“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”
Edward de Bono
Things look different when you see them through a different lens or perspective. The ability to be creative requires that one find a way to let go of the known, the safe, and the established ways of doing things. Instead you have to be relentless in looking for connections that aren’t there yet. Opportunities to build a bridge between seemingly unrelated items and create value that didn’t previously exist.
One of the best ways that I have found to accomplish this is by simply observing and asking questions. One must view the world through a lens of intense curiosity and a “what if” mindset. It is equally important to have a mindset of humility that allows one to ask questions and listen for both what is said, and unsaid in response.
The bottom line is that creativity requires one to surrender the desire to keep things the way they have always been. What if has to become your favorite way of thinking.
“Leadership on the other hand is about creating change that you believe in.”
Before anyone else can buy into your leadership you have to be completely bought in and sold on what it is you are seeking to change. If you don’t believe in it fully and passionately then those you are seeking to influence won’t either. You can’t “fake it till you make it” when it comes to creating change. You have to believe in it with all your heart and soul.
If you don’t then everyone will know and you’ll find yourself not leading anyone at all.
“Don’t worry about being worried. You’re heading out on an adventure and you can always change your mind along the way and try something else.”
It is amazing how much freedom comes from viewing the world with a “life is an adventure“ perspective. When you think about exploration and innovation or starting something new, there has to be a degree of fear and excitement. Frankly, you can’t have an adventure without a little bit of uncertainty and a strong underlying element of mystery and excitement.
But in order to keep from letting fear shut you down, you must understand the role fear plays in an adventure. It is supposed to be something that motivates you to go a little harder, push a little further, dig a little deeper. Fear is necessary and needed in order to grow. Fear can be a is a great motivator, especially when you keep these words from Proverbs in your mind…
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25 NIV
Don’t spend your time endlessly worrying about what might happen on your great adventure. Channel the fear in a positive way and know that when you put your faith in the right place, you will be safe. The path will appear, and if it doesn’t, you can always find another path…
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”
If you aren’t living life in this way what exactly do you have? An existence. Simply a series of events moving you towards a point in the future which may or may not be meaningful. For most of us, present times set aside, our lives are no longer about mere survival. We have more to give, more to see, more to do, more to live.
When we become timid and choose to wait to see what the world throws at us, we lose the ability to seek out the new adventures that might be just beyond the turn in the road in front of us.
The best way to live life in the moment, and not miss out on what is truly important, is to focus on being present TODAY and thereby reducing future regrets. When the end comes, and it will come for all of us, what will you regret having NOT done?What adventures will you wish you HAD taken?Who will you wish you had spent MORE time with?
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
The minute you believe that you are better than someone else you have lost the essence of our shared humanity; you are buying into the lie that the world revolves around self and our reason for existence is simply to serve our own egos and desires.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We aren’t here on this earth to build monuments to ourselves. The pale accomplishments we take such pride in today will mean nothing in just a few years. We are here to impact the lives of others and make a difference through service to others.
In order to accomplish this we must completely surrender our desires to be better than any other person and put our energy and focus into being the person that God created us to be. Relentless discontent with the status quo, our own status quo, is the key to becoming the person that you were born to be…
“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”
Peter F. Drucker
There are only so many hours in the day. How are you spending them?
I find it useful to think of time as a bank account. You spend your minutes and hours each day as you would your money. What kind of return are you getting for your spend? Do you look back at your days and weeks and wonder where the time went? Are you achieving the goals that you sent for the month the quarter or the year? Do you even have goals?
The bottom line is this. You only have a finite amount of time in each day and week, and none of us know when that time is going to run out. Spend it wisely and intentionally. Make sure that you are getting maximum return for your investment. If you aren’t, stop spending the time on the things that don’t matter and invest in the things that do…
I recently read “The Shackleton Way” and was absolutely fascinated by the leadership skills and expertise that Sir Earnest Shackleton displayed during the epic “Endurance” expedition attempt to cross the Antarctic continent. It intrigued me so greatly that I then read “South” which is Shackleton’s book on the topic and am in the process of reading “Endurance” which is considered to be the seminal work on the subject.
I am continually amazed by the fact that in the face of the greatest of unknowns, and with no outside influence or support, that men could rise above the uncertainly of the next moment and survive for months at a time in the most grueling of conditions. The name of their ship, the “Endurance” was incredibly apt for what was to come.
Knowing that others have survived conditions that are far beyond contemporary understanding helps put everything in perspective. Having a positive attitude and focusing on what is truly important is how one perseveres. On the other side you will be far stronger than how you went in…
“When you blame others, you give up your power for growth and change.”
Dr. Robert Anthony
Taking full and complete ownership of your thoughts, your actions, and your circumstances is the first step to being able to truly grow. When you realize that you have the power to change your attitude and therefore the outlook you have on life you are full and truly free.
On the flip side, if you are constantly seek to make what you are or where you are in life someone else’s fault you are surrendering your ability to growth into the person you are capable of becoming.
Freedom is realizing that no one else can define you, you alone are embodied with that responsibility. Seize that opportunity own it!
“I have accepted fear as part of life – specifically the fear of change… I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back…”
Fear is only a barrier if it stops you in your tracks. Fear can be an incredible motivator and an inspiration for change, if you let it. The key is to know that on the other side of fear is growth and opportunity. Just keep moving, never stop moving.
“We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance.”
What opportunities for change, rebirth, growth are being primed because of the state of the world today? Right now massive change is being forced at the societal level. So what second chances are being created for each of us to look at all aspects of our lives and not merely adapt to the change around us, but to truly reset our minds and perspective?
It is easy to say “I just want to get back to normal.” What if “normal” wasn’t the best or optimum state to be in? If we just work hard to get back to the way things were, we miss all the opportunity for rebirth as better versions of ourselves.
Here are some questions to start the thinking process and identify the opportunities for positive change.
What of the changes have I really enjoyed? Despised?
What should I keep as we move forward?
What new opportunities are being created right now that I should embrace?
What new habits or behaviors have I developed that I want to keep? Stop?
What are the most important lessons I have learned through this experience?
What would I have done differently at various points over the past few weeks/months? How could this knowledge help me going forward?
What relationships have I fostered? Neglected?
One year from now what do I want to have accomplished based on new knowledge and experiences I have gained?
What is the best decision I have made in recent weeks? Worst decision?
What great opportunity is God presenting me with right now?
This is certainly not meant to be an exhaustive list, just a place to start. (personally I find that leveraging the Socratic method of problem solving to be incredibly insightful and thought provoking.)
We can either choose to wallow in misery by focusing on what we don’t have, or we can look for the opportunities that are being created for us. Every change is an opportunity to build something better if we choose to look forward.
“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
Everyone wants to skip right to the part in life where they soar like an eagle and they forget that each stage of life is precious and beautiful.
The time in the egg is for growth and development with a shield of safety surrounding you. But there comes a time when you have to change, to grow, to be more. And like the chick that is hatching from the egg, it is the struggle that builds the strength necessary to one day soar…
“To listen is to continually give up all expectation and to give our attention, completely and freshly, to what is before us, not really knowing what we will hear or what that will mean. In the practice of our days, to listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.”
You never know what you might learn when you really truly listen. I have to remind myself of this all the time. Sometimes we are all working so hard to listen only for what we want to hear that we forget that the real joy of listening is to learn. Once you have learned something, you can then be changed by it. You just have to commit to listen first. Easy to say, much harder to do…
“The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.”
The question I think of when I read this is “is being your true and authentic self and being vulnerable to expose that self to others worth it if you don’t win?”
For me the answer is an unambiguous yes. It is far better to be your true and authentic self than to be any pale shadow or imitation thereof. Living in an authentic life means to live a life of vulnerability. If you want to be authentic you have to be vulnerable.
“Instead of focusing on the circumstances that you cannot change – focus strongly and powerfully on the circumstances that you can.”
Energy spent worrying about things you can’t control or influence is an investment with a guaranteed return of zero percent. In fact, a very good case could be made that there is a negative return on the investment because fear, doubt and worry serve to diminish your abilities across a wide spectrum of skills.
I find that in times of uncertainty or fear perhaps the best thing to do is to turn to a good book and seek to gain perspective. For me, one of my favorites is “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. Reading that always helps me find perspective on what is truly important in life. Having a strong sense of focus on the things that you can control, when so much of the world is out of control, is incredibly clarifying. Where are you investing your energy today?
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
When I picked out today’s quote I was thinking of the current state of our world with the coronavirus pandemic and the need to practice “social distancing” in order to slow down the spread of this virus. There have been pervasive news reports showing people who aren’t willing, or able, to make the modifications necessary in their lives to be part of the change that is needed in the world today.
Learning new habits and making massive change to deeply entrenched routines is hard. It doesn’t happen overnight and it is much easier to focus on things that “other people” need to do, but that for whatever reason aren’t things that you need to do yourself.
But knowing that change is hard doesn’t excuse one from having to do the hard work and make the changes that are needed. In fact, in a time like this, changing the world is not where our efforts and energy should be focused. We must put all our energies into creating transformation within the areas of life that we have the most control over, our own behavior and actions. In the end that is the only way we are going to change the world.
When you step back from the current situation, and the crisis that is necessitating these adjustments in our lives, the principles of creating transformation through focus on the change needed in oneself are just as important and relevant.
Maybe through all of this we can learn how to truly change the world, by learning how to change ourselves first…
“My opinion is a view I hold…well, until I find something that changes it.”
Someone once imparted some great wisdom to me with this phrase. “I am always willing to be wrong, I just need someone to help prove it to me.” I grabbed on to that as a core operating tenet and have found it incredibly powerful over the years.
Willing to be wrong means that you are willing to change your mind, it doesn’t meant that you will. Willing to be wrong means that you will seek to find opinions and perspectives that challenge your opinion, not seek out those that only reinforce what you believe. Willing to be wrong means that you will focus on the issue, not the person. Willing to be wrong implies debate, not argument. Willing to be wrong means that you are willing to listen.
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
The most growth I have ever had in my life has come from criticism, not praise. I have learned to not only welcome criticism and feedback but to truly desire and appreciate it. It is the only way that one can get outside of your own mind and perceptions and see and understand the impact that you have on others.
Certainly not all criticism is good, constructive, or even relevant. However, if you start to ignore any of the feedback given to you you do so at your own peril. Some of the criticism I have received in life I disagreed with vehemently, and on further reflection might be something that wasn’t helpful or positive in any way. But it made me stop and think. It made me ask the question, “how am I behaving that could create that perception and how might I need to change if changing that perception is both important and relevant to me?”
Create a mindset where you both welcome and appreciate criticism in all areas. It doesn’t mean you have to accept it at face value, but it does mean you have to listen, reflect and learn. Who knows, it might be just what you need to hear…
“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
The key to living with a “relentless discontent with the status quo” is to know what needs to be changed, and what doesn’t. It means knowing when things need to be changed and when they don’t. It means being able to see the world for what could be, not simply for what it currently is. And therein lies the secret, one must face change directly and clearly. The best exercise I can think of for facing change is to simply go look in the mirror. That will show you what needs to change…
“We must not…ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to the big differences that we often cannot foresee.”
Marian Write Edelman
It isn’t the moving of mountains that we should strive for, it is the constant and consistent throwing of pebbles at the mountain that will create the avalanche that is needed to create the change that is needed and necessary.
It can be so easy to get lost dreaming of the big and the grand and forget to do the small things that are the building blocks of a real and authentic life.
What is the one thing that you can do today, that will really and truly matter a year from today when you stick with it and make it a habit? What’s stopping you?
“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”
Why is it that change has to start on the inside if we want to see it last on the outside? It would be so much easier if we could simply wave a magic wand and change the world to be what we it is that we want to see. Instead we have to change ourselves on the inside, and it is through those changes we become the person the world needs us to be. Only then, can the world as we perceive be permanently changed…
What is a change that you need or want to make in your life? What are you intentionally reading, learning and studying to make that change possible? If you aren’t doing the work of studying and learning then change won’t happen. Lasting change isn’t based on wishing or hoping it is based on hard work and learning.
Stop waiting for things to happen, go learn something new EVERYDAY and you will be amazed at the doors that open up for you.
Here is a simple recipe for change. Take out a piece of paper. Ask yourself these questions.
“WHAT is the one thing I NEED to change in my life?” Write that down at the top of the page and circle it.
Now answer this question. “WHY is this change important and necessary?” Write this down in as few words as possible and underline it. Heck, grab a highlighter and and really make this line stand out. This is the most important line on the page.
Now answer this question. “HOW will I do next to make that change a reality?” Write down those answers, no more than 3 things. Rank them based on what you can do FIRST.
Now for the hard part. DO the things you wrote down. Start every day looking at your desired and needed change, remind yourself why it is important and then DO the action. When you have completed your next task mark it off and add one more. Never more than three things on your list and you only focus on the next one. As you get better and better and build momentum then you will look forward to checking off the list and seeing how much you have accomplished.
For example if your “need” is to lose 10 pounds then that is what you write at the top
WHAT = Lose 10 pounds by 12/1/19
WHY = To have a healthy body and more energy for my family
HOW = (1) Exercise 45 minutes today before lunch. (2) Track my foods/meals in an App like MyFitnesspal (3) Do not take in any calories after 7:00 PM.
DO = Check these off through the day and then build a new list tomorrow.
Change doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen simply because you want it to. Change happens when you clearly articulate what it is that you want to change. Why that change is important. How you are going to make that change happen by focusing on what to do next. Then you have to do the hard part. EXECUTE! No excuses, no complaints, no justifications. Just do it.
There are tons of books, apps, systems and methods you can use to track and manage change. I use several of them in combination but the MOST IMPORTANT factor is to clearly articulate WHAT you want to change and WHY that change is important to you. That is why it is important to revisit this daily. Never lose sight of your goal and why it is important. That will be the motivation you need to EXECUTE. W/W/H/D = CHANGE
“All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.”
Michael John Bobak
When was the last time you were near the edge of your comfort zone? How did it make you feel? Did you want to lean into the experience? Or did you want to back away? Is getting outside of your own personally defined limits something that you seek out or turn away from?
If you want to grow, you must be willing to risk failure. You must be willing to take on more than you know you are capable of doing. To grow you must be willing to push past the point where you know that you cannot fail. This is what it means to get outside of the comfort zone. Failure becomes a possibility, and this is where the real opportunity for growth occurs.
How does this make you feel? Does the idea of regularly seeking out opportunities that push you past your personal limitations inspire or terrify you?
I think the really important question is this. What is more frightening, stretching and possibly failing, or becoming complacent and irrelevant?
I’ll choose growth and the risk of failure every time. The alternative scares me to death…
“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.”
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.
“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…
“There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”
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…
“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.”
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?
“The only person holding you back is you. No more excuses. It’s time to change.”
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.
“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?