Boldly free…

“Freedom lies in being bold.”

Robert Frost

It is amazing how much energy can be wasted on time spent worrying and doubting. It is equally amazing how clarifying and liberating it can be when a decision has been made and action is taken.

So, when in doubt make the decision. Take decisive action. Do the thing you know needs to be done. True freedom only follows action and boldness. If you make the wrong decision, you can always make another one.

You just might find that true freedom is simply the ability to make a choice.

Bring the future home…

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”

Alan Lakein

The key here is that you must have put in the time, effort, and energy into thinking about the future you want to create. So often people seem to simply exist through life or react to the world around them and then they get frustrated that their “plans“ haven’t come true.

You don’t really have a plan if you haven’t defined what you want the future to look like. You just have activities. You have energy expended with no defined return…

Define the future you want to create. Plan your work. Work your plan.

Distraction free zone…

“We all need to get the balance right between action and reflection. With so many distractions, it is easy to forget to pause and take stock.”

Queen Elizabeth

Sometimes it is nice to simply drive with the car radio turned off (hmm, why exactly do we even call it a radio anymore anyway?!) and enjoy some quiet time to think and reflect. Taking a long drive can be my best opportunity to think and be disconnected from all the digital distractions that demand every spare second of our time.

How do you intentionally find time to pause and reflect before tearing into the next task or action? Do you have a distraction free zone that allows you to think clearly?

If you don’t find the time, then you are going to burn out, or find yourself performing at a sub-optimal level. You can’t run the engine at max RPM’s forever without the performance degrading. Take the time to pause and reflect, it’s worth it.

Instead of…

“Do the best you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Theodore Roosevelt

It is easy to spend the finite amount energy we have in our lives worrying about things we cannot control.

Instead of doing our best effort, we try to figure out what is the minimum amount needed to meet the expectations…

Instead of giving praise for what we do have, we compare ourselves to others and what they have…

Instead of focusing on what is right in front of us we worry about what might, or might not, happen…

It can be equally easy to focus on what is right in front of us if we choose to do so. We just have to make the choice to be grateful…

I am grateful that I have an opportunity to use the skills and talents God has blessed me with…

I am grateful for all the gifts and things that I have been blessed with…

I am grateful for the time I have right now to spend doing things I enjoy with people that I care about…

Amazing how gratitude can change your perspective on things…

Do you care enough to feed just one?

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

Mother Teresa

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

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

Move with purpose…

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

Alfred Adler

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

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

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

Stop sitting, start doing…

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

Dale Carnegie

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

Reflection = Learning

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”

Peter Drucker

I might amend this quote to say “follow action with quiet reflection.” There is just so much value that comes from taking the time to simply think about what happened and what one can learn from any action, whether it was successful or not.

I had a rare and wonderful privilege today to take time and sit and think about leader ship, growth, and ways to become a more effective leader. It was time that was wonderfully well spent and very enlightening.

I would highly encourage anyone to be very intentional with the practice of active reflection and intentional learning. It will not happen by accident or simply through desire it must be intentional. This means that it must be scheduled and followed through on with the same discipline that one would treat any other meeting.

If you don’t practice reflection then growth and learning is left to chance and circumstance. That doesn’t seem like a very good deal to me.

The secret…

“Take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly, and try another. But by all means, try something.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

I had a conversation yesterday with a person whom I greatly admire and respect. During our time together we talked about the importance of understanding the opportunities we have to to serve customers and the incredible value and importance of constantly and continually trying new things, always in an effort to improve and add value to the relationship that a customer has with our respective organizations.

It is incredibly refreshing, and motivating, to share similar beliefs and perspectives with another person and to learn from those who practice those beliefs in their daily lives. That conversation was the reason that I selected this quote today.

It is easy in life to let the pace of the world, or our own internal sense of timing, dictate our ability and willingness to try new things. It is so easy to get caught up in a “pursuit of perfect” and forget that intelligent failure is where real learning occurs. It is so easy to fall in love with your own ideas and measures of success and forget that the customer (or anyone in your life with whom you have a relationship) might have a very different measure of success and value. Is is easy to be lulled into a spirit of contentment, which is only one step removed from complacency and irrelevance.

I am very thankful for the people that God puts in my life to reinforce the value of embracing change and to always push forward with an attitude of “relentless discontent with the status quo.”

Doing something, and learning from what comes from the effort, is critical for growth. There is no growth without first taking action. Try something. Be willing to fail. Learn. Try something else. Do it over and over and over again. That is the secret to growth and change…


Take action!

“You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Do you need to know all the results of your actions in order to make the actions worthwhile?

What if you can never know how many lives your actions touched or who’s life is changed forever? Does that make the action less worthy in some way?

Of course not. Do the work, take the action, make a difference. Results matter, taking action matters more.

The contagion of beginning…

“If we wait for the moment when everything is ready, we will never begin.”

Ivan Turgenev

Everything can be improved upon. No idea, concept or plan is perfect. In fact, everything we do in life falls far short of being as good as it possibly could be. And that is okay.

Take a deep breath. Let it out. Yes, nothing we ever do will be perfect, and that is okay.

As a person that likes to do things “right” I know how hard it can be to balance between making sure that some idea is “ready” and when is it “ready enough.”

We can always wait one more day, and then begin. We can always rehearse the presentation or pitch just one more time. We can always review and edit the plan (or the blog post) just a little bit more and make it better. But what if “one more day” turns into never? What if the extra time rehearsing makes the presentation feel scripted or canned instead of real and authentic? What the extra time editing and reviewing removes the real and raw emotion and prevents “publish” from ever being clicked? What great works have been lost to the annals of time because the creator of the work spent all their time getting ready, but never actually started on the effort itself?

Seek to find the balance between “right” and “right now.” Know when you have reached the point of “good enough” and then begin. Make the commitment to beginning a higher priority that the commitment to getting ready.

Throughout life I have found that waiting can be contagious, but so is taking action. Be sure that you are a carrier of the contagion of beginning, and not the carrier of the disease of seeking perfection before beginning.

Just go help someone…

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

Barack Obama

There is nothing worst than sitting around feeling sorry for yourself. Get up. Go do something. Anything.

Sometimes all it takes is simply deciding to do something and that is what makes the difference. No one ever accomplished great things sitting on their rear end. Go find something good to do for someone else. Not because you feel like it, but because it will mean something to another person.

That’s why we are here right? To make a difference in the lives of others, to give them hope for a brighter day and a better way.

How are you going to make a difference for just one person today? Don’t answer this question later, answer it now. Then do it.

Carpe Omnia…

“Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.”

Benjamin Disraeli

What dream, ambition or goal have you been contemplating and thinking about and yet doing nothing with? Have you ever become happier just thinking about something instead of doing it? Of course not. That’s not how we were built to live our lives.

The action you take today to make a dream come true might not work out, but you will be better for having acted. The next action might not be the one that brings the dream to fruition, but it might be the nudge that gets the flywheel moving.

When in doubt do something, even if it turns out to be wrong. Otherwise you are surrendering to be a person that sits idly by while the precious gift of time that we have been given slips through your fingers. The time is going to pass anyway, wouldn’t you rather have used it intentionally and with purpose?

You might regret your actions at times, but you will regret even more having never acted on your dreams… Seize it all…

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.

Doer vs. thinker…

“We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action.”

Dr. Henry Link

What are you afraid of? What fears cloud your mind when you are sitting back thinking? How do you turn this into action and put those fears to rest?

Taking action always makes a challenge a little less formidable. Just the sheer act of expending energy towards a solution makes the thing, however daunting it might be, something that isn’t as scary and out of reach. All the planning and thinking in the world doesn’t give me the same relief as the first action towards something. Being a great “doer” is far more rewarding than being a great “thinker.”

Self-discipline starts with why…

“Self-discipline is the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state.”

Steve Pavlina

We all have bad days. Days where we don’t have energy, are upset, tired or frustrated. Heck, if we only did things when we wanted to do them then how much would ever get done in life?!

I would argue that the most impactful people aren’t those that do the best job when they are motivated and energized but instead are those that do the best job despite their motivation or energy level.

How do you do this? How do you ensure that your ability to deliver isn’t based on your current emotional state? I can only speak for myself in this regard and for me it is all about elevating my thinking to stay connected with the “why.” With a strong enough awareness of the “why” we are doing something then any emotional or other distraction can be dealt with and put aside. Without a strong connection to the why, any little molehill can become a mountain.

Wish & Try

“Wishing is a form of inspiration for the lazy mind but taking Action, Persisting and finding alternative routes to your destination against all odds is the definition of a SUCCESSFUL Venture.”

Oscar Bimpong 

It is rare that I reuse quotes intentionally but this one really resonated with my as I reflected on the quote yesterday about removing “try” from my vocabulary. I think the word “wish” can fall into the same category as the word “try” if one isn’t careful. It can be an excuse if left on its own without the effort, energy and tenacity needed to turn something into action. If you combine “wish” and “try” in the same sentence you are almost guaranteed failure.

For another perspective on this quote here are the thoughts it prompted the last time I selected it.

Do something!

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

Dale Carnegie

Sitting around waiting for things to happen just sucks. I am the world’s worst at being patient because sometimes patience just feels too much like inaction. I’ve long lived by the tule that it is better to do something, even if it is wrong, than to do nothing at all.

When you are doing something, anything, then you don’t have time to be afraid and worry about all the “what ifs.” Sometimes the action can be physical, sometimes it can be sitting down to reflect and plan the work. Doing something is the key. There is no time or space for sitting idly by in life. If you do, then you will reap what you sow which is nothing…

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.”

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

Ownership = Action

“The chief condition on which, life, health and vigor depend on, is action. It is by action that an organism develops its faculties, increases its energy, and attains the fulfillment of its destiny.”

Colin Powell

When do you know it is the right time to take action?  I would argue that if you are thinking about whether it is the right time, that the right time has already passed.  

A bias towards action is a bias towards ownership.  If you have that ownership trait then you will have a bias towards action.  If you don’t, then you can grow one.  Just start taking action on the things that need to be done.

What is the worst that can happen?

“Whatever the dangers of the action we take, the dangers of inaction are far, far greater.”

Anthony Charles Lynton Blair 

What decision are you delaying while waiting for more information?  How much data or insight do you need in order to make it?  Will you ever have enough information to be 100% sure it is the right decision?  

Perfect information and insight doesn’t exist.  If we only made decisions when we had enough information to insure that our course of action was 100% infallible then nothing would ever get done.  However, what is the impact to those around you when decisions aren’t made and action isn’t taken?  Slowness and inaction because the accepted norm and indecision becomes a disease.  It creeps through an organization or group and paralyzes all potential for progress. 

Ask yourself this question the next time you are faced with a key action decision.  “What is the worst possible thing that can happen based on this decision to take action?”  Once you understand the risks, and can mitigate for them, no decision seems quite as daunting.  

G.S.D. = Get. Stuff. Done.

“Action is the foundational key to all success.”

Pablo Picasso

When in doubt do something.  Even if it is isn’t perfect and might not be the best possible choice.  With a strong bias towards action you can always take another action to address whatever it is that needs to be fixed.  Sitting around talking about things doesn’t make change happen. I believe a bias towards action is critical in life and leadership.  Inaction represents indecision and an inability to get things done.   Inaction doesn’t inspire confidence or create a winning attitude.  

When in doubt, focus on one simple rule.    Get. Stuff. Done. 

 

The power of taking action…

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough, we must do.”

Leonardo da Vinci

leonardo-vitruvian-man-bI have just finished a fascinating book titled “The Leading Brain” which delves into how our brain works and the reason why we make the decisions we do.  Understanding the neuroscience behind our behavior as humans and particularly as leaders is really really interesting and has given me much greater insight to my own behaviors and how to change them for the better.  

One of the things I learned was how precisely how powerful small habits can be and the science behind why breaking the big things down into reasonable and attainable actions creates long term and sustainable success.  I thought I used to do this fairly well but now  knowing the importance of “doing” as this quote from Leonardo points out, I recognize how critical these actions are to rewire your brain.  By breaking things down, starting with small actions, creating wins that give you brain the dopamine boost it craves you literally rewire your neural paths and reinforce the way you want your brain to work.  Incredible!  (yes, I recognize that I am a geek for this stuff…)

Find your big thing, break it down, start with an action that matters.  Today…

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