On Promises

Lou Holtz said: “Don’t promise more that you can deliver, but always deliver more than you promise.” A promise creates expectation, hope and anticipation. It is a verbal commitment to someone with your name behind it. It creates trust in the ears and heart of the recipient who hears an unsaid “because I said I would” which makes the promise a matter of character. Just as the value of words are found in actions, so, also, the truth of promises is found in their fulfillment.

May your promises, to yourself and others, provide a path of commitment to your life’s purpose and meaning, each being a piece of your beautiful life’s mosaic. As a reminder, may you remember Robert Frost’s words: “…. I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” May you enjoy the beauty of each new mile and the value your kept promises continue to add to it. Life is so very good… and the best if yet to come.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On the Value of Storytelling

John Kotter speaks to the power and importance of stories writing: “Over the years I have become convinced that we learn best – and change – from hearing stories that strike a chord within us…. Those in leadership positions who fail to grasp or use the power of stories risk failure for their companies and for themselves.”

In their uncomplicated clarity and simplicity, stories stimulate, amaze and inspire as they convey their message. In them, concepts and ideas become realities as a visual picture of their meaning is painted in the listener’s mind. The visualization is often enhanced with words that create feelings, emotions and sentiments. They tell the listener that the idea was ‘lived’ and has value. Stories have the magic of going beyond the ears and into the heart. As Tom Asacker wrote: “Facts don’t persuade, feelings do. And stories are the best way to get at those feelings.”

Be that great storyteller described by Maria Popova: “A great storyteller dances up the ladder of understanding, from information to knowledge to wisdom… who helps us interpret information, integrate it with our existing knowledge, and transmute that into wisdom.” May the magic of your storytelling leave seeds of possibilities to be explored, dreams to be dreamed and life to be lived… and changed. Life is so very good.

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

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Going Up to the Balcony

In his recent blog post, Going Up to the Balcony, Larry Center reminds great leaders of the importance of stepping back amid their myriad of daily challenges that shift their focus to  the problems themselves rather than finding solutions to them. This stepping back is captured in his powerful metaphor of going up to the balcony.

“Going up to the balcony represents a leadership perspective that gives us the ability to look at our issues in a new light. When we leave the orchestra section and climb up to the balcony, we can “look down” on our issues and problems in a new way. We can give ourselves permission to view the big picture. We can place our challenges in the proper perspective. We can view tough situations in light of past experience and future successes. We can more easily forgive ourselves for mistakes and apply the lessons learned from those errors. We can even learn to laugh at our own mistakes in judgment and vow to do better next time. When we are ‘too close to the forest to see the trees,’ we are unable to view the big picture. We become caught in our own emotions. We abandon our best leadership skills and surrender to the feelings of the moment.”

He concludes saying: “The next time you find yourself trapped in a negative spin cycle, so close to a problem that you cannot reason calmly and rationally, so frustrated that you are having difficulty engaging in productive thinking, pause. Give yourself a push to climb those stairs to your virtual balcony. Look down on your life, on your job, on your leadership.  Appreciate all the good things you have achieved.”

May you remember always that your balcony is there for you, your place to find moments of quiet reflection that reground you. As an unknown author wrote: “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” Cherish your times on your balcony. Let them open your ears and eyes that you further grow and learn and increase the richness, value and purpose of your magnificent life’s journey.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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This Is Water

In his Commencement Speech to the Kenyon College Class of 2005, David Foster Wallace reminds great leaders of the negative impact that their current world view may be having on seeing new possibilities. With hectic and sometimes frenetic schedules, new opportunities and questions may be subject to the brain defaulting into an auto-response mode. The impact of this may result in missing an opportunity to change the world.  Wallace states that “the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.”  He began his address with the story of two young fish swimming together.

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’  And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes ‘What the hell is water?’”

His message is beautifully simple and profound: life is about continuous learning. It is an “awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: ‘This is water.’ ‘This is water.’” Always stand back for a moment and seek to see through different eyes.

May you heighten and deepen your awareness of yourself, life and those whom you touch and serve that may you find and see wonders beyond your wildest dreams. Find inspiration in the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Remind yourself often by saying: “This is water.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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One Moment in Time… the Answers Are All Up to You

Maya Angelou said: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” In her beautiful song, One Moment in Time, Dana Winner captures the great leaders’ ceaseless and joyous pursuit of making each moment an opportunity to make their dreams come true.

Each day I live I want to be
A day to give the best of me
I’m only one, but not alone,
My finest day Is yet unknown

I broke my heart for every gain
To taste the sweet I faced the pain
I rise and fall Yet through it all
This much remains…

I want one moment in time when I’m more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away, and the answers are all up to me
Give me one moment in time when I’m racing with destiny,
Then in that one moment in time I will feel, I will feel eternity

I’ve lived to be the very best
I want it all, no time for less
I’ve laid my plans, now lay the chance
Here in my hands…

Give me one moment in time when I’m more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away and the answers are all up to me
Give me one moment in time when I’m racing with destiny
Then in that one moment in time I will feel, I will feel eternity.

Your finest day is yet unknown. Live to be your very best. You are only one, yet you are not alone. May you make every moment in time a moment when you are more than you dreamed you could be… and more… so much more. Your best moments are yet to come. May you always remember… the answers are all up to you.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Gift of a Magical Burst

Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand as well”, wrote Jack London. So it is in the lives of great leaders with its ups and downs, moments of challenge which can drain the spirit. Yet, of those times, Albert Schweitzer wrote: “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those who rekindle the human spirit.”

What beautiful joy and opportunity you hold in your hands each day, in each moment. May you be that special person who rekindles the human spirit and inner fire in the lives of others. An unknown author wrote: “There are only four words that mean so much more than I love you, and those words are I’m here for you.” May your life be filled with unconditional and selfless servant leadership. With words unsaid, may those whom you serve on your magnificent journey always hear and feel you saying: I am here for youalways. And in each encounter, your precious gift may change a life forever.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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You Don’t Get Paid for the Hour; You Get Paid for the Value You Bring to the Hour

William Shakespeare wrote that nothing is “good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” What we see in our mind’s eye is what we get.  We are the master or the slave of our thoughts.  We can choose to live a life of mediocrity, or we can dare to live our wildest dreams.  Jim Rohn cautions: “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you?  Not much.”

The choice lies in our attitude – how we choose to see life at any given moment.  Since events have no values in themselves but get their value from our perceptions of them, we can choose to find in them either burden or magnificent opportunity, desolation or cheerful hope, discouragement or great inspiration.  These choices will come from our core values, and not from emotions or feelings that change in a moment.

The implications of choosing a positive attitude are profound on our life, the results we accomplish and on our relationships.  It is not the time we spend doing something that is the measure. It is the contribution and impact we make in what we do. As Rohn wisely counsels: “You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” Be the master of your thoughts and fill your mind with visions of greatness: what you will be and what you will achieve.  Fill your week with extraordinary value.  Change the world and have a joyous, exciting and fun time doing it!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Gratefulness… Stop, Look, Go

In his TED talk, Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful, Brother David Steindl-Rast provides great leaders insights into the power and magic that a more grateful mindset has in living a fuller, richer and happier life.

“All human beings have something in common, all of us want to be happy”, he begins. One of the major contributors to being happy, he suggests, is the sense of gratefulness. Gratefulness arises when we experience something that is valuableand freely given. It is the combination of these two things – something of value and freely given – that creates gratitude which creates happiness.

How can we live gratefully? He suggests: “By experiencing, by becoming aware that every moment is a given moment… it’s a gift. You haven’t earned it, you haven’t brought it about in any way…. This moment with all the opportunity it contains.” The key to our happiness is availing ourselves of each opportunity each moment presents. “We hold the master key to happiness in our own hands.”, he says. “Moment by moment, we can be grateful for this gift.”

He proposes to great leaders a method for living gratefully. “Stop; Look; Go. We have to stop, be quiet and build stop signs into our lives. Look – open eyes, ears and nose, all our senses – for this wonderful richness that is given to us. And the third one: Go and really do something.”

Gratitude can be a key to our happiness. It will come when we fully learn and appreciate the value that each precious, freely given moment offers us… to be someone more, to do something more. May we embrace each of those beautiful moments with joyous passion, love and commitment that, at days’ end, they will say of you: He/she truly lived every day of her life.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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First Impression… One Chance

Great leaders understand the value and importance of first impressions in business, professional or personal relations. The phrase, “You only get one chance,” is one they know well. In his recent blog post, One at a Time, Over and Over, Seth Godin captures its reality.

It’s 2018, a special night out. The restaurant shouldn’t have been as disappointing as it was. The room was beautiful, the staff was trying hard, the menu was ambitious–and yet it fell flat. I realized that the problem is one that many of us face:
All shift long, there’s a lot to do. Another plate to fire, another customer to serve, another plate to clean. And yet this customer doesn’t care about all of that. For any given diner, this may very well be the only time he or she will ever eat here. For any given diner, this dish, this interaction–that’s the only chance you’re going to get.
It doesn’t matter to them that you have 100 tops to serve in the next hour. It doesn’t matter that the last week’s worth of customers all left happy. To this customer, there’s just this one time.
Over and over. Just this one time. Over and over.

Great leaders understand the importance of standing in the other person’s shoes and seeing the world as they see it. This provides them a better understanding of the impact of their words, actions, behaviors and attitudes in that first encounter. Yes, we only get one chance. May we remember, however, the words of the extraordinary Jesse Owens, American track and field athlete and four-time gold medalist in the 1936 Olympics:  “One chance is all you need.” May we make it our best!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Joy and Beauty of Each Day

John O’Donohue wrote: “Each day is the field of brightness where the invitation to life unfolds… written into its mystery are the happenings sent to awaken and challenge us.” O’Donohue’s words give great leaders pause to think about this daily invitation. What are the happenings sent to awaken and challenge them? What are the offerings each new day gives in achieving their life’s purpose and meaning while also deepening the joy, beauty and fullness of each precious moment?

The great leaders’ chosen responses take many forms in their excited acceptance of this daily invitation:

Completing or improving on yesterday’s work
Finding life-changing opportunities and new beginnings
Opportunities to make a difference, touch a heart, change someone’s life forever
Living with gratitude for all that is given to them
Discovering new strengths… and areas for growth
Better understanding of the richness, beauty and joy of life’s diversity in all its forms
Learning more that they don’t know what they don’t know
Finding new reasons to be happy in the things they do and the people they know
Chances to meet someone or do something that will change their life forever

As you open your eyes each morning, with joyous optimism, may you feel the elation and excitement of the invitation the day offers. May you embrace it with passion and intentionality and choosing to live each precious moment to its fullest. At the end of each day, may you look back and, with a joyous smile, say quietly: “No regrets. I lived this day to its fullest and my best is yet to come.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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