5 Clues You May Need A Balance Check

Work and life balance is a popular topic for executive and life coaches. It’s not a concept that I fully embrace even though I’m trained to help others achieve it. There seems, at times, to be a belief that we can proportion ourselves out in some measured way across all the demands of life. That hasn’t really been successful in my experience. Life doesn’t happen that way.

It has been my experience that the more we attempt to create silos or compartmentalize our various roles, the more we face conflicting priorities and ultimately, always feel like we are failing somewhere or someone. Quite frankly, it’s not how I live or even want to live.

What I do believe is important is an awareness that we are a multi-dimensional being that needs our care and attention. That can be achieved when instead of creating unsustainable boundaries we create an integrated view of who we are and the value we bring to our world.

Victor Hugo expressed it well when he said: “To put everything in balance is good, to put everything in harmony is better.”

The balance I think about is rather like how an aircraft balances and levels itself during flight, constantly adjusting its positioning to stay on course.

When we look at it from that perspective, there are some clues that will tell us if we need to make some adjustments in our lives to remain on course.

Here are five checkpoints I invite you to consider:

  • The first one is in fact the most important and if this isn’t in check, there’s no reason to go further until it’s addressed. I learned this one from life and success mentor, Jim Rohn, and it is simply this: Wherever you are, be there. That’s my first check. If I’m working and thinking about something else, I’m not going to be effective. If I’m with friends and family but thinking about work, I’m not going to be engaged. There’s a balance issue and I need to adjust by shutting something down to course correct.
  • The second one is what I call my calendar check. When I review my plan for the week each Sunday, I check my values against my calendar. Where are my health goals showing up? My learning goals? My relationship goals? If all the parts of my life aren’t there it’s time for a tuning. Rather like a flight plan before take-off. We need to know we’ve got everything working as needed for a successful journey.
  • My third check-in focuses on my core value of personal growth. I want to ensure that I am growing across multiple disciplines. My growth needs to be aligned to my goals and not just my profession. Whatever it is we seek we also need to study. I found that I wanted to grow in my knowledge around finance and investment. But my personal development plan didn’t reflect that. Now there are books in my library, I regularly attend seminars and have several podcasts I follow.
  • The fourth check point is related to the first one but its importance merits its own reflection and that is relationships. Each week I check in with my inner circle and also review where I’m growing and need to expand that circle.
  • The last point is less specific but matters a great deal and it is this: Am I happy? Do I feel satisfied with how I am showing up in the world and the contribution I am making? We can get so busy with the demands of life we forget to enjoy life.

Five check points – clues in each one for adjusting and calibrating how we are living our lives to ensure we are making our highest possible contribution in each moment.

These are the disciplines of legacy and are deserving of our attention. Balance? Perhaps not. Harmonized? Guarding that everyday.

Live (harmonize) today like you want tomorrow to be. Live (harmonize) well.

 

Who would you choose?

I’m certain you’ve been asked to consider this question before. It’s a simple one.

If you could have a conversation with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose?

The idea of this question being a challenge for anyone living has lost at least some of its difficulty given the access available for everyone to everyone today. After all, there are very few barriers that hold in this age of technology. That is without question one of the most astounding possibilities afforded by social media in this age of connection.

But the challenge for those no longer with us does remain. My typical answer is my Dad. There are times when I truly long for a conversation with him. But there is another person that ranks high on the list for me and that is Eleanor Roosevelt. There is much about her life, contribution and overall philosophies that intrigue and inspire me, even where we disagree. A contemporary of my great-grandmother for whom my company is named, what underscores the enormity of her work is the age and time that she did it. She broke through barriers above, below and all around for those causes and people she championed.

Her last book, Tomorrow is Now was published in 1962. She knew she was dying when she started it and there are some that say she willed herself to stay alive long enough to write it. Its message was that important to her. Imagine a message so compelling, a sense of importance in your work so deep that you will yourself to live every day to see it through.

It’s one of the books I’ve chosen for my summer reading list. I’m finding it to be stunningly relevant yet today. The value of education and the fact that personal responsibility is the only way to achieve greatness never diminishes. I’m certain I will be having some lively imaginary chats with her over the coming weeks and I’m looking forward to the conversation.

How would you answer the question?

If it’s a contemporary, make it happen.

If it’s someone no longer with us, I invite you to think about these possibilities:

  • Why do they interest you? How can you learn more? Are there books available, videos, etc. that you can immerse yourself in to create a sense of connection?
  • Is there someone today that is doing similar work or carrying on their work? How can you connect with them? For example, Zig Ziglar was one of my Dad’s personal heroes and so, by extension, became one of mine. I’ve had the opportunity to connect with his son Tom Ziglar several times and it’s been a treasure.
  • How can you carry on the ideas and inspiration of that person today? How can you create that same sense of importance in your life and work? Sometimes we find our own higher purpose and calling by our resonance with someone else’s.

In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “It is essential, above all, that in making history we do not forget to learn by history.  It is essential that we cast out fear and face the unknown as our ancestors faced the unknown, with imagination and integrity, with courage and a high heart.”

Learn from yesterday and live today like you want tomorrow to be.

Live well.

 

Take your radio to work day!

Old beige vintage retro style radio receiver isolated on white bWe make assumptions about how and to whom we matter in the world. Those will stem from our own beliefs and perspective of the contributions we make.

And yet, sometimes what is most impacting about our life isn’t readily visible to us. We will not always know where we are making the most profound difference.

You see each of us is a miracle. Each of us comes into this life with our own soul print and we make a difference everyday. Even when we aren’t really conscious of it.

Let me tell you a story that brings this vividly to life. In the 1950’s, there were two men that worked in a factory in northern Ohio. One of them worked the afternoon shift and the other the night shift. They did not know each other. Yet their lives would intersect and create profound change.

The young man working second shift had just finished his tour of duty as a Marine during the Korean War. He and his bride had moved from West Virginia to Ohio in search of better opportunities. He often worked the night shift in addition to his regular hours for extra income. One night he was doing just that when he was assigned to a machine next to the other man in our story. Bear in mind that this was not mentally taxing work. In fact boredom was something they continuously contended with, each in their own way.

That night, over the humming of the machines our young Marine heard a very distinctive voice talking about all of his possibilities and how to reach all of those goals he had set for himself simply by changing his thoughts. It was as if this man was speaking directly to him. And so he went in search of the source and found the other man listening to a portable radio. The man speaking on the radio was Earl Nightingale. It was a life changing moment.

Immediately our young Marine was determined! He decided to take on an extra job instead of just extra shifts in order to earn enough money to buy his own portable radio. He had discovered his mentor even before he knew what a mentor was and did not want to miss a single opportunity to hear more! That encounter changed his life. That extra job? It was working as an attendant and mechanic at a local gas station. What happened? Ultimately, he didn’t just show up because he worked there as a mechanic. In time, he showed up because he owned the business.

I doubt that the other man in the story if asked would tell us that the most important thing he did that day was take his radio to work. He wouldn’t say that he changed lives just listening to his radio. But for that young Marine, undoubtedly that was the case. It set his life on a different course. And as a result, it did the same for mine. That young marine was my Dad.

Throughout my life what I learned most from him beyond the values of faith and family was the miracle of personal leadership and development. He defied all of the odds. He surpassed every expectation. A deeply spiritual man, he did it all with a quiet grace and humility that remains a part of his legacy. There was never a time that he was not reading or later listening to recordings and tapes. In fact, I still have his books and some of those early recordings! From that late night shift in the factory until his death, my Dad continued to live a life that celebrated learning and growth each and every day.

My Dad. He never lost sight of who he was. He never lost his vision of who he could become. And he never stopped growing into that man. He lived that legacy every day of his life. As a result, other lives were changed. And his legacy lives on in those lives. Including mine.

Thank you, Dad for always showing us not only who you were but who we could be. Thank you for being a living example of how to become that person more every day. And thank you to the gentleman that was part of God’s plan for our lives and brought his radio to work so all of this would begin!

In memory and honor of my Dad, Happy Father’s Day to all my readers! Always remember, as Earl Nightingale taught my Dad and he ultimately taught me:

“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.”

Live today like you want tomorrow to be.

Live well.

Success Live: Where everything old is new again…

Success Magazine has been an integral part of my personal development strategy for many years. I look forward to getting the new edition each month and a subscription is one of my favorite things to gift to those brave enough to show me their potential. When they recently created a new opportunity for learning and connection it was an easy choice to say yes.

Success Live. A single day. Just one block on the calendar. Something to look forward to as much (or perhaps more) for the break in routine as for attending the actual event. An easy yes but frankly not really a star on the page. In all candor, that was how I thought about it. Until I experienced it.

I had forgotten the power of new perspectives.  I had forgotten the energy boost of being in the room. The virtual world is a good thing. It has enriched my life enormously but there is still something to be said for being in the room. When I look back over the past few years, it is clear my most significant personal and professional breakthroughs had their genesis in events I’ve attended in-person.

This conference was different however from most in terms of format. Fourteen speakers. In one day. Seven before lunch. Seven after lunch. And lunch was the only break. You really had to engage to keep up. No time for a wandering mind. If you stopped paying attention you would miss something. And from the very first speaker what you knew without a doubt was that you did not want to miss anything.

Time tested principals and philosophies were front and center. But with fresh voices and life stories demonstrating their continued relevance for all of us.

Here are a few highlights from my notes:

From Brendon Burchard we heard again from Aristotle, who also influenced Will Durant’s writings in his book The Story of Philosophy (1926). He spoke about the science of habit. If you want to know how extraordinary people achieve that status – this is how:

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

Motivation may be what gets us started, but it is habit in the end that gets us to the finish line. We don’t make a difference by what we start, we earn that influence by what we repeatedly do.

Listening to Tom Bilyeu (co-founder of Quest Nutrition) I was reminded of David Bayer’s work which I discovered at a conference last year. Tom’s work also includes the interview series Impact Theory which is rich beyond measure for those of us seeking to understand mastery of our thoughts and self-discipline. His interview with Lewis Howes, another presenter at this event is well worth the listen.

Tom’s presentation was especially valuable to me as this is where I’m spending a great deal of time in self-reflection right now – the idea of keeping our promises to ourselves and installing the right disciplines to help us reach our full potential.

His signature statement for me was this: “Do and believe that which moves you to your greatness.”

It really comes down to these two questions:

  • Who do you want to become?
  • What price are you willing to pay to get there?

Another speaker that has stayed with me was Jonathan Fields. This was a lesson for me in staying open. I wasn’t familiar with his work and his presentation was later in the day. I was nearing capacity for taking in information. What I can share with you is that I have very few notes from his presentation. He drew me in from the start and I didn’t want to interrupt the experience even with notes. It was the presentation in a day of excellence that moved me the most. Since then I have been living with his voice in my head and I’ve been studying his thoughts through his books and other resources. His story is so powerful. His book Uncertainty is what I’m currently reading. There is no question that my future endeavors and writings will be influenced by what I’m learning from him.

A day of reflection and questions. Questions that we need to be asking ourselves continuously to ensure that we are always striving to live our best life and be of optimal service in the world.

These were the challenges I took home with me:

  • What decision have you been unwilling to make?
  • What action have you been unwilling to take?
  • What connection have you been unwilling to initiate?
  • What goal have you be unwilling to set?

Giving ourselves permission to face these questions is where the process begins.  Empowering ourselves to take the next action as we answer these questions is where the transformation begins. Continuing to ask these questions is where our gifts can reach their highest possibilities.

I trust that what I brought home with me also resonates with you. Always remember that there is more value in the rest of your story than you ever dreamed possible. Live today in the belief that you are creating the tomorrow that will transport you beyond achievement to joyous fulfillment.

Live well.

P.S. There is another Success Live event coming up in September.  If you’re looking to capture this experience for yourself, take advantage of the early bird registration. You won’t be disappointed.

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.