I Am the Master of My Fate, I Am the Captain of My Soul

In a scene from the 2009 movie Invictus, Nelson Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, is meeting with Francois Pienaar, played by Matt Dillon, the captain of the Springbok Rugby Team which is preparing for the 1995 World Cup. Mandela asks him: “Francois, what is your philosophy on leadership? How do you inspire your team to do their best?” Francois responds: “By example. I have always thought to lead by example, Sir.” Mandela confirms his answer saying: “That is right. That is exactly right.” He then asks: “But how to get them to be better than they think they can be?” His response to his question is: “I sometimes think that it is by using the work of others.”

For Mandela it was a poem, Invictus, by William Ernest Henley. Mandela states that it “helped me to stand when all I wanted to do was lie down” while he was imprisoned on Robben Island for eighteen years.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul” – reaffirming words that inspire the great leaders’ own belief in themselves and their life’s purpose. What beauty and power they bring in shaping our mindset and way of living, and which become an example for others to emulate and from which to grow.

Speaking of building his nation, Mandela says: “We must all exceed our own expectations.” As great leaders build their own professional and personal life, they, too, “must all exceed their own expectations.” They are the role models, the examples, the works of others, from which others learn and grow when all they want to do is lie down.

May you remember always: You are the master of your fate, You are the captain of your soul! Continue to 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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As You Think, So Shall You Become

The mind is everything. What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.” writes Buddha, reminding great leaders of the powerful influence of their thinking on their life. Their thoughts create their worldview of life and become the foundation from which their attitudes, behaviors and actions emanate.

Dr. Wayne Dyer beautifully captures this reality in seven simple words that, as he writes, “are perhaps the most important things that we can learn and master in our lives.” His seven words are: “AS YOU THINK, SO SHALL YOU BE.” Our thoughts define who we are, shape the life we live and inspire the dreams we dream and create the realities we accomplish. Our thoughts are choices… in our hands to make. May we remind ourselves daily: I AM WHAT I THINK, remembering Dyer’s gentle and caring counsel on their impact: “You become what you think about all day long, and those days eventually become your lifetime.”

Choose to make your lifetime one that is filled with great beauty, accomplishments, wisdom, caring and giving that, at end of days, you may proclaim proudly and joyfully: No regrets! I lived my life to my fullest. Enjoy your magnificent journey and be more than you ever dreamed you could be… every day, every minute, every second. Life is so very precious.

A gentle reminder: Make it one heck of a summer! It goes by so quickly.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Lessons from the Agouti

The Agouti, a small animal found in rainforests and other tropical basins, is one of the very few animals who can open a brazil nut. The Agouti has a special gift. It is distinctive in nature. Unique in this ability, they serve to cultivate and abundantly spread the Brazil Nut tree as they bury uneaten seeds for later use. This simple story serves as a metaphor for great leaders in their life and service to others.

Each of us has wonderful, beautiful gifts that are unique to us alone just as the small Agouti. It is our joy (and responsibility) in life to discover and exercise them that others will benefit from their value and richness. We are the ones who will plant and cultivate the seeds of joy, hope, promise and potential in those whom we touch and serve. In doing so, they, too, will share their gifts and treasures for the joy and enrichment of those whom they serve. As we do this on our journey, may we remember always the words and counsel of Michelangelo: “Your gifts lie in the place where your values, passions and strengths meet. Discovering that place is the first step toward sculpting your masterpiece, Your Life.”

May your life be a masterpiece that inspires others to paint their own. As Thomas Edison wrote: “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” Astound yourself every moment of your life. 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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Words from Tecumseh

In his beautiful and inspiring poem, Native American Shawnee Chief, Tecumseh, offered great leaders wise counsel on living a rich and meaningful life.

 So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes, they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

Chief Tecumseh

May every word, action, attitude and behavior you choose be the notes to the magnificent song  of your life’s journey that you compose. May its words speak of passion, caring and loving of those heroes and heroines you have faithfully served. Remember always Tecumseh’s gentle counsel: “Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.”

Have a beautiful day, a happy and safe July 4th Weekend and a magnificent week!!!

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On the Power of Feelings

In his Inc. blog post, This Email From Elon Musk to Tesla Employees Is a Master Class in Emotional Intelligence, Justin Bariso shares a magnificent picture of a role model act of emotional intelligence, words and actions by Elon Musk. The issue and concern he addressed was about injury rates at one of Tesla’s plants. As reported by news site Electrek, he sent the following email to his employees.

No words can express how much I care about your safety and well-being. It breaks my heart when someone is injured building cars and trying their best to make Tesla successful.

Going forward, I’ve asked that every injury be reported directly to me, without exception. I’m meeting with the safety team every week and would like to meet every injured person as soon as they are well so that I can understand from them exactly what we need to do to make it better. I will then go down to the production line and perform the same task that they perform.

This is what all managers at Tesla should do as a matter of course. At Tesla, we lead from the front line, not from some safe and comfortable ivory tower. Managers must always put their team’s safety about their own.

Musk’s message is powerful – one of deep caring, concern, a personal connection with them and a commitment to action. He is in the trenches with them; he has their back. He is willing to listen and stand in their shoes.  The impact of his behaviors, attitudes and actions is one of respect, feeling valued and cared for. That’s all that great leaders and we all ask. Daniel Goleman writes: “What really matters for success, character, happiness and life-long achievements is a definite set of emotional skills – your EQ — not just purely cognitive abilities that are measured by conventional IQ tests.”  Let people feel your concern and caring. Hear and understand their concerns through their eyes. Be there for them. As Lucius Seneca tells us: “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.” It is a simple choice, one that can change someone’s life forever.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Make It One Heck of a Summer

With the beginning of summer for those of us in the northern hemisphere Philip Humbert’s article, “Make It One Heck of a Summer,” and its message of carpe diem again comes to mind.  I share this at the beginning of each summer as it continues to serve us well as a moment of reflection of the great possibilities and joys of the coming summer.  In his article, he talks about how he and his wife seemed to always have the same conversation about summer in October:  “Oh, no!  Where did the summer go?”  Moments later the house was filled with whining and moaning, a few complaints and exclamations that, “I can’t believe we let it get away again!”  I believe his experience is similar to most of ours, and that, come October, we may look back with similar regrets… if we don’t purposefully choose a summer filled with fun, relaxation and infinite possibilities for joy and happiness.

Humbert reminds us that we are in control.  Our summer and how we will spend it is in our hands. It is about goal setting – a plan, getting things on our calendar and locking-in on them.  Human beings, he says, are by nature “goal-setting and goal-achieving creatures.”  We set goals everyday – from the planning of our daily schedule to planning what we will eat during the week.  So, if we are to have the greatest summer yet of our lives, we need to plan to make it the greatest.  Start today.  Circle dates on the calendar and mark them with things you want and love to do.  Fill it up and let it overflow the brim. Live this summer as the greatest you have ever had!   It is your beautiful and special life to live to its fullest.  Stretch yourself to do new things and discover new possibilities and happiness – for you, your family and those around you. Set goals and make a checklist of all those things you want to do, and do them.  And in October, look back proudly with joy, happiness and extraordinary satisfaction at what you have achieved, learned and experienced.  Happiness and success is in your choosing and doing.  Choose wisely; choose well! Life is so very beautiful and good.  Make yours one heck of a summer, my very dear friends! Make it one heck of a summer.

Have a beautiful day, a fantastic week and a joyous and magnificent summer!!!

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A Vigilant Mindset

It is the great leaders’ daily ritual in the quiet of the morning – their mind goes through the day ahead: family responsibilities to take care of, personal to-do’s, business schedule, evening commitments (a late night ahead?), then home again. With a smile of their face, they look into the mirror and jubilantly say, “This will be a magnificent day, the best yet.” Another day begins, and they know that the day will be filled with challenges.

Philip Humbert in his blog, Trouble and Triumph, writes about these great leaders, and shares his thoughts on a successful strategy that they can use in dealing with these challenges. He states: “High achievers expect challenges. They know that, as they move forward, problems will occur. Unexpected things will happen, and they maintain an attitude of optimism, humor, strength and resolve in the face of difficulties. They know that, as they become ever more successful, the size and complexity of their problems will only grow.” He suggests some solutions for solving the problems.

  1. Expect difficulty! This is no surprise. It is not unfair or unusual. Life is complicated. Get good at it.
  2. Keep a buffer around the edges of your life. Maintain a reserve of extra time, savings in the bank, and a bit of energy to handle the unexpected.
  3. Attitudes of optimism and enthusiasm are essential.
  4. View difficulties as challenges or learning opportunities rather than as problems. How we talk about our difficulties makes a huge difference in how we handle them.Words matter!
  5. Have a team of cheerleaders, experts and colleagues on stand-by to help you overcome any challenge. “We get by with a little help from our friends.”
  6. Be proactive. Take care of difficulties while they are small. Preventive maintenance is good for your car, your relationships and your heart.
  7. Learn from every experience and (try) not to have the same problem twice. Learn from difficulties, make changes, and move on. Never repeat the same life-lesson!

Setting expectations, maintaining a positive attitude and seeing what life presents as opportunities to learn establish a powerful growth mindset.  The morning ritual, far from being dreaded, becomes one of joy and excitement… the excitement that this beautiful and magnificent day we are given will be the best yet, because we choose it to be.

Fill every minute of your day with all the greatness and possibilities that only you can give. Return home each night knowing that you lived every minute of your magnificent life that day. May you remember and hold close the words of Henry David Thoreau that we “must find your eternity in each moment.” May you find your eternity in every moment.  Life is so very, very good.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On the Value of the Stupid Pill

In a Blue Bloods TV episode, Garret Moore, the public information officer to the Commissioner says: “A wise woman told me that anytime I started to doubt my abilities I should take a stupid pill. Because then I could believe that I could accomplish anything.

These words are a strong reminder to great leaders of the importance of sometimes reframing their mindset – to forget what they believe and know, and open their mind to new possibilities, to see the world through a different lens and not be bound by their worldview. It is a proactive action filled with excitement and movement – a suspension of belief in search of something new and never dreamed. The same thought is captured differently in the words “the willing suspension of disbelief” – a choice for great leaders to admit a possibility and take action to explore it further.

The end result of both approaches is an openness to stretch and grow themselves and others, an opportunity as Max De Pree writes to “give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.” Remember always the words of Brianna Wiest: “If you carry the bricks of your past with you, you will build the same house.”

Garret’s friend called them ‘stupid pills’ for fun. Perhaps a more fitting name is the ‘Enlightenment Pill.’ Regardless of name, they are non-prescription and can be purchased over the counter. Just one pill, and you can believe that anything is possible. Try one… it may change your life forever… into something more beautiful than you ever believed or dreamed.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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What Would You Stop Doing?

In his book, Hungry! Fuelling Your Best Game, hockey great Ryan Walter shares his experiences and learnings while a “hockey expert” in the Disney film, Miracle. His work with Director Gavin O’Connor provided a great insight to his leadership teachings – the importance of framing in great leaders’ lives, the choices of what should be in focus and what should not be in focus as they create their life’s epic film.

Maintaining focus on priorities, current or forthcoming, is the daily life-blood of great leaders. This is the in-focus stuff. One of the greatest challenges they face is keeping things out-of-focus – their “Ignore List.” Walter’s research of eleven companies that turned themselves from good to excellent found that “the big decisions were not what to do, but what to stop doing.” Walter brings this to life quoting Jim Collins who wrote in USA Today the article: “Suppose you woke up tomorrow and received two phone calls. The first phone call tells you that you have inherited $20 million, no strings attached. The second tells you that you have an incurable and terminal disease, and you have no more than ten years to live. What would you do differently, and, in particular, what would you stop doing?”

You are the Director of your life’s beautiful and grand masterpiece. Choose to make it magnificent in what you choose to include in it and what you will not include. Most important, what will you stop doing that will take you to yet higher levels of happiness, success and joy beyond your wildest dreams.  As Peter Drucker reminds us: “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”

Have a beautiful day, a Happy Memorial Day and a magnificent week!!!

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Your Legacy Is Every Life You’ve Touched

In her Commencement Address at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Oprah Winfrey’s message to the graduating class was “The biggest reward is not financial benefits, though it’s really good, you can get a lot of great shoes! Those of you who have a lot of shoes know having a closet full of shoes doesn’t fill up your life. Living a life of substance can…. Substance through your service, your offering of your whole self… whatever is true for you, whatever you stand for.” She suggested three things to live a life of substance: a deep compassion for others; a life committed to service through your work and your life’s purpose; and being constructively engaged in life to change the world in “respectful conversation with others… be open to hear the truths of others and open to letting the process of changing the world change you.” Be a person of substance!

She captured the profound depth and beauty of her message sharing the counsel that Maya Angelou told her:  “You have no idea what your legacy will be. Your legacy is what you do every day. Your legacy is every life you’ve touched, every person whose life was either moved or not. It’s every person you’ve harmed or helped. That’s your legacy.” Winfrey concluded her address with the words: “Feel everything with love, because every moment you are building your legacy.”

May you often pause and reflect on these words knowing always: “Your legacy is every life you’ve touched.” So, feel everything with love and live your beautiful life of substance and purpose.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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