling of control, define what is most important and say yes to only those things.  Easy to say but oh so hard to do.  

I know that the challenge for me is figuring out just how close to the edge I can walk without falling over. I need to be uncomfortably close to the limit in order to feel challenged and inspired.  I must be stretched in order to grow.  The question that I am really pondering right now is whether or not I am choosing the right things to stretch for  Not only do we need to say “no,” we need to choose the right “yes’s.”  

 

Making a living isn’t enough…

“Don’t just aspire to make a living. Aspire to make a difference.”

Denzel Washington

What is our purpose here on this world, beyond making a living?  I know many people who have chased the “make a living” dream only to end up bitter and unhappy.  On the flip side, I also know, and greatly admire, many people who have made it their life’s mission to make a difference on and in the lives of others.  Those are the people that I have great admiration fore because they clearly aspire to, and know how, to make a difference.    

When I think of this quote it reminds me of one of the most convicting sermons I’ve ever heard. In it the pastor asked a very simple but very powerful question.  “Who is going to be in the Kingdom of Heaven because of how you have lived your life?” It stopped me and made me think about how I live my life on a daily basis and that all of those actions matter.  Every part of life is an act of prayer and worship and I had to be intentional with my actions and not just aspire to be in church on Sunday.  

I will say that I think what is missing from this quote is the conversion of aspiration into action.  Don’t just aspire, find a way to do.  Start small, but start immediately.  Make a difference in your world today through your intentional choices & actions.

FREEDOM!!

“Being proactive is more than taking initiative. It is recognizing that we are responsible for our own choices and have the freedom to choose based on principles and values rather than on moods or condition. Proactive people are agents of change and choose not to be victims, to be reactive, or to blame others.”

Stephen Covey

Today in the United States we are celebrating our Independence Day.  The day where our Founding Fathers made a conscious choice to be responsible for the course of our independent nation. They chose the direction and were responsible for the creation of the principles and values that would set our path as a republic for centuries to come.

The freedom to choose is one of our greatest gifts in life. I love this particular quote because it sums up so neatly the importance of living a life of active choices.  Once you have clearly identified your values and principles one can live a life of freedom.  It isn’t always easy to make the choices that align to your values.  In fact, sometime they are the hardest ones to make.  However, when we have a framework we aren’t relegated to being the product of other’s choices, we are freely choosing our path in life.  

As we celebrate freedom today take a moment to reflect on what freedom to choose means in your life.  

There are just two types of people…

“We can choose to be affected by the world or we can choose to affect the world. ”

Heidi Wills

For as long as I can remember one of the driving principles of my life has been the belief that there are just two types of people in the world.  Those who the world happens to, and those who happen to the world.  I have always focused on being in the latter category.

Today’s quote says basically the same thing but with a  slight different perspective. Is it overly simplistic and generalizing?  Probably.  But just maybe it isn’t.  Happiness is a choice. Determination is a choice. Focus is a choice. Everything we do is a choice we have the freedom to make.  

I think many people, myself most certainly included, get lost in the “big picture.” Because we can’t control what happens at the macro level we choose not to manage ourselves at the micro level. But we have to choose to affect the world at the micro level, taking ownership of our decisions and behaviors daily.  When we do this we have much more influence on the world around us.

When you wake up in the morning are you going to define your day, or be defined by the day that happens to you? Ask yourself tonight which person you were today.  Did you affect your world?

Walking a path of purpose…

“I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.”

Marla Gibbs

One of the most profound exercises I have ever done in my life was the creation of a  “Faith Map”  timeline.  In this exercise I created a map of the people that God has put into my life to further my journey.  I call it a faith map because I literally drew it out on large paper so I could visualize the impact that people have had on my life and understand the broader picture.  Taking the time to think through all the  people that I have been blessed to know is truly astounding. I can say with absolute certitude that I wouldn’t have nearly the blessings I have today I certain people hadn’t been placed on my path. If you are interested in digging deep and doing a similar exercise sit down and ask yourself these questions:

  • How did I get here?  Who specifically influenced my journey? (I find it easier to start with more recent relationships)
  • What did I learn from them?  How did they influence my journey?
  • Where would I be without that intentional nudge?  What would my life be like?

I know it sounds corny, and it probably is, but for me it gave me a much greater sense of how intentionally God has worked in my life.  It gives rise to an interesting question.  Because God was so intentional with our creation that he knows every hair on our head and we were created in God’s image, doesn’t that mean are supposed to be intentional with how we spend our lives?  

 

 

 

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