On the Power of Small Wins

Legendary coach, John Wooden, wrote: “When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur…. Don’t look for the quick, big improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens – and when it happens, it lasts.”  

In addition to its beauty, joy and excitement, the great leader’s life journey is filled with a continuing stream of opportunities, challenges and, sometimes, seemingly impossible obstacles and problems. It is the treasure of their “small win” mindset that enables them to successfully address these  growth and change opportunities.

Karl Weik, in his paper, Small Wins, Redefining the Scale of Social Problems, writes: “A small win reduces importance (‘this is no big deal’), reduces demands (‘that’s all that needs to be done’), and raises perceived skill levels (‘I can do at least that’).” This mindset that creates confidence by minimizing the perceived magnitude of a situation and, in its achievement, builds in the great leaders further belief in their own abilities and potential. 

May you celebrate joyfully each of your “small step” achievements remembering always the words of Henry Thoreau: “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” Become more than you ever dreamed you could be… and more… so much more. Life is so very good.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Keys of Confidence: Talent or Effort?

In their book, The Confidence Code, authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman share with great leaders their thoughts on the critical difference between talent and effort. They write:

 “Making a distinction between talent and effort is critical. If we believe that somehow we’re given talents at birth we can’t control, then we’re unlikely to believe that we can really improve on areas in which we’re weak. But when success is measured by effort and improvement, then it becomes something that we can control, something that we can choose to improve upon. It encourages mastery.”

The importance of this distinction, the authors suggest, is its impact on the great leaders’ view of themselves – their self-confidence, their belief in what they can or cannot control. Kay and Shipman write: “Confidence becomes less than what you were born with (talent), and more about what you make of yourself (effort).” It is their extraordinary passion, drive and joy to be more than they ever dreamed they could be that they control. Their success is firmly in their hands. They own it. 

Ezra Pound captures this message with sheer simplicity saying: “What matters is not the idea a man holds, but the depth at which he holds it.” We are what we believe, and when we believe deeply, we bring fire to the world and to those whom we serve. We become what we believe and choose to be.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Reflection – Turning Experience into Insight

Reflection is what turns experience into insight” says John Maxwell in his end-of-year blog post as he encourages great leaders to pause in their life to prepare for the coming year. It is a time to look back on what they had done, whom they had met, and the changes they had realized in their own life and the lives of those whom they served.

In this preparation, it is not only an assessment of what can be improved incrementally. It is a deeper more profound exploration driven by their life’s purpose and meaning. Last year, as every year, they opened their eyes to new ways of seeing the world – their mindset, work, perspectives, themselves – which provided new paths to travel and explore. Their reflection is a time of an exciting and profound renewal. They enter the new year knowing in the depths of their mind, heart and soul that the best is yet to come… and it will because they will choose it to be. As Theodore Roosevelt tells great leaders: “Believe you can, and you’re halfway there.”

As we begin this new year may we remember the words of Brad Paisley: “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” May this beautiful and wondrous next chapter of our magnificent life’s journey be our best yet! Yes, the best is yet to come. Life is so very, very beautiful.

Have a beautiful and wondrous day and our best new year yet!

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There Are No Ordinary Moments

In Dan Millman’s book, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, he tells his personal journey of self-discovery.  One of his great learnings happened by accident following one of his t’ai chi practices.  During his exercise, his motions were fluid and purposeful.  His mind was emptied as he focused on each movement. Afterwards, as he was preparing to leave, his attention was drawn to some students who had been watching him exercise.  As his awareness drifted to them, he clumsily put his both legs into one pant leg, and he fell.

Later on, as he thought about the incident, he said:  “I was struck by a realization so profound it was to change the course of my life;  I realized that I had given my full attention to the movements of t’ai chi, but not to the “ordinary” movements of putting on my pants. I had treated one moment as special and the other as ordinary.”

His learning was: “There are no ordinary moments.”  As we enter this New Year may we learn to capture and relish the incredible beauty and possibilities that each moment of our lives present. May we learn from them, and continue to grow to be more than we ever dreamed we could be… and help others to do the same. May we remember always… there are no ordinary moments. They are all so very special and precious. May we enjoy every beautiful one of them.

Have a beautiful week and the best yet of New Years!!!  Life is so very, very beautiful!

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Peace and Love to You and Yours

It is that wonderful time of year again when the holiday spirit fills our mind and heart, and gently moves us away from the hectic pace of our lives… when we pause, reflecting in the quiet of our souls, and find a warm and soothing peace within ourselves. While results and commitments are no less important, holiday activities – gift buying and preparing for family and friends get-togethers – begin to take precedence in our list of priorities.

The world around us contributes to our change: stores are wonderfully decorated; holiday music streams from radios and iPods; home decorations appear. Our world is transformed around us to one of festivity and joyful tranquility. It is a time of peace. As Norman Vincent Peale, minister and author, once said, it is as though the holiday season “waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” Yes, it is a time of “joy to the world.”

Memories fill us. We remember the joys of our youth and the people who were and are integral parts of our lives and happiness. There is sadness in remembrance of those we love and are no longer with us. This gentle memory of them, however, is our lasting gift to them, and theirs to us.  It is our way of saying to them: “I love you forever and will never forget you… never.” We embrace those around us and share with each other a very special gift of love. Hamilton Wright Mabie, essayist, captured this wonderful spirit of the season: “Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”

Let us enjoy and take great learning from this magnificent and beautiful time. Let us all be embraced in this conspiracy of love. As Eva Logue writes, may you be as a candle which “makes no noise at all, but slowly gives itself away.” May this be your greatest gift to others and yourself – that in quiet reflection, you see with brilliant clarity the happiness and joy in the endless possibilities that life offers to which you will aspire.

May we pause in gratitude for all that we have, for what others have given us – our family, friends, those whom we serve, our God – and remember fervently that ours is the joy of giving, serving and caring. These are our greatest gifts. Let us join together every moment of our lives in a beautiful and magnificent “conspiracy of love.” Life is so very precious. Capture and embrace it with passion, joy, exuberance and love.

May you and yours have a joyous and beautiful Holiday Season, a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and may this New Year be the best yet – for you, your loved ones and the many people whom you serve.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

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You Have to Become It to Get It

You have to become it to get it” – words spoken by a seasoned coach to her client. These words mark the beginning of every great leader’s journey: self-understanding and purpose. It is the joyous work of starting with an end-in-mind and, step-by-step, transforming from who you are to whom you want to become.

An unknown author suggests, however, another path to our becoming: “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything…. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you.. so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”  Whether the choice of achieving our life’s purpose is one of becoming or unbecoming, may we remember Hal Elrod’s gentle counsel: “Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.” May we continue our magnificent journey of becoming more than we ever dreamed we could be… more… and so much more.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Seeing Beyond the Mirror

In his blog post, The Trap of Insightful Selection, Seth Godin shares a story that provides a powerful analogy of the human selection process and a lesson that  great leaders learn from it.

“’Which one do you want?’ – There were 100 quarts of strawberries at the farmer’s market yesterday. In answer to the farmer’s question, the person ahead of me in line spent a full minute looking them all over before picking one. The thing is: 90% of the strawberries in a quart are hidden from view. They’re beneath the top layer. There’s no strategy to tell which quart is better than the other, unless you (erroneously) believe that the top layer is an accurate indicator of what lies below.”

He writes: “We get satisfaction out of picking, even if we know that our data is suspect and evidence is limited. We like the feeling of power and control, even though we have very little. If all you’re seeing is the top layer, you’ve learned nothing.” This lesson is not lost in the decision-making of great leaders. They realize the importance of looking beyond the surface, whether it is a person or an issue. There is always something deeper and more profound to be known and understood. As Anaxagoras wrote: “Appearances are a glimpse of the unseen.” Additional steps are needed to transform appearances into reality.

Godin states: “The real information comes from experience. If the farmer is the sort of person who won’t put the clinkers on the bottom, she’s earned our trust.” Experience, data, words and actions serve to peel back the surface to a true reality. May we relish, enjoy and welcome the beauty and excitement of new ideas, perspectives and people. May we seek to understand their true greatness in the depth of their innermost realities as we reflect on the words of Samuel Butler: “Let us be grateful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Did You Earn Your Dollar?

A dear friend recently shared a story with me about what his father taught him about life and hard work. His father lived until the age of 97 – a beautiful life filled with family, happiness and hard work. He taught his son the importance of hard work and, in particular, the significance of continuously adding value in all that he did. Whether the achievement was big or small, it was always about that special additive something that made a unique contribution to the betterment and richness of his work effort.

There was a quote his father instilled in him, a question he would ask himself at the end of each day: “Did you earn your dollar today?” It was in this brief moment of reflection that he thought of the value he brought to his own life and work. The choice of the word “earn” put ownership and accountability in his hands. The simplicity of the dollar amount gave a quantifiable reward to the effort.

At the end of each of your days, may you, too, ask yourself: “Did I earn my dollar today?” With that question, may your mind  remember the words of John Ruskin: “The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.” With that question, may your heart remember the words of Albert Einstein: “Only a life lived for others is worth living.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Plan Your Funeral, Start Early, by Being Kind

In a recent Knowledge@Wharton article, Remembering Jon M. Huntsman, Sr.: Lessons from a Compassionate Leader, Huntsman writes: “I have attended many funerals in my life…. I have never heard in a funeral that this person made a lot of money or is politically very strong. They never discuss that. In a funeral, people discuss how this person was kind or gracious or had character and integrity.… For some people who are not kind, thoughtful or gracious, their funerals are very short. Nobody has anything to say. I learned from the funerals that we must plan our funerals when we are young. Plan your funeral, start early, by being kind.”

Some of life’s and leadership’s basic lessons are fundamentally simple and obvious. Yet, along the way, among the seemingly endless multitude of professional and personal priorities that fill the great leaders’ journey, these lessons are muted and sometimes lost, only to be found again in a momentary pause that again highlights their critical significance in the full and meaningful living of their life. We find them now in Huntsman’s words: “Plan your funeral, start early, by being kind.”

In his book, 7 Habits of Highly effective People, Stephen Covey teaches great leaders a valuable leadership principle: Begin with the End in Mind. Great leaders ardently embrace this principle tightly knowing that understanding and committing to their end purpose/goal serves as the pathway for everything they will do to achieve it. And so it is when Huntsman writes: “Plan your funeral, start early, by being kind.” What do you choose that people will say of you?  Mark Twain wrote: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” May your kindness and caring touch the lives and hearts of those whom you serve. These beautiful actions will be the paving stones of the steps of your magnificent journey.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Joy of Living with Intention

“Intent” is defined in the dictionary as: “An act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result; the end or object intended; purpose.” Living with intention is living what we do, not what we say we will do. John Maxwell tells great leaders: “No one stumbles upon significance. We have to be intentional about making a difference.”

When we live with intention, we live with a plan and specific goals, outcomes and time frames in mind for what we dream and want to do. We know and understand our ‘why’ behind them. We dare to be bodacious, creative and live a life of unlimited abundance in all its depth and richness.  Our intentional living brings a continuous, intentional reflection on these plans and goals in assessing the significance they bring to objectives, the people impacted and to ourselves. As Rhonda Byrne writes us: “Intention is simply the conscious act of determining your future now.”

Maxwell writes: “Good intentions will never take you anywhere you want to go. Only intentional living will get you the things you want in life.” He reminds great leaders: “Every day of your life is merely preparation for the next. What you become is the result of what you do today.” Live with a passionate intention of achieving your life’s purpose and meaning, of serving others that they will achieve theirs and becoming more than you ever dreamed you could be… and more… so much more. Life is so very, very good.

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

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