Wisdom doesn’t come quickly…

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.”

Saint Augustine

As I reflect on this quote I am reminded of this verse, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

In today’s “I want it all now” world patience seems to be a diminishing virtue. Everything in life seems to be a single click or web search away and because of this we tend to expect wisdom to be immediate and instantaneous. I can’t think of anything that I have achieved with ease that I value nearly as much as those things I have had to work hard for and pursue with patience and diligence.

What are you pursuing diligently?

No zombies allowed…

“Do not listen to those who weep and complain, for their disease is contagious.”

Og Mandino 

We must all relentlessly guard against being the one that is “patient zero” for this disease. Have you ever this person? I am sure that everyone has been at one time or another because negativity and complaining is just so contagious.

How can you ensure that you aren’t opening yourself up to being infected by one of these zombies? There are two tactics that I use regularly.

First, stop the conversation when it is getting started. If someone is “weeping and complaining” be upfront and tell them that you aren’t going to listen to negativity but would love to have a conversation about how they can address whatever challenge they are facing. In my experience they will either embrace the opportunity or stop the conversation altogether.

Second, listen politely for a moment but then reframe the situation they are complaining about back to them with questions around how they can take action to influence the outcome. Don’t stand for excuses or complaints, continually reframe with questions back to the actions they can control.

There are plenty of additional great ways to challenge those that “weep and complain” but the most important thing is to make sure that you never allow yourself to become one of the zombies that are infecting others. You can use the tactics I outlined above with yourself just as effectively as you can with others…

Mistakes as investments…

“Mistakes increase your experience and experiences decrease your mistakes. If you learn from your mistakes then others learn from your success.” 

Anonymous

Perhaps we should view mistakes from a debits, credits and investments perspective. For example, you get a $1 for each mistake you make. But if you repeat the mistake you have to pay back $10. However, if you learn from the mistake and turn it into a win you get $20.

I wonder how we might manage our mistake debits/credit and investment account if we thought of mistakes in this way?

Emotionally engaged…

“Loyal customers are a different breed. They don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you.”

Chip Bell 

Think of three companies that you do business with and love enough to insist that your friends use as well. What is it about them that you love so much? Why are you willing to risk YOUR reputation with your friends and family recommending a product or service you don’t have any influence or control over? What is it that makes the transactional business relationship emotionally engaging for you?

That is what it takes for me to insist that someone else do business with a company that I choose to patronize. For me to make this recommendation I need to have built a deep emotional attachment to something that the organization has done for me that has been worth more than the money I’ve spent with them in the past and will likely spend in the future. There aren’t many companies that have created this emotional connection, and maintain it over time. What do they do differently?

Get closer…

 “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, in fact, that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”

Steve Jobs

What do you want most from the companies that you choose to spend your hard earned money with? Are these the types of companies that pay close attention to your needs and anticipate your next need, even when you don’t know you want it? I have to admit that the products or services that I like the most from some of my favorite organizations are things I never would have thought to ask for. This reinforces for me that these companies are paying close attention to their customers and constantly seeking ways to find new ways to add value and differentiate themselves.

How are you doing this for your customers and those that you care about?

Disconnect to connect…

“Turn off your email; turn off your phone; disconnect from the Internet; figure out a way to set limits so you can concentrate when you need to, and disengage when you need to. Technology is a good servant but a bad master.”

Gretchen Rubin

In order to connect to what is truly important one must turn off the distractions and connect to what is truly precious. In today’s world it is so easy to let our tech be our master. I know I struggle with this but when I disconnect the feeling is truly liberating. What a joy it is to just be present in the moment and not be a slave to technology. How can you make sure to build in time for connection to what really matters?

How will you remember me?

“Act as if today is the day you will be remembered for the way you treat others.”

John R. DiJulius III

How do you want to be remembered by others? If a person were to you meet you only once, what would you want them to say about you? For those who spend a significant amount of time with you what would you want them to say about how you treat those around you? Are you treating others in a way that you would want to be remembered?

Truly interested…

“If you are able to figure out how to be truly interested in someone you meet, with the goal of building up a friendship instead of trying to get something out of that person, the funny thing is that almost always, something happens later down the line that ends up benefiting either your business or yourself personally. Stop trying to ‘network’ in the traditional business sense, and instead just try to build up the number and depth of your friendships, where the friendship itself is its own reward.”

Tony Hsieh

It is amazing what can happen when you put serving others first and yourself second. Putting another persons wants, needs, and interests first on your priority list can completely shift the dynamic of the relationship. How does it make you feel when a person treats you in this way? You want to do more for them in return. The dynamic changes from being one that is transactional to one that is relational. And isn’t that what life is all about?

It’s a “my pleasure” world…

“The #1 one job of every company is to make their customer’s life easier.”

Verne Harnish

How many companies forget this simple axiom? Heck, how many companies don’t even make doing this a part of their intentional customer experience in any way?

The companies that I am a raving fan of are the companies that are easy to do business with and, in so doing, make my life easier. I might like their products or services, but I love how they serve me. The experience of purchasing or using their services is just as important as the product itself, sometimes more.

In today’s world it often means that the companies who get it right have highly intentional digital experiences that are intently focused on the customer experience and optimizing that experience for simplicity and ease of doing business.

For example, I love the restaurant chain Chick Fil A. They always have incredible customer service and a great product that is consistent and high quality. Over the past couple of years they have taken their intentional customer experience design up a few notches by developing and deploying a highly effective and easy to use digital app for their restaurants. Not only can I find nearby locations when I am traveling, review their menu, place a mobile order, etc. (all basics of doing business in the digital age) but the app remembers my previous orders and allows me to simply and quickly place a favorite custom order without having to going through all the hassle of making the same choices every time I place an order. They solved for my problem, not theirs, and in so doing make my life a little easier when it comes time to get my favorite meal for lunch. With just one or two taps on my screen I can place the order, let the location I am visiting know I am coming and they will have it ready for me when I get there. I didn’t even know that I needed this functionality and now I measure other organizations against the standard that Chick Fil A has set for me!

This sounds so simple right? Why is it a big deal? Because Chick Fil A is focused on my experience, my needs, my problems or challenges as a customer. They have solved for those things with an intentional focus on making my experience with them simple and easy. As a customer I always feel like I am Chick Fil A’s #1 priority and that carries through in how they design their digital experiences. Oh, and guess what? I spend more money with them than I might otherwise because they have made it so easy to do business with them on my terms.

Who are your favorite companies that have a maniacal focus on making your life easier? How are you taking those lessons and applying to the customers you serve in your life?

What can you learn today?

“Every person that you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them.” 

H. Jackson Brown Jr.

How different would our relationships be if we started every conversation, every interaction, every engagement with the simple question of; “what can I learn from this person?” Not as a one-time thing, but every time. Would this help one switch from being focused on self to one that is more focused on others? What would the impact be to the people that you are communicating and engaging with? How might you be perceived?

How many people will you interact with today? How many learning opportunities will you have? What will you learn today?

Don’t be the boat anchor…

“We have enough people who tell it like it is—now we could use a few who tell it like it can be.”

Robert Orben

We all know people that are eternal optimists. They find the good in every situation, every circumstance, every opportunity. The challenge with these folks sometimes is that they can’t see always see when they need to make a change to adjust to a changing situation.

The perpetual pessimist is on the opposite end of the continuum. This is the person that is cynical and negative 100% of the time. These types are the boat anchors of progress and will standing in the way of change and progress through their constant negativity.

What is the right type? I would argue that the ideal is a person that lives on the optimistic side of the spectrum but isn’t so far out on the continuum that they can’t and won’t listen to reality. These are the folks that see the future for what it can be and have the ability to look past the current state without being blind to the challenges ahead.

No matter what, don’t be the person known as the boat anchor!

Immeasurable returns…

“The return we reap from generous actions is not always evident.”

Francesco Guicciardini

Why are you generous? Is your goal with generosity to reap a return? True generousity is to give without any desire for return, when you do, the return you receive is immeasurable.

Make the best use…

“Make the best use of what’s in your power and take the rest as it happens.”

Epictetus

In today’s world it is so easy to get focused on what you don’t have, instead of what you do have. We get wrapped up in what we don’t control instead of focusing on what we do influence and control.

“Make the best use of what’s in your power.” How many of us can say that we truly do this? I know that I certainly don’t do it well day in and day out. There are always more gifts that God has given me that I have yet to discover or there are gifts that I have haven’t used to their maximum potential.

Focus on what’s in your power. As for the rest? Reflect on this verse, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:27‬

Freedom…

“The great revolution in the history of man, past, present and future, is the revolution of those determined to be free.”

John F. Kennedy

Freedom to be right…

Freedom to be wrong…

Freedom to worship…

Freedom to choose…

Thank God for our Freedoms…

Freedom… It wasn’t, and isn’t, free at all…

Extreme discontent…

“The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.”

Warren Bennis

“That’s the way we have always done it” is a sentiment that makes my skin crawl. There can be lots of good reasons for doing something a certain way, but just because you have always done it that way isn’t one of them.

Embrace an attitude of “extreme discontent with the status quo.” Everything can be improved upon or made better, but only if you are actively looking for a reason to do so. If you have a perspective of “extreme discontent” then you are constantly and continually seeking improvement. Only then do you get to solve the more important leadership question, should you change something…

Purpose = Hard Work

“When you live for a strong purpose, hard work isn’t an option. It’s a necessity.”

Steve Pavlina

What is the purpose that you live for? When did it become so strong that the work required to to fulfill your purpose became part of the joy?

With a deep purpose driving you forward you don’t have a choice when it comes to doing the hard work, it happens naturally because you couldn’t fathom not doing it. I would argue that when you truly live for a strong purpose that the hard work doesn’t feel like hard work. The effort is rewarding and while the hours might be long or the work intense, the fact that it is driven by purpose makes the work itself part of the motivation.

Write that down…

“People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.”

Brian Tracy 

Half of 2019 has already passed and the beginning of the 3rd quarter is already here! It is time to review the progress made against Q2 goals and make sure that the right ones are set for Q3.

It is amazing how powerful the act of simply writing down your goals can be. Writing it down makes it tangible and real and puts the focus on defining the next action needed to make the goal a reality. I have used a written goal planning methodology for years and I couldn’t imagine not having written goals and objectives. I truly think I would be lost without this process.

What are your goals for the next three months? The remainder of the year? Are they written down?

So much more yet to learn…

“The mind is just like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets and the more it can expand.”

Idowu Koyenikan

I have been reading and listening to a ton of books and podcasts on mindfulness and the power of the mind/body connection. It is incredible to see how powerful our mind is when we choose to activate it. I admittedly geek out over the science side of things and I really love learning the nitty gritty stuff about how everything works together from a mind, brain, body, biology, and human physiology perspective. It is hard for me to learn something at a surface level. On almost any topic, if I find it truly intriguing, I love to go a mile deep and get as many different perspectives and opinions about whatever that particular topic might be.

One of the most compelling things that keeps resonating in every thing I read and study on the topic of mindfulness is the power of human choice, which starts in your mind, not in your body with a first-level dependency on our own individual biology. We all have the power of choice, and when we make that choice, whether it is to exercise our mind, our bodies, our souls, those choices have far reaching and deep consequences both within ourselves and those that are around us. God’s gift of free will is so incredibly powerful and when we exercise it with a focus on Him and His Kingdom it can have profound impact to our entire world.

The more I learn, the more I understand that there is so much more yet to discover…

If you are interested in this topic here are a few good links to check out:

What is the worst that can happen?

“So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don’t sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we’ve satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.”

Lee Iacocca

What are all the things that could feasabily go wrong with a particular plan or decision? You could spend eternity trying to guess and reason through all the possible uncertainties and outcomes. Perhaps the better question is, “what is the worst possible outcome, what is the worst thing that could happen if we are wrong?”

Understand the risks, and if it they are bad enough, ensure your decision mitigates the risk by having a plan ready to address the possibility. One thing is for sure, you can never be prepared to addresses every uncertainty in life. Deal with the ones that matter and have a plan that allows agility to handle the ones that you can’t anticipate. EXECUTE!

Time to execute…

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Nelson Mandela

Have you ever been in the situation where things are moving so slowly that it feels like nothing will ever get done? That time drags on and more reasons are found NOT to do something? That the focus has shifted to the negative instead of accomplishing the work that needs to happen?

Look in the mirror and ensure that you are ready to say that “the time for planning, thinking, debating, arguing and talking has passed. It is time to execute.” Hold yourself accountable for creating action, not debating the merits of action.

Intelligent fools…

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

E. F. Schumacher

Today’s quote reminds me of a post from a few weeks ago that you can find here.

The burden of communication is on the one who is communicating, not the person who is to receive the message. Great communicators find ways to make the message simple, to reduce complexity, to convey only what matters to the story they are telling. If someone insists on making it complicated, it is more about themselves than the person they are trying to communicate with. This isn’t to say that there aren’t incredibly intricate things that must to be conveyed but the ability to do so will be completely dependent on one’s ability to simplify the information. Having all the data and information in the world won’t help if you can’t convey it in a meaningful fashion.

Here are a just a few questions and tips to consider when you are working to simplify the complicated:

  • What is the story I am trying to tell?
  • What is the single most important thing I need the other person to understand?
  • How can I make this simpler? How can I make this simpler? How can I make this simpler? (Yes, I repeated that three times, it is the continual asking of this question that allows one to distill down to the essence of what matters.)
  • What are the questions that I want to be asked?
  • Why does this matter to my audience? If there is a single word or thought that doesn’t matter can I kill it?

There are a million great questions and ways to further refine the complex but it starts with a deep desire to communicate clearly and cleanly with the focus on the audience and what they need to understand, not what you need to convey. Otherwise, you run the risk of being labeled an intelligent fool…

One year later…

“I think self-discipline is something, it’s like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.”

Daniel Goldstein

It has been just over a year ago since I started this blog, June 19, 2018 to be precise. (If you are curious about why I do this you can read about it here.) It has been an awesome journey and I have learned a tremendous amount about myself, and what I believe to be most important, through this daily practice. I originally started with the goal of blogging daily for one year with the intent to step back after a year and see if I felt that it was still beneficial or if perhaps I wanted to take a different path.

The discipline required to post daily has been a great exercise and I believe it has been as valuable to me as writing the actual musings. Knowing every day that I must write something and very intentionally think about the deeper meaning and implications of a quote I have chosen has been an exceptional learning process and there is no way I am quitting now. It is fun to select the right quote and write about it every morning. It has become part of my daily routine and, like exercise, is something I have truly learned to enjoy. My posts might not be ready by anyone at all but that truly doesn’t matter to me, it has helped me grow through the practice of self-discipline. Thank you for allowing me to occupy a lit bit of digital space.

Have patience…

“Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.”

Saadi

Do you remember the first time you rode a bicycle? How about the first time you gave a presentation or spoke publicly? Both are hard and it likely took a lot of effort and energy to master these skills. But through dedication and repetition those difficult tasks become easier and even routine (well, maybe not for public speaking). To master the skill you have to weather the storms and deal with the inevitable setbacks and bruises. The key is to have a goal that is more important than any temporary pain or frustration. Only then you can achieve your dreams.

The right kind of friend…

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”

William Shakespeare

Friends like the ones described above are rare and precious jewels. How do you ensure that you have friends like this in you life? Focus on being this kind of friend first…

Better today than yesterday!

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”

John Wayne

How often do we start the new day with the thought that it is a brand new and clean day? A day that is ready to be embraced fully because we are a little bit smarter and better because of the day before? Think of the impact on our lives if every day we were to focus on the lessons learned from yesterday and seek to improve today based on those learnings. Talk about continuous improvement!

I journal daily and I am going to add this question to my end of day routine for a while to see how it impacts tomorrow: “What did I learn today that will make tomorrow better?”

What if?

“Discovery is seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else has thought.”

Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

One of the most dangerous thoughts in the world is “this is how it has always been done.” To grow, to change, to be different we must disconnect from our past experiences and expertise on what has always worked and see possibilities through a different lens. To do this you must make sure that you aren’t so emotionally and personally invested in the activities that created the present that you can’t quit them if necessary to build a better future. Easy to say, hard to do. To help with this start asking a lot more questions of yourself and others that start with these two words, “what if…”

Too busy to listen?

“No matter how busy you are, you must take the time to make the other person feel important.”

Mary Kay Ash

What makes you feel important when speaking with others? What signals do you pick up on that let you know another person values you? Do you know the answers to these questions for the people in your life?

One of the best ways to make another person feel important is to truly listen when they are speaking. Giving someone time is meaningless if you aren’t really in the conversation. Being engaged in actively listening and seeking understanding is one key to communicating value and importance. Unfortunately I am often guilty of being in a hurry and not doing this very well.

Today, in your conversations with others, see how many times you find yourself listening in order to respond versus truly hearing what another person has to say. Are you serving others, or focused on being served? You might surprise yourself.

“To me” versus “for me”

“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.”

Gen. George S. Patton

Why did this happen to me?

Versus…

God, why did this happen for me?

Change just two words in the sentences above and you move from being a victim to being a person with a purpose.

The minute you accept a challenge as being something that is supposed to make you better, so that you can improve, you begin to win. I will fully admit that there have been, and will continue to be, times in life where I wonder why things have to be so challenging. Shouldn’t some things just be easy? The problem is that the things are the easiest are the ones you take for granted. They are the things that don’t have the lasting meaning and impact. Oh but when you embrace the challenge, lean into the suck, build a win by overcoming your self-imposed limitations, that’s when the magic really happens…

Don’t lower your bar…

“Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.”

Arnold Palmer 

When is it okay not to give 100% effort? When is it okay to stop trying? If you know you aren’t going to win, is dialing back the effort or intensity okay?

NO! If you are going to do something, do it. Don’t put in 75% effort because you “can’t win” or because “it’s harder than you expected.” The first time you deliver less than you are capable you are lowering the bar and setting a new level of acceptance. If you commit to doing something do it all the way, no excuses, no exceptions.

Why? Because what if you are wrong? What if you are about to achieve the breakthrough necessary to win? What if you are teaching yourself, and others, that giving less than your best is okay? Is that acceptable to you? I would argue that making a total effort, when the odds are against you, is the most important time to give it your all. That’s when you learn what you are made of…

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