On the Joy of Change

Whatever remains unexamined,  eventually becomes invisible” writes Tom Mackell in his article, Capturing Our Own Warrior Spirit to Overcome Challenges and Initiate Change.Change fills the lives of great leaders. They continuously fan the glowing embers of their insatiable childhood curiosity to challenge, question and explore the ‘what is’ in search of ‘what can be’, to see the world through new eyes and to dream and imagine the unimaginable.  Their voices echo Socrates’ caution that: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Change is a sacred choice that each of us holds in our hands. “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change” writes Jim Rohn.  Max De Pree adds: “We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” Mahatma Ghandi tells us. Yes, be that change. You are unique in this universe and in eternity. Examine the unexamined in the world around you and, most importantly, within you. You have the power to change the world and the lives of those whom you touch. Be visible in all your magnificence and let your beauty shine.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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What I’ve Learned…

Brian Tracy tells great leaders: “Commit yourself to lifelong learning. The most valuable asset you’ll ever have is your mind and what you put into it.” The great leader’s life is one of continuous learning filled with experiences that have been internalized to make them who and what they are. It is their beautiful life learnings that brings depth, richness, love and joy to their magnificent journey.

A friend shared with me learnings from Andy Rooney, former CBS 60 Minutes television writer, who had a magical gift for saying so much with so few words. May you enjoy their wisdom and beautiful humanity for your own learning.

I’ve learned … That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.
I’ve learned … That when you’re in love, it shows.
I’ve learned … That just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my day!’ makes my day.
I’ve learned … That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.
I’ve learned … That being kind is more important than being right. 
I’ve learned … That you should never say no to a gift from a child.
I’ve learned … That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help him in any other way.
I’ve learned … That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
I’ve learned … That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
I’ve learned … That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.
I’ve learned … That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.
I’ve learned … That money doesn’t buy class.
I’ve learned … That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.
I’ve learned … That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.
I’ve learned … That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
I’ve learned … That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.
I’ve learned … That love, not time, heals all wounds.
I’ve learned … That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.
I’ve learned … That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.
I’ve learned … That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.
I’ve learned … That life is tough, but I’m tougher.
I’ve learned … That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.
I’ve learned … That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.
I’ve learned … That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.
I’ve learned … That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.
I’ve learned … That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
I’ve learned … That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, you’re hooked for life.
I’ve learned … That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.
I’ve learned … That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

The learnings touch our life with their wisdom in all its elegant simplicity – about self-knowledge, aspirations and relationships, the learned realities of living life. These are among the learnings of great leaders. Benjamin Franklin wrote: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Capture and embrace every precious moment in life. Learn from them. May it be said of you that you lived every day of your life. Life is so very good.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Truth About Leadership

In their book, The Truth About LeadershipJames Kouzes and Barry Posner, write: “… as much as the context of leadership has changed, the content of leadership has not changed much at all.” After three decades of writing and research they have found ten fundamental truths about leadership.

  1. You Make a Difference – Before you can lead, you have to believe that you can have a positive impact on others. You have to believe in yourself.
  2. Credibility is the Foundation of Leadership – You have to believe in you, but others have to believe in you, too. What does it take for others to believe in you? Short answer: Credibility.
  3. Values Drive Commitment – People want to know what you stand for and believe in. They want to know what you value.
  4. Focusing on the Future Sets Leaders Apart – The capacity to imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities is a defining competence of leaders. You have to take the long-term perspective.
  5. You Can’t Do It Alone – No leader ever got anything extraordinary done without the talent and support of others. Leadership is a team sport. What strengthens and sustains the relationship between leader and constituent is that leaders are obsessed with what is best for others, not what is best for themselves.
  6. Trust Rules – Trust is the social glue that holds individuals and groups together. And the level of trust others have in you will determine the amount of influence you have.
  7. Challenge is the Crucible for Greatness – Exemplary leaders are always associated with changing the status quo.
  8. You Either Lead by Example or You Don’t Lead at All – Leaders have to keep their promises and become role models for the values and actions they espouse. You can’t ask others to do something you aren’t willing to do yourself.
  9. The Best Leaders are the Best Learners – You have to believe that you (and others) can learn to lead and, that you can become a better leader tomorrow than you are today. Leaders are constant improvement fanatics and learning is the master skill of leadership.
  10. Leadership is an Affair of the Heart – It could also be the first truth. Leaders are in love with their constituents, their customers and clients, and the mission that they are serving. Leaders make others feel important and are gracious in showing their appreciation. Love is the motivation that energizes leaders to give so much for others. You won’t work hard enough to become great if you aren’t doing what you love.

The Truth About Leadership is a magnificent learning experience. Kouze’s and Pozner’s beautiful book captures their purpose in sharing their learnings in the following:

“This isn’t a ‘How To’ or ‘Made Easy’ or ‘For Dummies’ approach to leadership. It is a book about fundamentals. And fundamentals are the necessary building blocks to greatness. You can’t fast-track your way to excellence. Leadership is a demanding, noble discipline not to be entered into frivolously or casually. It requires an elevated sense of mastery. And, you can do it. It is a matter of technique, of skill, of practice. It’s also a matter of desire and commitment.”

May your desire and commitment to embrace these ten truths set you on fire, and may your fire touch and spread to those whom you serve. May they serve you on your journey to become 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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We Only Get One Bite of the Apple

There is a legal doctrine called res judicata. It means that a matter that has been adjudicated by a competent court may not be pursued further by the same parties. This is referred to by most legal scholars, law professors, attorneys, and judges as only getting “one bite of the apple.” The principle is that although the judicial system affords everyone their “day in court,” the strict rules prevent multiple, repetitive lawsuits because society has determined that they serve little useful purpose.

This is comparable to every single aspect of life where you only get “one bite of the apple” — everything after that one bite is secondary, not as meaningful, and serves little useful purpose. We have only one chance to make a great first impression. It could be a first meeting with a new acquaintance, in business, a job interview, in relationships, the response to a question that provides the foundation of trust. In love, it could be the living of a life’s commitment to another. In decision-making, it could be that one choice that could change your life forever.

The lesson is simple and profound – if we only have one bite at the apple… only one precious bite… make it one magnificent chomp: one taken with careful and thoughtful preparation; one reflecting everything we stand for, our principles and values; one that states to the world we are giving it our all, our very best… always. Take those bites. Make them bodacious; make them magnificent… knowing that there is no second chance.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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As a Man Thinketh…

In his book, How Successful People ThinkJohn Maxwell writes: “I’ve studied successful people for forty years and, though the diversity you find among them is astounding, I’ve found that they are all alike in one way: how they think. That is the one thing that separates successful people from unsuccessful ones.”

Maxwell shares his thoughts on the eleven skills, the key thinking ‘pieces’,  that great leaders need if they are to achieve great things. His teaching focuses not on the ‘what’ to think, but on the ‘how’ to think with strong emphasis placed on all the pieces working together to make a magnificent symphony.

Seeing the wisdom of big-picture thinking
Unleashing the potential of focused thinking
Discovering the joy of creative thinking
Recognizing the importance of realistic thinking
Releasing the power of strategic thinking
Feeling the energy of possibility thinking
Embracing the lessons of reflective thinking
Questioning the acceptance of popular thinking
Encouraging the participation of shared thinking
Experiencing the satisfaction of unselfish thinking
Enjoying the return of bottom-line thinking

Plato wrote: “Thinking: the talking of the soul with itself.” From this beautiful internal conversation evolves the greatness of the leaders’ learnings – from being to doing. We are what we think. May your thinking embrace the depth, breadth and richnesses that Maxwell’s thinking skills suggest. Hold closely to you the words of James Allen who writes in his book, As a Man Thinketh: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.“

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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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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