The Power of “What If…”

In her book, Take Your Soul to Work, Erica Brown speaks to great leaders of the power of ‘what-ifs’: “You cannot be a leader and not ask what-if questions. They often form the core of personal and organizational vision and offer strategic possibilities. They can unfold the future.” They can be sources of torment or the inspiration of possibilities undreamed. They can be new lenses through which one may find a greater understanding and joy of life and the world. They can be magnificent moments of pause and reflection. Brown suggests some what-if thoughts:

“What if you were to write an ad for the story of your life? Would it be full of hype or hope?
“What if hurting, leaving and ending are just mirror images of healing, arriving and starting?
“What if your thoughts and values suddenly appeared as pictures all over your body? Would you stay inside or go to the beach?

What are the what-if questions in your life? What could be their magnificent impact to open your life and world to new possibilities? What if today you lived more, laughed more and loved more? What if you asked not “what if I fall”, rather, “what if I fly?” What if you choose every day to be more than you ever dreamed you could be? What if you choose to help someone else be more than they ever dreamed they could be? May your ‘what-ifs’ fill your life with endless possibilities for growth, joy and happiness. Remember that ‘what-ifs’ are beginnings only. Their reality rests in their execution. Be bold and purposeful so that your what ifs become what are.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Value of Time

Charles Darwin wrote: “The man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” In his book, Go for the Gold, John Maxwell discusses the value of time as he brings a hard reality to it in sharing Charles Spezzano’s thoughts in his book, What to Do Between Birth and Death about how people give value to their time.

Maxwell writes: “Spezzano says that people don’t pay for things with money; they pay for them with time. If you say to yourself, In five years, I’ll have put enough away to buy that vacation house, then what you are really saying is that the house will cost you five years – one-twelfth of your adult life.” Spezzano writes: “Spending your time is not a metaphor. It’s how life works.” Maxwell suggests to great leaders that instead of thinking of getting, doing or achieving things in terms of money, they think of the time that they are investing in acquiring them.

This simple change brings emphasis and focus to the value of time. We open our eyes to new ways of seeing and valuing things. A simple example, do we choose to invest in our time as a measure of things (e.g. how many breaths we have in a minute) or, rather, something more beautiful as how many breathtaking moments we have chosen to make in that brief moment.

Maxwell asks: “What is worth spending your life on?” This is the question to be asked for every moment of the great leaders’ lives. What are their most important priorities, and how will they invest this precious time they are given. May great leaders remember always the words of an unknown author: “The greatest gift you can give someone is your time. Because when you give your time, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back.

May you always make good use of time. In doing so, time will give you one of its greatest gifts… it will teach you the value of life… a gift of a lifetime.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Releasing Your Music Within

Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out” wrote Oliver Wendell Holmes. Pharell Williams tells great leaders: “Don’t wait for the stars to align. Reach up and arrange them the way you want. Create your own constellation.” These are the sobering thoughts that great leaders understand – our life is in our hands. It is our responsibility to discover and realize the possibilities of the gifts within us. It is our responsibility to find and bring meaning and purpose to our life in all its beauty and magnificence. That is the joy of our journey as we live our life to its fullest with passion, excitement and enthusiasm that on our last day we can look back and say proudly: No regrets!

May the words of George Bernard Shaw be a constant reminder and burn brightly in our heart and memory to inspire and guide our magnificent life’s journey:

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community and, as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations.”

Let your music fill the world and the ears and souls of those whom you serve and touch. Create your own constellation as you touch the heavens and beyond with your beautiful music.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Character

Great leaders know that character is the essence of all that they are. It is their cornerstone and statement of their life, and heard and seen in their words and actions. It is character that builds the trust and respect of people, strengthens influence on others and fortifies one’s attitude and commitment.

General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., U.S. Military Academy Class of 1956, provides a passionate statement on character: “After a lifetime of leading troops, I have concluded that the single most important ingredient of leadership is character. In your darkest hours when you must make the toughest decisions, that is when character counts! You know what is the easiest thing to do. You know what will make you look good. You know what your bosses might want. You know you won’t get the credit if things go well, and you will get the blame if they go wrong. That is when your character takes over and you stand up to do the right thing.”

“You cannot dream yourself into a character: you must hammer and forge yourself one” counsels Henry David Thoreau. Your character is your self-made masterpiece of you, of all you have made yourself and of all whom you have served and touched. May your masterpiece not be sculpted in marble that people might see, but written in the hearts of people that it may live. May this be your life’s purpose and legacy… your masterpiece.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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When You Were Born, You Cried and the World Rejoiced

Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you” writes Dr. Seuss. His words underline the beautiful and joyous uniqueness of the gifts every individual brings to the world. It is that magical inimitability that gives creation to new perspectives and ideas, a different approach that changes the way things are perceived and opens new worlds of possibilities and opportunities. It is the great leader who serves others in helping others explore, find and bring life to their incredible gifts. It is this that is one of their greatest gifts and purpose in life.

May you always remember the wisdom of a native American proverb: “When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” May you fill your precious and wondrous days with living and role modeling your life’s principles and values and with a deep caring for those you serve and a consuming love of life and all that you do. May we not wait to end of days to bring those cries and tears, but live our life’s purpose passionately every beautiful and magnificent moment.

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 by nature, he says, are “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 are 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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Seeing Things as We Are

Our life is what our thoughts make it” wrote Marcus Aurelius. These are deeply profound words that give great leaders a moment of pause and reflection on those things that they treasure and value most. Sometimes it is the simplest thoughts that give quiet evidence of them.

One day all villagers decided to pray for rain. On the day of prayer all the people gathered, but only one boy came with an umbrella.

That’s FAITH.

When you throw babies in the air, they laugh because they know you will catch them.

That’s TRUST.

Every night we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning, but still we set the alarms to wake up.

That’s HOPE.

We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future.

That’s CONFIDENCE.

We see the world suffering, but still we get married and have children.

That’s LOVE.

On an old man’s shirt was written a sentence: ‘I am not 80 years old; I am sweet 16 with 64 years of experience.’

That’s ATTITUDE.

Anais Nin gently counsels great leaders saying: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” May your own thoughts and actions be the role models for others in their own pursuit of their life’s purpose and in living a values-based life filled with caring, selfless giving and love for those whom they touch and serve. As others gather to pray for rain, may you be the one with the umbrella.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

 

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On Momentum… It’s an Attitude

People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed,” writes Tony Robbins. It is built over time with a ceaseless drive and passion, a self-motivation repeated endlessly as it become part of the great leader’s life.

In his book, Winning Every Day, Lou Holtz provides great leaders his own definition of momentum with an interesting, thought-provoking insight.

“Momentum is nothing more than a state of mind. Again, an attitude. For example, you are winning a football game 14-0. Your opponent scores just before the half to make it 14-7. Up in the broadcast booth, the announcers proclaim that momentum has just swung in favor of the other team, even though you’re still ahead 14-7. Now let’s look at another game. This time your team is tied at 7-7. You score a touchdown and make the extra point just before the half to go ahead 14-7. As you enter the locker room, everyone now claims the momentum is with you. Ridiculous. The score is 14-7 in both instances. In other words, momentum is whatever your attitude determines it to be.”

Be it a force that great leaders build through repetition over time, or a continuing motivating attitude that finds its sustainability in the strength of attitude, momentum is sustaining power. May we magnify that power as we remember the words of Michael Korda: “One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.” And as Tony Robbins counsels us: “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” Life is so very good.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Always Be Present, Read the Signs, Stay in Your Lane and Never Back Up More Than You Have To

In her Leaders & Daughters article, Angela Ahrendts, Senior Vice President for Retail at Apple and the former CEO of Burberry, writes to her daughters, Sommer and Angelina, to provide them advice on navigating their future life’s journey. Her message is simple: “Always be present, read the signs, stay in your lane and never back up more than you have to.” This same advice she has used in her own highly successful career. The gift she shares with them is a gift for all great leaders as they direct their own magnificent life’s journey.

Dear Sommer and Angelina: Hopefully you won’t read anything in this letter that you haven’t already heard from me many times before. I’ve always tried to lead by example when we are together, so I will do the same in this letter by reminding you of a few thoughts that will help you navigate your incredible life journey ahead: Always be present, read the signs, stay in your lane and never back up more than you have to.

Always be present. Being fully present, by listening, feeling, empathizing—always holding serious eye contact, and often the touch of a hand—builds trust. Trust builds confidence and confidence enables you to look forward, dream more and focus on others vs. yourself. Being present is the greatest gift you can give another person, and the greatest way to more closely connect with them. When you are present, you are living in the moment vs in your mind. You are seeing, hearing, and feeling another person, and together you are even more empowered to do great things. This is a gift that often comes more naturally to women.

Stay open; always try to read the signs as you pass by them or they pass by you. I’ve often reminded you that there are no coincidences. Everything that happens in your life is for a reason or was predestined. Every book you receive, every new person you meet, everything you call lucky is a sign just waiting to be read. It is tough when you are young and so inward-focused but, once in a while, you will look back, make the connection and then be more open to and curious about those signs in the future. You see, signs aren’t blatant or obvious. You have to be open and present to instinctively feel or intuitively see them. You’ve seen firsthand, and we have often discussed, the role signs have played in my life and the incredible things that have happened as a result of me listening and reacting to them. You are blessed as sensitive women to more naturally understand this.

Connect to your passion and then just stay in your lane. Great athletes, musicians, scientists, etc., all have an expertise that they focus on and perfect. Don’t let anyone persuade you to do anything that doesn’t feel natural or isn’t aligned with your values or God-given gifts. You know what excites you more than anyone else. The sooner you recognize your passions, and the more you focus, the happier you will be and the greater success you will achieve. Still, don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what your lane is yet. The path will illuminate itself so long as you stay present, open to the signs, and follow your passions. It’s all related.

Never back up more than you need to, and this means in life, not just when driving. Just as you are blind to what’s behind you while backing up a car, if you keep looking back in life and focusing too much on the past, you may find yourself running things over and over in your mind, often seeing or creating things that never existed in the first place. Even worse, living in reverse blinds you to what lies ahead: your lifelong dreams waiting to be achieved, your destiny waiting to be fulfilled.

Nelson Mandela tells great leaders: “There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” May we always be present, and choose to fully live every day, every precious moment of our beautiful life. Life is so very, very good.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Our Own Daily Reminder of What It Is to Have Succeeded

In her recent CNBC MAKE IT blog post, Sara Berger shares the inspiring post that Jeff Bezos keeps on his refrigerator door as a daily reminder of his day ahead.

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

The quote is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is a singular definition of success. Berger writes: “Bezos also knows a thing or two about doing what you love while still making a positive impact on the world, which are also common threads throughout the poem.”  Bezos said: “You don’t choose your passions, your passions choose you…. All of us are gifted with certain passions, and the people who are lucky are the ones who get to follow those things.” In a 2016 interview he said also: “[I]f I’m 80 years old, looking back on my life and the one thing I have done is make it so that there is this gigantic entrepreneurial explosion in space for the next generation, I will be a happy, happy man.

Emerson’s words capture the principles and values of great leaders in defining what success in their life is. It goes beyond the material and embraces a greater fullness of having lived, loved and served for and with others. May we, too, pin these words to a place of prominence for ourselves and others to see. May its words serve as a gentle reminder of the things we should be and do in our life if we are to say at the end of days: “This is to have succeeded.”

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

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