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!

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.

 

 

 

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.