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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What You Look for Is What You’ll See

Speaking of lessons he was taught by his father, John Maxwell said: “What you look for is what you’ll see, and what you see is how you treat people.” Simply said, if we look for the worst in others, that is what we will find. On the other hand, if we choose to see the good and greatness in others, we will find their greatness. And, most importantly, Maxwell says: “When you see the best in others, you will bring out the best in others… and you’ll receive the best from others.” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “To laugh often and love much… to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to give one’s self… this is to have succeeded.” May you continue your magnificent journey in becoming more than you ever dreamed you could be, and continue to selflessly and unconditionally care for and serve others to achieve their greatest potential. Look for the greatness, value and purpose in others that they come to see it also. As an unknown author wrote: “Anyone can find the dirt in someone. Be the one who finds the gold.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On the Importance of Culture and Its Impact – the Roots That Ensure the Harvest

Louis Gerstner, former Chairman of the Board and CEO of IBM, said: “I came to see that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game. It is the game.Jon Gordon, in his weekly newsletter, shares his 14 Thoughts on Building a Great Culture. For great leaders, they are momentary reminders of the critical importance culture plays in high-performing groups.  Culture is the root that ensures the harvest, a harvest that becomes more plentiful and rich as the roots grow and deepen. Please take a brief moment to remind yourself to reinvigorate your planting. The brief minutes may have years of impact.

1. Great leaders build and drive great cultures. They know it’s their number one priority. They can’t delegate it. They must lead and be engaged in the process.
2. Culture is the reason why great organizations have sustained success. Culture drives expectations and beliefs. Expectations and beliefs drive behavior. Behavior drives habits. Habits create the future.
3. Culture beats strategy. Strategy is important but it is your culture that will determine whether your strategy is successful.
4. If you focus on the fruit of the tree (outcomes and numbers) and ignore the root (culture) your tree will die. But, if you focus on and nourish the root you always have a great supply of fruit.
5. When building a team and organization you must shape your culture before it shapes you. A culture is forming whether you like it or not. The key is to identify what you want your culture and organization to stand for. Once you know the values and principles that you stand for, every decision is easy to make; including the people you recruit and hire.
6. A culture of greatness doesn’t happen by accident. It happens when a leader expects greatness and each person in the organization builds it, lives it, values it, reinforces it and fights for it.
7. Culture is dynamic, not static. Everyone in your organization creates your culture by what they think, say and do each day. Culture is leading from the top down but it comes to life from the bottom up.
8. Your culture is not just your tradition. It is the people in your building who carry it on. – Brad Stevens, Head Coach, Boston Celtics.
9. When leading a new team or organization, it will take longer to build a new culture if you allow negative people from the previous culture to contaminate the process.
10. When you build a strong, positive culture most of the energy vampires will leave by themselves because they don’t fit in. But you may also have to let a few energy vampires off the bus.
11. Creating a culture where people are afraid to fail leads to failure. Allowing people to fail and learn from failure ultimately leads to success.
12. Change is a part of every culture and organization. Embracing change and innovating will ensure that your organization thrives.
13. Progress is important but, when innovating and driving change make sure you honor your tradition, purpose and culture. This generates power from your past to create your future.
14. Culture is like a tree. It takes years to cultivate and grow and yet it can be chopped down in a minute. Protect your culture.

Peter Drucker wrote: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” It is the breakfast of champions!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Learnings from Sisyphus

Greek mythology’s Sisyphus was punished for his deeds by being forced to spend eternity rolling a huge boulder up a hill only to have it roll down every time as it neared the top. While not for eternity, great leaders face opportunities and challenges (their own boulders) in their own life’s journey. The myth of Sisyphus provides insightful learning to great leaders in their own successful resolution of them and sharing it with those whom they serve. They learn…

Never, ever, to give up and always continue to push.
That, once in a while, the rock will roll over them and they will get back up and begin their push again.
To deal with resistance – not letting it get to them – recognizing that it is part of life’s journey.
The value of a positive mindset and attitude in facing uphill struggles.
The importance of rest to sustain their efforts.
The joy and excitement  of reaching the summit and realizing that, if they did it once, they can do it again.
The importance of reflection in their daily efforts and the joy and satisfaction they experience in their work.
That there is more to life than pushing the boulder up the hill, and that  they need time rest for themselves – with family, friends and quiet time alone.
That while Sisyphus was condemned to push the boulder up the hill only to have it roll back down the hill for eternity, they realize that their life is in their hands in the choices and decisions they make to achieve their life’s purpose and meaning and taking the boulders over the hill.

In his book, The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus writes: “No matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something strong –something better, pushing right back.” He wrote also: “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” May you always find the joy, richness and learning all that life offers. It is there. You have only to be open to seeing it through new eyes. It is your choice. Choose wisely; choose well.

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

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On the Joy of Creativity

Writing on the joy of creativity, Dr. Seuss tells great leaders: “Think left and think right, and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.” It is that magical power we hold to break away from seeing the world as it is to what it can be, to let our imagination run freely and create new possibilities and realities undreamed.

John Maxwell speaks of the principal characteristic of the creative person: “I believe that creative people always believe that there is an answer… and that’s why they stay creative. If I don’t think there is an answer, I’ll stop, I’ll quit, I’ll get discouraged, but if I think there is an answer, I’ll keep digging, I’ll keep creating until I find that answer.”

Maya Angelou writes: “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” May you always remember Maxwell’s words: “There’s always an answer. Go find it today.” As John Muir said: “The power of imagination makes us infinite.”  Think left and think right, and think high and low. Bring to the world the beauty and joy of your inestimable uniqueness of perspectives and insights. You will find an answer!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

Mike

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On Choices… the Hinges of Destiny

Every step in life’s journey involves a choice. Every choice determines our future direction. Every choice has consequences. Denis Waitley captures this beautifully writing: “A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.” Putting this in perspective, Edwin Markham writes: “Choices are the hinges of destiny.”

The great leaders’ skills, talents and knowledge are powerful, invaluable valuable tools through which their leadership is accomplished. J.K. Rowling writes, however, there is more: “It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” May the richness and value of your choices be founded on your life’s principles and values, purpose and meaning. And, as Nelson Mandela counsels great leaders: “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Choose wisely; choose well. May your choices show the world who you truly are.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Being in the Right Place

A friend recently shared a story by Steven K. Scott which reminds great leaders of the great value of culture in organizations and its impact on people.

A father said to his daughter: You graduated with honors, here is a car that I acquired many years ago … it is several years old. But before I give it to you, take it to the used car lot downtown and tell them I want to sell it and see how much they offer you.

The daughter went to the used car lot, returned to her father and said, “They offered me $1,000 because it looks very worn out.” The father said, “Take it to the pawn shop.” The daughter went to the pawn shop, returned to her father and said, “The pawn shop offered $100 because it was a very old car.” The father asked his daughter to go to a car club and show them the car.

The daughter took the car to the club, returned and told her father, “Some people in the club offered $100,000 for it since it is a Nissan Skyline R34, an iconic car and sought after by many.”

The father said to his daughter, “I wanted you to know that the right place values you the right way.” If you are not valued, do not be angry, it means you are in the wrong place. Those who know your value are those who appreciate you. Never stay in a place where no one sees your value.

John Maxwell wrote: “You add value to people when you value them.” May you always find the richness and worth in those whom you touch and serve, and letting them know the value they bring to what they do and the lives they touch. This simple gift may open their eyes to new possibilities, greater confidence and the joy of knowing that they are valued for who they are and what they do. It is that beautiful seed of self-worth that you sow, that creates a field of flowers.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Learnings from the Longest Study on Happiness

In his Ted talk, What Makes a Good Life?, Robert Waldinger shares the results of the longest study on happiness.  It was conducted by the Harvard Study of Adult Development and started in 1938. Waldinger is the fourth director of the study. For seventy-five years, the study looked at the lives of 724 young men, and followed them extensively until their deaths.

The study included two groups: a group of Sophomores at Harvard, and the second, a group of boys from Boston’s poorest neighborhood, selected because they were part of the most troubled and disadvantaged families. Everyone was interviewed and given medical exams. Participants entered all walks of life, from the lowest to highest, one even becoming President. To capture the fullness of their lives, the study includes medical information, studies about their work, home life and health.

What did they learn? Waldinger says that the results aren’t about wealth or fame or working harder. He states: “The clearest message that we get from this seventy-five year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.” Three big lessons about relationships come out of the study.

    • The first is that social connections are really good for us, and that loneliness kills.
    • The second big lesson that we learned is that it’s not just the number of friends that you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship, but it is the quality of your close relationships that matters… The people who were most satisfied in their relationships at age 50, were the healthiest at age 80.
    • Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains. Being in a securely attached relationship in your eighties is protective… those people’s memories stay sharper longer.

The bottom-line is that “the people who faired the best, are people who leaned into relationships with family, friends, with community.”

Waldinger closes with a quote from Mark Twain who, on looking back on his life, wrote: “There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.” He concludes saying: “The good life is built with good relationships.”

Great leaders know that it is all about people in life. All we have that is truly precious is each other. May you continue to sustain, build, broaden and deepen your relationship with family and friends. May you live passionately, care deeply and love unconditionally and experience the good life to its fullest… and more. Life is so very good.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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