On the Learning from the Critic’s Voice

John Wooden said: “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” Great leaders recognize the value of criticism. It provides them feedback on their words, behaviors, attitudes and beliefs – the gift of understanding of an idea from another’s perspective, a gift of seeing the world differently or the learning of blind spots within themselves of which they were unaware. Critics are not to be shunned or avoided, but welcomed. It is their gift of learning they give to minds and hearts open to growth.

In his book, The Traveler’s GiftAndy Andrews writes: “If you worry about what other people think of you, then you will have more confidence in their opinion than you have in your own. Poor is the man whose future depends on the opinions and permission of others. Remember this, if you are afraid of criticism, you will die doing nothing.”  His words capture the counsel of Aristotle: “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” Norman Vincent Peale wrote: “The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. ”Embrace and seek learning from the critics’ voices for in them may be growth unimagined … because you opened your ears to someone who dared, who cared, to help you see the world differently.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Destiny… a Matter of Choice

From the movie, Hellboy, comes the quote: “What makes a man a man, a friend once wondered. Is it his origins, the way he comes to life? I don’t think so. It’s the choices he makes; not how he starts things but how he decides to end things.” The great leaders’ life’s journey is a beautiful mosaic of choices made and actions taken in pursuit of achieving their magnificent life’s purpose and dreams. They know that everything is a choice, even happiness. Stephen Covey writes: “Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice.” All the joys and beauty of life rest in our hands. Our choices will tell the world who we are, what we will do, how we will achieve something and when it will be achieved.

Let the awareness of this power fill our mind and spirit with an understanding that everything in our life and legacy is a reflection of choices we have made. May these choices be radiant, filled with fire and inspirations to those whom we touch and serve.  Each morning as we awake, may we always remember the words of an unknown author who wrote: “You have 3 choices: Give up. Give in. Give it all you’ve got.” Let’s always give it all we’ve got. As William Jennings Bryan wrote: “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Today is a Brand-New Day and It’s Yours

The glass is not half-full, it is overflowing in every moment in the lives of great leaders. John Baldoni, in his Forbes article, Zig Ziglar: Encouraging Others to Believe in Themselves, writes:

“The success of Ziglar perhaps is not so much in what he said or wrote, but in how he challenged people to think differently about themselves and their lives. He also pushed the idea of taking personal responsibility and working with others rather than against them. ‘You can get everything in life you want,’ said Ziglar, ‘if you will just help other people get what they want.’ That moment of introspection, coupled with an awareness of what I might do differently, is the secret to personal renewal.”

Ziglar’s life and teachings are beautifully captured in his words:

“Desire is what takes the hot water of mediocrity and turns it into the steam of outstanding success.””
“You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.”
“We cannot start over, but we can begin now and make a new ending.”
“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
“If you want to reach a goal, you must ‘see the reaching’ in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.” 
“There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.”
“Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking tartar sauce with you.”

Greatness begins from within and works itself outward in our doing. In fitting tribute to Ziglar’s life, the Washington Post chose to close his obituary with words that reflected and honored his life’s teaching – “Yesterday ended last night. Today is a brand-new day and it’s yours.” – a loving message to those who follow him that each day is ours to be lived in the joyful, beautiful magnificence that we choose to make of it. Yes, get in the rowboat, and bring the tartar sauce. It will be one heck of a day. Life is so very good.

May this New Year be our best yet! Today is a brand new day… and it is yours.

Have a beautiful day, a magnificent week and a Happy New Year!!!

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Peace and Love to You and Yours

It is that wonderful time of year again when the holiday spirit fills our mind and heart, and gently moves us away from the hectic pace of our lives… when we pause, reflect in the quiet of our souls and find a warm and soothing peace within ourselves. While results and commitments are no less important, holiday activities – gift buying and preparing for family and friends get-togethers – begin to take precedence in our list of priorities. 

The world around us contributes to our change: stores are wonderfully decorated; holiday music streams from radios and iPods; home decorations appear. Our world is transformed around us to one of festivity and joyful tranquility. It is a time of peace. As Norman Vincent Peale, minister and author, once said, it is as though the holiday season “waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” Yes, it is a time of “joy to the world.” 

Memories fill us. We remember the joys of our youth and the people who were and are integral parts of our lives and happiness. There is sadness for those we love and are no longer with us. This gentle memory of them, however, is our gift to them, and theirs to us.  It is our way of saying to them: “I love you forever, and will never forget you… never.” We embrace those around us and share with each other a very special gift of love. Hamilton Wright Mabie, essayist, captured this wonderful spirit of the season: “Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”

Let us enjoy and take great learning from this magnificent and beautiful time. Let us all be embraced in this conspiracy of love. As Eva Logue writes, may you be as a candle which “makes no noise at all, but slowly gives itself away.” May this be your greatest gift to others and yourself, that in your quiet reflection you see with brilliant clarity the happiness and joy of all the beauties that life offers. 

May we pause in gratitude for all that we have, for what others have given us – our family, friends, those whom we serve, our God – and remember fervently that ours is the joy of giving, serving and caring. These are our greatest gifts. Let us join together every moment of our lives in a beautiful and magnificent “conspiracy of love.” Life is so very precious. Capture and embrace it with passion, joy, exuberance and love. 

May you and yours have a joyous and beautiful Holiday Season, a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Kwanzaa, and may this New Year be the best yet – for you, your loved ones and the many people whom you serve.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Have a beautiful day and a fantastic week!!!

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A Life of Possibilities

The lives of great leaders are collages of dreams accomplished. The dreams were once only possibilities the world saw as impossible. Let us take a few brief moments to reflect on the thoughts of other great leaders about impossibilities.

“There is nothing impossible to him who will try.” Alexander the Great
 “I cannot discover that anyone knows enough about anything on this earth definitely to say what is and what is not possible.” Henry Ford
“Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary.” Muhammad Ali
“To achieve the possible, we must attempt the impossible again and again.” Herman Hesse
“Alice: ‘That is impossible.’    The Mad Hatter: ‘Only if you believe it is.’” Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
“The only place where your dream becomes impossible is your own thinking.” Dr. Robert H. Schuller
“Alleged impossibilities are opportunities for our capacities to be stretched.” Chuck Swindoll
It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Walt Disney
“Impossibilities are merely things which we have not yet learned.” Charles W. Chesnutt
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw
“Man is so made that when anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish.” Jean De La Fontaine
“To achieve the impossible, it is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought.” Tony Robbins

Impossibilities are vanquished by an emboldened mindset that joyfully and enthusiastically embraces risk; a mindset that sees life, people and events through new eyes that are captivated and begging for value-added change and disruption; a mindset emblazoned by a passionate perseverance and grit to never give up. Be that dreamer! Be that doer! Set fire to your soul and make impossibilities vanish. Remember always the words of Audrey Hepburn: “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible!”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Ride of Your Life

In his book, The Energy BusJon Gordon shares his thoughts on ten rules he suggests that great leaders should follow to bring energy to their life, work and those whom they serve. In these rules, we find the call for personal ownership, vision, passion, enthusiasm, purpose and caring, a life in which every moment is filled with radiant positive energy – the source of energy, initiative and happiness.

10 RULES FOR THE RIDE OF YOUR LIFE

  1. You’re the driver of your bus.
  2. Desire, vision, and focus move your bus in the right direction.
  3. Fuel your ride with positive energy.
  4. Invite people on your bus and share your vision for the road ahead.
  5. Don’t waste your energy on those who don’t get on your bus.
  6. Post a sign that says “No Energy Vampires Allowed” on your bus.
  7. Enthusiasm attracts more passengers and energizes them during the ride.
  8. Love your passengers.
  9. Drive with purpose.
  10. Have fun and enjoy the ride.

Aristotle wrote: “The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” May we add to his words: “The energy of the heart is the essence of happiness.” Let us remember the wise counsel from Confucius: “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” Fill your life with positive energy. Have the ride of your life… and have fun doing it.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Maximus Principle – Casualties Are Sometimes Acceptable

In his blog post, The Maximus Principle – Casualties Are Acceptable, Chris Widener writes: “Anytime you move your organization to the next level, there will be casualties. Many leaders try to take their organizations forward with no casualties. But this is the fact: It cannot be done.” Drawing from a scene in the movie, Gladiator, Maximus and his army are preparing for battle. After surveying the field, he returns to his second in command and tells him it is the time to move forward. The officer is hesitant, not understanding of the total picture, and says: “We can’t do it yet. The men aren’t ready and the casualties will be….” Before he has the opportunity to end his sentence with the words “too great,” Maximus interrupts him and completes the sentence with “acceptable.

Widener acknowledges that most leaders care for the people they serve. “This is good,” he writes, “but it can be bad when we begin to misunderstand a basic principle of life and allow the realities of life to keep us from boldly leading and taking our organizations to the next level…. Anytime you take your organization to the next level, there will be casualties.” It is human nature he suggests – the reality that there are those who will not buy into a new vision, that there is no longer a fit between what the future offers in terms of their own desires or skill match or simply an irreconcilable difference of opinion in where things are going. Some leaders, he writes, choose to wait  until “they can get EVERYONE to the next level” and four things can happen:

One, they miss an opportunity to become a better leader.
Two, the organization misses its chance to move ahead.
Three, the people in the organization miss out on their own advancement.
Four, the casualties miss out on their opportunity to leave the organization and find a better spot for themselves in another organization.

Widener offers great leaders a choice: “Would you rather have your organization and your leadership be the casualty or have a few people in your organization be the casualties? Those are the only options.” He suggests the following actions:

Accept casualties as a fact of life.
Find and develop the vision of where we want to take our organizations.
Lead boldly.
Try to minimize casualties.
Let some people go.
Enjoy the next stage when your organization gets there.

Great leaders do care deeply about the people they serve. Required change and growth for an organization may result in people leaving – for their own growth or for the advancement of the company. The action cannot be permitted to fester as it will negatively impact both parties. To the words: “We can’t do it yet. The men aren’t ready and the casualties will be….,” albeit painfully and with sorrow, great leaders must sometimes add the word “acceptable” if people and organizations are to grow and prosper. These are the tough and painful decisions that great leadership requires.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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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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