John Wooden’s Reflections on Leadership

John Wooden, legendary basketball coach, is well known and remembered for his short inspirational messages. Despite their brevity, his words were rich and deep in their wisdom.  They enter the eye or ear and then set fire to the mind, heart and soul. May you pause briefly in reading these ten messages, and reflect on how their doing can bring greater joy, effectiveness and caring to your already magnificent being.

“A strong leader accepts blame and gives the credit. A weak leader gives blame and accepts the credit.”
“The most powerful leadership tool you have is your personal example.”
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, you need a team.”
“Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”
“You really have to love your people to get the most out of them.”
“Leadership is the ability to get individuals to work together for the common good and the best possible results while at the same time letting them know they did it themselves.”
“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.”
“Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
“Make each day your masterpiece.”

Wooden defines success: “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best you are capable of becoming.” As you make each day your beautiful masterpiece, may you frame it in your every effort “to become the best you are capable of becoming.” This is the joy of life… 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 Books of Great Knowledge

When great leaders have walked into libraries, they find there diverse treasures of great knowledge, wisdom and insights. There is so much to be learned. They know, also, that there is another magnificent library of learning in each encounter they have with the people they meet and serve. For the life of each of us is a book, a story that we write and share. Grenville Kleiser beautifully captures this writing:

“Your life is like a book. The title page is your name, the preface your introductions to the world. The pages are daily records of your efforts, trials, pleasures, discouragements, and achievement. Day by day,your thoughts and acts are being inscribed in your book of life. Hour by hour, the record is being made that must stand for all time. Once the word ‘finish’ must be written, let it then be said of your book that it is a record of noble purpose, generous service, and work well-done.”

An unknown author tells us: “Life is like a book. Some chapters are sad, some happy, and some exciting. But if you never turn the page… you will never know what the next chapter holds.” Yet, we are the author. Each day, we write another page of own beautiful book, one that is being read daily by those whom we touch. May each of our pages be filled with great learnings that that others may grow and be inspired to achieve their purpose and meaning in life.

May you read and learn, also, from the books of others. They open our eyes to new and beautiful ways to see the world. They push our limits and boundaries in their diverse differences – not right or wrong, just differences. The world is our magnificent living library of great learning.

And may you dare to live the life you always wanted as you become more than you ever dream you could be… and more… so much more. Your pages are your daily record; make them extraordinary… filled with a ceaseless passion, love, caring and giving to add value to everyone and everything you touch and serve.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Gift Experience Gives to the Unseen

In his blog post, The Trap of Insightful Selection, Seth Godin reminds great leaders of the value of experience in decision-making.

“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.

If all you’re seeing is the top layer, you’ve learned nothing. Maybe less than nothing. Con men are particularly good at seeming trustworthy, and the outfit worn to a job interview tells you nothing about someone’s dedication, work ethic or honesty. 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.

Our decisions require a moment of pause to inquire beyond what is seen, heard or presented. Experience or exposure adds another dimension and qualifier that brings value to a decision. Knowing is expanded by reality, and even one step beyond… feelings.  May your eyes, heart and experience help you better know the 90% of those hidden strawberries of life and people.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Preciousness of a Moment

Leo Buscaglia wrote: “Life lived for tomorrow will always be just a day away from being realized.” The Dalai Lama complements his words saying: “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”

Great leaders live for the moment with all the passion, joy and zest their mind and hearts hold. For them, it is a celebration not of a destination, but a recognition that the best is yet to come. It is relished by the understanding that, while wishes and hopes may be wonderful, the reality is that the future is not guaranteed. The present day is when their life is happening, when changes and growth can be made, when living their purpose in life is exercised to its fullest. It is a beautiful consciousness of life being lived purposely and passionately now.

May we always remember the gentle counsel of Mahatma Gandhi:Look at the sparrows; they do not know what they will do in the next moment. Let us literally live from moment to moment.” As Dr. Seuss said: “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” Life is so very beautiful!.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Giving Tree

Sheldon Silverstein wrote a beautiful children’s picture book, The Giving Tree. It is the story of love between a boy and his friend, the tree. It is both a reminder and lesson for great leaders in the joy, value and richness of selfless giving and the “giving” and “taking’ nature of life. Here is a brief summary.

In his childhood the boy spent much time with the tree gathering leaves, eating apples, sleeping it its shade. The boy loved the tree. As the boy grew older, he spent less time with the tree. His needs changed. He wanted money which the tree couldn’t give him. The tree offered her apples to bring to the city and sell. The boy gathered them and sold them and the tree was happy. The boy went away for a long time and came back saying that he wanted to get married and build a house. The tree offered him her branches. The boy took them away. And the tree was left without branches. But the tree was happy.

There was, again, a long time that the boy did not return. The boy came back and the tree was very happy. Come and play, said the tree. The boy said: “I am too old and sad to play… life is not fun. I want a boat that will take me far away from here.”  The tree said she did not have a boat, but offered her trunk that he might build a boat. The boy did, and the tree was happy. Years later the boy returned, an old man, and the tree said: I am sorry boy but I have nothing left to give you. My apples are gone, my branches are gone, even my trunk is gone. I have nothing left to give as I am an old stump with nothing left to give you. And the tree offered the boy a stump on which to rest. And the boy did, and the tree was happy.

The story’s beautiful theme of selfless giving is exquisitely intertwined with the joy of happiness which results from the love and caring of the giving tree. We can find also that the happiness of this love and caring is also the source of a selfless giving. It is a joyous, beautiful and inextricable complementing of both. Denzel Washington tells us: “At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished… it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” May we also remember the gentle counsel of Pablo Picasso: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” May you give it away with happiness, caring and love that lights and enlivens the lives of those you touch and serve.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Joy and Great Value of Seeing Things Differently

Everyone has a beautiful uniqueness in their gifts and view of life. We are all wonderfully different in our own individuality, in how we see the world, understand ideas, perceive realities and relate to people. There is richness and abundance beyond belief in our unique gift to the world. It is often said  of Steve Jobs that he “imagined the unimaginable”. It was not unimaginable to Steve Jobs; it was who he was. He was simply different. So it is with each of us in our own world view. How each of us sees and responds to the world could possibly change the world… because we see it differently, not right or wrong, simply differently.

Great leaders understand and embrace the richness and diversity of these differences. For in their abundance and breadth there are undreamed of possibilities for growth and change both in people and the world around us. May we recognize and embrace these differences and remember always the wise counsel of Wayne Dyer: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Aldous Huxley reminds us: “There are things known and there are things unknown and, in between, are the doors of perception.” Let us open ourselves to all the richness of life and the wonders of those whom we serve as we stand in the shoes of others and see the world through their eyes

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Great Results Don’t Mean You Are the Best – The Value of the “Soft Stuff”

In his recent blog post, But Are You Doing Your Work?, Seth Godin reminds great leaders that their work is more than simply achieving a goal. He writes: “A doctor might think her job is to cure diseases.

But, in fact, that’s not what gets and keeps patients. The cure is a goal, and it’s important, but it’s not sufficient.” There is much more to the work than simply accomplishing the cure. That is their job. The caring and personal attention to their patients, the development and growth of their staff, and involvement in community are all part of a bigger picture of their “work.” From a performance evaluation metaphor, doing the job and simply meeting its specific, minimal deliverables can be equated to just “meeting objectives.” Doing their “work” is, in reality, to exceed objectives. It is that magical elixir of going above-and-beyond, incorporating all that “soft stuff”, in which the total work package is delivered, sustained and grown.

It is much more than focusing only on the quantitative  deliverable. Godin tells great leaders: “Doing your job is not always the same as doing the work. The “soft stuff” might matter more than you think. Doing the work is the ticket you buy for the privilege of doing the other part.”  It is this mindfulness, this mindset, that differentiates the good from the great leader.

Ernest Hemingway captures the essence of Godin’s message in his words: “It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” Great leaders know that many people can achieve great results, but the truly great ones differentiate themselves with the magic and caring of their “soft stuff.” May your “soft stuff” be your winning ticket. Its payout is inestimable!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On the Value and Joy of Challenge

Mark Twain tells great leaders: “The ability to find solutions to life’s challenges is what makes us grow as a person.” Leaders emerge from and grow from challenges. Greater strength and determination are the natural outcomes of these challenges/trials. Challenges are the great leaders’ proving grounds for moving from who they are to who they want to be, from the ‘as is’ to ‘what can be.’

Challenges are sought after or thrust upon great leaders. A successful response to them is the great leader’s sense of risk-taking, courage to undertake them, a resilience to change, a never give-up, positive attitude. Jerry Buccino beautifully captures this mindset saying: “Leaders open doors when others see brick walls. There is a door in every brick wall. It is only the most determined who will find the door.

May you remember always, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. Abraham Lincoln said: “In the end, it is not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Dare to dream. Take the challenge; find that door. Be 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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You Are Capable of More Than You Think

Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you can imagine,” writes Roy Bennett. It is the power and joy of self-belief that empowers and frees great leaders to discover and live the great gifts that are within them. It is this belief and empowerment that they give to others in selfless servant leadership which enables those whom they serve to achieve their greatest potential. It is the stuff of realizing their greatest dreams.

We are capable of so  much more than we believe. Our reality is one of limitless power and possibilities. We are all so beautifully different, the beautiful one-of-a-kind in this infinite universe, in how we see the world. It is in this magnificent difference that is found the unique value we bring to everything and everyone whom we touch and serve.  It is our choice to break out of the box of our limited vision of our self, life and its infinite possibilities.  It is our choice to believe, to give up who we are, to be what we can be.

Nelson Mandela wrote: “Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate…. You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.” May you always hear in your heart and soul the words from the song, Believe, from the movie, Polar Express: “You have everything you need, if your just believe.” And when you do, you will live the words of John Wooden as you “make each day your masterpiece.”

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, magnificent one heck of a summer!!!

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