The Sidewalks of Life

Sidewalks provide great leaders a meaningful metaphor of their life’s journey. We have all seen them – those carefully laid sidewalks, and  branching from them worn paths through grass that people have trodden, with both paths arriving at the same location. So it is with the great leaders’ life journeys. There are paths that have been laid by those who have come before them – with precision, clarity and thoughtful purpose.  Many will choose to take these paths to arrive successfully and joyfully at their destination.

Others, however, approach the sidewalk and see paths untrodden – ones that bring to their life and the lives of those whom they touch new ways of seeing things, new opportunities, new challenges – that bring excitement and change to their life and world. These leaders have heard the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Great leaders realize the beautify and majesty of each person’s uniqueness. They understand that one size doesn’t fill all, that one path will not satisfy everyone’s desires and purpose in life. They know and believe that because people are on different paths doesn’t mean that they are lost.  They hear and embrace Thierry Cohen’s wise counsel: “Life is worth more than man will ever know. Each of our choices open up the possibility of a different world. Every time we wake up, the universe puts itself in our hands. So many paths. So many choices. Our discernment is the only way to tell  which one leads to happiness.” May you choose wisely and well each step of your journey, and find the joy and happiness of your life’s purpose. Life is so very good.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Game Plan for Success

Lou Holtz, legendary football coach, said: “Virtually nothing is impossible in this world if you just put your mind to it and maintain a positive attitude.”  In his book, Winning Every Day: The Game Plan for Success, Holtz shares his thoughts on the basic strategies lived by highly successful leaders in their quest to be extraordinary in their personal and professional life.

  1. The Power Of Attitude. The attitude you choose to assume toward life and everything it brings you will determine whether you realize your aspirations. What you are capable of achieving is determined by your talent and ability. What you attempt to do is determined by your motivation. How well you do something is determined by your attitude.
  2. Tackle Adversity. You are going to be knocked down. I have been on top and I have been at the bottom. To achieve success, you are going to have to solve problems. If you react positively to them, you’ll be stronger and better than ever. You can assume that your competitors have problems, too. If you react to setback more quickly and positively, you gain a distinct advantage. I’ve never encountered a person who achieved anything that didn’t require overcoming obstacles. Expect them.
  3. Have a Sense of Purpose. Understand what you are trying to do. Stay completely focused on your original and primary purpose. Do not be sidetracked. If you own a business, help the customer get what they want. If you want a promotion, give your employers what they want, somebody who delivers a first rate performance every day.
  4. Make Sacrifice Your Ally. You can’t be successful without making sacrifices. Most losing organizations are overpopulated with people who constantly complain about life’s difficulties. They will drain your enthusiasm and energy. Take pride in making sacrifices and having self-discipline.
  5. Adapt or Die. Things are always changing, so embrace the fact that your life and career are always in transition. Yes, you will achieve your goals, but don’t fall into the mistake of thinking you don’t have to do anything further: Even when you become number one, you will still need to stay focused on the fundamentals.
  6. Chase Your Dreams. All great accomplishments start with a dream. Dreams fuel your enthusiasm and vision. They give you a burning desire to get up in the morning and achieve.
  7. Nurture Your Self-Image. A positive self-image grows out of having strong character: to be trustworthy, committed to excellence, and show care for others are the underpinnings of a successful person.
  8. Foster Trust. All relationships are based on trust. I can’t begin to tell you have many people I have seen ruin tremendous opportunities because they didn’t have the discipline and decency to do what’s right. Continually ask yourself, “Is this the right thing to do?” Do what you feel is right regardless of peer pressure or personal desires; success and confidence will not be far behind.
  9. Commit to Excellence. Do everything to the best of your ability. Everybody wants to be associated with people who set and maintain high standards. When you lower standards, you only invite mediocrity.
  10. Handle with Care. Treat others as you would like to be treated – with concern and care.

Holtz’s words underline the traits of being of extraordinary leaders, the actualization of leadership from the inside out. He poignantly captures this saying: “You were not born a winner, and you were not born a loser. You are what you make yourself be.”  Remember always the words of William Shakespeare“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” May we add to this the wise counsel of Dewitt Jones: “It is not trespassing to go beyond your own boundaries…. Make the subtle shift from pushing ourselves to be the best in the world to allowing ourselves to be the best for the world.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Law of Expansion

In his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John Maxwell shares his Law of Expansion – how great leaders increase their thinking capacity and their capacity for action, how they grow and learn to stretch their limits. He begins with an excerpt from Robert J. Kriegel and Louis Patler’s book, If It Ain’t Broke… Break It: “We don’t have a clue as to what people’s limits are. All the tests, stopwatches, and finish lines in the world can’t measure human potential. When someone is pursuing their dream, they’ll go far beyond what seems to be their limitations. The potential that exists within us is limitless and largely untapped… when you think limits, you create them.” He then asks: ”How do you push toward your potential and keep increasing your capacity?” His response to his question is: “You must change how you think and you must change your actions.”  To increase these capacities he suggests the following:

How to Increase Your Thinking Capacity
Stop Thinking More Work and Start Thinking What Works
Stop Thinking Can I? Start Thinking How Can I?
Stop Thinking One Door and Start Thinking Many Doors

How to Increase Your Capacity for Action
Stop Doing Only Those Things You Have Done Before and Start Doing Those things You Could and Should Do
Stop Doing What Is Expected and Start Doing More Than Is Expected
Stop Doing Important Things Occasionally and Start Doing Important Things Daily

Socrates wrote: “The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Think new! Act new! Embrace this law of expansion with passion and fire. The capacity is already there awaiting anxiously to be filled to serve you on your magnificent journey. Fill it to overflowing. Be more than you ever dreamed you could be… and more… so much more. The best is yet to come.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Invisible Places

In her book, The Tale of Wolf, His Snake Oil and a SkunkLizabeth Phelps shares a fable of the Wolf and Skunk. It provides a powerful insight into the importance of thought leadership in the lives of great leaders. In the fable, a lone Wolf is met by a sage in the form of a Skunk.

“Heading back to The Land of the Living Dead, are you?” the skunk asked.
“There’s no such place in these parts, I’m afraid. We’re in the Promised Land.”
“Well, no, actually, that’s incorrect.”
Wolf could easily have tossed the skunk to the side and carried on–but something stopped him. Rather than ignore the bait, he took it. “Okay, then tell me, where are we?”
“As I said, you are in The Land of the Living Dead. But you don’t know it. No one there ever does. Inhabitants go about their business fully unaware that they are dead.” The striped animal, who was carrying an odd toy rocket ship, began studying it nonchalantly. “The Land of the Living Dead is an invisible trap. No one knows when they enter it and because of that, they never get out. I am hazarding a guess that you have felt trapped lately?”
Wolf certainly did feel trapped, but his reasoning mind protested the overall concept. “There are no walls. No locked doors. No nets,” he presented logically.
“None are needed in The Land of the Living Dead. Something far more dangerous traps those within.”
Once again, Wolf snatched the bait. “And what is that?”
“The state of ‘Good enough.’ Business is not growing—but it is not dead, either. Because of this, you, and all the others, optimistically barrel along, holding on to your dreams, all the while consuming resources, blinded by the myths perpetuated throughout the lands. Dead but unaware of being so. Unable to smell the stench, so to speak.”

Phelps writes that thought leaders see the traps that are invisible to others—individuals, groups and organizations who live within them. Like the boiled frog analogy in which the frog boils to death because the water grew hot so gradually that it didn’t notice enough to get out, these invisible places create states in which “good enough” is accepted as the status quo, truly becoming The Land of the Living Dead. She argues that the job and responsibility of great thought leaders is to see these traps and to make them visible to others through persuasive dialog and passionate inspiration.

Bring your passion and vision to those whom you serve and touch… to see with new eyes, to visualize new possibilities, to dream dreams undreamed. Help them find their Promised Land.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Joy of Edges

Kurt Vonnegut wrote: “I want to stand as close to the edge without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” This is the excitement, joy and passion that great leaders experience as they stretch and challenge themselves and those whom they serve to push their limits – to go to the water’s edge and throw themselves into worlds of unknown opportunities, of dreams undreamed and possibilities unimagined. It is the joy of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey from the ordinary world, the call to adventure, the ordeal, transformation and the return with elixir.

Mark Zuckerberg said: “The biggest risk is not taking any risk…. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” Take learning from the saying: “Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise.” May the gentle counsel of Rabindranath Tagore inspire your life and journey: “Let your life lightly dance on the edges of time like dew on the tip of a leaf.” Choose to live not with the regret of chances you never took. Live on the edge and enjoy a spectacular view of what can be.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Lessons from the Eagle

Allegories are those beautiful stories and poems that capture our imagination and open our eyes to new insight and meaning about ideas, concepts and realities. Great leaders enjoy the richness that they offer. The allegory of the eagle invites great leaders to reflect on the meaning of change.

The Eagle has the longest life span of its species. It can live up to 70 years but, to reach this age, the eagle must make a very difficult decision. In its 40th year, its long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey which serves as food. Its long and sharp beak becomes bent. The feathers become old, thick and heavy. The thick and heavy feathers stick to its chest and makes it difficult to fly. Then, the eagle is left with two options: die or go through a painful process of change. The process lasts for 150 days (5 months).

The change process requires the eagle to fly to a mountain top and sit on its nest. Then, the eagle knocks its beak against a rock until it plucks it out. Then, the eagle will wait for a new beak to grow back and then it will pluck out its talons. When the new talons grow back, the eagle starts plucking its heavy and thick feathers. And after this….. the eagle takes its famous flight of re-birth and lives for another 30 years. Why is the change needed? To survive and live.

The allegory is powerful and dramatic in its message fervently captured in the words of W. Edwards Deming: “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” Great leaders have a deep realization of the world around them. They know and feel the weight of their own feathers and the sharpness of their beaks – their approaches, tools, beliefs and visions. They continuously reassess what is and will be needed to achieve their life’s purpose. They know that change is a choice, and also a necessity. They understand and have internalized the words of Charles Darwin“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” In their life they have chosen to be, as Mahatma Ghandi said, the change they want to see in the world.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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How Fast Is Your Recovery Time?

In his blog post, Saboteur Assessment Insights: How Fast Is Your Recovery Time?Shirzad Chamine asks great leaders the question: “What do you think is the #1 difference between a world champion and the runners up”. He responds stating the following about the critical importance of staying focused.

Hint: It’s not skill. It’s not training or fitness. It’s not even motivation and how badly they want to win.
The Answer: Recovery time. The speed in which they rebound from setbacks and mistakes.

Picture a tennis player in the game of her life. She has just hit a weak backhand and she knows it.
In the immediate moments that follow, we see her re-center physically into the “ready” position, facing the net squarely, ready for whatever type of ball comes back.

But an even more important factor is whether she re-centers mentally and gets into the ready mind position in time…
… because here’s the thing. If half her mind is still upset over her last mistake, by the time the next ball comes she will smash the ball into the net.

If you don’t recover fast enough, your small mistakes or setbacks can spiral into bigger ones.
Champions know this. They know how to recover fast—mentally.

Denis Waitley tells us: “Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.” It is this solution-focused mindset that speeds recovery time minimizing distraction and disruption in dealing with issues at hand.  Remember the words of  Alexander Graham Bell“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” Bring the sun’s rays into focus on your chosen life… one of being more than you ever dreamed you could be. You are a world champion!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Be the One…

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are” writes Joseph Campbell. With this privilege comes the great leaders’ beautiful and awesome responsibility to define who they are and who they will become in all their magnificent complexity and wonder. An example of these choices is wonderfully captured in the “Be the One…”message shared at a recent leadership meeting.

BE THE ONE…  

  • Who doesn’t blame others before gaining engagement from the team to resolve the crisis… and then asking what could have been done differently
  • Who doesn’t define success through the eyes of others
  • Who is humbled by accomplishment and understands that leaders give credit far more than take it
  • Who doesn’t accept the status quo… just because things have been done this way a long time
  • Who has the courage to ask… whatever the question should be
  • Who chooses to embrace failure to let you get better
  • Who leaves a mark on everyone you connect with and who is a catalyst for change
  • Who seeks to make a difference each and every day you walk this earth
  • Who doesn’t give up… who perseveres
  • Who always walks the truth
  • Who always encourages honesty, inspires passion and lives with integrity… 

Each day, one by one, great leaders add to their list of choices as they experience, grow and learn. As their life, relationships and career evolve, some choices are reshaped, others modified and even dropped. Each one defines who they are and who they will become.  Tony Robbins wrote: “It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”  Shape your destiny with joy and caring every moment of your life. You are the one!!! Be more than you ever dreamed you could be… and more… so much more.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Lessons from Consistent Winners

In his article, Lessons from Consistent Winners, Philip Humbert discusses the question:  “Why do some people win time after time, while others work just as hard but never seem to ‘put it all together’?” His response to this is that while talent or aptitude play a role in success, those who continually succeed do so because they have a system that they consistently use to win.

  1. First, they get very (VERY!) clear about exactly what they want. They picture their desired outcome in precise detail. They never set out to make “more” money. Instead, they set out to “make $25,000 this month.” Some people call this visualization; others call it an affirmation. The key is that winners know what they want and they picture it in detail, all day long, every day, in advance, until it becomes their reality.
  2. Second, winners use precise “cognitive systems.” That means they have clear strategies, they think carefully, rationally and continuously about the problem and their desired solution. They research and ask experts for help.
    They invest in education, skills, tools and resources to put the odds in their favor. They are passionate and can be emotional, but when it comes to winning, they are calm, cool, and collected. They are good, clear thinkers.
  3. Third, winners use their Personal Eco-Systems™” to improve their chances for success. There’s a reason Thomas Edison virtually lived in his lab. There’s a reason Martha Stewart is so elegant, even in her garden. There’s a reason writers surround themselves with books and hang out with other writers. Winning athletes watch films, they study and memorize the stats of their heroes. Surround yourself with an environment that makes it hard to fail!
  4. Fourth, winners work harder than losers. You may not like this, but winners work very, very hard. They practice. They study. They sacrifice and make hard choices. They are the first ones to work in the morning and the last ones to leave at night. Based on their visualizations, their carefully-thought-out strategies, and supported by the environment they’ve created, they take massive ACTION.

Vince Lombardi once said: “Winning is not a sometime thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit.” Make your system your habit. Go beyond your awesome gifts of talent and aptitude. Use your system and be that beautiful, consistent winner who changes the world. Life is so very good!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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A Choice of Human-Being or Human-Doing

You are a human being, not a human doing.  Marianne Williamson wrote: “The highest level of creativity consists in being, not doing. When the being is intense enough, when the words are spoken enough, when the thoughts are thought enough, the doing will automatically follow.”  Great leaders recognize these words as leading from the inside out. The doing is the outer expression of their leadership. It is who the great leader is which drives what they do.

Inner leadership is the real, authentic and genuine core – the principles, values and extraordinary standards – by which great leaders have chosen to define themselves. It is this leading from the heart through which great results are achieved.  It is this inner realization and living of one’s purpose and values which sets an internal fire ablaze… a being burning brightly. To remind ourselves of the power of leading from within, remember always the wise counsel of an unknown author: “If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. If an egg is broken by an inside force, then life begins. Great things happen from the inside out.” Choose to be an extraordinary human being, and all your great human doings will follow naturally.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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