Lessons from an Exam… the Black Dot

A dear friend recently shared an inspirational video, Exam Lesson, with me suggesting that it may be very worthwhile sharing it with our Three Minute Leadership family given the world in which we are living. Yet something was telling me that this subject had been in our readings several years ago. I did some research and found it. My friend suggested: “In these dark days, it might be advisable to send it again as a reminder that we see good days ahead. Lots of white space for all of us.” My thanks to him for his thoughtful suggestion for our Three Minute Leadership family. He saw white space for all of us.

The Black Dot

Posted on September 6, 2015

Nikos Kazantzakis wrote: “Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.” How great leaders see their world creates their realities. The story of the “Black Dot” captures this simple truth.

“A young professor held up a piece of paper with a small black circle in the middle of the page. He then asked his students what they saw. Their responses, all of them, were the same.  They all defined the black dot explaining its position in the center of the sheet of paper.

He said that the interesting thing was that the black dot made up only 1% of the page, while the remaining 99% was white. He commented saying this was so very much like our human nature – we tend to focus on the black dot instead of seeing all the white space around it.  We have a white piece of paper to observe and enjoy, but we choose to focus on the dark spots.”

The story gives pause to great leaders – the moment to reflect on where their attention is focused – on the minute details, the distractions, the problems, the dark spots? Or, do they choose to focus on the big picture, the broader canvas – that magnificent 99% of white space that can be explored and filled with infinite possibilities for change and growth?

Great leaders find counsel in the words of Henry David Thoreau“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” There is awesome  power in these words as they capture the vital ingredient of you, and how you see the world. You are beautifully special and unique, that additive ingredient to the mixture of life and reality that creates magic. As Anaïs Nin tells us: “We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.”

May you also teach those whom you serve to see their realities through different eyes. Share this simple exercise with them. Help them see the world differently… and they will change the world.

During these challenging times, may we all open our eyes with joyous optimism to the possibilities that life is offering us… that beautiful white space which we can fill with dreams, hope and planning for our days ahead. May we also find, even in that dark spot, opportunities to grow and help others find their own beautiful white space.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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A Good Life Contains These Six Essentials

Every once in a while, we need a gentle reminder of things that we all know are important in our life, yet sometimes forget. In a posthumous blog, A Good Life Contains These Six Essentials., Jim Rohn’s thoughts are beautifully captured:

1. Productivity – You won’t be happy if you don’t feel productive. The game of life is not rest. Yes, we must rest, but only long enough to gather strength to get back to productivity.

2. Good friends – Friendship is probably the greatest support system in the world, so don’t deny yourself the time to develop it. Nothing can match it. It’s extraordinary in its benefit.

3. Your culture – Language, music, ceremonies, traditions, dress. All of that is so vitally important that you must keep it alive. The uniqueness of all of us, when blended together, brings vitality, energy, power, influence, and rightness to the world.

4. Spirituality – It helps to form the foundation of the family that builds the nation. And make sure you study, practice and teach—don’t be careless about the spiritual part of your nature because it’s what makes us who we are,

5. Don’t miss anything. Go to everything you possibly can. Buy a ticket to everything you possibly can. Go see everything and experience all you possibly can.  Live a vibrant life. If you live well, it will show in your face; it will show in the texture of your voice. There will be something unique and magical about you if you live well. It will infuse not only your personal life but also your business life. And it will give you a vitality nothing else can give.

6. Your family and the inner circle. Invest in them, and they’ll invest in you. Inspire them, and they’ll inspire you. Take care of the details with your inner circle.

During these challenging times, may we pause periodically and remember Rohn’s words: “The ultimate expression of life is living a good life.” As Bishop Fulton J. Sheen always said: “Life is worth living.” Let’s choose to live it to its fullest… with passion, unconditional love and deep caring, and never miss one precious moment.

Please take care, and may you and your families be safe and well.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Being an Encourager

George M. Adams wrote: “There are high spots in all our lives and most of them have come about through encouragement of someone else.” His words speak to the joyous power of encouragement. Encouragement is that magical gift that great leaders give to those whom they serve which opens someone’s eyes to a greater belief in their own possibilities. They see themselves as better than they believe they are, capable and more confident in what they choose to do. Their attitude is uplifted and their spirit turns from self-doubt to positivity.

Great Leaders are encouragers of those whom they serve. John Maxwell writes that “Encouragers understand that life is not a dress rehearsal.” He follows this with a quote attributed to Stephen Grellet: ”I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” In its simplest form, encouragement is about caring. Margaret Mead said: “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” May you change the world of those whom you serve and touch. May you remember the words of Mandy Hale: “To make a difference in someone’s life you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful, or perfect. You just have to care.” May you care deeply to fill your days with moments of encouragement, that those who receive it see possibilities undreamed within themselves to change the world.

May you and yours have a Happy Easter and Passover.

Happy  a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On the Joy of Imagination

Albert Einstein speaks to imagination’s importance and its critical value in the lives of great leaders, writing: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” The powerful message to great leaders is that new discoveries happen only when the mind is opened beyond known limitations to the infinite possibilities of the unknown.

Imagination is that magical key that opens the mind and heart to new knowledge, new ways of seeing the world. It is the key that unleashes innovations, new insights and perspectives, different and unique approaches to avenues of thought – the beautiful, bodacious and priceless step that takes them from the ‘as is’ to ‘what can be’.

George Bernard Shaw wrote: “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” May you be among those exceptional and extraordinary leaders who go beyond the known in relentless, passionate search of what can be – in yourself, your life with your family and those whom you serve and in your professional career journey. Let your imagination embrace the entire world and all there ever will be to know and understand. Life is so very good.

Please take care and may you and yours be safe and well, and may you find great learning from this part on your magnificent life’s journey.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On the Value and Joy of Discipline

Great leaders are faced with a world of changes right now: changes from without and within. New external regulations and demands are being imposed on society, and daily habits and routines are disrupted in response to them. An inner voice beckons for normalcy, yet its time is not yet now. There is a need for something in order to recapture a sense of control and routine. For great leaders, discipline is their key.

While the word discipline may bring to mind feelings of rigidity, structured harshness, limitations and even discomfort, the real living with discipline creates a different actuality: it brings comfort, order and control in its exercise.  Abraham Lincoln said: “Discipline is choosing between what you want now, and what you want most.” It is doing what is right and important in the now. Through a new discipline, daily habits and routines will be adjusted to continue to find the fulfillment that was theirs. Priorities will be revisited and reshaped to meet the new circumstances. Mindsets will be attuned that positivity plays even a greater role in their servant leadership of others. Discipline will serve to bring a normalcy back from a perceived chaos.

An unknown author wrote: “The distance between your dreams and reality is called discipline.” May we take others with us on our journey on this road less traveled that they, too, find a renewed normalcy. And on that journey, may the words of George Washington echo in our ears: “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On the Joy of Giving

Albert Pine (aka Paine) writes: ‘What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.” One of the grandest gifts that great leaders give to those whom they serve is the selfless giving of themselves. It is found in their belief in a person – their potential, possibilities and passion. It is felt in the inspiration they bring in their words, excitement and enthusiasm that lights a spark in people’s hearts and minds. It is brought to life in their energy, grit and ceaselessness in their pursuit and fulfilling of their life’s purpose and meaning. It is actualized in their words, actions, behaviors and attitudes.

Oprah Winfrey reminds us: “We’re all here to figure out how to best give ourselves away.” John Maxwell adds richness to her thought saying: “We are grateful for when we receive, we are fulfilled when we give.” May you be fulfilled always in your life’s giving to others… for what you give remains and is immortal.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Beauty of a Different View of the Pandemic

In a recent MERI Center Blog is a poem by Lynn Ungar about the pandemic. It opens great leaders’ eyes to a beautiful new way of seeing and living in this difficult time.


What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

May we find learning in Ungar’s words in addressing the challenges and opportunities life presents. Let us choose to see them through different eyes remembering always Marcel Proust’s words: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” May your heart, mind and soul discover possibilities and joys undreamed as you open your eyes and see things not as they are, but as what they can be. Please be well and healthy.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Being a Beginner Again

Great leaders’ lives are filled with the great learnings and experiences of their professional and personal journeys. These are the storehouses of knowledge that have contributed and continue to contribute to their extraordinary successes and achievements. They become the safe houses through which they see and interact with the world.

There is a caution, however, found in the words of Steve Jobs as he left Apple to begin another path in his life’s purpose: “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most productive periods of my life.”

An unknown author, writing about becoming a beginner again, wrote: “We lose something wonderful when it becomes more important to us to be the one who knows than to be the one who’s open to the everyday wonders around us. ‘Those who think they know it all have no way of finding out they don’t’ wrote Leo Buscaglia. Fortunately, our sense of curiosity and wonder can be rekindled and refreshed.” May you always benefit and learn from those storehouses of learning and knowledge you have carefully built stone by stone, yet always cherish your endless curiosity of seeing the wonders of the world and people through the eyes of a child. As Mary Shelley thoughtfully reminds us: “The beginning is always today.” May you enjoy the magic, beauty, excitement and joy of each new beginning.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Management Is About Human Beings

In the final years of his life Peter Drucker, recognized as the Father of Modern Management, captured lifelong learning in his book, The Definitive Drucker. In his discussion of People and Knowledge, he begins with a statement of his life-long belief:  “Management is about human beings.  Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.” The chapter provides an incredible mosaic of insights about people and the workplace.  The following are brief excerpts:

    • A test for an organization’s potential for greatness is whether every person in that organization can say ‘yes’ to three questions every day without any reservation or hedging or stopping to think:
      • Are you treated every day with dignity and respect by everyone you encounter?
      • Are you given the things that you need – education and training and encouragement and support – so that you make a contribution?
      • Do people notice that you did it?
    • What differentiates organizations is whether they can make common people perform uncommon things – and that depends primarily on whether people are being placed where their strengths can perform or whether they are being placed for absence of weakness. 
    • The only thing that requires even more time (and even more work) than putting the right people into a job is unmaking a wrong people decision.
    • Drop the word ‘achievement’ from your vocabulary and use ‘contribution.’  Helping people see that they have a unique contribution to make is central to setting them up to win.
    • If people work hard and play to their strengths, they can achieve success.  You have got to major in strengths and not in weaknesses.  Success equals matching strength to opportunity.
    • The first sign of decline of a company is loss of appeal to qualified, able, and ambitious people. What attracts them is work that is truly interesting and the chance to make a contribution that is truly significant.
    • People are much more than employees.  They embody the knowledge, the capabilities, and the relationships that your company takes to market.

Goethe tells great leaders:  “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being.”  Let your behaviors be guided by these words as you serve your people in helping them find and unleash their potential. Then watch them change the world.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Giving 100%

Give me 100 percent,” said John Wooden, “You can’t make up for a poor effort today by giving 110 percent tomorrow. You don’t have 110 percent. You only have 100 percent, and that’s what I want from you right now.”

In his article, Give 100%, 100% of the Time, Ty Bennet writes: “Too many people coast through life, only doing what is required to get by. Giving 100%, 100% of the time is the effort required to stop getting by and start getting ahead. It is the difference between playing not to lose and playing to win. Living by design and not default. Giving 100% will separate you from the rest.”

Great leaders give 100% every day, in everything they do, in every thought that they have, in every feeling they experience. There is no wasting or short-cutting. It is their magnificent 100% investment in life and in who they are… for what they can and will be.

May you live passionately with design and purpose. May you have a ceaseless fervor for embracing every precious moment of your magnificent life’s journey giving 100% of you in everything that you are and do. As Wooden told us: “Make each day your masterpiece.” Life is so very, very good. Let’s just do it.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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