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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On a Spirit of Relentless Reinvention

This is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life – investment in ourselves, in the only instrument we have with which to deal with life and to contribute.” writes Stephen Covey. His words tell great leaders of the continued need for self-renewal in their life. “Renewal,” he writes, “requires opening yourself up to new ways of thinking and feeling.” It is about continually seeing the world through different eyes, pursuing and being open to change and letting go of ideas and beliefs that hold us back.

Frank Lloyd Wright once quipped: “An expert is a man who has stopped thinking because ‘he knows.’” Knowing the answers can be the biggest impediment to self-renewal because we start to automatically apply the same rules and engage in the same behaviors which inevitably lead to rigidity. Great leaders’ lives are filled with endless curiosity and, borrowing from an IBM saying, “a spirit of endless reinvention.” May you fill your days and life with this spirit of continuing self-renewal. As you do, remember always Lao Tzu’s wise counsel: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Sometime We Lose Our Way

John Grisham writes: “The alarm would go off at 5, and I’d jump into the shower. My office was 5 minutes away. And I had to be at my desk, at my office, with the first cup of coffee, a legal pad and write the first word at 5:30, five days a week.” So it is in the great leaders’ lives – the daily routine so often repeated, the seemingly endless work and long hours. Even with their excitement, challenges and rewards, there are moments of fatigue, and even boredom, when the glamor of what they are doing disappears. They seem to have lost their way.

H.G. Wells wrote: “Losing your way on a journey is unfortunate. But, losing your reason for the journey is a fate more cruel.” In their simple humanity, great leaders arrive at those moments in life when they question the “why” of their journey. The joy they once experienced is somewhere lost, and the once driving satisfaction becomes depleted. It is, at these times,  that great leaders know to pause to revisit their purpose. What was it that brought them to this job? What was in it that filled their passion? What has changed that they feel as they do now? These questions open their door to a deep exploration to find again their purpose.

The answers to their questions help them again find their life’s purpose – reason is again found in their routine, excitement in their challenges and satisfaction in their work. It was always there, only obscured by a momentary detour.  On the other hand, their answers may open their eyes to new paths. Erol Ozan writes: “Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.” Lao Tzu tells us: “New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”

Regardless of the outcome, the moment was grasped to revisit their life’s purpose. This is beautifully captured in Pablo Picasso’s words: “The meaning of life is to find your fit. The purpose of life is to give it away.” May you always remember Jerry Buccino’s gentle counsel: “When you leave, you want to leave a pile of ashes that will remind people that you once burned a magnificent fire.” May your fire burn brightly and light the world! Life is so very good.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Malcolm Gladwell’s Top 10 Rules for Business and Success – Preparing the Future You

Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push – in just the right place – it can be tipped” writes Malcolm Gladwell. It is about a disruptive new world, and great leaders know its reality. They know, also, that they and future leaders need to be prepared to lead in that world. Gladwell has his rules on how to succeed in it.

In his article, Gladwell’s 10 Rules, Evan Carmichael, shares Malcolm Gladwell’s Top 10 Rules for Business and Success. You will find the video here.

Rule #1: Have the Courage to Pursue Your Idea – It’s not enough to have a great idea and the focus and the conscientiousness to see it to fruition. You must have the strength and the resolve and the courage to pursue that idea, even when the rest of the world thinks you’re insane.

Rule #2: Try a New Approach – There are situations where being bad is highly advantageous. The disruptive outsider is the one who is incapable of meeting the marketplace needs as the market is traditionally defined. They can’t do it, right? So what do they do? They try a completely new, half-xxxed approach which in the beginning doesn’t work, but by the very nature of trying something completely outside the mainstream, they end up upending the situation.

Rule #3: #Believe In Meaningful Work – When you put forth effort, you get reward. When you throw your heart and mind and soul into something, you get something back.

Rule #4: Constantly Revise Your Conclusions – You should always double back and be constantly revising your conclusions.

Rule #5: Distinguish Yourself From Others – You have to very consciously differentiate yourself from where you think your professional peer group is going.

Rule #6: Practice – I’m uninterested in natural gifts. I know they exist and I know there’s such a thing as talent…. Give me somebody who wants to go to practice in the morning and who wants to try in games. I want to celebrate him.

Rule #7: Explore – I wander around and go through millions of journals in the most serendipitous way I can. Just to see what’s out there, and to see if I can stumble on something. You take advantage of a little thought you had in your head and when you meet someone by accident who happens to have specialized knowledge, you make sure you get his card.

Rule #8: Be Patient – A group of really brilliant psychologists in the field of expertise research have sat down to try and figure out how long you have to work at something before you become really good. And the answer seems to be, and it’s an extraordinarily consistent answer in an incredible number of fields, and that is, you need to have practiced, to have apprenticed for 10,000 hours before you get good. The kinds of jobs we have people do today are sufficiently complex that they require a long time to reach mastery. And what we should be doing is setting up institutions and structures that allow people to spend the time and effort to reach mastery, not judging them prematurely.

Rule #9: Understand The Rule Of Business – If you are a doctor, you have to understand that you are in the relationship business. If you are in a shipper, you have to understand that what you are interested in is the supply chain from A to B, not in managing some transaction along the way…. Those are the rules of the modern economy. And those who grasp those rules are the ones who thrive and succeed, and are capable of transforming the industries that they’re a part of.

Rule #10: Outwork Others – Effort is the route, one of the routes available to the underdog. I can outwork you. I may not be able to outspend you, but I can outwork you.

Gladwell counsels great leaders: “That’s your responsibility as a person, as a human being – to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you’re not thinking.”

On your magnificent life’s journey, remember always the words of T.S. Eliot: “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” Risk really big and go too far. Reach the stars and go beyond! Life is what you make it, so make it more than you ever dreamed.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Love… the Greatest Success Strategy of Them All

In his recent blog posting, Jon Gordon, author of The Energy Bus, shares with great leaders his learnings on the power of love.  Gordon tells the story of his commitment to the writing of his next book and the challenge he faced – “Each December I write a new book and it usually flows well, but not this time. This time I was filled with fear.” This fear became a transformative experience.. The antidote he found was love, “if you focus on love, you will cast out fear.”

Gordon writes: “Only through love will you create something special, magnificent and compelling. Only through love will you build a masterpiece.” Whether it is in business, the arts, athletics or whatever discipline “worrying about the outcome and what people think will steal your joy and sabotage your success but loving and appreciating the moment will energize you and enhance your performance.” It is through your love and passion for what you do that you will conquer the fear of failing. In reading his words, you can almost feel the energy pounding when you fix your mindset in these terms.

There will be many challenges, Gordon writes, that will be faced that will attempt to shift our focus back to fear. His counsel to great leaders is: “When this happens decide to LOVE ALL OF IT. When you love all of it, you will fear none of it.”

As Wayne Dyer said: “Whatever the question, love is the answer.” It creates and inspires a mindset of possibilities, hope and deep commitment to one’s purpose and meaning in life. Gordon concludes with his message on love:

Love the struggle because it makes you appreciate your accomplishments.
Love challenges because they make you stronger.
Love competition because it makes you better.
Love negative people because they make you more positive.
Love those who have hurt you because they teach you forgiveness.
Love fear because it makes you courageous.

The secret to life and the greatest success strategy of all is to love all of it and fear none of it.

May you LOVE ALL OF IT… for love is the answer whatever the question! Life is so very, very good.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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“I Hope You Will be Treated Unfairly”

In his June 2016 commencement speech at his son’s graduation from a small boarding school for grades six through nine, Chief Justice John Roberts shared with the students the immense value of learning that can be found, if  one chooses, in life’s difficult moments.

“From time to time, in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice,” he said. “I hope you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time, so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck again, from time to time, so that you will be conscious of the roll of chance in life, and understand that your success is not completely deserved, and the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you will be ignored, so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.”

He continued saying: “Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. Whether you benefit from them, or not, will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.” Great leaders understand the importance of finding meaning and learning from life’s experiences. They have learned that from falling down, you stand up (e.g. Fall seven times, stand up eight.). There are no regrets, only lessons learned. You may forget what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you and that sometimes in life, your situation will keep repeating itself until you learn the lesson.

Leo Buscaglia wrote: ‘Change is the result of all true learning.” May you find life’s fullness in all of those opportunities when you are stretched and challenged by life’s difficult moments. May you be ceaseless in you pursuit of being 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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The Power of Moments

We do not remember days, we remember moments,” writes Cesare Pavese. It is in these brief instances that our mind and heart capture something memorable and distinctive. The moment was different from all others. It glowed by its specialty and uniqueness. It may have been a moment of connectivity with others in celebration (a wedding or graduation), a moment of self-discovery (a choice of a career or career change, a decision to marry),a moment of personal achievement and pride in its accomplishment, or simply a moment of exception that was exciting, fun and memorable (our first roller coaster ride, a truly out-of-the ordinary and magical happening). These are moments that we remember and treasure and which create a mosaic of the joys of our life.

In their beautiful and powerful book, The Power of Moments, Chip Heath and Dan Heath share with great leaders how they can create more magical and special moments. They write:

“Every culture has its prescribed set of big moment: birthdays and weddings and graduations, of course, but also holiday celebrations and funeral rites and political traditions. They seem “natural” to us. But notice that every last one of them was invented, dreamed up by anonymous authors who wanted to give shape. That is what we mean by “thinking in moments: to recognize where the prose of life needs punctuations.”

“Think in moments” is their powerful message – to recognize thoughtfully that each moment gives us the opportunity to create a memory of a lifetime. All it takes is stopping and asking: how can I make this moment (be it a birthday, a meeting with someone, hiring a person, an experience for a customer, a surprise for a family member or loved one) so very special that they will remember it always? We have the power to create perfect moments that can last a lifetime. Think in moments! Make those punctuations!  You will change the world!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Joy of Openness

Gerry Spense wrote: “I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than closed by belief.” What a beautiful reminder to great leaders… to always be open to seeing the world through different eyes and not be  constrained by the world and ideas they hold as truth now. It is the key to further growing in the value they bring to their professional and personal life as they continuously challenge their own beliefs and certainties to explore new possibilities and realities.

Tony Schwartz tells great leaders: “Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox rather than choose up sides.” May we learn and take pause from his exhortation.  May we have a mind opened by joys of wonder and exploration… of possibilities unseen and dreams undreamed. May we remember always Steve Jobs’ words: ”Open your mind to every form of beauty.” In that openness, may we challenge our ‘what is’ in our relentless and passionate search of ‘what can be” as we change the world and the lives of those whom we serve and touch that they, too, embrace their own dreams undreamed.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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We Are That Profound Secret and Mystery to Each Other

In his novel, The Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens writes: “A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!

Great leaders deeply understand and treasure the beautiful and wondrous richness within each person: their values, perspectives , the individual uniqueness in how someone sees the world, their magic in seeing and connecting dots that no one else sees. It is the great leaders who inspire and motivate those whom they serve to explore, find and realize their greatest possibilities and potential that they rise to the stars and beyond.

It is this wondrous ‘inside of us’ that great leaders choose to fill and nourish. Rumi tells us: “The universe is not outside of you. Look inside of yourself; everything you want you already have.” May your gifts, passion and love of life fill the mosaic of your own profound secrets and mystery.  As you discover and bring them to life, may you whisper to yourself the words of Sydney Carton from The Tale of Two Cities: “It is a far better thing that I do than I have ever done….”,  and know always that the best is yet to come.

Have a beautiful day, a Happy Easter and Passover and a magnificent week!!!

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