Are you making excuses? Stop.
Is it too hard? Good.
You think it’s too late? Stop lying to yourself.
You don’t have time? Raise your bar and wake up earlier.
You will do it later? Tomorrow is never promised.
I have an image of a couple in my memory from a long ago visit to Maui, they were easily over 70, yet jogging and super fit running along Kaanapali Beach. Even 20+ years younger than them and I would not be able to jog with confidence along the beach, however this is the image I hold in my vision. Along with that of Madonna Buder, the “Iron Nun” who still completes Iron Man competitions at age 86, and countless other fit, active people who are breaking the mold as far as what it means to age.
This is not only about exercising, but also about anything that you are not satisfied with in your life. Anything you want to do, to dream, to learn- this is our one life, as far as we know or can remember. Use your time wisely.
If you are comparing yourself to someone else, you will always fall short. Its a no win game if you are trying to be better than someone else. It can be a tough thing to unlearn. In school we are rewarded for being at the “top of the class” and I have always been super competitive. As I was coaching a leader one of the things this talented person was concerned with is not being able to perform as well as someone else in their organization. Even though they had proven themselves on multiple occasions to their employer through delivery of exceptional results, and were operating a a high level leadership, the deep insecurities we all share were erupting to the surface.
I believe that at a deep level, we share a fear that they are not good enough. Despite external markers of success, even the most confident people you know are often hiding from that old secret. It is a belief that many of us inadvertently picked up at some point in our youth. It could have been your well intending parents who praised your sibling for things you could not do, a rejection from an early crush or relationship, being picked last during PE time and time again, a teacher who labeled you as unmotivated, a not too kind stepparent that told you that you would never amount to anything, even loving parents who just wanted you to “be somebody”. There are as many causes as there are people, and I can assure you that the volume of the population that are trying to prove those people wrong is exceeded only by the number that are stuck still living those old stories.
What has to happen to be free of the insane belief that you are not good enough is to realize that you picked that up at a time when you were vulnerable, and that they are not a reflection of you. Instead, they are projections of other people’s own insecurities, and you don’t have to carry that torch. The way to be free from comparing yourself to others is to know that you are valuable in and of yourself. You are a unique individual like no one else on this planet, and if you are still alive it is because your work is not done. You have a purpose and a mission, even if you don’t see what it is yet. So stand up tall and give yourself the hug or pat on the back you need, and work to always be the best you that you can be. You will make mistakes, that’s ok. We are all human beings, and as such are perfect yet imperfect, and life is about making mistakes, learning and moving forward again.
“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.”
― Marcus Aurelius
Although we love certainty, and work to make our lives operate in such a way that we know what to expect next, we also conversely crave uncertainty. Another word for it is variety.
There was a gambler who died, and as he approached the pearly gates, he was amazed and ecstatic that he had made it to heaven! He was so delighted to see that heaven was as if it had been created just for him! There were roulette tables, blackjack, slot machines, showgirls…a real Monte Carlo. As he stepped up to place his bets he found his pockets full of cash. He placed a bet, and won. Another, and jackpot. Again and again he bet, and won. After some time had passed he began to feel not just bored, but really unhappy and dissatisfied. All the winning was great, but something felt off. He went up to St. Peter, “Hey Pete, I don’t know about this, I think I am over heaven. I want to go to hell instead.” St. Peter replied, “Sir, I am sorry to tell you, but this is hell.”
The ups and downs, the wins and losses, are the juice of life. Without failure we would not learn, without the night there would be no day. Remember the parable of the gambler as you work so diligently to make your world comfy and certain. I have a love and appreciation for my losses and the darker moments, because they help me see how blessed I truly am.
What would someone have to believe about a product to wait in line for it? I was in Las Vegas for an event, and found myself with some free time. It may or may not surprise you that I love food. Whenever I travel to a new city, or even one I have been before, one of the priorities is that I search out the best food in the area. I peruse the online review platforms, yelp, tripadvisor, google, I talk to the locals. I make mental lists of places to check out, food to try, menus to read. One place in particular drew me in with their name, a slightly off color, but appropriate for Sin City moniker. I went over to see what it was all about, and found a line of people wrapped around the entrance. I am a hard sell, so looking at the line was not enough to convince me to fall in. But it was interesting to think that most of these people waiting in line had not been to this place before (tourists). Most of them are impatient and don’t like to wait in line (human nature). Most of them consider themselves to be foodies and had sought this place out for it’s unique name and something that would please their jaded palate. As I watch, some decide to abandon their place in line and move one. So what do the ones who wait have to believe to stand in line for over 45 minutes to try it out? They believe it is worth it.
Whether the belief came from the reviews, word of mouth, or their own personal experience, the belief is there. As you dream big, it it may take a long time, you will have to practice patience, you will have to go places you have never been. You will be tempted to second guess yourself and give up. Unless you hold steady to the belief, “It is worth it.”
They make it look so easy, as they glide along the dance floor, appearing to float. It reminds me of watching the cooks on the line during a busy shift, there is an energy, a flow, that is beyond thought. They have so perfected their art through hours and hours of training and practice and doing, that the motions become ingrained in their bodies. Unlike me, who needs to count on the dance floor, they are operating on instinct. It is like any skill or talent you choose to master, you have to lay the bricks, the foundation, the practice that is the mortar and glue to make what you are learning stick. Everyone starts not knowing how, its where you choose to go from there that determines your destination. It’s okay to not be good at the beginning. It’s okay to suck at writing, or dancing, cooking, or tennis. Just try it. It’s never too early, it’s never too late. You never know what will touch your soul and change the course of your life.
“The doer alone learneth.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche
You’re good but not that good. No matter how good you are, you are limited by the fact that you are one person. The way to multiply your impact is to lead, to duplicate yourself, to get the other pieces of the puzzle by building your team with people who are strong where you are not. Earlier in my life I would fall into the trap of thinking I had to do it all myself. Call it perfectionism, ego, pride…all just words that had the same outcome. I thought no one could do it as good as I could, and sometimes I was right. But this thought was the prison that was holding me back from growing. It held me back from growing my company, because there is only so much a one man show can accomplish. It held me back from growing as a person, because if you are not challenging your beliefs you are limiting yourself.
Side effects of thinking you have to do it all yourself can be overwhelm, overload, stress and breakdown if you don’t wake up and realize what you are doing to yourself. You can get pretty far on sheer force of will, but eventually that “force” will break you. The break can come in the form of being surly with people, getting physically ill, breaking out, gaining weight, angry outbursts, that nightly cocktail…Maybe you are not like me, where it was hard to ask for help. But if you are, there is hope. You can open your mind to the belief that you can do more by doing less. It’s true. I am proof. Once I really opened myself up to getting help, the stress lifted, the dream got bigger, the clouds shifted and there was the big bright sun.
“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” – H.E. Luccock
What are principles? And how does one recover from violating them? I had someone tell me they would not go back to a business “As a matter of principle”. It was a line in the sand that they drew, and as long as everyone stayed just south of the line, they were cool. You could come right up to the line, even brush against it lightly, but cross it and you are toast. As I talked to this person, lets call her Beth, it became clear to me that she had very distinct rules about what was acceptable and what was not. Her threshold was large, she gave off the impression that she was very flexible and tolerant. Easy going, nice, a real sweet lady. But she had a line nonetheless, and when someone crossed it, it was the final straw. All of the mini sacrifices she had willingly made all of a sudden became the score she had been keeping.
Nothing I could say or do would turn her around, she had made her decision, “As a matter of principle”. If she didn’t stand firm as judge and jury of her own life, then what would come of the world? At least this is what she thought. I am going to propose that when you have a line, any line, you are putting up an invisible sign that is challenging someone to cross it. You are locking your gate, with an angry dog laying low in your front yard just waiting to pounce, and signs saying “stay out our else”. This works much of the time, since most people don’t want to get bit, but what about when someone doesn’t see the signs? Or they are so invisible and well hidden in your personality that not even those closest to you know you are keeping score? You have just set yourself up for conflict. Your line in the sand will attract the threat you seek.
Principles are rules. Rules are lines. Dissect your principles and see if they are opening you up or closing you off. Flexible or rigid. Open or closed. Fear or love.
“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
― Dalai Lama XIV
My very first introduction into the concept of leadership came in the form of a video that one of my managers showed at a meeting he was leading several years back. I had never really thought about leadership in any way except as a vague idea of something that I was not. I didn’t know that managing people was different than leading them. Although it sounds silly now, I had a belief that if I put someone in place as a manager, the work was done. I thought that managers automatically were leaders and knew how to bring the best out in people. The video was John Maxwell, someone I had never heard of except maybe as some sort of religious leader. He started as a pastor, but has expanded his impact into the field of leadership in the business world.
He talked about 5 levels of leadership, and this was a catalyst for me to look at myself and the people that I had in management positions in my company. It was the beginning of the journey I am continuing daily, towards being the best version of myself that I can be.
1-Positional leader- people follow because they have to (you’re the boss, so they have to follow)
2-Permission level – people follow you because they want to (you have begun to develop a relationship)
3-Production level – People follow you because of what you have done for the organization- you are growing things
4-People development level – you are turning producers into reproducers, loyalty kicks in here. You have mentored them and developed them, they follow you because of what you have done for them.
5-Personhood level – people follow you because of who you are, you are bigger than life- this will come if you are growing as a leader
“The individual leads in order that those who are led can develop their potential as human beings and thereby prosper.” —Socrates
I believe that the limit to the growth of any organization is limited by their ability to grow and develop leaders. When I first started coming to this understanding, it seemed a long way off. A long way off from actually having a leader who we had coached and helped grow into the position we needed. We had to learn through trial and error, then through deep introspection, what qualities to look for when we select who to mentor. It started with digging deep into my heart, looking for the answer to the question, “Why are we in business?”. I have explored the changing answer to that question many times, and it has evolved as I have grown and matured. What it drills down to at the most core level for us is that we are in business to add value, or in other terms, to spread love and to brighten people’s day.
I had this conversation with one of my leaders just yesterday. Her journey is mirroring my own. As a young leader, she is finding that her position is requiring much more than managing numbers and processes. It is pushing her to learn more about herself as well as the people she is leading. She has had to learn to communicate differently with each one, and is becoming aware of the need to connect first. My coaching was to remind her that we all have a basic human need to be appreciated, to be loved. We have a tendency to take life personally. If you neglect saying hello to someone on your team, many times it is likely they will think you are either mad at them or rude or don’t care. The simple act of walking through the building and saying hello, greeting each by name, touching a shoulder or shaking a hand, can make the difference between a tough day and a great one.
Culture is a living thing, it trumps vision by 10:1. A vision will only get you so far, a vision is what you preach, but culture is what you do. You can remind people of the vision by coaching, teaching, training, but ultimately people do what people see. So my mentoring with my leader, reminding her of our vision, is only a small dose of vitamins to remind her of the direction we are headed. The true path to health for the culture is to live what I see in my vision. To be there for them when they need me while still allowing them the space to grow into the greatness that I see in them. It has to start with the leader, it has to start with me.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
– Henry Ford, Ford Motor Company
Some people cause happiness wherever they go. Some people cause happiness whenever they go. Oscar Wilde
Which one are you? Do you make it your intent to bring people up? Or are you tuned out inside your head, thinking the hundreds of thoughts that are looping around in your mind at any given moment?
And how the heck does one stay positive when faced with grouchiness and negativity and aggravation? What about when you are working with a deadline? or short on resources?
Our mind is a tool, and it’s main job for generations has been to ensure our survival by looking for all the threats. In this day we live in, and if we are lucky enough to be reading this online, we have resources and are not racing for survival. There are no saber tooth tigers ready to pounce, we have access to food and shelter, clean water and electricity. Yet our minds are slow to advance and still look for danger. The overwhelming fear that is all around us will invade the most loving space if it is allowed.
I have put myself on a news diet. Meaning I am done with it. I turn it off or tune it out or leave the room when it is on, and lucky for me my family is following. I am not saying to bury your head in the sand and chant “its all good its all good”, but rather to focus on the love and good things that are all around you.
One thing that is certain is that this current state of affairs in our country and our planet has brought to the forefront of our awareness the need to WAKE UP. To realize that you have the amazing ability to change your world. That the only way to counteract fear is with love, anger with gratitude, frustration with acceptance.