Which door will you choose today?

“The best men are not those who have waited for chances but who have taken them; besieged chance, conquered the chance, and made chance the servitor.”

E. H. Chapin

What are you waiting for in life? The voice in the back of your mind that whispers, “it’s the door on the left?” If you don’t hear the voice, then what do you do? Wait until the signs are obvious? Do you wait for happenstance to occur and for the moment to be “just right.”

Waiting for chance sounds far too close to surrender to me. It is letting others, and outside circumstances, or the lack of circumstance, control who you are and who you become. As I reflect on this quote I am reminded of the ‘parable of the talents’ from the book of Matthew.

‘“It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money. “

‘“After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

‘“The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

‘“The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’

‘“The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.”

‘“‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’ “Matthew 25:14-30

The first two people in the story made chance the servitor. The third was a complete servant to chance. How do you want to live your life? Which door do you choose?

architecture black and white challenge chance
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The true essence of leadership…

“No leader sets out to be a leader. People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. When that expression is of value, they become leaders. So the point is not to become a leader. The point is to become yourself, to use yourself completely – all your skills, gifts and energies – in order to make your vision manifest. You must withhold nothing. You must, in sum, become the person you started out to be, and to enjoy the process of becoming.”

Warren Bennis

There are so many aspects of this quote that I love. Each sentence carries weight and incredible wisdom and merit. In fact, for me, it is worth digging into each sentence and letting it roll around in the mind and over the tongue like a fine wine. Each sentence builds on the preceding sentiments until you finish with a crescendo akin to a bombastic symphonic masterpiece. (Okay, so maybe that is just a bit too much hyperbole but you get where I am going…)

“No leader sets out to be a leader.” – True leadership is about serving not about becoming served. To become a leader, as I define it, means that you cannot and must not forget that leadership is not about you. It is about those whom you serve.

People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. – How rare and beautiful it is for people to get to be their true and authentic selves in every aspect of life. We all set out this way, and then along the way things change, we begin to amend ourselves to meet the expectations of the world around us. Leaders hold true to their “north star” and manage to maintain their authenticity along the way.

When that expression is of value, they become leaders. – When others see a future vision they also believe in or subscribe to, then leadership occurs. If what you believe in, and value, is valuable to others then they will see you as a leader.

So the point is not to become a leader. – A-Freaking-Men! The best leaders I have ever known or worked with were NOT leaders because of the pursuit of roles or titles, it was because they were pursuing something bigger than themselves and you just naturally found yourself wanting to be part of that thing that they were passionate about.

The point is to become yourself, to use yourself completely – all your skills, gifts and energies – in order to make your vision manifest. – If we are doing less then this, aren’t we choosing to be less than the person that God created us to be? How many people waste their lives in the pursuit of what others say is important? Instead, we should put all our energy into identifying those things we are deeply passionate about and pouring every ounce of ourselves into the pursuit of that vision.

You must withhold nothing. – Anything less than 100% commitment to that which drives and motivates you is a waste of the perfect and precious gifts you have been given.

You must, in sum, become the person you started out to be, and to enjoy the process of becoming.” – Life is a journey, not a destination. When you focus on becoming the person you were very intentionally designed to be and pour yourself totally and completely into that effort, the journey itself is all the reward you will ever need.

In the end, leadership is a journey, not a goal. It is the ability and opportunity to pursue your God-given passions and do so with people for whom it is a privilege to serve. Be true to yourself, your passions, your opportunities to give back and enjoy the journey. You just might find yourself influencing the lives of others in unique and amazing ways, and that my friends is the essence of leadership…

two people standing in forest
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Make it so…


“Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.”

John F. Kennedy

What are the things in your life that you would like to “make happen?” What are you doing to make those become a reality?

If you are waiting for the right moment, the right time, the right inspiration, etc. It will never happen. Take the first step, start the motion, beginning building the momentum that will carry you forward even when the going gets tough. If you want to achieve some great things, you are going to have to make them happen…

action balls black and white illustration
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Two choices…

“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being excited about what could go right.”

Tony Robbins

Do you want to spend your precious life afraid or excited? Do you want to live fearfully or with enthusiasm?

It’s your choice. You can do one of two things. You can change your circumstances or you can change your attitude.

Fear is a choice.

Excitement is a choice.

Find something that excites you. Focus on the opportunities, not the failures. Get knocked down and then get back up. If you lean forward and choose excitement, things have a way of working out for the best…

Live the adventure!

“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.”

Helen Keller

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?

clear glass with red sand grainer
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Embrace the raging current!

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you, you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”

James Allen

Rocky Mountain National Forest

What is the tomorrow that you want to create? Do you have it beautifully, richly, and vividly defined in your mind? Are those thoughts like the strong current of a roaring river, carrying you towards your goal with every passing second?

Or are you bobbing along in life, just content to float wherever the current around you happens to carry you?

Life is too short and precious to waste a second of it. Choose your thoughts carefully and embrace them with all the passion you can muster. Those things you are focused on today will define your future, whether you want them to or not…

Addition through subtraction…

“Every time you subtract negative from your life, you make room for more positive.”

Author Unknown

There are 525,600 minutes in a year. How do you want to spend them?

How many of your minutes create a positive return on investment through service to others and therefore create joy for yourself?

It is an absolute fact that the number of minutes we have on this earth is finite. None of us know when and were we will cease to have an opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Why would we waste a single minute of our precious lives on anything negative?

If you think about it, every time you remove something negative from your life you take an asset which is losing value and create an opportunity to replace it with something that will gain value. Seems like a pretty good deal to me…

Impact = The relentless pursuit of simplicity…

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.”

John Maeda

There are so many ways to interpret this quote, so many thoughts that come to mind as to how it can be applied to almost every aspect of life. As I meditate on what it means for me this morning I can see a sheet a paper with two columns on the page.

The top of the page is a blank with one word, “Purpose?” and at the bottom there is space to write with “Action Today?”

The header for the left column is “Remove Friction” and the right is “Add Value!”

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here is what I can see so vividly in my mind.

Simple. Clean. Underwhelming at first glance, yet powerful when applied and acted upon.

So much of our lives are spent adding more “stuff” when what we should really be doing is stripping away everything that adds friction and gets in the way of achieving our purpose.

To maximize impact, be relentless in your search to find ways to remove friction and add value…

Relentlessly focused…

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.”

Tony Robbins

What are the goals you have set for your life? Do you have them written down? Have you created an action plan with specific steps you are taking to make sure achievement isn’t accidental but is purposeful and intentional?

Or are your goals more like your dreams, somewhat half-remembered when you wake up in the morning and completely forgotten when you go to bed each night? Perhaps then your goals are more like the nightmares waking you in the middle of the night in a panic because you suddenly realize the year is half gone and you haven’t made any progress…

Life isn’t accidental. We were all put here for a purpose, and then given the opportunity to choose how we spend our time. If we choose to live in a dream like state, merely existing our way through our days, then we can have no regrets and blame no one else if we fail to become all that we are possible of being. It is a choice that we make each and every day when we decide if we are going to use our time purposefully or merely let it slip through our fingers.

As I reflect on the quote above I am reminded of the wisdom of Solomon which was recorded in the book of Proverbs. Specifically these words: ‘Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. ‘ Proverbs 4:25-26

Where is your gaze fixed today? Do you have a plan and are you focused on achieving it? Are you striving to master some skill or talent in order to reach or goals? Are you relentlessly focused?

The list…

“Today is a brand-new day. A fresh start. Replace any negativity with positivity. Think happy thoughts. Exercise. Drink lots of water. Fill your body with fuel. Healthy is happy. Inspire yourself. Create. Laugh. Play. Love. Learn. Give someone a compliment. Make a new friend. Do a random act of kindness. It creates good karma. Take chances and finally start living life to its fullest. But no matter what’s thrown at you today, smile and remember, tomorrow’s always a fresh new start.”

Author Unknown

Start by looking at this list not as an exhaustive checklist of things to do, but as guidance on how life should be lived. Think of how different life would be if you just did these things every day. How different would it be one year from now? Why wait? Start today…

Six steps to change your life…

“There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.”

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Stop everything!

Set aside 15 minutes and do this exercise. You’ll need a pad and paper. You will need your phone. You will need to hold yourself accountable.

Step 1: Quickly now. Think of the one thing that motivates you to give your best effort no matter what. Do you have it? Write it down. Stare at it. Burn it into your mind.

What you write down should be something that motivates you to ALWAYS do well and right, no matter what. Where you will ALWAYS go the second mile, no matter what. The one thing where the effort, while it may be difficult and challenging, is something that you will NEVER give less than your best.

Step 2: Take 2 minutes (yes, set a timer!) and write down all the reasons WHY what you wrote down for step #1 is important to you.

Step 3: Take 2 minutes and write all the things that you WANT to do in life which are aligned with your motivations and your why.

Step 4: Circle the one that you MUST accomplish in the next 12 months. The one you pick, if you don’t do it, will create disappointment and regret when you look at this list exactly one year from today.

Step 5: Take out your phone. Take a picture of what you have written down. Set up a free account at Follow Up Then and then email that picture to this email address: monthly@followupthen.com. You will now receive a reminder of this list every month in your email. You can’t escape from what you said that you want to do.

Step 6: Do it. You have a year. Figure it out. If there are obstacles then you will have to find a way to go over, under around or through. The clock is ticking. Make it happen.

Bring the heat!

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”

Roald Dahl

How many things in life do we do with little or no energy? Why do we do them at all? I can think of many things that are just general “administrative” tasks that need to be performed as part of the whirlwind of life. Things that just have to get done. Period. End of story.

The challenge is how do we guard against an attitude of “just getting it done” and not let that creep into how we approach the rest of our lives? How do we ensure that “white hot and passionate” is how we are living as a rule instead of as an exception?

I suggest that we should be intentional and reflective on how we approach the removal of things that we aren’t fully passionate about. Make a list of how you are going to spend your time today. Mark the things that you are energized to do. Mark the things that are just ho-hum.

Ask yourself this question, “does this thing, the ho-hum just get through it thing, really NEED to be done? Can I skip it?” If the answer is yes then kill it. Why is it even on your list in the first place?

If the answer is no, then take great care not to let that attitude and perspective creep into the things that you are passionate about. Rearrange your schedule, prioritize the energizing work, use your best hours of the day on the things that excite you. Above all else, guard your time that is to be spent on things that ignite your soul with the same passion that you protect your family and those that you love. If you don’t, then you are slowly, but surely, putting out your own fire…

Focus on the right things…

“Instead of focusing on the circumstances that you cannot change – focus strongly and powerfully on the circumstances that you can.”

Joy Page

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?

The trees are blooming…

“Over the years, I’ve learned that if you can just hang in there and, regardless of what’s presented to you, take it as a challenge and try to bring in something fresh, then it works.”

Adam West

The thing that stands out the most to me from this quote are the first three words. “Over the years.” What a great reminder to us all that the time will pass by. Just yesterday morning I was watching a news report on the coronavirus and the reporter commented that the cherry blossom trees were starting to bloom in Washington DC.

Guess what? They are going to bloom again next year, and the year after that, and so on. All too often we have a perspective that can only see what is right in front of us. And yes, it might be tough, it might be challenging, it might be really painful and hard. But the years are going to pass. And if you focus on finding the silver lining, they will be far better than you have expected on the darkest day.

Do your part…

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

Desmond Tutu

It is easy to get overwhelmed with all that is going on around us; especially right now. Today as I write this we are in the midst of unprecedented world events due to the spread of the Coronavirus. But that doesn’t change the fact that we also have unprecedented opportunities to do more good, even if it is in a different way than we might have done just a few weeks ago.

Today, the little bit of good that we can each do is to follow the instructions from the government regarding “social distancing” and working from home. Someone shared the picture below with me yesterday and it is the best visualization I have yet seen to describe the impact of “social distancing.”

Source Unknown

So each of us can do our own tiny bit of good, where we are, and that can overwhelm that which threatens to overwhelm the world…

How do you define success?

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

Albert Einstein

Success is a result of a intentional choices or actions. Striving to be of value is how you choose to show up. If your efforts aren’t a success, but you love how you showed up, isn’t that just success by a different name?

Go sailing…

“It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.”

Jim Rohn

The beauty of sailing is that you must constantly adjust and tweak your course and your trim in order to arrive at your desired destination. There isn’t one set way to get there, every day is different and dynamic based on the current, wind speed, wind direction and conditions of the sea.

Hmm, this sounds a lot like life doesn’t it? The key is your ability to adjust to changing conditions so that you still arrive at the right location…

Discretionary effort…

“Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer.”

Peter Drucker

This is such a simple and yet such a powerful statement. We as leaders must understand that our role isn’t just to manage the outputs of others but it is instead to lead and influence in a way that those we serve give voluntarily of their time and energy. We must focus on engaging with our team so that they are willing to volunteer their discretionary effort. I define this as the effort of work that goes above and beyond what is required by the job.

Think about the things that you do as a volunteer whether it is in your church, your community, etc. You do so willingly, giving from the margin of your life in order to make a difference for and with someone else.

We as leaders should look at everyone that we engage with as a volunteer and seek to enlist the energy that comes when a person gives freely of themselves in order to impact the lives of others. To do this we must serve. We must move from simply directing effort and outputs and instead harness the exponential energy that is released when people passionately and purposefully engage in their work. That is the secret sauce…

To see, let the mud settle…

“Your mind is like this water, my friend. When it is agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.”

Bil Keane

I love the analogy presented in this quote. When water is stirred up the silt and mud serve to prevent us from seeing what is right there in front of us. When we give ourselves the time and space to think and reflect the silt and mud settles and we can truly see.

The world today enables a life where we live in a constant state of distraction and disquiet. The world is always “pinging” us with some type of urgent call for our attention. This makes it incredibly hard to focus and really think about the most important things. All of this stuff is the “mud” in life that prevents us from seeing what is right there in front of us.

To be able to “see” fully and completely one must intentionally create the time and space that allows the mud to settle. For me that is time spent in prayer and meditation. This brings to mind a verse that I have been studying and ruminating on quite a bit this year. ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ‘ Romans 12:2

Doing this well won’t happen by accident. It takes intentional effort and the building of new habits. But it is worth it. When you can see clearly the beauty of life is revealed…

Focus!

“I don’t care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don’t harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.”

Zig Ziglar

Finishing out my 2020 3-words exercise is the word “Focus.” Knowing what to do, and how to do it, and having the ability to do it is meaningless if you can’t actually get it done. In order to get it done you have to be very judicious in the application of the word “no.”

I chose “focus” because that has a much more positive connotation than the word “no.” If I am going to start each and every day reviewing my 3-words and using those words as key anchors for the day I want the word to be positive, not negative. Knowing what to focus on is the key to being able to say “no” when appropriate and with extreme prejudice.

So my three words for 2020 are “Discernment,” “Authenticity,” and “Focus.” Landing on these three words took a great deal of thought and prayer and I am really excited to seeing how they will impact my life throughout the year. Beginning each day with these words will help me apply the meaning of this verse, ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ‘ Romans 12:2

Don’t miss out on the best days…

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet.”

Anne Frank

I can’t imagine thinking of life differently than it is expressed in this quote. Even during challenges and hard times the best is yet to come. It isn’t always the big or the grand things, it is the ability to appreciate the smallest elements of life that perhaps one never had time for before because you were too busy being busy…

It is the taste of a perfectly brewed cup of coffee during a few moments of silence and prayer on a cold winter morning. The laughter of the family around the dinner table at the end of a long day. A good nights of sleep and a morning without demands on your time. It is doing work that matters and helps people alongside people you trust and respect. It is a million little moments that happen every single day.

Perhaps the best days occur when you take the time to appreciate life, instead of simply existing. Every day can be one of those days, if you choose appreciation, gratitude and joyfulness. What a loss it would be if you had one of the best days, and missed it completely…

Change = What/Why/How/Do

“Change before you have to.”

Jack Welch

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

Build a winning tomorrow…

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

Lyndon B. Johnson

How easy it is to get lost fighting the battles from our past days. We can get so wrapped up in what did, or didn’t, happen in our lives. I know that I will find myself replaying a conversation in my mind and thinking of better responses or rethinking my actions in response to a certain situation.

I believe this can be a valuable, and extremely beneficial habit to form. But it has to be done with an eye clearly on the future and how one needs to grow and evolve towards building a better self. Taking the time to reflect and learn is a powerful way to grow forward into the next day.

How do you ensure that you don’t get lost in yesterday, forgetting that the time has passed and it doesn’t define your present day or the tomorrow that is yet to come? I find that taking 15 minutes at the end of each day to answer the following questions in a daily journal helps me process the day, and focus on creating wins.

  • What happened in the past day?
  • What were my biggest wins?
  • What lessons did I learn?
  • What am I thankful for right now?
  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What did I read or hear?
  • What stood out from what I read or heard?
  • What do I need to do next to move forward on my goals?

I know these are a lot of questions to run through, and I fully admit that I don’t get to do this every single day. However when I skip a day I find the next morning to be a little less focused, a little less intentionally crafted.

Over the years I have played with the order of these questions, and with different questions, and on occasion I will replace one with a different inquiry to address a specific challenge or need in my life. For example, if I am taking time off with the family I will modify “What were my biggest wins” into “What were my biggest wins as a husband, as a father?” The point isn’t to get stuck on the questions themselves but instead to focus on learning from the day and very specifically shaping what you need to do to create wins tomorrow.

As a side note I do believe the order of the questions is very important. That’s why I end with “what did I learn” and “what do I need to do” questions. Those reset my head and help me focus on tomorrow.

To ensure that I follow through on my goals of daily reflection I use the journalling app “Day One.” I love that I can capture my thoughts in a simple to use mechanism that is always with me. I have used a paper journal to do this in the past but I found that it was too easy to forget or that it allowed me to create an excuse to not do the practice. There are tons of digital journals out there, so do whatever works for you. The key is to find a method that enables you to process today with a relentless focus on building a better future.

Be ready and mindful that today will be a ‘yesterday’ very very soon. Take the time at the end of the day to reflect and intentionally build a winning tomorrow. You’ll be glad you did.

Today is the foundation of tomorrow…

“Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow.”

Robert Kiyosaki

Maybe tomorrow will be the right time to start that project, but not today, I’m too busy…

Next week will be a better time to tackle that tough conversation head on, but not today, I just don’t have the energy to deal with it…

I’ll start reading that book on breaking bad habits next month, but not right now, there is just too much going on and I don’t have time…

I’ll start spending more time with my family when I get through this busy season at work, but I can’t right now, they’ll understand that I am doing this for them anyway…

It is amazing how many excuses we can create to put off or delay work that will make the biggest difference in our lives. In our “instant gratification” society it seems that all that matters is living in the moment. The easy things we embrace, but the hard things we put off or ignore. But if we want to create a tomorrow that we will be able to live in fully and completely, we have to do the work today.

Yesterday can’t be changed, fixed or undone. Tomorrow is just a dream. Today is the only day that matters if you want to make your visions come true. Live it fully and completely and do the work that will be the foundation for your future.

Check the compass!

“Direction is more important than speed. We are so busy looking at our speedometers that we forget the milestone.”

Unknown

Where are you going?

Where do you want to be one year from today? What if instead of one year, it took two years? Would that devalue the direction you are headed? Would an inability to achieve some goal within your desired timeframe diminish the goal or make it null?

If the goal is right, then not achieving it as fast as possible, in some personally assigned timeframe, shouldn’t impact the direction itself.

There’s no question that we live in the age of agility and speed. Everything is happening faster and faster and we need to be able to act and react with temerity.

But if we focus on speed over direction we are surrendering ourselves to live a life that is reactive instead of one that is filled with purpose and clear direction.

One should spend as much time looking at your life’s compass as you do the speedometer. In general it isn’t nearly as much fun to look at a compass as a speedometer, because if you are headed in the right direction the indicators on a compass don’t change whereas the speedometer symbolizes so much action and energy.

But what good does it do if you get to the wrong place as fast as possible?

Success vs. Significance

“What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.”

Jane Goodall

What is the legacy you want to leave from your life here on this earth? I find that this is such a broad question that it can be hard to wrap my head around what it truly means. Perhaps it helps to rephrase today’s quote in a more specific and time sensitive fashion.

For whom do you want to make a difference today and what kind of difference do you want to make?

Everyday we have an opportunity, no, we have an obligation to answer the question about what kind of difference we want to make with our lives. We weren’t born to simply live, accumulate things, and worry about how and to whom the fruits of our labors will be redistributed to when we pass away. We were born to make a difference in the lives of others.

That can mean one person, or it can mean thousands of people through the course of your life. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have to decide to make a difference; today. If you answer this question today, and every day, then you can never stray far from living a life of meaning and impact.

When you switch your focus from creating a life based on earthly success measures, and instead focus on creating a life of significance that is what will build a life of meaning. Your legacy becomes not the goal but is instead the result of thousands of daily decisions made for others, not for yourself.

Unlock the power of discipline…

“Discipline is the ability to make yourself do something you don’t want to do in order to get a result you really want to get.”

Andy Andrews

What is it that you want to accomplish? What is a result that you deeply desire? Exactly how much do you want it? Are you willing to do the work to achieve it? More importantly, are you willing to do the work after the excitement fades? When the effort is no longer fun and has become pure drudgery and sticking to it is really hard to do? That’s when real discipline comes in to play. Talk is cheap, action is cheap too, at least for the first few days. Then the real work starts.

Anyone can motivate themselves to take the first step in a journey. Even the first hundred steps might not be that hard. But what about the steps after that? What if you don’t know exactly how long the journey is going to take?

Discipline means sticking to your plan, doing the work, focusing on getting the next step in the journey right, not worrying about whether there are 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 more steps remaining. Doing the right work, the right way, right now, is all that matters. If you can do this, for the things that are truly important, you have discipline. If you can’t, then you can develop this powerful trait, by just doing it, day in, day out, one day at a time.

What is important enough to you to put forth this kind of effort, with no guarantee of success? Answer this question and you will uncover what it takes to unlock the power of discipline.

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?

Attention stealers…

 “One of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone is the gift of attention.”

Jim Rohn

I fully admit that I love technology, gadgets and gizmos. I always have, I am a bit of a geek in this way. iPhone = Check – iWatch = check – iPad = check

In today’s world our technology can really be a distraction when trying to have a conversation with someone. The constant buzzes, beeps, dings and notifications serve to pull your attention away from whomever it is that you are talking with at any given time. It is hard to be fully focused and present when your attention is constantly being pulled in another direction.

Recently I started turning off all notifications on my watch and phone when sitting down with anyone because I realized the message I was unintentionally sending them was that I was too busy or interested in other things when I would get an alert and look at my phone or watch. It’s hard to do at first but then it becomes very liberating. It is still a work in progress for me, but something I am committed to improving each and every day.

What is getting in the way of your giving your full attention to someone? How do you take steps to change it so that when you are present you are fully present and engaged?

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?

Contented or is there something more?

“Sad will be the day for every man when he becomes absolutely contented with the life he is living, with the thoughts that he is thinking, with the deeds that he is doing, when there is not forever beating at the doors of his soul some great desire to do something larger, which he knows that he was meant and made to do.”

Phillips Brooks

What were you meant and made to do? Is it more than you are doing now? Where have you become contented in life and in your thoughts and actions?

This is heady stuff for early in the morning but it definitely stopped me in my tracks as I read this quote and reflected on the questions above. I believe there can be great danger in discontentment if it is all about yourself and what you want to do. But if you frame these questions from the perspective of what God meant and made you to do, perhaps it might change your answers.

What did God mean and make me to do? Is it more than I am doing now? Am I fulfilling all that He created me to be and accomplish?

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