Asking a Better Question

Tony Robbins said: “Successful people ask better questions and, as a result, they get better answers.W. Edwards Deming adds to this writing: “If you don’t know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.” Great leaders understand the power of asking the “right” question. They know that what you ask is what you get. A simple example helps demonstrate this. When confronted with an obstacle or wall that impedes progress, the question could be asked: “How can I get around this wall?” A better question could be posed as: “ Once I get around this wall, what new wonders will I be able to realize to fulfill my dreams?” The better question creates new possibilities and better solutions.

In his book, The Flight of the Eagle, Jiddu Krishnamurti tells great leaders: “To ask the right question is far more important than to receive the answer. The solution of a problem lies in the understanding of the problem; the answer is not outside the problem, it is in the problem.” The formulation of the “right” question is one of exploration, open-mindedness and big-picture thinking, one emanating from our priorities and purpose… what we think is what we are.  As Bernard Baruch said: “Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.” Be that one who asks why.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Seeking First to Understand

The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” wrote Leonardo Da Vinci.  John F. Kennedy said: “Too often, we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” Great leaders  recognize that, sometimes, opinions – theirs and others –  are not fact-based but simply expressions of their world-view. They realize that their ability to LISTEN and process information objectively allows them to have a greater understanding of the realities around them. It is this beautiful and robust openness to different perspectives and ideas that differentiates them and enables them to introduce and realize change.

Mother Teresa tells us: “The openness of our hearts and minds can be measured by how wide we draw the circle of what we call family.” May the circle we draw be wonderfully expansive and inclusive that our eyes, ears and heart are opened widely to possibilities and realities yet unseen. May we remember that we don’t see things as they are, but as we are. It is the responsibility of great leaders to stand in the shoes of others that, as Stephen Covey tells us, they “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On the Power of a Simple Act of Kindness

“Too often we underestimate the power of touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around,” writes Leo Buscaglia.  It is the small things of life that give joy, happiness and magic. From one of nature’s beautiful moments to a caring word uttered that changes someone’s life forever, these are the moments that last for a lifetime. Cherish them with gratitude, humility and joy. May you give them unconditionally and abundantly with caring and love. Lao Tzu reminds us: Seek happiness in small things, you will find life more beautiful.”

Remember also the gentle wisdom from Winnie-the-Pooh: “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” Fill your life and the lives of others with small and beautiful gifts… the small things… any one of which could change a life forever. You have this magnificent and awesome power. It is these little things you do in life that make life big… for the lives of those whom you touch and for your own.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The 5 Second Rule for a Happier New Year

Tony Robbins tells us: “The one thing we have in this world is we can’t control the events, but we can choose what to focus on, we can choose what things mean and we can choose what to do. Those three choices, those three decisions really control our life.” It is the great leader who takes extreme ownership of these choices, for they know that nothing, or everything, happens until they choose to act.

In her video, Retrain Your Mind, Mel Robbins states: “The way that our brains are wired and the fact about human beings, we are designed not to do things that are uncomfortable, or scary or difficult. Our brains are designed to protect us from those things.” Achieving great success, however, is almost always accomplished by doing the uncomfortable, going outside of our comfort zone and confronting  the difficult and scary. Robbins proposes a simple and powerful tool for great leaders in those exacting moments of choice – The 5 Second Rule.

The 5 Second Rule  states: “The moment you have an instinct (the ‘knowing’ that you should do something even if you don’t ‘feel’ like doing it) to act on a goal, you must push yourself to move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it.” It is the countdown we give to ourselves – five, four, three, two, one and go – the decisive, few seconds to take action – to take control – before our survival brain kicks in to keep us in our comfort zone. Very simplistically, it could be our alarm clock ringing in the morning – a choice to get out of bed or press the snooze button a few more times. Five, four, three, two, one – a decision about what I should do or let my comfortable brain and human nature take the easier road and press the button. It can be a magnificent tool.  “Your life comes down to your decisions. You change your decisions; you change everything,” Robbins writes. And in five seconds, we have that power to change everything.

At the beginning of this beautiful new year of your magnificent life’s journey, may you pause and reflect on how you will define what success will be at its end – in the joy, beauty, happiness, wisdom and passion of who you are; in the dreams you made reality; in your inspiration and caring for those whom you serve; in your understanding or your life’s purpose and meaning; in your love of those who you touch; in your life and passion for all that life offers; in your love of the One who created you. May you choose to grasp and embrace every precious moment this New Year offers… with passion, love and caring. May it be our best year yet! The best is yet to come.

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 quiet reflection, you see with brilliant clarity the happiness and joy in the endless possibilities that life offers to which you will aspire.

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, Happy Hanukkah, 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!!!

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Extreme Ownership

In their book, Extreme Ownership, former Navy SEALs, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, write about the power of extreme ownership as a critical element in highly successful leadership. “This concept,” they write, “is the number-one characteristic of any high-performance winning team…. It mandates that a leader set ego aside, accept responsibility for failures, attack weaknesses and consistently work to build a better and more effective team.

Great leaders own and embrace their accountability and responsibility for everything that happens or doesn’t happen in their organization, team or family… “the leader must own everything in his or her world.” It is about everything. As Molière wrote: “It is not only what we do, but also what we do not, for which we are held accountable.”

When situations do occur, it starts with great leaders looking first into a mirror and asking what they could or should have done about the situation. This inward look requires courage and humility to accept responsibility when things go wrong. Ego is set aside and blame is accepted. In this selfless act, great leadership is demonstrated and a heroic model of ownership and accountability is given to those served. Harry Truman powerfully captured the concept of extreme ownership in his words: “The buck stops here.”

Willink and Babin conclude by sharing their thoughts on The Dichotomy of Leadership.

A good leader must be: confident but not cocky; courageous but not foolhardy; competitive but a gracious loser; attentive to details but not obsessed by them; strong but have endurance;?a leader and follower; humble not passive; aggressive not overbearing; quiet not silent; calm but not robotic; logical but not devoid of emotions; close with the troops but not so close that one becomes more important than another or more important than the good of the team; not so close that they forget who is in charge; able to execute Extreme Ownership while exercising decentralized command. A good leader has nothing to prove, but everything to prove.

May you be a great leader, not just a good leader. Be more than you ever dreamed you could be… and more… so much more. You are the best!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Beyond a Life of Success… A Life of Significance

It’s not what we get, but who we become, what we contribute…that gives meaning to our lives” writes Tony Robbins. John Maxwell adds greater depth to those words saying: “Success is when I add value to myself. Significance is what I add value to others.” And Oprah Winfrey writes: “The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance.”

Living a life of significance goes far beyond the personal successes of achieving wealth, recognition or power. While achieving these things is laudable and gives testimony to finding and applying the gifts within each of us, there is more, another step beyond success. It is living a life of purpose and meaning, of giving oneself to others that they may grow. Ken Blanchard writes “If that’s all you’re focused on, you’re missing the boat… if you focus on significance – using your time and talent to serve others – that’s when truly meaningful success can come your way.” On your magnificent life’s journey may you remember the words of a beautiful quote attributed to William Shakespeare: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” May all your dreams be realized in living your significance.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Lesson of the Butterfly

In his story, The Lesson of the Butterfly, Paulo Coelho reminds great leaders of the importance and value of struggle in their growth and development.

A man spent hours watching a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. It managed to make a small hole, but its body was too large to get through it. After a long struggle, it appeared to be exhausted and remained absolutely still. The man decided to help the butterfly and, with a pair of scissors, he cut open the cocoon thus releasing the butterfly. However, the butterfly’s body was very small and wrinkled and its wings were all crumpled.

The man continued to watch, hoping that, at any moment, the butterfly would open its wings and fly away. Nothing happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its brief life dragging around its shrunken body and shriveled wings, incapable of flight. What the man, out of kindness and his eagerness to help, had failed to understand was that the tight cocoon and the efforts that the butterfly had to make in order to squeeze out of that tiny hole were Nature’s way of training the butterfly and of strengthening its wings.

It is the experience of struggle and hardships in which great leaders develop strength and fortitude to address the challenges and surprises of life’s beautiful journey. It is their learning about the joy and satisfaction achieved by never giving up or giving in. As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote: “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.” May the depths of your magnificent struggles be understood and treasured from the heights of the mountain tops your magnificent journey will take you.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Letting Go to Become What I Might Be

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be” wrote Lao Tzu. It is in these beautiful and joyous moments of letting go that great leaders find the joy and excitement of renewal – the releasing of themselves to new ways of seeing, feeling and thinking. Their fire and passion for life and all that they do are rekindled and set ablaze. It is the movement from stagnation to growth, from status quo to possibility, from dreams to realities… the recommitment to their life’s purpose and mission.

It is the great leader’s daring belief in what can be, in something more beyond what they are now – in their own possibilities, in knowing that there is always something more to achieve. It is their relentless ceaselessness to achieve the extraordinary in everything they do, in everything they are.. in being more than they ever dreamed they could be. In our own beautiful becoming, may we remember Colin Powell’s words that powerfully and succinctly capture the prerequisites of all successful journeys: “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Make all your dreams come true. Life is so very good!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Most Important Words a Leader Can Speak

Fictional character, Albus Dumbledore, in the film, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, reminds great leaders of the power of words: “Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” They are thoughts that have come alive.  Wisely chosen and humbly delivered, they can change the world and the lives of those who hear them.

Denis Waitley shares his thoughts on the five most important words a leader can speak:

The five most important words a leader can speak are – ‘I am proud of you’
The four most important are – ‘What is your opinion?’
The three most important are – ‘If you please’
The two most important are – ‘Thank You’
And the most important single word of all is – ‘You’

It is the beautiful ‘you’ that is the “most inexhaustible source of magic” – those whom the leader serves, acknowledges and celebrates for all that they are and do.  As Mother Teresa said: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” May your words motivate, inspire and create magic in all whom you touch that they, too, may achieve their greatest potential and be more than they ever dreamed they could be… and more… so much more. Life is so very good.

Have a beautiful day, a magnificent week and a joyous and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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