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.

Seasons…

“If you don’t like change, you will like irrelevance even less.”

General Eric Shinseki

This has long been one of my favorite quotes. Change is a natural state of the world. Today change happens at an ever faster rate and we have to be able to adapt to new ways of thinking and doing things. If you aren’t willing to change, then you are choosing to be in the passenger seat of this bus we call life.

For those that aren’t comfortable with change, and at times that happens to all of us, I find this verse from Ecclesiastes to be both comforting and inspiring.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

If you want to be relevant first take the time to think of how you need to change…

Anchor your change in your “why…”

“There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

Aldous Huxley

When you are focused on improving are you doing it to serve yourself in order to get or achieve something? Or are you improving yourself with the perspective that through personal growth you can better serve others?

If you have read any of my posts in the past you know that I fervently believe that the essence of why we are here is to serve others. This can take many forms and styles and manifest in different ways throughout our lives. To serve more effectively we must grow and change ourselves or we cannot be all that God created us to become and thereby honor his purpose for our lives.

How does this relate to today’s quote? Change is hard, and personal growth is hard, and when you are embracing internal change, the kind that is done by pointing the finger at yourself and calling BS on your own shortcomings you have to have a deeply seated understanding of why the change is needed and who you are serving by taking on the change. If you lose sight of your why, then the change won’t stick or you’ll find yourself having walked down a path that isn’t aligned with who you are, and who you want to become…

Change others by changing yourself…

“Once you change, change happens. This is a big lesson. Expecting someone else to change is like pleading with a manufacturer to turn Twinkies into a green smoothie.”

Sadiqua Hamdan

Do you spend more of your time thinking about how others should change or how you could change your behaviors and actions that could help you both grow towards your goals? It is easy to point fingers and find fault with others but it is a little harder to level the same degree of criticism against yourself. Instead of focusing on someone else instead think of how much of your effort and action should be focused on where you need to change instead.

No one is going to change simply because you want them too, except for yourself. If you want it bad enough you’ll do the hard work. If you don’t, you won’t. Can you accept less than you are capable of simply because you don’t want to do the work?

Get up and go…

“The only person holding you back is you.  No more excuses.  It’s time to change.”

Tony Robbins

What do you want to accomplish? Who do you want to become? Where do you want to go? How do you want to live? Who do you want to serve?

Answer these questions, plan your work and then work your plan. We can always come up with a long list of reasons “why this or that won’t work” or “why this happened to me.” I am a firm believer that the only difference between ‘reasons’ and an ‘excuse’ is an action plan and the will to do something about it. Otherwise we will just wallow in our own self pity and our dreams will turn to dust. Get up and go. If you don’t you have no one to blame but yourself so make it happen.

To lead yourself change your mind…

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” 

George Bernard Shaw

It is amazing how much of our leadership impact and ability is based on first being able to lead oneself. If we can’t be completely candid, open and real with ourselves on our need to change, how can we expect others to change?

What is the #1 change you need to make on and in yourself to increase your impact? What is getting in your way? How can you start the change today?

Change starts small…

“Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.”

Jim Rohn

Where does your life need to change? Are you willing to simply wait and be “lucky” in order for change to happen? To be sure we are all lucky in some form or another. But leaving life up to the vagaries of chance just isn’t an acceptable plan. To accomplish anything worth doing you have to embrace change and lean forward into change with all the gusto you have in your being.

I have found that some of the most important changes in life aren’t the biggest ones that I have embraced, but have instead been the small ones, done well and executed relentlessly, those changes have made the biggest difference.

Why is this? For me, I have found that the small changes and the willingness to embrace them, to get outside of my comfort zone, have been the catalyst for larger change. They have prepared me mentally and physically to let go of the old and embrace the new.

If you want to change something big, start with something small. Do it today…

Outside in…

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Wayne Dyer

What challenge or opportunity in your life would be improved if you could get an outside-in perspective? There are only two ways to make this happen. Ask for help, or seek to change your own perspective. What’s preventing you from doing either one?

Clear expectations first…

“What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.”

Chip Heath


If you don’t understand the reason for a change can you really be committed to the hard work it takes to make it happen? As a leader if people are resisting change have you done all the work necessary to communicate clearly why the change is needed?

It is our responsibility as leaders to own the creation of clarity with our teams. No on else is responsible or accountable for this critical step. If you haven’t set clear expectations change won’t stick…

Embrace discomfort…

“If a change doesn’t feel uncomfortable it’s probably not really a change.”

John Maxwell

I love the way this quote challenges how I think about change. How often do we truly seek to be uncomfortable? It is easy to talk about change and the need for change but are we truly embracing the the opportunity to be uncomfortable? Changing ourselves and our behaviors can be hard and I have found that often people change just enough to check the box saying that they did it. When this happens it doesn’t take much to slip back into old habits. It doesn’t take much for the change that was being made to just slip away.

How uncomfortable do you have to be with a current situation or circumstance to make the challenge and discomfort of change a better alternative? How can you lower this hurdle rate to smash through barriers and implement true change faster and with more vigor and therefore prevent yourself from slipping back into old habits or behaviors?

In a world of constant change and disruption then a feeling of discomfort is the new normal. We must be continually challenging ourselves to grow and evolve and pushing through the natural tendencies we have to maintain the status quo. We must be comfortable being continually uncomfortable if we truly want to grow.

Don’t be the egg that doesn’t hatch…

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

C. S. Lewis

I’ve always been amazed by the fact that when a baby bird is breaking free from their egg that the struggle they are going through is critical to their growth and survival. In fact, if you help them they are likely to die because they haven’t been strengthened through the effort.

We are like that too right? We need the struggle and effort to be prepared for the world ahead. We need the crucible of change, hard effort, and struggle to grow. Otherwise we just stay the same and stagnate. I would argue that stagnation is the same as the egg that goes bad…

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…

Waste of energy…

“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
 
Maya Angelou
 

Why exert effort on an immovable object? I think this applies to complaining about things that you can’t change.  In fact, complaining as a rule is a waste of effort and energy.  I can’t think of one time in life where I have felt better for having complained without then taking some action to create change.  Complaints because you just have to be heard don’t result in change.  So why bother?

 

 

Break free to change…

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

Socrates 

Sometimes the clearest way to see what change is needed is to separate oneself from the cacophony of daily life and simply be still.  The hustle and bustle of activity serves to lock oneself into a routine, a relentless hamster wheel effect.  It is hard to see what change is needed when your energy is spent just keeping up.  Sometimes it is not about fighting the old, it is about breaking free from it long enough to know what change is needed.  

What are you going to learn today?

“The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic, long-term learning process, and not to live in a shell of static, safe mediocrity. Usually, growth comes at the expense of previous comfort or safety.”

Josh Waitzkin

“Static, safe mediocrity.” Just those words alone make my skin crawl.  Learning, and being willing to change because of what you have learned, is key to breaking free from the trap of “static, safe mediocrity.’

So what are you going to go learn today?  Not just a check the box thing where you can say you learned something new.  But what are you going to go learn that has the power to challenge the status quo or how you think?  

If you don’t seek to learn something new daily, something that challenges you, you are well on the path to “static, safe mediocrity.”

 

 

 

Be the change…

“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you’d like to act.”

Bob Dylan

There is such power in these words.  Changing your behavior is hard, but much easier if you have a clear picture in your mind of what, or who, you want to be.  Then you just have to do it one simple step at a time, one day at a time.  

Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor is the person you were born to be.  You have to decide to make the changes, and then just do it.

 

How much change, and when?

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road… Unless you fail to make the turn.”

Helen Keller

How do you know when you need to change?  How much change is necessary?  I really like this quote because it makes me think through those two questions.  When you are driving a car on the interstate your changes are subtle and slight.  A big change in direction can be accomplished with just a few degrees of adjustment on the steering wheel and very little pressure because the change is happening over a great span of distance.  But if you are driving across town, and come to a ninety degree turn, you are turning the steering wheel through multiple rotations to accomplish the change in direction that is necessary.

Life and leadership can be a lot like these examples.  Sometimes the changes needed are minor adjustments that end up making huge impact over time.  Other times the change needed is immediate and drastic and must happen NOW.  Know when to make the right type of change decision is key.  Because if you don’t, as Helen Keller said, you will fail to make the turn…

Why don’t you try?

“What good is an idea if it remains an idea? Try. Experiment. Iterate. Fail. Try again. Change the world.”

Simon Sinek

How many great ideas just whither up and die because they never see the light of day?  I know I have had some great ones (well I think they were anyway) that have lived only in my mind.  Why does this happen?  Is it fear of failure?  Prioritizing the wrong things?  Not making the experimenting with new ideas a focus area?  

There can be tons of reasons of course.  But what would happen if you dedicated an intentional amount of your time to focusing on bringing new ideas, great ideas to life?  Keep a running list, prioritize that list by impact and what really excites you.  Decide to try one new idea each year, quarter, month, whatever schedule makes sense.  But decide to try.  If you don’t decide to act then you never will.  

Complaining is an investment in negative energy…

“Watch yourself about complaining. What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

Maya Angelou

I love how this quote frames out there are only two paths forward from a complaint.  Change it, or change yourself.  That’s it.  Once you have invested the energy (think about that for a minute…) into complaining about something you only have two action oriented choices.  Of course you could continue to complain and wallow in misery but that’s your own choice if you decide to do so and generating a positive return from that energy is practically impossible.

I’ve found that approaching this with the perspective of an investor can be incredibly impactful.  Ask yourself; “is this investment of my precious energy and time into complaining about something going to result in a positive action or outcome?”  If the answer to this questions is “no”, then why would you continue to invest in something with a negative return?   Change the situation or change yourself.  If the answer is “yes,” then the automatic next question is “so what are you going to do about it?”

 If you are going to use the finite energy you have in life to complain about something will you take the next step?  Will you own the reason for the complaint and do something about it?  Easier said than done of course.  But most things worth doing are…  

Change is an investment opportunity…

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

Dan Millman

Change can be tough.  There will be uncertainty and the unknown lurking just over the horizon. Staying the same is always the easier choice, though it is only very rarely more beneficial.  Every great discovery and adventure story starts with, as it’s basic premise, uncertainty, the unknown, great risk and only the potential for reward.  Frodo Baggins certainly defied all Hobbit traits by setting out on his great adventure.  It would have been much easier for him to stay home, bury his head in the sand like an ostrich and ignore the burning world around him.  But that isn’t the choice that he made, and if you are as much of a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic as I am you know how that turned out…  

Building something new takes energy, but it is an investment in new experiences that creates the person you were born to become.  We all have a FINITE amount of energy to spend.  Do you invest it in the future or spend it trying to hang on to the past?  For example, think of how much money has been spent by people trying to look younger than they are.  Money well spent fighting the perception of the aged or would it be money better spent embracing new life experiences or helping others? That’s a very personal choice, but it represents the choices we make when we are fighting to stay the same instead of investing in becoming a new and better self.  

What investments are you going to make today?

 

Perfect isn’t possible…

“Progressive improvement beats delayed perfection.”

Mark Twain

Perfect isn’t possible.  Once you come to terms with this then there is no need to wait hoping that you can get there.  How many great ideas, projects, initiatives, etc. never see the light of day because the “timing isn’t perfect,” or the idea, project, initiatve “isn’t perfect yet?”  

This doesn’t mean that there is an excuse for shoddy work or poor execution.  You can still be striving for great, but waiting for perfection means that you will be waiting forever.  Make change happen.  Make mistakes, learn, grow, get better.  Do something! Just get better.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Just don’t wait to create change because you are hoping for perfect because it will never happen.  

 

 

Close the gap…

“It is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be, by remaining what we are.”

Max De Pree

The gap analysis is a management tool used to determine the difference between where we desire to be and where we actually are today.  The key to effective use of this tool is a Gap Analysiscandid and honest critique of actual performance with no self-deception on what reality truly looks like.  Once you identify the gaps between the desired future state and true reality only then you can you create the action plan needed to create the change that needs to happen to bring the future vision to life.  The key here of course is the ability to create lasting growth and change.

I love this quote because it applies every single time you read it, no matter where you are in your journey through life.  There is never a time when we can sit back and rest on our laurels and previous accomplishments and be content with where we are.  We are always on a journey towards becoming what we need to be, and must be ever viligant in our need to grow and change.

When we think about why we are on this earth, and the impact that we want and need to make on the world around us, how can we ever stop working on ourselves?

 

 

Where does change happen?

“If change is happening on the outside faster than on the inside the end is in sight.”

Jack Welch

We live in a world of constant change.  The world has always been like this but the rate of change today is faster than ever before.  This is the age of disruption and every long held belief about the way the world operates is being reviewed and evolved.

This applies to the external world of course, the context that Jack was speaking on when he coined this phrase, but it applies equally well to our own individual growth as contributors and leaders. To remain relevant we must intentionally growing our skills, talents, and capabilities, in a constant and disciplined manner.  If we don’t then our ability to impact those around us and achieve our goals is constantly diminishing.  

Think of it like two cars on the highway where one car is going 75 MPH and the second car is going 60 MPH.  The first car is continually putting more distance between the two drivers.  After an hour it is only 15 miles, but after two hours, 30 miles, three hours 45 miles, etc. 

That’s our world today.  Someone somewhere is finding a way to go faster.  What are you doing to grow your expertise, skills, talents and capabilities to go faster and close the gap?  How are you working to ensure that the end isn’t near?

 

Why are you planting seeds?

“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

IMG_0178
Rose at the Grape Leaf Inn, Healdsburg, CA

For a seed to grow it needs good soil, sunshine, water, and fertilizer.  The right combination of ingredients leads to amazing flowers.  But which of these elements gets the credit for the flowers when they bloom? 

It really doesn’t matter does it? The credit for the end result is less important than the beauty that is achieved.  Yes, there is joy in the process of growth, and all the players matter, but not more than the achievement of the goal.  

It works the same way when we as leaders are focused on the end results, not on who gets the credit.  

 

Good ideas become great when they have the benefit of the input of others.  Are you planting seeds for you or for a greater good?

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.  

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