How to get out of your own way…

“One of the greatest tragedies you can experience is to come to the end of your life and realize that… your failure was due in large part to your inability to get out of your own way.”

Mark Goulston

Do you know your weaknesses? Are you aware of the behaviors and tendencies that you exhibit that prevent you from being as productive, impactful or fulfilled as God created you to be?

If you are aware do you have coping mechanisms and an active plan to address these shortfalls? Do you revisit that plan regularly and hold yourself accountable to its execution?

Do you have a list of friends or confidants that you have shared both the list of weaknesses and your action plan with? Have you given them permission to hold you accountable? Have you asked them to be candid and direct and not sugar coat feedback when they see something that you need to know about?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions then you are at high risk of being the person who can’t get out of their own way. Don’t settle for being as good as your worst weakness will permit you to be. Change the narrative and elevate yourself.

Help yourself…

“The gods help them that help themselves.” 

Aesop

What are you waiting on to get started? Good fortune? Favor from the gods? A sign that it is time for you to embrace your dreams? Waiting to get started never helped anyone move forward towards their dreams. What help do you need to get going? Write down the one thing you can do right now, this morning, this minute. Go get it…

What could have been done?

“We are responsible for far more than what we have been given; we are responsible for what could have been done with all that we have been entrusted with.”

Erwin Raphael McManus

There are really two key questions to be addressed here. First, “What have I been entrusted with?” Second, “what could have been done?”

Think of all the things that we have been entrusted with. The lives of our children. Our relationships with others. Opportunities to lessen the load of another human being and serve. Chances to simply make another person smile. These are just a few of the thoughts that immediately came to mind for me this morning.

I know that I fail regularly at living out this quote fully and completely. It is too easy to become myopic and only focus on “what I have been given” instead of what I am truly entrusted with. This quote is going to require further meditation and thought as I wrestle with what it means for me and how I live my life. Specifically as I think through the “what could I have done” question.

Ultimately it comes down to answering this question. How do we live life in a manner that glorifies God by being responsible for all that He has entrusted us with? It isn’t about owning things and possessing stuff. It is about owning the responsibility and being accountable for “what could have been done.”

Solve the problem…

“Don’t bother people for help without first trying to solve the problem yourself.”

Colin Powell

I am sure that we all know the type of person that seems to have nothing but problems and somehow always wants to bring them to someone else to be solved. It can be exhausting to work with or be around people that are like this. They are only focused on the problem and how it is someone else’s fault or responsibility and never on the solution and how they can take ownership.

What a refreshing difference it is with someone who owns it and finds a way to solve it themselves. Giving feedback is so much easier and more valuable when working with a person that is doing their very best to solve something. They have invested the time, effort and energy into the solution instead of shifting the responsibility to someone else.

What is the difference between these two types of people? The person on one end of the spectrum wants to make sure they have an out if things don’t go well or the solution wasn’t the right one. “It’s not my fault, they told me how to do it.” At the other end the person wants to own the solution and focuses their efforts on getting things done. “It might not be perfect but I am going to own finding the solution to this problem.”

Which end of this spectrum do you live on?


I could kick myself…

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Are you honest enough with yourself to be able to deliver that kick? Can you take 100% ownership and accountability and then do something with it?

Change begins by taking responsibility. Period. If you don’t like something, change it. Don’t bitch, complain, or moan. No one, and I mean no one, wants to hear that crap. It isn’t anyone else’s fault. It’s not the fault of the cosmos or the situation. Dig deep, understand where you contributed, deal with it. If you don’t, then you are going to owe yourself yet another kick…

Waste of energy…

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

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

 

 

Own it…

 

“Good leaders don’t make excuses. Instead, they figure out a way to get things done.”

Jocko Willink

A very wise person once told me, “there is only one way to point a finger.  You extend your hand, point your finger out, and then you turn your hand around and point it at yourself.  If you are going to point a finger at someone that is the only acceptable way to do it.”  

Successful leaders must have this trait of personal ownership and discipline.  If they don’t, they will not achieve the level of impact that God created within them.  The gifts that you have been given will be unrealized.  The opportunity to serve and give to others through the influence of your leadership will be diminished.  

We all have hundreds of opportunities to demonstrate this type of leadership every single day.  It starts with personal accountability and discipline.  If you expect something.  Do it.  Don’t whine about it.  Don’t complain.  Don’t say, “that’s not my job.”  No one cares to hear that.  No one wants to be around that person.  You don’t want to be around that person.

Will you fail at this?  Yes.  I fail daily.  But failure is an opportunity to learn, to get better, to pick yourself up and do it harder, faster, with more vigor the next time.   Over,  Under.  Around or through.  Whatever it takes to get the job done.  That is the attitude that a person with extreme ownership embodies.  There are no excuses.   

If you haven’t read Extreme Ownership  by Jocko Willink then you owe it to yourself to find a way to add it to the top of your reading queue.  As the title suggests it is all about ownership and accountability.  You are responsible and accountable.  No one else is.  Period.  End of story.  

Demand more, in the right direction…

“Being relentless means demanding more of yourself than anyone else could ever demand of you, knowing that every time you stop, you can still do more. You must do more.”

Tim S. Grover

I completely agree with the sentiment expressed in this quote.  I have long believed that no one could push me harder than I could push myself.  As I have gotten older, and perhaps wiser, I have learned that while no one can push me harder, perhaps others can push me in ways I didn’t even know that I needed to go.  

Demanding more of yourself sometimes means getting perspective and help from outside so you know exactly where to push so hard…  Who helps you see where you channel your relentless energy?  

 

But not you…

“Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.”

Jim Rohn

How often do we ask ourselves these types of questions? Why do we dream small?  Live small?  Settle for less than we are capable of becoming? Why do we let others define us? Why do we focus on “can’t” instead of “I can” or “I will?” 

“But not you…”

It can be easy to fall into the trap of self-pity and excuses and become one of the “others” mentioned in the quote.  Easy, and incredibly dangerous because once you start down this path it is hard to climb back out.  It reminds me of one of my favorite, and incredibly funny, sayings.  “Beware the lollipop of mediocrity, lick it once and you will suck forever.”  Crass, yes, but oh so true.  

“But not you…”

The only way not to be small is to focus on your God given gifts and refuse to settle for being less than the person that God designed you to be.  If you haven’t figured that out yet, that is OKAY!  We are all learning and growing.  The key is is to understand that this isn’t supposed to be easy.  You can’t grow without going through the crucible and learning from the challenges.  

How do you choose to live a life that exemplifies these words?

“But not you…”  

 

Do you own, or do you rent?

“Responsibility equals accountability equals ownership. And a sense of ownership is the most powerful weapon a team or organization can have.”

Pat Summitt

Ownership.  What does it mean? Think of the difference between renting a home and owning a home.  When you rent, you treat the home differently.  You don’t worry about the little things, you don’t put the extra effort in to care for or protect the property.  For example, you might ignore the roof that only leaks when it really storms, or the sink that leaks on occasion.  Maybe instead of ignoring the problem, you just call someone else, the owner, because it isn’t your problem.  You don’t have to fix it.  But if you own the home you pay attention to these problems.  You know that if you don’t address them quickly it is likely to become far worse, and much more expensive to repair.  

If you are the owner, you write the checks.  And by checks I don’t just mean in terms of money.  You have to fix the problem.  You are accountable for how you, the asset, the team, the organization performs.  It starts, and stops, with you.  You must look to yourself first before you look to others, regardless of fault because you are responsible and accountable for fixing the problem, whatever that problem might be.  

Have you ever heard the saying “drive it like a rental?”  What exactly does this mean?  It means when you rent a car you don’t treat it the same way you would if you owned it.  You don’t have to care about the maintenance, what it is going to drive like next week, next month, next year.  You don’t have to care because you aren’t accountable for your decisions, or in some cases the lack of a decision.  The rental car won’t be your problem in the future. For renters it is someone else’s problem.  Even if you caused it…

We all have an active decision make, do we own or do we rent?  This project, this initiative, this team, this relationship.  Yes, sometimes ownership sucks.  It isn’t fun to have to fix problems, especially if you caused them, whether intentionally or not.  But it has to be done, because if you don’t, who will? If you don’t look inwards first with self-awareness and reflection and have the accountability to own it, you are just renting your space as a human and a leader.  Don’t be a renter…

FREEDOM!!

“Being proactive is more than taking initiative. It is recognizing that we are responsible for our own choices and have the freedom to choose based on principles and values rather than on moods or condition. Proactive people are agents of change and choose not to be victims, to be reactive, or to blame others.”

Stephen Covey

Today in the United States we are celebrating our Independence Day.  The day where our Founding Fathers made a conscious choice to be responsible for the course of our independent nation. They chose the direction and were responsible for the creation of the principles and values that would set our path as a republic for centuries to come.

The freedom to choose is one of our greatest gifts in life. I love this particular quote because it sums up so neatly the importance of living a life of active choices.  Once you have clearly identified your values and principles one can live a life of freedom.  It isn’t always easy to make the choices that align to your values.  In fact, sometime they are the hardest ones to make.  However, when we have a framework we aren’t relegated to being the product of other’s choices, we are freely choosing our path in life.  

As we celebrate freedom today take a moment to reflect on what freedom to choose means in your life.  

%d bloggers like this: