Do you have what it takes?

It’s a question that in some form we often ask.

What will it take to do something, have something, be something?

What will it take to have more of something, less of something or be done with it altogether?

What will it take? Do I have it?

 

When I stopped to really consider where I have succeeded in attaining a goal and where it has alluded me, I found that there were five things that have made a significant difference. A few of them surprised me but as they say, success leaves clues and these have proven themselves by their presence many times over. It is less about what it takes in terms of what we do, and more of what it takes for who we need to be.

#1 – Be comfortable being a beginner

Quite often when we have already achieved success in some area of our life we tend to get comfortable being in that “attainment” mode. But that holds us back.  To move on to what is next, we must be willing to once again be that beginner. What does that mean? It means recognizing there is still so much to take in. It means staying curious. It means recognizing that to be valued as a teacher, we must continuously seek deeper value as a student.

#2 – Embrace being yourself

It is quite possible, perhaps even advisable to follow a prescribed path to get somewhere. But it would be invalid to think that it would be the only way to get there. The path we choose is just that, a choice. There is only one way to fully embrace our individuality and value and that is by taking responsibility for ourselves and determining the value we want to create. Those that go far beyond success and attain significance in their impact and influence are those that take responsibility for their part of the story. We must first embrace ourselves before we can truly embrace the world and influence others. What determines if you have what it takes? It isn’t  a what, it’s a who. And the who is you.

#3- Relish making a choice

Those able to continuously move into their best place for success have this as a distinctive part of their modus operandi. They choose. And they choose timely. Because no choice is still a choice. Not saying yes is the equivalent of no. Indecision is indeed a myth.

The most critical insight for me was recognizing that how we handle the seemingly small choices in life is the best predictor of how we will manage the more significant opportunities. If we aren’t making good choices within our day, ultimately that shows up as ineffective choices for our lives.

#4- Crave mastery

Competition is not something that drives me. In fact, I tend to reject any situations that have a highly competitive energy. It just doesn’t resonate with me. But I am highly driven. Gaining an understanding of that distinction was invaluable for me. What drives me? Mastering my craft. Learning something well and finding even greater depths and capacity within myself. Good can be the enemy of great when greatness is the real goal. Regardless of what we choose as our form of measurement, the desired result is the same: Mastery – Being the absolute best we can be.

#5- Live from a place of gratitude

This has been the most significant constant throughout the best experiences in my life. Gratitude is not just being appreciative of what someone does for us. Gratitude is a recognition of everything that has made good possible. It is a constant seeking of the good in order to show our appreciation for it, celebrate it. In his program MindHack, David Bayer teaches that gratitude in its basic form is energy. That was such a profound image to soak in. Living from a state of gratitude, a state of grace is living from the purest form of energy available to us.

Imagine these thoughts as a mantra, a manifesto for your life. That’s what I’m working toward in mine just now. Since our true legacy will be determined by how we live rather than what we leave, I am seeking qualities that are worthy.

It’s interesting to me as well that the same things that are true for ourselves as individuals for making a difference are also true as a foundation for bringing together those that we lead.

Imagine a group that is committed to constant curiosity and growth, willing to stake their uniqueness in the world, take the risks that will propel them into greatness, do the work that will sustain that position and ultimately celebrate everything and everyone that made it all possible.

My bet would be that they would indeed have what it takes.

Do you have your finish line in view?

Laughman_Oct 2015_Article 4_Finish lineAs the calendar rolled over to 2018, I was reminded anew that time waits for no one. It seems on some days, especially not for me. I’m sure you have experienced similar feelings. When we begin our year we have such grand plans! We claim the year as our time and we are filled with nearly giddy excitement about all of the accomplishments we will be celebrating in the coming months. All too often though it doesn’t take long for the realities of life to bring us back “down to earth” and what we envisioned starts to fade.

One crucial life lesson is that deciding what we want, even how to get it is only part of getting us to where we want to be.  To be successful there is another element required: Knowing why we are doing what we plan to do. Without that clear motivation– we will lack an essential element we need to sustain us through to success. And one thing that has proven true in every case I know is that when we don’t keep going, we stop going. Knowing why we are doing something is the glue that holds everything together.

But how does motivation work? How do you know it’s going to hold? While there are many illustrations, my experience has shown that it comes down to these 5 essential principals:

  1. Sometimes the work is hard. It’s really that simple. Sometimes the work is hard. And we need to be certain we can stick with it. Jim Rohn taught that when the promise is clear, the price is easy. When the price begins to get hard, the promise is what pulls us through.
  2. Sometimes the work takes time. The emotion of the moment when we committed to something can and will fade over time if we don’t bring it back, even if not at the same sensory level. I was recently reminded that there is very little that is action dependent that does not require some constancy, even daily re-commitment to that action. Whether it’s our health, money, work or relationships. Our motivation (why) is what creates the power we need to keep making the commitment over time.
  3. Sometimes the work needs to change. This is an important one to think about. Sometimes the method we choose to do something doesn’t bring us the result we wanted. That’s not failure. That’s experience. Without knowing why we were doing it in the first place, we don’t have the ultimate creative pool to work from for finding our next strategy and getting it in place. The why keeps us focused in the RIGHT direction, even if we change the vehicle we’re riding to reach the destination.
  4. Sometimes the work requires help. When we are clear about why we are doing something our enthusiasm and passion are evident and infectious. Others will not only respond to requests for help – they will volunteer! There is nothing more binding and bonding than a shared desire to transform something for good. Even if they don’t know, like and trust you yet, if your why is clear and they can align to that, it can actually be the catalyst for the best relationships.
  5. Sometimes the work requires a choice. This point goes beyond the first one where we talked about work being hard at times. This is about sacrifice. This is about choice. If you do THIS (something that honors your why) then you cannot do THAT (something else you really want to do!). It’s called opportunity cost. The promise being clear is still part of the rationale on this but it goes deeper because you are making a conscious choice to not only have something, but also to give something up. If the value equation isn’t clear, those choices can get very difficult.

Having the right motivation makes a difference in getting started but it makes all the difference for staying started. And one thing is certain: We can and will have more than one start along the way.

How to put this to work? Choose one area of your life (health, finances, work, relationships, community) where in the past you have struggled staying on track with your goal and action settings. Go through a series of questions focused on the word why to get to your core reason for what you are doing. That is the promise. Don’t take your first response. Why? Because chances are fairly high that it is not your real reason. Don’t be surprised if it takes you a number of times to get to your true motivator. In the words of Pat Riley, “A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.”

You’ll know you are there when you can take that reason and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is this reason strong enough to keep me going when it’s hard?
  2. Is this reason strong enough to keep me going when this takes a long time?
  3. Is this reason strong enough to challenge me to always find a way?
  4. Is this reason strong enough to allow others to see the value in the work?
  5. Is this reason strong enough to support the right choices along the way, even when it means a sacrifice?

When you get to five yeses – you are there! More importantly, you know you’re going to be able to begin and experience the journey to go to your desired place of achievement with joy and ease.

Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well!

The Journey – Poetry, Music and Imagery

Ionian islandsOne of my favorite poems remains Cavafy’s “Ithaca”.

I re-visit it the final week of each year in my personal reflections of the time passed and the promise of what is yet to come.

Here it is read by Sean Connery accompanied by Vangelis’s incomparable score with stunning backgrounds to transport us.

While there are many interpretations of this work, its essence is that the journey and the destination both matter.  The beliefs we take with us on the journey about our destination will determine much about the experience.  And the depth to which we experience the journey, will only serve to help us better understand the true value of our destination once we arrive.

I have found success works like this.  We each define what success means to us and set out on our journey to reach it.  By the time we arrive, it will have changed.  Because we will have changed from the journey and gained new understandings.

As Jim Rohn taught, more important than the goal itself is the person we must become to attain it. That is the essence and story of Ithaca for me. It’s a reminder to choose our destinations carefully and then travel well.

ITHACA [1910, 1911]

As you set out for Ithaca hope that your journey is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery. Laestrygonians and Cyclops, angry Poseidon-don’t be afraid of them: you’ll never find things like that on your way as long as you keep your thoughts raised high, as long as a rare sensation touches your spirit and your body. Laestrygonians and Cyclops, wild Poseidon-you won’t encounter them unless you bring them along inside your soul, unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope that your journey is a long one. May there be many summer mornings when, with what pleasure, what joy, you come into harbors you’re seeing for the first time; may you stop at Phoenician trading stations to buy fine things, mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony, sensual perfume of every kind- as many sensual perfumes as you can; and may you visit many Egyptian cities to learn and learn again from those who know.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind. Arriving there is what you’re destined for. But don’t hurry the journey at all. Better if it lasts for years, so that you’re old by the time you reach the island, wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way, not expecting Ithaca to make you rich. Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey. Without her you would have not set out. She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you’ll have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.

Engage with me in a conspiracy of love!

Rethinking productivity: How to balance the list with life

Hourglass time clock with sandEverything we have or do depends on one or more of these three resources:

Time – Money – Energy

It is easy to miscalculate their priority because we don’t understand an essential fact. Only one of these resources is actually limited. The other two can and are continuously replenished and are really available to us in far greater quantities than we can even imagine in many cases. But one resource is universally finite: Time.

In my own personal journey, coming to terms with time being the most precious resource I will ever have caused me to re-evaluate and re-organize how I approach just about everything in my life. The investment of time is far more critical than anything else. That understanding also created a marked change in my personal productivity. It begin to feel like time wasn’t really finite because I was getting so much more accomplished! Where did all of that time come from?

As I look back, it comes down to five essential keys that have unlocked true productivity for me. They aren’t the usual suspects.  It’s not about “touching things once” or having a killer app on your phone or calendar reminder for “what’s next”.  Those are important but they aren’t the essentials.  What I have learned and embraced is the importance of partnering with time as an ally. Seeing time as our most valuable resource and loving it for what it allows us to do creates a powerful partnership with it.  Perhaps these keys will open some life locks for you as well.   (I’m writing it in first person, counting down in importance. Try reading this out loud as if you are saying it for YOU!)

#5 – I don’t have to do everything.  This point isn’t about delegation.  This is about choice.  I do not have to do everything.  Long to do lists do not make my day matter more.  They only clutter the day with things that diminish other things and the time I can give them. It is far more satisfying to have 5 things finished than to have 10 things started.

#4 – I am serving others more effectively sometimes by NOT helping them.  (This was my hardest one to learn..) Allowing others to DO for themselves or even to be served by OTHERS is quite often a better choice.  Being a facilitator can be just as satisfying as anything else.

#3 – Things sometimes take longer than I planned.  And that’s okay.  It’s important to be prepared to miss cutoffs or deadlines and to have a backup plan.  Delays are not failures.  They are just delays.  Accept them for what they are:  a change in the schedule, not a change in the plan.

#2 – New information needs to be factored into existing plans.  New knowledge can show up in many forms.  My ability to remain fluid to change and to be able to discern when it is creating a “new” decision point is an important skill with managing my investment of time.

#1 – Being clear about what I want to accomplish is ultimately the most important factor in true productivity. Being clear means more than a general feeling or desire to “be” something or someone.  It means being really clear.  Less impressionistic – more photographic. Sharpen every pixel in the image.  This is what makes all of the decisions along the way productive in their outcome even as I am being productive in my partnering with time.

Five essential keys that have unlocked time as a partner in my life.  Perhaps they will for you, too.  Which of these would make the most productive difference for you? Start there.

Live today like you want tomorrow to be.

Live well.