Are you willing to receive the gift of coaching?

“One of the most important things about leadership is that you have to have the kind of humility that will allow you to be coached.”

Jim Yong Kim

It is the greatest gift in the world when someone takes the time from their day to provide you with feedback, perspective, and insight that permits you to keep growing. Accept the gift with grace and understanding. If you want to be a scholar of leadership, you must be willing to be a perpetual student. You will never “win” and know everything there is to know or be good enough to stop learning. Thank goodness for the folks who are helping us learn!

Are you humble enough to be willing to grow?

“Humility is the surest sign of strength.”

Thomas Merton

Are you willing to be wrong? The ego will tell you that others are wrong, don’t understand, or aren’t smart enough to appreciate all that you know.  

If you already know, you can’t grow, and if you can’t grow, you can’t get stronger. So if you can’t get stronger, you can’t get better and if you aren’t getting better, then by default, aren’t you getting weaker? 

Humility is the key to growth. Knowing you don’t know and can learn and serve others allows one to build their influence and impact, which is strength…

Are you looking for the icebergs?

“When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.”

William Arthur Ward

What are three things you discovered about someone yesterday that enhanced your opinion or perspective or understanding of them? Are three too many? How about two things? One? Did you discover the best in anyone at all yesterday? Last week?

My point is that if you aren’t intentional about seeking the best in others to discover the hidden value lying under the surface, you won’t find it. It is lying there under the surface, like an iceberg. You only see what you are looking for, so start looking under the water. 

If you are looking for value, greatness, understanding in others with intention, authenticity, and curiosity, think of the impact on the relationships around you. Think of the impact on YOUR quality of thinking and life. Your best self shows up when you help unlock the value others provide…

Are you willing to key in and push through?

“The key of persistence opens all doors closed by resistance.”

John Di Leme 

What relationships, accomplishments, or experiences in your life do you value and appreciate? Were any of these things challenging to achieve? Is the value derived because you had to overcome obstacles and dig deeper to make something happen?  

I believe the struggle and willingness to persist through a given problem or situation can impact our lives in the most meaningful way. When faced with a challenge, the choices we make will determine our course and become the inflection points for a later time when we can look back and recognize what God was doing to teach or prepare us for our future path.  

Giving up is easy, and doing so might change the course of your life in ways you might not understand for decades, if ever. However, the persistence we demonstrate today is priming our future and creating a platform for future growth. 

Embrace the suck. Most people quit at the first sign of discomfort or stress. Don’t be that person; welcome the fight and lean into the pain…

Can you simply strive for 1%?

“You, and you alone, are the person who should take the measure of your own success. I do not try to be better than anyone else. I only try to be better than myself.”

Dan Jansen

If I use yesterday’s performance as my new baseline each day and seek to improve by only 1%, then in just 70 days, I will have doubled my capacities. 

1% better than I was, not 10% better than someone else, but simply 1% growth on what I have already proven I can achieve. Seems reasonable and manageable. If I am being honest, it seems too low. 

Far too often, we get lost in comparing ourselves to others; perhaps we should focus on building on what we have already proven we are capable of achieving. Doubling seventy days sounds pretty amazing; why even bother comparing to anyone else if that could be your goal?

Control your own weather first…

“An environment that is not safe to disagree is not an environment focused on growth – it’s an environment focused on control.” 

Wendi Jade

Disagreement is good. It is how we grow and improve our understanding of the world. But unfortunately, so many people focus on the argument, not the merits. They focus on being right, not learning, and doing what is right.  

If you want to live in, work in, play in and be part of an environment where it is safe to disagree, you have to be willing to be wrong. You have to be ready to learn. You have to focus on what is right, not who is right. If you can control this aspect of yourself, you can make the conditions safe for others. Control your environment first.

Be better, specifically…

“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours, and you’ll drift in that direction.”

Warren Buffett

What is your measure of “better?” What behaviors do you see yourself needing to improve and enhance? To find the right people, you must be specific, don’t seek to get “better” at a generic level. 

For example, is it discipline where you need to improve? Then find those with higher personal discipline levels, spend time with them, learn what they do, see how they live life in a disciplined manner, and then add those skills to your toolbox. 

If you already know what “better” looks like, that’s half the battle; you know what you are seeking for, find it.  

Are you really listening to what others have to say?

“Successful people ask for the criticism of others and consider its merit.”

Ray Dalio

If you are going to ask for the criticism of others, you have to be ready, willing, and able to HEAR what they might have to say. To do this effectively, one must surrender their ego and desire to be right and instead focus on the desire to be BETTER. Of course, this is much easier said than done. However, the burning platform in all of our minds should be that “what got us here won’t get us where we want to go” if we aren’t seeking out FEEDBACK and perspective.  

That’s what the second part of the quote is all about, can one put their ego aside long enough to consider the perspective and perception of others? Does the view of the world, seen through someone else’s lens, have merit that should necessitate a change in understanding or behavior on your part?  

I think this is where the world falls apart today. Everyone is talking, very few are listening. Very few are willing to open themselves to input and criticism and then do the much more complex work of interpreting the merit of that perspective in an honest and meaningful manner. Wouldn’t we be much more successful in life if we all did this?

Movement is what matters the most…

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sometimes the progress towards goals comes easy, and it feels effortless and smooth, almost “magical.” But then there are those days where every step is a struggle and a grind. Success is built on the days where you grind it out. Those are the days when real progress happens because those could quickly become the days you give up and walk out on your dreams.  

Even when it’s hard, keep moving because that is when the movement matters the most.  

Is your growth based on success?

“Some people could be given an entire field of roses and only see the thorns in it. Others could be given a single weed and only see the wildflower in it. Perception is a key component to gratitude. And gratitude a key component to joy.”

Amy Weatherly

Roses or thorns? Weeds or wildflowers? Which ones do you naturally see? Or, stated another way, what is going well versus what needs improvement?

I fully admit that I tend to view the world through the lens of “opportunity for improvement” instead of seeing things going well. As a result, I bias towards what can/should be done better or more effectively and focus my energy on improving and growing those areas. It isn’t bad necessarily, but just as it helps to list the things you are grateful for, it is vital to list the things you are doing well and then find a way to do more of them.  

A daily gratitude journal has been one of the best personal growth habits I have ever implemented; perhaps a daily “successes” journal would be just as impactful, especially if one were to take those things that built the win and use them as a foundation to create more successes.  

Are you seeking out positive friction?

“Change means movement. Movement means friction.”

Saul Alinsky

We spend so much of our lives trying to reduce friction and minimize the impact of change on our lives. But, by doing this, are we also taking away the opportunity to embrace change? 

We often see discord as a bad thing; however, friction polishes the rock into a gemstone, and friction can spur creative thinking and instill action and urgency.  

Where is the positive conflict in your life? What is happening that indicates change, growth, an opportunity to do and be more than you’ve ever thought possible? Who are those people that are positive catalysts for change and movement?

Friction isn’t harmful if you are moving and growing and changing.  

Embrace it. 

Learn from it. 

Seek more of it.  

Do you have a plan to assess?

“We can’t improve what we don’t assess.”

 Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy

What were the most important things you wanted to accomplish this past year? Were you able to achieve them? If not, what got in the way? Did you have a routine process you used to evaluate progress and assess momentum? If the answer is no, how could you know if you were progressing towards your goals?  

One of my favorite exercises at the end of the year is to set aside a day to reflect on the year just past and assess what I did well, contemplate those areas of my performance where I was lacking, and begin to plan for the year ahead. I am not big on New Year resolutions, but I am a massive fan of taking the time to intentionally plan my goals and curate the experiences I desire to create. As I work through this process for 2021, I can see an opportunity to improve next year by regularly reviewing my progress and performance throughout the year. Therefore, I will be much more intentional about setting aside time to pause, assess, and incorporate improvements into my work for the coming year. 

Plan your work, work your plan, assess your performance, build a better plan, execute all over again…

Are you raw goods or something more?

“A bar of iron costs $5. Made into horseshoes, it’s worth $12. Made into needles, it’s worth $3500. Made into balance springs for watches, it’s worth $300,000. Your value is determined by what you are able to make of yourself.”

Author Unknown

Do you see yourself as raw materials or finished goods? Are you a component in something greater, or do you view yourself as the complete and finished thing?

Maybe the more important question is this. What are you working on right now to grow and improve? How are you seeking to add value to both yourself and the world? 

Are you ready and willing to grow?

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

Fred DeVito

I have never become a better person, player, contributor, or servant by choosing the easier path. Growth only occurs when you are willing to be pushed out of your comfort zone. How are you going to push yourself today?

Are you working in your garden?

“To experience growth, you must become a conscious and committed gardener of the self. That means you must pull out all the roots of the past and plant new seeds of thought and behavior.”

Peg Streep

It can be easy to fall into the trap of pruning others and ignoring the most crucial work, improving oneself. Over time we all develop bad habits and behaviors that we wouldn’t choose for ourselves if we were picking our “best self” off a menu of desired traits.  

So, the only way to change is to prune intentionally. Where are you going to start gardening?

Is your attitude the right one for growth?

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”

Oprah Winfrey

Have you made this discovery? How do you want your future to change? Is your attitude enabling your growth or limiting you?

Learning is a lifetime endeavor…

“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.”

Conrad Hall 

A sage friend and colleague shared this with me yesterday, and I thought it was exceptionally profound as it captures the essence of a continual learning mindset. This captures the essence of “iron sharpening iron…”

“I want to work with people who I can learn from, and who are open to learning from me. People with whom I can exchange the student/teacher hats at a moment’s notice. People who sit in the uniquely blessed and fulfilling seat of Plato – a student of Socrates and then a teacher to Aristotle.”

Stink is good…

“A failure is like fertilizer; it stinks to be sure, but it makes things grow faster in the future.”

Denis Waitley

Can you imagine how poorly everything would taste if no fertilizer were ever used? How many of life’s great experiences would be lost if we didn’t have some fertilizer along the way. Stop worrying about failing, start focusing on growth!

What are you experimenting with today?

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

What experiments are you going to put into practice today? Are you trying something new? Is there some idea or approach you have in mind that you want to try out? What is the worst that can happen if the experiment doesn’t go precisely as planned?  

If you aren’t pushing the envelope, striving to test new techniques and manners of thinking, are you growing? If you aren’t experimenting daily, are you simply living a “the way it has always been done” life?  

Is that the life you want to live?

Learn to teach, teach to learn…

“We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.”

Peter Drucker

My favorite end of day questions to ask of myself are:

  1. What did you learn?
  2. What did you teach?

Interestingly enough, only when I do both is the day is fully satisfying.

Unlocking the secret of a good attitude…

“Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.”

Irving Berlin

“Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad…”

“For good or bad.” Whose good? Yours? Others? The truth is that the choices you make regarding your attitude have a profound impact on your life and the lives of those you touch. It strikes me as I write this that those focused on improving their attitudes have a deep caring for those they interact with and those they serve. The person with a “bad attitude” doesn’t care about the impact they have on others. They are looking inward and caring only about themselves.  

Perhaps the key to unlocking the secret power of attitude is to lift your eyes and see the world around you with a servant’s heart. If you can’t do this, will your attitude ever be good?

Are you blooming?

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”

Alexander Den Heijer

People are a lot like flowers. They need suitable soil, sunshine, water, and food to grow. Take away these things, and performance is suboptimal at best.

Flowers also need structure and process to bloom their brightest. You can’t dump all the water on them at once and then give none for a month and expect great results; the environment matters, consistency matters, discipline and process matter. Add these ingredients to the mix and you have a formula for achieving beauty.  

The four questions of growth…

“Remember, there are no real failures in life, only results. There are no true tragedies, only lessons. And there really are no problems, only opportunities waiting to be recognized as solutions by the person of wisdom.”

Robin Sharma

What happened?

What did you learn?

What opportunities have been created?

How are you going to solve them?

You must become what you want to attract…

“Surround yourself with people that push you to do better. No drama or negativity. Just higher goals and higher motivation. Good times and positive energy. No jealousy or hate. Simply bringing out the absolute best in each other.”

Warren Buffett

I’ve used this quote before, but it is just such a good one that I wanted to use it again. If you are interested, you can read the previous post HERE.  

Every word I wrote last time is as relevant to me now as when I first posted them. I might add to my prior writing the creation of a more disciplined approach for reviewing and pruning. I am going to make this a quarterly habit and see what happens.

Today as I read this quote, I am inspired by exactly how POWERFUL it is when you find people like this and actively seek to include them in your life. It is interesting to observe that the more effective you are, the more people like this seem to show up. A sense of “center of gravity” happens, and like-minded people seem to draw closer together and in more significant numbers. The impact of a group of people who believe and behave in this way can’t be overstated. It can change your world and the worlds of all those around you whom you care for and love.  

The lesson to myself, review this quote and the process I outlined before regularly and live these behaviors outwardly FOR OTHERS every day.  You must become what you want to attract…

Avoid becoming “overcopied…”

“Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others.”

Pablo Picasso

The minute you begin to “believe your own press” you are choosing to surrender the edge that helped you build any advantage you might have previously created. Suddenly every problem begins to look like something you have tackled before, and previous solutions or thought processes are applied based on historical efficacy, not on current understanding.  

Some questions to consider:

  1. Is the answer I am choosing “right” or easy?
  2. Have I done the hard work to understand the situation entirely?
  3. Is the challenge worthy of genuine effort and not just a pale facsimile?

The old saying, “when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail,” seems particularly appropriate here. Never settle for a copy of previous success. Much like a paper that has been copied far too many times, you begin to lose your clarity.

Challenge = Growth = Opportunities to Serve…

“Challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

Joshua J. Marine

If everything was easy, why would you ever need to grow?   

If you don’t grow, how can you serve more?

If you can’t find more ways to serve, how can you create meaning?

Are you wiser today than yesterday?

“You should never be ashamed to admit you have been wrong. It only proves you are wiser today than yesterday.”

Jonathan Swift

A mentor of mine once gave me some very sage counsel. He said, “In all matters other than your principles and core values, think of everything you believe as a scientific hypothesis. You must constantly be seeking to have your assumptions either proven or disproven. Seek out the data that either validates or nullifies the hypothesis you have in your mind. When you live life with this framework, you will never worry about who is right, only on discovering what is right.”

I hypothesize that he was right…

Do you have foresight?

“Hindsight is the best insight to foresight.”

Irish Proverb

How much time do you devote to objectively reviewing your past actions and seeking to improve?  

Will tomorrow be better than today?

Can you learn and apply lessons from your past?  

If you don’t, are you even growing?

What is your soul’s resolve?

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

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

What are the things you believe in so fervently that nothing could slow you down or prevent you from making every possible effort to achieve success? Do you have this same fervent belief in yourself, in your capabilities? In your potential?  

If you believe in yourself and know that you can learn, and grow, and improve, then you will never settle for “good enough.”  

Resolve to be better, to grow, to improve, to change. Then there will be no chance, no destiny, no fate that will get in your way or slow you down. 

Age is truly a state of a mind…

“I am old but I am forever young at heart. We are always the same age inside. Know that you are the perfect age. Each year is special and precious, you can only live it once. Do not regret growing older, it’s a privilege denied to many!”

Richard Gere

The key to living a life of perpetual youth is to embrace the opportunity to learn and grow each and every day. If you aren’t learning, growing, seeing the world as if through the eyes of a child, then you must by default be dying.  

Life is just too short and precious to waste.  Every single moment we have is a gift for ourselves, and more importantly, for others.   

 Choose to learn, choose to grow, choose to live. Why choose to die before you have to?

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dusty

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