Do you know why you roar?

“It’s better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life.”

Elizabeth Kenny

Do you know what you stand for? Can you roar when you need to? Do you know when you need to roar and when you don’t?

One of my favorite stories in the Bible occurs when Jesus “cleanses the temple of animals and money changers. Scholars debate the precise meaning that we should infer from the narrative. For me, this story represents “righteous anger” and appropriately delivered action based on bedrock principles.

“In the temple courts, he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”” John‬ ‭2:14-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬ 

(If you are interested, you can read the other narratives of the story as reported in Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18, & Luke 19:45-46.)  

I love this story because it conveys the power of knowing what you stand for and enables one to take action when those principles are violated. However, it has to be understood that “turn the other cheek” and “be a peacemaker” are also core teachings. You can’t walk around every day roaring at every little thing. Your actions must mean something.

The key is to know who you are and what you stand for so that you know when to be the lion you were born to be. If you don’t know these things, by default, you will forever be a sheep because your roar won’t mean anything.   

Who will you serve today?

“Real leadership is leaders recognizing that they serve the people that they lead.”

Pete Hoekstra

Serving others is the highest and most authentic calling of any individual, which means that each of us embodies the ability to be effective and impactful leaders. When we put others first and demonstrate through our actions what we value, we set and create a positive example for others.  Influence is the essence of leadership, and I can think of no more significant impact than to be known for living an genuine life of service.  

However, serving others comes from the heart and can’t be faked or “acted.” One of my all-time favorite quotes is from St. Francis of Assisi. “It’s no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” It doesn’t matter what you say, what words you use, or how much you preach. The actions you embody on a moment by moment basis are the outward manifestation of your principles and values.  

It doesn’t matter what you say; you lead with your actions and behaviors.  Rather than try and live up to some ideal espoused through words, focus on developing your behaviors, and let your actions do the talking for you. It is far easier to find words to match your efforts than to find actions that match your words.

So today, find someone to serve. Please don’t do it because others are watching. Please don’t do it because it is the “right thing to do.” Please don’t do it because you want to be a leader.  

Find someone to serve because the essence of our shared humanity is the ability to give ourselves away. Do it because that is why you were born. Be influential today…

Are you crystal clear on what is important to you?

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” 

Douglas MacArthur

I recently had a conversation with an incredibly talented group of folks on the impact and importance of having clarity as a leader. I sincerely believe that effective leadership begins with self-leadership. One must lead yourself before you can start to realize your potential in the service of leading others.  Period. Full stop.  Without effective self-leadership, you will fall short of who you are capable of becoming.  

What does this have to do with today’s quote? The ability to execute with authenticity the specific behaviors outlined in the message comes from clarifying who you are, what is important to you, where you are going, and how you want to treat those around you.

Clarity breeds confidence.  

Clarity fuels courage.  

Clarity creates compassion.

In a nutshell, defining and creating clarity for yourself allows you to show up with authenticity FOR others

Clarity is what defines your actions and demonstrates the integrity of your intent...

Do you impoverish yourself when you focus on yourself?

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” 

Woodrow Wilson

When you look back over the last 20 years, is it the money you made, the bonuses you earned, and the things you bought that bring you the most significant warmth and joy?  

Beyond the shadow of any doubt, I can say that the most important things to me are the relationships built, the people who have influenced and impacted me, and my time serving and encouraging others. It is the experience of living and giving that creates real richness not just in this life but in the eternal life to come.   

‘”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ Matthew 6:19-21 NIV

How is your character being displayed today?

“You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing for them.”

Malcolm S. Forbes

Perhaps equally telling about someone’s character is when a person expects to be treated differently because of their rank, position, or title.

Character is demonstrated by both outward behaviors and implied expectations.

How was your character displayed today?

Improve your impact one minute at a time…

“In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. That means we have 1,440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact.”

Les Brown

How many of those minutes truly counted today? How many of them did you use in the service of others versus yourself? 

If you were to “keep score” by counting the minutes in others’ actual service versus yourself, how would you score your day? Oh, and the minutes spent on others but are really focused on what’s best for you don’t count.  

No matter what your score was today increase it by one minute tomorrow. Then do it again on Wednesday, and so on. You can change everything, one minute at a time.

Review your day with the beginning in mind…

“I will keep constant watch over myself and – most usefully – will put each day up for review. For this is what makes us evil – that none of us looks back upon our own lives. We reflect only upon that which we are about to do. And yet our plans for the future descend from the past.”

Seneca

One of the most impactful habits I have added to my routine is a morning preview and an afternoon/evening review. Doing this has enhanced my ability to focus on only what is most important and ensure that I hold myself accountable for what I committed to accomplishing on any given day.

Try taking five minutes in the morning to start your day with focus and intention. Then follow up at the end to take stock of your performance against your plans for the day.

Here are the questions I am currently using in my “Kickstart” and “After Action Review” journal. Give something like this a shot; you might find it to be a very beneficial exercise.

XX/XX/21 – 2021 – Day Focus Headline:

AM Kickstart:

Today I am grateful for…

What would make today great? What is the most important thing I must accomplish today?

Daily Affirmation Statement:


PM After Action Review:

Three things that happened today?:

Did I achieve my specific focus goal for the day? Why / Why Not?:

How could I have made today better?:

Teaching is a gift to be received and given…

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

William Arthur Ward

Think back over your life; who were the teachers, mentors, or coaches who helped you elevated your thinking or performance to the next level? How did they do this? What were their specific behaviors that impacted you? Why were they so profoundly impactful on your life?  What specifically did they DO? 

The answers to these questions will be unique and special to you and your life. Perhaps someone saw a talent within you that you didn’t yet see? Maybe they didn’t let you quit when that is all you wanted to do? Possibly they had a unique way of distilling the seemingly complex into a manner that just “clicked” for you. Regardless of how or what they did, they profoundly impacted your life through their behaviors and actions.  

Have you taken any of those behaviors and built them into your life? Were you merely a recipient of someone else’s greatness, or have you become a conduit and multiplier and transferred it on to others? The beauty of great teachers is that they aren’t only elevating you; they are planting seeds to inspire and promote others within you.  

It is an incredible gift to be the beneficiary of a great teacher. However, once taught, you must pass that teaching on to others. To clarify, I am not talking about the specific knowledge or expertise, but the method by which you were inspired to learn.  This was the real gift you were given. Honor the one that gave it to you by finding a way to pass it on to others.  

Those you lead deserve more than a stuffed shirt…

“The most effective way to lead is to lead from within.”

Lolly Daskal 

It is not possible to effectively lead others if you cannot lead yourself first.

Perhaps this is a bit of a strong statement. There are many examples of people in leadership roles who have had have achieved “success” who frankly stink at self-leadership.  I would argue these “leaders” are pale shadows of their complete potential.

However, the definition of leadership effectiveness that I hold and espouse requires that leadership efforts start internally. Everything rises and falls on one’s ability to put into active practice those things you would ask of others.  

Purpose: Have you identified your purpose for being on this earth beyond earning a living?  

Vision: Do you have a clearly articulated vision for yourself that you seek to bring to life daily?  

Values: Do you have a written set of your core values that serve as your decision-making compass?    

Execution: Do you have a plan, a written plan, for bringing to life your Purpose, Vision, and Values?

Discipline: Do you hold yourself accountable for your desires and plans?  I believe self-discipline is the keystone of impactful leadership.  Without it, you merely have dreams and wishes.  With self-discipline, you can put into place the structure required to lead yourself effectively.  

Answering these questions and ingraining the answers into your daily behaviors is the key to effective leadership. By holding yourself to a higher standard, you will create and put into place a platform of influence and impact.

Otherwise, you are just a stuffed shirt…

Focus on adding value, because it’s not about you…

“To add value to others, one must first value others.”

John Maxwell

Do you value others over yourself? Is the success of other people more important to you than your success?  

If the answer to the questions above isn’t an unambiguous “YES,” then you can’t genuinely say you value others or desire to add value to them because your interests are self-serving.

That’s not leadership; it’s just another name for attempted manipulation.

What do you see when you look within?

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Those who look outside, dream. Those who looks inside, awaken.”

Carl Gustav Jung

What do you draw on to find your energy? What motivates you to bring your dreams to life? Does it come from something external or internal?  

The only way a dream can become a reality is if the vision and the motivation come from within yourself. All the dreaming in the world won’t work if you don’t know why you are doing it.  

If you dare to look within, what do you see?  

Are you serving or self-serving?

“Being humble means recognizing that we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.”

Gordon B. Hinkle

Humility is something that is quickly spoken of but only demonstrated through action. I have known many people who profess humility but demonstrate the anthesis of any modest intent.

No one is immune to the pull of ego and the allure of self-importance. Even those with the most excellent intentions can fall prey to the fallacy of their self-righteous thinking. Instead, the richest people live to answer these three questions.    

Whom can I serve?

How do they need to be served?

What can I do to help meet their needs?

Only a person who outwardly lives the mindset that demonstrates these three questions and willingly sacrifices their internal desires for self-importance can be called humble. They have landed on the most critical ingredient to a meaningful and purpose-driven life. It isn’t about them…

Is making a difference to one person today too much to ask?

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Who are you? How has the person you have evolved to become been framed and formed by your history and the history of those around you?  

We are all reflections of those who have touched our lives. Therefore we must learn and grow based on those touches.   

Then we must give back and become an influence on someone else downstream. We don’t attempt to create history so much as we strive to serve and leave the world better than we found it.  

If every person tried to do this one time per day, imagine the impact.  

How has your history uniquely and specially prepared you to positively impact one person’s life today?  Just one person.  Is that too much to ask?

The best advice…

“One day you’ll give someone advice you once needed and realize that it no longer applies to you. That is when you know you’ve grown.”

Author Unknown

What is the best advice you have ever received? Did you capture and write that information down somewhere? Have you ever shared it with someone else? The beauty of receiving great advice is that you gain all of the value of an experience without actually having to go through it yourself.  

Please think of the ripple effect that can happen when you get great advice, execute on it, and then pass it along to someone else. The impact of a person’s life can be truly immeasurable when you think of the value of the advice given away freely to others.

How will you serve someone tomorrow by sharing advice you no longer need but could impact them? If you want to build a life of continual influence, you have to seek these opportunities out intentionally. 

Are you practicing what you love?

“I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.”

Ray Bradbury

What do you love to do so much that it doesn’t feel like work? What are the things that you do where the work itself is the joy and the reward? How much of your incredibly finite time do you spend doing those things? What prevents you from spending most of your time on the things where the practice and hard work are an exercise of love and passion? 

Answer these questions, and you begin to unlock your full potential.  

Are you investing in your purpose?

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Mark Twain

Some people are blessed to learn the reason why they were born at a relatively young age. For others, it might take years. Given that our time on earth is finite, perhaps the two most important questions you can ever ask yourself are, “Why am I here?” And “What am I going to do about it?”

  • Do you know why you were born?  How much time, effort, and energy are you devoting to answering this “why” question?  If you don’t know, then you aren’t investing enough.
  • Once you have an answer to the first question, the focus changes to; “how much time, effort, and energy are you devoting to living a life fully and completely aligned with your “why?”  If it is less than 100%, you will never be able to live a fulfilled life.  

I can guarantee this. Not one of us was born to go to school, work for forty years, retire, and then die. Those are the transactional elements of life. They are not the reason. All of us were born for a purpose, and we have to figure out what it is. Otherwise, the transactions don’t matter.

Are you living with purpose today?

“When you stay on purpose and refuse to be discouraged by fear, you align with the infinite self, in which all possibilities exist.”

Dr. Wayne Dyer

Do you have a purpose for your life?  

Whoa. That’s a serious question and very hard to answer without deep contemplation and consideration. But just because the question is hard doesn’t mean you don’t need to do the serious introspection required to answer it. Perhaps a better way to frame this very broad and significant question is, “do you live your life according to your purpose?”

Finding your solution to this question will be one of the most profound and liberating revelations you will ever experience. It allows you to begin to seek an answer to an even more challenging question.  “What is God’s purpose for my life?”

If these questions are too heavy early in the morning (or late in the day, depending on when you read this), consider this much simpler question.  

What is the purpose of your life today?  You have an infinitely precious gift of time today. What is the purpose of that gift? How are you going to spend it? Why will today matter for you and others? Do you have a reason that today will matter, or is it merely a transactional exchange of time for some nominal or even meaningless set of things or interactions?  

Is this how you want to record today in the logbook of life? A day which was a transactional exchange. Or would you prefer to have it mean something? It doesn’t have to be grand or overly complicated. It could be as simple as “my purpose for today is to make four people smile.” Just make it count. Otherwise, why bother?

Are you choosing to be a server of joy and laughter?

“The person who can bring the spirit of laughter into a room is indeed blessed.”

Bennett Cerf

Think back over your day yesterday. Did you laugh? Do you even remember if there were moments of levity and joy that created an opportunity to laugh out loud?  

If the answer is “no,” then take a moment to reflect on why that was. Were there no opportunities to laugh? Did nothing funny come up through the entire day? Was everyone you associated with far too focused on the “important stuff of life” and not able to see any joy?  

So much of life is spending taking ourselves too seriously. We worry about fret about all kinds of essential things and forget that the simplest sound, the music of laughter, can be one of the most refreshing and healing of all sounds we can encounter in our day.

My point is this; life is too short not to laugh daily. If you aren’t finding joy every day, then don’t wait for others to bring it to you; find a way to serve and deliver it to others.  

If you can’t remember whether you laughed yesterday, create a simple daily tick sheet and record every time you laugh for a week. Simply by being aware of the presence of laughter in your life, you will find more joy. The life you change will be your own, and the impact you have on others will be profound.

Seek out opportunities to be a server of joy starting today.

happy child fun boy
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sometimes the wall isn’t the obstacle after all…

“If you can’t go one way, there’s many ways to get where you’re going. So you just take a step back and see beyond the wall.”

Cyndi Lauper

The challenge with being goal-oriented is that you can become so fixated on a particular goal that you forget to check and see if the destination you are focused on is still the right one. Sometimes you need to step back on purpose, to check and make sure. It’s amazing what you can find out when you take the time to assess the situation. Perhaps it’s not a wall at all…

It takes fewer words to ask the right questions…

“The less you talk, the more you’re listened to.”

Pauline Phillips

How do you know if you are talking too much?

Perhaps the answer is as simple as paying attention to what people seek when they engage with you. Are they coming to you for answers or questions? The right question enables others to speak. Giving the answers requires you to do all the speaking.  

Would you rather be known for giving the right answers or asking the right questions?  

Positive acceptance is the starting point of wisdom…

“Positive thinking is not about expecting the best to happen every time but accepting that whatever happens is the best for this moment.”

Author Unknown

It is always amazing how the passage of time can help one see and appreciate the beauty of not getting everything you want in life. Those “crucible moments” are the ones that form you into the person you are supposed to be, but first, you need forging to become strong.

Only through experience can you learn to stay positive and accept what happens as being the best for the moment; when you do this, you demonstrate an ability to turn knowledge into wisdom.   

‘Wisdom is supreme — so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding.’ Proverbs 4:7 CSB

You must choose to create the things you want to be grateful for…

“We pass through this world but once.”

Stephen Jay Gould

If you had the chance, what would you have told yourself to do differently one year ago today? One month ago today? One week? Yesterday at this exact time?  

Time is finite, and we don’t have the chance to go back and redo any of it. Each day is a precious journey that can’t and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Even though we all know this, it is still easy to make poor choices and live as though we have an infinite amount of time here on earth.  

Try this; think forward to this exact time tomorrow morning. What is the one thing you want to reflect on with gratitude tomorrow regarding how you spent the past twenty-four hours?  

Please write it down and then make it happen. You’ll thank yourself tomorrow…

Are you building something new?

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Dan Millman

I might change the wording of this slightly. “The secret of “LIFE” is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

All too often, we get bogged down by the old ways or, even worse, complacency takes hold, and we forget how exciting it is to learn and grow.  

I prefer to think of life as being similar to compound interest. Every experience, every learning, every mistake, it all contributes to becoming a more robust and fulfilled version of yourself. If we miss an opportunity, we miss it forever, as well as the compounded growth that could have stacked on top.

Every day is an opportunity to build something new. Even if it is only a slight improvement over yesterday, it is still an improvement. Creating a life focused on building the new you choose to create a life of exponential compound growth.    

What are you going to build on tomorrow?

What is the future you are building?

“If you want to know the past, to know what has caused you, look at yourself in the PRESENT, for that is the past’s effect. If you want to know your future, then look at yourself in the PRESENT, for that is the cause of the future.”

Majjhima Nikaya

Do you like what you see in the mirror? Do you like your present self? If you could go back in time and tell your past self to do something different, what would it be? We all have the opportunity every single day.

The real question is; what are you going to do about it right now…?

Are you choosing to live your purpose?

“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: I have to go to work – as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for – for the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”

Marcus Aurelius

What is the purpose of your life? It’s a serious question and one that I have found many people never even attempt to answer. It is far easier to get lost in the distractions of a transactional world or focus on what you do instead of why you do it. Of course, it isn’t an easy question to answer and will evolve as you move through life, and your understanding of what is important comes into focus.  

The bottom line is that every second of life is precious. I might argue that every second of a life lived in a manner that is A) misaligned from your purpose or B) unaware of your purpose is suboptimal at best.  Why would we choose a suboptimal life?

What are the metaphorical blankets of comfort that you are lying under in your life? Are you casting off the covers and getting to your purpose-driven work, or are you content being comfortable?  

Are you running in the right race?

“Don’t impress others with what you have; impress them with who you are.”

Robert Tew

A wise person once told me, “if someone is more interested in coming to see my house, and not me, then I don’t want them in my circle of friends.”  

Life isn’t a race to see who can get the most stuff. Instead, it is a race to see how much you can grow personally and then give back to others.  

Unfortunately, not many people seem to be running in this race. Are you?

Are you weighed down by baggage?

“Our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.”

Barbara Geraci

Do you view the experiences you have had in life as gifts to build from or as anchors holding you back?  

How you consider all the things that have occurred in your life, whether good, bad, or ugly, will define your future. You can either choose to carry them with you as baggage, or you can choose to view them as fuel. Baggage slows you, and fuel propels you. Which one do you think will move you forward? It’s up to you, how do you want to live?

Do you have what it takes to be a genius?

“Genius is the ability to put into effect what is in your mind. There’s no other definition of it.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

The worst idea in the world is the brilliant one that never sees the light of day because no one acts. Perhaps genius is simply another name for hard work and decisive action. If that’s the case, then we all have the capability for genius…

Do the obstacles in your path stop you or inspire action?

“The cucumber is bitter? Then throw it out.

There are brambles in the path? Then go around.

That’s all you need to know.”

Marcus Aurelius

Action is always required. Period. Full stop.  

When something isn’t right, then the right thing to do is to take action. Perhaps the right next move is to step back and understand the situation, determine a suitable course of action, and then act. But the solution always involves taking action.  

There are 364 days left in 2021, what action are you taking today to make sure your path forward is clear of brambles?

Goals without purpose are merely transactions. Your life is much more than a transaction…

“If you can tune into your purpose and really align with it, setting goals so that your vision is an expression of that purpose, then life flows much more easily.”

Jack Canfield

The calendar changing is a beautiful opportunity to reset your mind and take the time necessary to refocus and align on what you want to accomplish in the year ahead.  

However, if you don’t have a deep understanding of your purpose in life, then the goals you set are transactional at best. If you don’t have an intentionally articulated and refined individual purpose, then I would argue that it would be a better use of your time to commit to doing the hard work required to surface and distill your purpose and passion.  Only then can you set goals that will inspire the necessary action and commitment needed to carry you through the days when the work is hard, and your energy is low. 

If you have goals for 2021 but can’t clearly state your purpose in life and why you are passionate about it, will you say the year is a success? I can’t think of anything worse than achieving goals that don’t have any meaning and are merely stealing your precious time and energy. If you have goals and no purpose, are you making your life meaningful?

You have 365 days in the coming year; what are you going to do to make them count? Define your purpose first, then the goals will flow as if by magic…

Thank you 2020…

“I think the only answer is to live life to the fullest while you can and collect memories like fools collect money. Because in the end, that’s all you have – happy memories.”

Sarah Strohmeyer

Typically the beginning of a new year is a time of excitement and promise. This year there is a general “I’m just glad 2020 is over” sentiment in the air. While 2020 was a year filled with challenges, sadness, fear, and a host of other negative emotions, to view the entire year through a negative lens is shortsighted.  

Believe it or not, good things did occur. Positive teachings happened, and many great lessons were learned. 2020 was a year where many seeds of positive change were planted, and those seeds will take root and grow for years.  

Instead of merely celebrating the end of a challenging year, perhaps a better use of time would be to reflect on what happened this year for which we can be grateful. What did you learn? How are you healthier? Where have you added new skills? What great new things are you now prepared to embrace fully?  

Questions like these are how you can take the challenges put before you and emerge 20X more powerful than before. 2021 is going to be an incredible year BECAUSE of 2020 and the challenges you overcame.  

Relish the good that happened in 2020 and lean into those lessons so that 2021 can truly become an incredible year.

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