Four words that will change your world…

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life and don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

Steve Jobs

The four most important words from the quote above are, “Your time is limited.”  If you understand and embrace those words, everything that follows has meaning. If you don’t, then the rest is merely good advice.  

If you recognize that your time is limited, why would you ever choose to live someone else’s life?  

If you understand that your time here is temporary, why would you choose to let your voice squelched?  

If you accept that your time here is finite, why would you choose cowardice instead of courage? Why would you choose to ignore your gut?

When one chooses to accept your mortality, you unlock the keys to a life of meaning and fulfillment of God’s purpose.  

So the choice is simple. Choose to embrace the beauty of YOUR life, or choose to live in a state of denial. It’s up to you. Either way, your time is limited…

Teaching is a gift to be received and given…

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

William Arthur Ward

Think back over your life; who were the teachers, mentors, or coaches who helped you elevated your thinking or performance to the next level? How did they do this? What were their specific behaviors that impacted you? Why were they so profoundly impactful on your life?  What specifically did they DO? 

The answers to these questions will be unique and special to you and your life. Perhaps someone saw a talent within you that you didn’t yet see? Maybe they didn’t let you quit when that is all you wanted to do? Possibly they had a unique way of distilling the seemingly complex into a manner that just “clicked” for you. Regardless of how or what they did, they profoundly impacted your life through their behaviors and actions.  

Have you taken any of those behaviors and built them into your life? Were you merely a recipient of someone else’s greatness, or have you become a conduit and multiplier and transferred it on to others? The beauty of great teachers is that they aren’t only elevating you; they are planting seeds to inspire and promote others within you.  

It is an incredible gift to be the beneficiary of a great teacher. However, once taught, you must pass that teaching on to others. To clarify, I am not talking about the specific knowledge or expertise, but the method by which you were inspired to learn.  This was the real gift you were given. Honor the one that gave it to you by finding a way to pass it on to others.  

Those you lead deserve more than a stuffed shirt…

“The most effective way to lead is to lead from within.”

Lolly Daskal 

It is not possible to effectively lead others if you cannot lead yourself first.

Perhaps this is a bit of a strong statement. There are many examples of people in leadership roles who have had have achieved “success” who frankly stink at self-leadership.  I would argue these “leaders” are pale shadows of their complete potential.

However, the definition of leadership effectiveness that I hold and espouse requires that leadership efforts start internally. Everything rises and falls on one’s ability to put into active practice those things you would ask of others.  

Purpose: Have you identified your purpose for being on this earth beyond earning a living?  

Vision: Do you have a clearly articulated vision for yourself that you seek to bring to life daily?  

Values: Do you have a written set of your core values that serve as your decision-making compass?    

Execution: Do you have a plan, a written plan, for bringing to life your Purpose, Vision, and Values?

Discipline: Do you hold yourself accountable for your desires and plans?  I believe self-discipline is the keystone of impactful leadership.  Without it, you merely have dreams and wishes.  With self-discipline, you can put into place the structure required to lead yourself effectively.  

Answering these questions and ingraining the answers into your daily behaviors is the key to effective leadership. By holding yourself to a higher standard, you will create and put into place a platform of influence and impact.

Otherwise, you are just a stuffed shirt…

When in doubt, delete!

“I am thankful the most important key in history was invented. It’s not the key to your house, your car, your boat, your safety deposit box, your bike lock or your private community. It’s the key to order, sanity, and peace of mind. The key is ‘Delete.'”

Elayne Boosler

It is a sign of our age that the first image I thought of when I read this quote was the “delete” key on a computer keyboard. Though upon further reflection perhaps that is equally fitting since everything comes through some sort of digital filter nowadays!

What really strikes me when I meditate on this quote for a few minutes is while this might be the most important key in history, it is equally likely to be the least efficiently wielded. Well, I can only speak for myself of course!

Saying “no” can be a very hard thing to do at times. But without a doubt, it is the most powerful word in the English language when it comes to getting things done. Let me rephrase this, it is the most powerful word in the English language when it comes to getting the RIGHT things done…

Once a quarter I sit down and take stock of my weekly calendar and routine tasks to see what changes I need to make to ensure I am spending my time in the most productive and effective manner. Invariably I find myself looking at things I WANT to do but in reality, are preventing me from getting the things I NEED to get done done. While I struggle with saying no, the best discipline I have EVER created was the regular and recurring use of the “delete key” on all things that don’t make me more effective in the pursuit of my goals.

In all likelihood, I should wield this discipline more often than once a quarter…

Give it away…

“Satisfied needs do not motivate. It’s only the unsatisfied need that motivates. Next to physical survival, the greatest need of human beings is psychological survival—to be understood, affirmed, validated, and appreciated.”

Stephen Covey

What is enough? In many ways, okay most ways, we live in the greatest period of human history. For the majority of the world physical survival isn’t the challenge that needs to be solved. Yet, the greatest needs of human beings, as defined above, seems to be a more difficult challenge than ever. We strive to get more validation, affirmation, appreciation for ourselves, but do the things we seek truly last?

How much of our lives do we waste seeking to be satisfied by the things the world says are important, but give no real and lasting comfort? Think back to this day one year ago. What was your single greatest worry and fear? How were you spending your precious energy? Do you even remember?

What if, instead of desperately seeking our own satisfaction, we could strive to spend some of our energy fulfilling the unsatisfied needs of others? If we could invest our time, creativity and passion INTO another person and fill their greatest needs to be understood, affirmed, validated, and appreciated don’t you think that would have a much more lasting impact?

Today, don’t allow yourself to be a slave to the calling of self, take a moment to be intentional and give part of yourself away to another human being, with the intention to fill their greatest needs. Think of how different your world, and theirs, would be if this was part of your intentional daily practice. What might the world look like one year from today if we all did this…

How do you become superior?

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

Ernest Hemingway

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…

Thinking before speaking…

“Sometimes when I’m talking, my words can’t keep up with my thoughts. I wonder why we think faster than we speak. Probably so we can think twice.”

Bill Watterson

There is nothing better than a few moments of silence before one responds and commits to words what are often half-baked thoughts. I am a person who “thinks out loud” and that can often lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication.

The best advice I was ever given regarding thinking before speaking came from a class I took through Ty Boyd called the Executive Speaking Institute. During this class, which I took almost ten years ago, I learned that the moments I paused before responding to a question didn’t feel nearly as long or painful to the audience as they did in my head. That was a profound lesson for me. What I thought was a strength, being quick on my feet and having answers at the tip of my tongue, came across as a weakness because I would answer questions in a rambling or long-winded fashion.

Taking a moment to pause, frame the my response in my head and then answering the question conveyed to the audience that I was carefully considering the question, that it was meaningful and valuable, and it gave me the time to not let my words get ahead of my mind. This was incredible perspective and applies to so many areas of life.

The moral of the story here is that the moments that you take to think before you speak don’t feel nearly as long to the person that you are speaking with as they do to you. And those precious moments allow you to (hopefully) think through your response before you commit to words a thought that is only half baked.

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dusty

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