You Have to Become It to Get It

You have to become it to get it” – words spoken by a seasoned coach to her client. These words mark the beginning of every great leader’s journey: self-understanding and purpose. It is the joyous work of starting with an end-in-mind and, step-by-step, transforming from who you are to whom you want to become.

An unknown author suggests, however, another path to our becoming: “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything…. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you.. so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”  Whether the choice of achieving our life’s purpose is one of becoming or unbecoming, may we remember Hal Elrod’s gentle counsel: “Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.” May we continue our magnificent journey of becoming more than we ever dreamed we could be… more… and so much more.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Seeing Beyond the Mirror

In his blog post, The Trap of Insightful Selection, Seth Godin shares a story that provides a powerful analogy of the human selection process and a lesson that  great leaders learn from it.

“’Which one do you want?’ – There were 100 quarts of strawberries at the farmer’s market yesterday. In answer to the farmer’s question, the person ahead of me in line spent a full minute looking them all over before picking one. The thing is: 90% of the strawberries in a quart are hidden from view. They’re beneath the top layer. There’s no strategy to tell which quart is better than the other, unless you (erroneously) believe that the top layer is an accurate indicator of what lies below.”

He writes: “We get satisfaction out of picking, even if we know that our data is suspect and evidence is limited. We like the feeling of power and control, even though we have very little. If all you’re seeing is the top layer, you’ve learned nothing.” This lesson is not lost in the decision-making of great leaders. They realize the importance of looking beyond the surface, whether it is a person or an issue. There is always something deeper and more profound to be known and understood. As Anaxagoras wrote: “Appearances are a glimpse of the unseen.” Additional steps are needed to transform appearances into reality.

Godin states: “The real information comes from experience. If the farmer is the sort of person who won’t put the clinkers on the bottom, she’s earned our trust.” Experience, data, words and actions serve to peel back the surface to a true reality. May we relish, enjoy and welcome the beauty and excitement of new ideas, perspectives and people. May we seek to understand their true greatness in the depth of their innermost realities as we reflect on the words of Samuel Butler: “Let us be grateful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Did You Earn Your Dollar?

A dear friend recently shared a story with me about what his father taught him about life and hard work. His father lived until the age of 97 – a beautiful life filled with family, happiness and hard work. He taught his son the importance of hard work and, in particular, the significance of continuously adding value in all that he did. Whether the achievement was big or small, it was always about that special additive something that made a unique contribution to the betterment and richness of his work effort.

There was a quote his father instilled in him, a question he would ask himself at the end of each day: “Did you earn your dollar today?” It was in this brief moment of reflection that he thought of the value he brought to his own life and work. The choice of the word “earn” put ownership and accountability in his hands. The simplicity of the dollar amount gave a quantifiable reward to the effort.

At the end of each of your days, may you, too, ask yourself: “Did I earn my dollar today?” With that question, may your mind  remember the words of John Ruskin: “The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.” With that question, may your heart remember the words of Albert Einstein: “Only a life lived for others is worth living.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Plan Your Funeral, Start Early, by Being Kind

In a recent Knowledge@Wharton article, Remembering Jon M. Huntsman, Sr.: Lessons from a Compassionate Leader, Huntsman writes: “I have attended many funerals in my life…. I have never heard in a funeral that this person made a lot of money or is politically very strong. They never discuss that. In a funeral, people discuss how this person was kind or gracious or had character and integrity.… For some people who are not kind, thoughtful or gracious, their funerals are very short. Nobody has anything to say. I learned from the funerals that we must plan our funerals when we are young. Plan your funeral, start early, by being kind.”

Some of life’s and leadership’s basic lessons are fundamentally simple and obvious. Yet, along the way, among the seemingly endless multitude of professional and personal priorities that fill the great leaders’ journey, these lessons are muted and sometimes lost, only to be found again in a momentary pause that again highlights their critical significance in the full and meaningful living of their life. We find them now in Huntsman’s words: “Plan your funeral, start early, by being kind.”

In his book, 7 Habits of Highly effective People, Stephen Covey teaches great leaders a valuable leadership principle: Begin with the End in Mind. Great leaders ardently embrace this principle tightly knowing that understanding and committing to their end purpose/goal serves as the pathway for everything they will do to achieve it. And so it is when Huntsman writes: “Plan your funeral, start early, by being kind.” What do you choose that people will say of you?  Mark Twain wrote: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” May your kindness and caring touch the lives and hearts of those whom you serve. These beautiful actions will be the paving stones of the steps of your magnificent journey.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Joy of Living with Intention

“Intent” is defined in the dictionary as: “An act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result; the end or object intended; purpose.” Living with intention is living what we do, not what we say we will do. John Maxwell tells great leaders: “No one stumbles upon significance. We have to be intentional about making a difference.”

When we live with intention, we live with a plan and specific goals, outcomes and time frames in mind for what we dream and want to do. We know and understand our ‘why’ behind them. We dare to be bodacious, creative and live a life of unlimited abundance in all its depth and richness.  Our intentional living brings a continuous, intentional reflection on these plans and goals in assessing the significance they bring to objectives, the people impacted and to ourselves. As Rhonda Byrne writes us: “Intention is simply the conscious act of determining your future now.”

Maxwell writes: “Good intentions will never take you anywhere you want to go. Only intentional living will get you the things you want in life.” He reminds great leaders: “Every day of your life is merely preparation for the next. What you become is the result of what you do today.” Live with a passionate intention of achieving your life’s purpose and meaning, of serving others that they will achieve theirs and becoming more than you ever dreamed you could be… and more… so much more. Life is so very, very good.

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

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If You Took This Pill, You Could Live for Five Hundred More Years… Would You Take the Pill?

In the TV Discovery series, The Last Alaskans, Heimo Korth, speaking of his love and joy of life living in Alaska, said: “If I live to 80, I only have 20 more years, man. That ain’t long. I don’t want to go; I just don’t want to go. I like life too much. I’d be one guy if they said: if you’d take this pill and you could live for five hundred more years, I’d take that so fast, it would be unreal.”

Great leaders treasure and value every precious moment of their life. They joyously and happily live every day of their life to the fullest. They find learning in disappointments, self-understanding in downfalls and growth in challenges. They find joy in serving others to achieve their fullest potential, satisfaction and gratitude in their accomplishments and humility in their personal recognition. They find excitement in dreaming their dreams, believing that there is more to themselves and, every day, moving from the ‘what is’ to the ‘what can be.’ They enjoy the beauty of sunrises and sunsets, the splendors of nature and the love of their family and friends. All these and more fills their life with exquisite happiness and ecstasy.

Yes, there is so much to life. So the question to each of us is: would you take that pill?  I pray that you would join me as we take handfuls of them for the ones we love and then take one for ourselves and live five hundred more years. Life is so very good. Our best is yet to come!

May we remember Natalie Babbit’s counsel from Tuck Everlasting: “Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.” Live every precious and beautiful moment. Your life is in your hands.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On the Beauty and Joy of Recognition

It was a few minutes after 7 AM when I received a phone call from a senior official at the University. There was a bright, cheery and enthusiastic voice that greeted me. She shared a kind and humbling recognition that a student’s parent had shared her about me. Despite an incredibly busy schedule for her, then and in the day ahead, it was important to her to call me personally and congratulate me and recognize my work and the value I brought to a student. What a beautiful and meaningful start to my day – a call from a great leader who cares about those whom she serves, a simple action that made my day.

Would that every great leader adopted a similar practice of taking time out during the day to recognize someone – for the value they bring to an organization, their contribution to a team or simply the enthusiasm and joy they bring to the people they touch. Mother Teresa captures the value and need for recognition saying: “There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than bread.” William James wrote: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.

May your days begin with messages of recognition and thanks to those whom you serve. This simple act of giving has the joyous power and impact of making someone’s day and, even beyond, incredible. May we remember always the words of Susan Heathfield: “Recognition is not a scarce resource. You can’t use it up or run out of it.” Today, every day, make someone’s day… and may they make yours. Life is so very good.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Taking Your Gut Instinct Ability to Higher Levels

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes: “Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.” We have probably all heard many variations on this, all supporting the same theme. For example: “Always trust your gut. It knows what your head hasn’t yet figured out.” Or, “Your heart knows things that your mind can’t explain.”

Seth Godin, always in search of something more, in his blog post, Better Instincts, shares his thoughts with great leaders on further strengthening their instinct ability.

“Go with your gut,” is occasionally good advice. More often, though, it’s an invitation to indulge in your fear or to avoid the hard work of understanding the nuance around us.
Better advice is, “invest in making your gut smarter.” The world is a lot more complex than our gut is likely to comprehend, at least without training. Train your gut, get better instincts.
How to do this?

  1. Practice going with your instincts in private. Every day, make a judgment call. Make ten. Make predictions about what’s going to happen next, who’s got a hit, what designs are going to resonate, which videos will go viral, which hires are going to work out. Write them down or they don’t count. It makes no sense to refuse to practice your instinct and to only use it when the stakes are high.
  2. Expose yourself to more deal flow. If you want to have better instincts about retail, go work in a retail shop. Then another one. Then a third one. If you want to have better instincts about hiring, sit in with the HR folks or volunteer to help a non-profit you care about do screening of incoming resumes.
  3. Figure out how to talk about your instincts so that they’re no longer instincts. A thinking process shared is inevitably going to get more rigorous. Ask your colleagues to return the favor by challenging each of them to expose their thinking as well.

Godin’s message is one of experiential learning, doing and self-training to hone this magnificent gift. For great leaders, good is not good enough, great is not great enough… there is always something more.

May we remember Steve Jobs’ counsel about instinct: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Let your gut make a difference in your life. Find that something more that will make your life richer and fuller. Life is so very, very good. Please take care.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Time and Energy

In their book, The Power of Full Engagement, James E. Loehr and Tony Schwartz share their thoughts with great leaders about how to achieve their optimal levels of performance. One fact at the heart of their teaching is the belief that “energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of optimal performance.” Simon Sinek, however, sees both time and energy as equals: “Time and energy. Those are the most valuable sacrifices leaders can make.”  Two different perspectives, yet both speak of the same two elements. No surprise because of their natural linkage – energy is expended in time.

The value of these opposite perspectives is that they give great leaders a moment of pause, a pause to think separately of how their time is being spent, and how they are using their energies in that time. Higher levels of energy, be they physical, mental, spiritual or emotional, produce outstanding results. Energy, therefore, needs to be managed effectively – renewed, expanded in capacity and used decisively. Time, too, requires attention – its prudent use both in focus (e.g. prioritizing, doing, avoiding) and duration. Unlike energy, it is not a renewable resource.

Time and energy are the precious tools in the great leaders’ hands to control. Both are finite. The challenge of great leaders is to maximize both in achieving their optimal level of performance as they achieve their life’s purpose and meaning. May you remembers always the words of Tony Robbins: “Where focus goes, energy flows. And if you don’t take the time to focus on what matters, then you’re living a life of someone else’s design.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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We Make Our Choices, Then Our Choices Make Us

Gordon B. Hinckley wrote: “The course of our lives is seldom determined by great, life-altering decisions. Our direction is often set by the small, day-to-day choices that chart the tract on which we run. This is the substance of our lives – making choices.” Graham Brown tells great leaders: “Life is about choices. Some we regret, some we’re proud of. Some will haunt us forever. The message: We are what we chose to be.”

Great leaders know that their every deed, word or thought leaves a footprint in their journey. Forward, backward or sideways, there is an impact of their choice. In every instance, some change results from that choice. Accountability and responsibility reigns prominently as they choose to define, shape and create their life and its ultimate direction. Tony Robbins tells us: “Your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent and committed decision.” May you gently remind yourself of your power over your life with words from Eleanor Roosevelt: “I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.” May each day’s choices bring great richness, joy, beauty and learning and bring you closer to achieving your life’s purpose and meaning. Life is so very good. Choose wisely; choose well.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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