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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The Impossible Question – When Was the Moment You Became a Great Leader?

In Simon Sinek’s video, Inspirational Speech About Love, Sinek shares the critical importance of consistency in the development of extraordinary leaders and their impact on those whom they serve. He begins his discussion with a question to his guest: “Do you love your wife?”  “Yes,” answers his guest. Sinek quickly responds:

“Prove it. Like what’s the metric? Give me the number that helps me know, because when you met her, you didn’t love her. Right, now you love her. Tell me the day that love happened. It’s an impossible question. But it’s not that it doesn’t exist. It’s that it is much easier to prove over time. Leadership is the same thing. It’s about transitions.

“So if you were to go to the gym, it’s like exercise. If you go to the gym and you work out and you come back and look in the mirror, you will see nothing. And if you go to the gym the next day and you come back and look in the mirror, you will see… nothing. So, clearly there are no results, can’t be measured, it must not be effective. So we quit. Or, if you fundamentally believe this is the right course of action and you stick with it, like in a relationship – I bought her flowers and wished her a happy birthday, and she doesn’t love me – clearly I’ll give up.

“That’s not what happens if you believe there’s something there. You commit yourself to an act of service. You commit yourself to the regime, the exercise. You can screw it up. You can eat chocolate cake one day, and you can skip a day or two. It allows for that. But, if you stick with it consistently, I am not exactly sure what day, but I know you will start getting into shape. I know it. And the same with the relationship. It is not about the events. It’s not about intensity. It’s about consistency.

Sinek states that leadership is sometimes treated with intensity, i.e., “We have a two-day offsite. We invite a bunch of speakers. We give everybody a certificate. You’re a leader!”  It is not about intensity. He argues that leadership development is about consistency: the “accumulation of all those little things” that we do and say, how we behave, the attitude that we hold and the face we give to the world and those whom we serve.

Consistency can be thought of in terms of training. We learn the things we need to know. Then we train in their execution… consistently… that we ultimately internalize the learning. There is no one event; there is no one thing that great leaders do that makes them great. It is a life’s journey, one of consistently doing those small innocuous things that paint a magnificent mosaic of our leadership. Yes, leadership is an everyday thing. As Tony Robbins said: “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Rut or Groove – When All Is Going Well, Are You in a Rut or a Groove?

The paths of great leaders are etched with the marks of the ruts and grooves that arise on their life’s journey.  The ruts and grooves appear similar at times, but the journey that accompanies them is vastly different. Herein lies a challenge of knowing in which one they are at the time.

Jack Beach suggests that a key question leaders must answer when all is going well is: “Are you in a rut or a groove?”  He writes: “It is also probably the most difficult question to answer since all that is in us wants to see the groove and not the rut.  But ruts and grooves can be very different.  Ruts are smooth and allow us to speed comfortably across the plains.   Grooves can be jolting at times but progressively move us over the bumps and rough patches we encounter as we unremittingly ascend the mountains.  So, we need to determine if the path we are on is taking us straight forward or up.  If we are not better today than we were yesterday, we are probably in a rut.”

Zig Ziglar writes: “Little men with little minds and little imaginations go through life in little ruts, smugly resisting all changes which would jar their little worlds.” Great leaders chose not the ruts but, as Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, they choose  “… the ringing grooves of change.”  As the Beastie Boys remind great leaders: “Life ain’t nothing but a good groove.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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There Can Be Miracles… When You Believe

There can be miracles when you believe” – these beautiful and inspiring words sung by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey in their mix “When You Believe.” It happens in a belief, one that is multi-faceted in its composition: a belief in self, our talents and skills, our commitment to our purpose and a ceaseless passion to achieving it, which come together creating an unstoppable force that creates the magic of undreamed of realities and life-changing possibilities.

We use words that describe the magical excitement of the impact of belief. They stimulate our mind with possibility and potential. Yet, for a moment, a brief 4:57 seconds seeing and listening to the video, we move from intellect to feeling. Our heart and spirit are magically filled with words that remind us of our hopes and dreams, the incredible potential that is in each of us. The enchanting melody and voices fill our ears and touch our souls. “We are not afraid” rings in our ears. We see ourselves “standing here my hearts so full.” For a beautiful moment we envision our dream as reality. We know, we believe: “Who knows what miracles you can achieve, when you believe somehow you will.. you will when you believe.”

May you make these words the music of your own life. Sing them, hear them and beautifully internalize them that they are you. As Brian Tracy: “Whatever you believe with feeling becomes your reality.” Believe in you… you are the best!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Standing on Your Mountain

In her recent visit to Seton Hall University to speak at the University’s Executive Suite Lecture Series, Liz Claman, anchor of the Fox Business Network show Countdown to the Closing Bell, began her talk saying: “Success is standing on a mountain of failures.” Her talk was captivating and inspiring as she shared the story of her life’s journey, one of an unrelenting ceaselessness… to grow, contribute and live her life’s purpose doing something she loves. Claman’s words beautifully capture the passion and excitement of her message.

“Be the one who believes nothing can ever stop you. Will things to happen.”
“You need to be a participant in your own rescue.”
“Make mistakes where nobody can see.”
“Are you in a rut or a groove? Sometimes it’s difficult to know the difference.”
“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of fight in the dog.”
“Remain dissatisfied with the status quo.”
“It’s the family, not the leader.”

Claman’s message speaks of the resilience, flexibility and unrelenting determination needed to succeed. At one point in her journey, she was faced with a challenge: “I am the fastest runner, but I am not allowed to win.” That didn’t stop her. Nothing stops great leaders in their pursuit. They know their gifts and potential; they are ceaseless in their pursuit.

Nelson Mandela said: “It is not where you start but how high you aim that matters for success.” May Henry David Thoreau’s gentle counsel be a joyful reminder of your magnificent search: What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals” – the joy of becoming more than you ever dreamed you could be… and more… so much more. Build your mountain to the heavens – push beyond what you know, escape the limits of what you believe, dare and risk. Never, ever let anyone ever think about or say to you, “You are not allowed to win.” It is your mountain.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The End of the Telescope Through Which We Look

In his book, Be All You Can Be, John Maxwell shares a great leadership learning through a story about a boy and his telescope.

“One day little Bobby’s father came into the front room and saw the boy looking out on the street through the big end of a telescope. He said, ‘Son, that’s not the way you look through a telescope. If you look through it that way, you make the objects look much smaller. A telescope is to make things look bigger.’ But Bobby smiled and said, ‘Daddy, the bully who’s always beating me up is out on the street. I turned the telescope around because he’s my main problem, and I want to see him smaller than he really is.’”

The story’s message reminds great leaders to pause and reflect on how they choose to see the world and address situations. Are they over-magnified? Under-magnified? Maxwell suggests: “Most of us, instead of taking the big end of the telescope and reducing our problems, take the small end of the telescope and magnify our problems so that they look much bigger than they really are.” Problems, the out-of-the-ordinary, the exceptions by their nature, draw attention and are magnified. One of the great leaders’ responsibilities is to ask of themselves and the people whom they serve: “Are we looking through the correct end of the telescope?” Find the lens that best fits the situation or problem.

Rumi writes: “The world exists as you perceive it. It is not what you see… but how you see it… it’s not what you hear… but how you hear it. It is not what your feel… but how you feel it.” How we choose to see the world is a choice. Which end do you choose to use as you look through your telescope? Choose wisely; may you choose well.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Voice in the Shadow

In his TED talk, Dancing with My Inner Critic, Steve Chapman speaks of the inner critic that lives in all great leaders: “… that whisper in my ear who constantly reminds me that I am not good enough – that my creativity is bad, that I should play it safe and not take risks, not try anything new because I will probably make a fool of myself.”

Chapman defines the inner critic as “the idealized sense of self, an unattainable imagined perfect version of us that never fails at anything and receives the adorations from other human beings for being the master at literally everything. It manifests in us day-to-day as a self-doubt that causes us to distrust our intuition and instincts. A voice whose constant narrative of comparison and judgment stifles spontaneity and creativity, replacing it with self-doubt and shame.” It continuously tells great leaders: “You are not good enough and you are incapable of becoming good enough.”

Seth Godin in his blog post, Facing the Inner Critic, writes: “Part of his power comes from the shadows. We hear his voice, we know it by heart. He announces his presence with a rumble and he runs away with a wisp of smoke. But again and again, we resist looking him in the eye, fearful of how powerful he is. We’re afraid that, like the gorgon, he will turn us to stone. He’s living right next to our soft spot, the (very) sore place where we store our shame, our insufficiency, our fraudulent nature. And he knows all about it, and pokes us there again and again.”

Great leaders have learned to deal with the inner critic. They chose, as Godin writes, to see the critic as a “as a compass, as a way to know if we’re headed in the right direction…. We can dance with him, talk with him, welcome him along for a long, boring car ride. Suddenly, he’s not so dangerous. Sort of banal, actually. There is no battle to win, because there is no battle. The critic isn’t nearly as powerful as you are, not if you are willing to look him in the eye.”

The voice in the shadow will always be with us. Its roots are found in our life’s experiences and learnings, the voices of people whom we have met and who have impacted us, the culture and environment in which we were brought up and lived. We can choose to listen and learn from our inner critic, our voice in the shadow. Yes, “there is no battle to win, because there is no battle.” Remember the counsel of Robert Kiyosaki: “It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life, it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power.” Vincent Van Gogh tells us also: “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” Whisper great things to yourself. Let those whispers be your voices in the shadow.

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

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