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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A Pause to Reflect on Your Life as a Great Leader

Brief moments of quiet pause and reflection speckle the life of the great leader’s journey. They refresh, reinvigorate and rekindle the burning embers that fire their passion and life’s purpose. Below are some powerful and inspirational insights on leadership and life from great leaders before them which provide the inspirational fodder. May you enjoy the richness and diversity of ideas that reflect our global oneness.

“Leadership is based on a spiritual quality: the power to inspire, the power to inspire others to follow.”Vince Lombardi
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”Mother Teresa
“Some leaders are born women.” –Geraldine Ferraro
“I learned to always take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist.” –Ginni Rometty
“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” –Sheryl Sandberg
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”Maya Angelou
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”Nelson Mandela
“The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.”John Wooden
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”Pablo Picasso
“It is our choices that show what we truly are far more than our abilities.”J. K. Rowling

May these thoughts add value to the joy and excitement of your magnificent journey. For a minute, choose one that stands out for you. Ask why, what will I do with it… to grow, change, see the world differently? It is a small step, yet it is another of the many steps that you have already taken in life in which you have chosen to grow. Enjoy this precious moment you take for yourself. It is yours to savor as you rekindle the beautiful embers of your magnificent life’s purpose and meaning.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!


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Lessons from the Planarian Worm

In a New York Times article about the planarian flatworm, great leaders find inspiration about the power of the indomitable human spirit. The planarian flatworm is found globally. It has the unique ability to grow back its body parts. “You can chop off it head, and it will grow back in about a week — eyes, brain and all. And you can hack away at the critter until all that’s left is a tiny speck of worm dust — and the thing will still grow back.”

Great leaders share this same gift of rejuvenation. Their passion and love of life is ceaseless. Their positivity fuels their unending pursuit of joy, happiness, learning and their life’s purpose. They, like the planarian, will say: “Take something from me, and I will grow it back.” Relentless, they choose to live life’s fullness in every moment.

Roger Bannister, runner of the first sub-four-minute mile, wrote: “The human spirit is indomitable. No one can ever say you must not run faster than this or jump higher than that. There will never be a time when the human spirit will not be able to better existing records.”  May this spirit, too, fill your life’s journey. May it be absent of complaints, worries, whining and complaining which drain the spirit. It is this inner conviction and strength through which you will continuously renew and refresh your life. Remember always the words of Thomas Edison: “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t.” Life is so very, very good. Be ceaseless. Be indomitable. Be more than you ever dreamed you could be… and more… so much more.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent and wondrous week!!!

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The Franklin Effect

In his recent blog post, Marshall Goldsmith, speaks with Dr. Steven Berglas about the Franklin Effect. Berglas tells the story of Ben Franklin and his relationship with a powerful individual “who was negatively disposed to him.”

“Instead of ingratiating the individual, Franklin asked him for a favor. He asked to borrow a rare book for his book club members to use. What happened then is that, paradoxically, this negatively disposed individual became positively disposed. There are myriad explanations for it, but if you look at it, ultimately, people would rather do something that’s generative and helpful than be loved for having power.”

Marshall highlights this message saying “One thing I always teach is the importance of asking people, ‘How can I be better…? A better husband, better daughter, better parent.…’ so that we are learning from everyone around us. Our research shows that’s leaders who ask people, ‘How can I be better? Help me, give me ideas,’they are not seen as weaker, they are seen as stronger. Because they had the courage to ask for input, the courage to listen and also it’s a compliment to the other person. The biggest compliment I can give you is let you help me.”

Great leaders choose not the  appeal to their power or influence, but rather an offering that touches their desire for giving, for adding value and serving.  It is this gesture to others, an offer of their vulnerability, that opens the recipient to engagement, a beautiful compliment to them in their request for their help. Tony Robbins reminds great leaders: “Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment.” May you find this deepest joy and happiness in your selfless caring and service to others – in helping them discover the greatness and potential of their life and the world around them. What a magnificent gift!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Rising Above the Need to Be Needed

In his blog post, How to Inspire Others to Fly, Dan Rockwell shares his thoughts on “what makes helping helpful” in the great leaders’ development of those whom they serve. His message and conclusion is: “Effective helping includes rising above the need to be needed.”

He captures this in a simple story of how baby bluebirds grow from birth to flight in a brief period of three weeks:

Before they are ready to fly, they require constant care and feeding. Eventually they peek at the world through the small round door in their home. Parents fly to the door with grubs and bugs. We hear the young going nuts. But at fledging time, mom and dad shift tactics.

No food: Bluebird parents land at the door WITHOUT food at fledging time. We still hear crazy chirping but the parent pauses and flies away.

Eventually daddy bluebird perches nearby with a juicy meal dangling from his beak. While daddy coaxes the young from the white birch, mommy demonstrates the desired behavior. Over and over she flies from the birch to the house and back to where daddy dangles the bug.

In the beginning, the parents are helping their young grow. At a point, they then shift their pattern to instigate growth in the next state of their development. As a practical example, he writes: “Maybe you’ve been showing up in someone’s office to check-in. Now it’s time for them to show up in your office.”

Rockwell’s message underlines the importance of the need to change in the development cycle. The great leader changes first… “when others are ALMOST ready to fly.” It is at that beautiful moment when learning becomes reality, when helping “rises above the need to be needed.” 

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On the Value of Thinking the Opposite

In his book, Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite, Paul Arden challenges great leaders to expand their thinking by challenging their own views and taking the risk and challenge to see the world differently. In the chapter, The Age of Unreason, he writes:

Old golfers don’t win (it’s not an absolute, it’s a general rule).
The older golfer can hit the ball as far as the younger one.
He chips and putts equally well.
And will probably have a better knowledge of the course.
So why does he take the extra stroke that denies him victory?
He knows the downside, what happens if it goes wrong, which makes him more cautious.
The young player is either ignorant or reckless to caution.
That is his edge.
It is the same with all of us.
The secret is to stay childish.

Thinking what we think and know is always safe. When we respond to ideas, situations or people out of our comfort zone, we open our minds to new possibilities. He makes the thought visual by speaking of photographing flowers. The natural thing we would do is find a beautiful flower and photograph it. Arden then takes us a step beyond: a vase with no flower; a drooping tulip, and then a perfectly dead flower. His point is that there are variations that we can choose that will differentiate us. Arden tells great leaders: “Start taking[sic] bad decisions and it will take you to a place where others only dream of being.”

Buddha wrote: “We are what we think. All that we are arises within our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t. You’re right.” In a beautiful, more expansive note, Deepak Chopra counsels great leaders: “Instead of thinking outside the box. Get rid of the box.”

May we always remain childish in our manner of thinking, one that is free of learned constraints and limitations, and relish the joy and freedom of endless curiosity and believing that everything is possible. As Buddha said: “With our thoughts we make the world.” Choose to make your world magnificent and memorable!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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