Monthly Archives: January 2012

Who gets the best of you?

I remember as a kid a phrase that was commonly used after a fight of some kind.  A person would say, “He really got the best of him”.  Meaning that somebody most likely got his butt kicked.  But this is not the context of the question that I’ve been thinking about lately.

 My question is literally…who gets the best of you?

Who is it in your life that makes you the “best” you possible?  You know the one, the you that you really like…the you that are the happiest, the funniest, the most insightful, the most thoughtful.  The you that you are really proud of being.  When you are in their company, life seems to flow almost without effort and you routinely feel “filled” by having spent time together.  This is what I’m referring to as being “the best of you”.

 So who in your life gets it?

Are you surprised by your answer?  Is it the one you feel “should” get the best of you?  Many people I’ve had this conversation with have responded with answers like:  My job, my dog or cat or even…I keep the best of me for myself!  What a shame!

 So what do you do if you don’t like your answer?

What if you’re not giving the best of you to the person in your life that needs it?

My answer would be that whatever you want in life…give it first and give it consistently and give it without ever thinking you’ll ever get it back.

Give away Love, Encouragement, Support, Understanding…give them away and don’t expect an acknowledgement, a thank you, a change in attitude or behavior.  Just give that which you want.  Stay focused on only on the giving…because it’s in the giving of ourselves that we become our best.

 You’ve only got one “best”…so don’t give it to who deserves it…give it to who needs it.

 

 

Discipline

I recently called my cable company and cancelled my cable service.  What does that mean?  It means that I have no TV.  It means no Final Four games, Masters golf coverage, Reality TV, no 24, CSI, Lost or even ESPN!  It also means no reports of random shootings, rainy weather forecasts ruining my weekend plans, infomercials and commercials for stuff I don’t want or need.  Why did I do this?

 One word…discipline.

 I realized that many of the changes in our lives, either good or bad don’t happen in one significant dramatic action.  They happen as small incremental changes over time.  They happen little bits at a time.

I remember when I was growing up; our family had a pet dog.  Her name was Mandy and she was a beautiful fawn colored boxer.  Mandy loved to be rubbed on her neck but she also knew that she was not allowed on the couch.  When I would be sitting on the couch and she was sitting in front of me, I would rub her neck and ever so slowly she would eventually raise one paw and just place it on the couch.  Then, even more slowly she would place her weight on that paw and slowly raise up to put her other paw on the couch.  Within 5 minutes she would be completely in my lap…. and the odd thing would be…I would let her.  However, had she just jumped on the couch…she would have been immediately reprimanded and put back down on the floor.   But back to my TV…

Like Mandy, my TV viewing habits had slowly increased over time in a direction and quantity that I did not want.  Watching the morning news while enjoying my morning coffee gradually over time became watching an hour of Regis and Kelly!  Catching up with the evening news while I ate dinner eventually became TMZ and then a host of bad TV shows.  I knew I really had a problem when I was actually recording Oprah and Ellen in the afternoons so I could watch them at night!  That’s when I knew I had a drastic problem… and drastic problems require drastic actions and I had to take action.  …Goodbye cable.

Discipline comes in many forms.  I went to a Military College, so to me, the word itself certainly takes on a meaning of extreme restraint, allowing no fun or enjoyment and even a little bit of pain thrown in for good measure.  That type of discipline is not what I’m talking about.  On the other extreme, I’ve been told that I’m too disciplined and need to “lighten up” and learn to “dance with life”.   So for a year I just went with the flow.  I did what I felt like doing and sought enjoyment in all that I did.   While it was fun for a while, nothing got accomplished.

So where do we land with this?  How can we come to terms with allowing discipline to play a useful and vital role in our lives?  How can it be enjoyable?

I think the answer is pretty simple.  I think discipline is “the short term application of long term thinking”.  To say it another way…it’s doing the things you NEED to do instead of the things you FEEL like doing.  I think short term thought is like junk food.  It’s filled with feelings that prompt you to do what is easy, safe and routine but in the end does not make you better.

Whereas long term thought requires just that…thought.  It requires planning, steps, reasoning and intentional actions that are in alignment with a predetermined pattern and a specified outcome.  Long term thought makes you grow.

 Ok…now that I know what it is…what do I do…?

Ask yourself, “Is the behavior I’m currently exhibiting something I will be proud of a year from now”?

If the answer is no…change it.

Figure out what you want, what you need to do and begin.  Don’t wait.  Do it today…do it in the next hour…in fact…stop reading this and do it in the next 5 minutes!

We need to ACT our way into feeling rather than to FEEL our way into acting.  Do what you need to do…then your feelings will follow.  Don’t wait on “feeling like doing something” in order to act.

 And by the way…get your paw off the couch…!

Easy Organizational Method

Well it’s approaching tax time and for many of us it is a reminder that we are not as organized as we would like to be.  If that is you, I’ve got a very simple method of organizing your paperwork.

Here is all you need to start:

  1. 1 – green file folder.
  2. 1 – yellow file folder.
  3. 1 – red file folder.
  4. A stack of post-it notes.

Here is the process:

  1. The GREEN folder is the ACTIVE folder.  ALL items that need to be acted upon start here.   Each time you get a piece of paper, bill or document you write on the post it not what the NEXT action needs to be for that document.  Then it goes into the green folder.  Make it your goal to try to stay on top of this folder.
  2. The YELLOW folder is the PENDING or WAITING folder.  For instance if you need to have someone else sign or review a document before you can complete the task, make a copy of the document first and put a post it on the document and write the date and the person you gave it to for the next action.  Then at least once a week, go through your yellow file and follow up with all the people.  Also, write on the same post-it that you followed up on that date.  All documents stay in the yellow folder until they are returned to you.  Then you write the next action on them and either place back in the green folder for further processing or place it in the red folder.
  3. The RED folder is the TO BE FILED folder.  Documents where no further action can be taken go here.  Write on a post it where to file the document.  (I have found that the easiest way to file is simply by company name.)  Then once a week, set aside a time to empty your red folder and simply file the documents where you’ve already decided!

 That’s it!  Pretty simple, huh?

Leadership vs. Followership

I googled “Leadership” today and got 136 million hits.  Then, I googled “Followership” and not surprisingly, got 155 thousand hits.  That’s 877 times more Leadership sites than Followership sites.  What does that tell you about the importance we place on being a leader over a follower?

But in reality, what’s a leader without someone to follow him or her?  Probably… lonely.

I started thinking about how much it takes to be a good follower, especially the “first-follower”.    The first-the follower is probably the most important aspect of any leadership movement.   First-followers have to make themselves very vulnerable because it’s only the leader and themselves.   If the leader is an idiot…that’s the leader’s problem…but if they are following an idiot, then that makes them…well…worse!

First-followers have to trust in what the leader is trying to accomplish and they must believe that it is a cause worthy of sacrifice.  Followers must put aside their own agenda and they must become the energy and passion of another person’s dream or vision.  First-followers must also passionately share the attributes of the leader and the vision to attract other followers.

Followers need to see three things in their Leader:

 They must see that the Leader is:

  1.  Committed to an outcome.
  2. Committed to the people.
  3. Committed to the journey.

If any one of the three is absent, the Leader will not be successful.

 So, what is my takeaway from all of this thought?

Well, I believe we are all simultaneously Leaders and Followers.  However, we tend to not think of ourselves as being subject to anyone else and don’t like to think of ourselves as Followers…but we really are.  Leaders are viewed as “the person at the top” and the person that other’s have to respond to.  However, regardless of our position in life, our title or  our role, we all are required to serve the needs of someone else.  Whether it’s our children, our spouses, our employees, stockholders or constituents…we all answer to someone.

I look to the Bible and wonder…which one was Jesus?  A Leader or a Follower?  He certainly had Followers.  But he himself said that he was only doing the work of his father…so that would make him a Follower.  And if Jesus is ok with being a Follower…then that’s good enough for me as well.

I think Jesus would agree that serving another person is the highest and best use of our time here on earth.  So the question then becomes who serves whom?  Do Leaders serve the Followers or do Followers serve the Leaders?

I wish more emphasis of Leadership training these days were placed on the proper perspective of serving.

I remember, as a kid we would always play follow the Leader… never lead the Follower.

Maybe the world would be a little better if we had.

 

 

The “Wiley E. Coyote Principle”

Here I am again.  In the same place that I have found myself so many times before.  Frustrated.  Mad at myself.  Working without a plan.  Knowing I could and should be doing more and not doing it.  This place has become all too familiar…and I hate it.

A friend of mine once asked me a question.  He said, what has worked so well for you in the past…that you stopped doing it?”

When I think about it.   I’ve had spurts of “greatness” in the past.  I’ve started workout programs that made me feel and look great.  I’ve started time management systems that had me accomplishing everything I set my mind to do.  I’ve created lists, goals summaries, life plans, action plans and systems that all worked.  Then something happened…and I stopped.

It wasn’t as if an event happened that “made” me stop…it was just “something” that interrupted my routine.  It could have been that I had to travel out of town or even attend a meeting or event that interrupted my “flow”.  But after that interruption…getting back in the flow would eventually never happen.

I call this the “Wiley E. Coyote Principle”.  Remember back in the cartoon days, Wiley E. Coyote would dream up thousands of ways to apprehend the elusive Road Runner?  Each time, some random event took place that rendered his attempt unsuccessful.  After each failed attempt, we were left watching the face of Wiley E. Coyote either shrink into nothingness as he fell off a cliff or we watched him raise that little umbrella as he accepted the fate of the huge rock about to crash on his head.

In each case, he rarely tried to do the same thing twice.  He rarely committed to a plan and regardless of the failed attempts, continued to trust that his system was good and appropriate and regardless of the immediate outcome, was worthy of continuing.  He would abandon it and try something else.

I think it’s time to go back and look at my life and identify “what worked”.  What attitudes worked, nutrition plans, workout plans, time management systems, what I did that made me feel good and say to myself, “good job Bob”.  Those things are worthy of being identified and certainly worthy of my pursuit and incorporation into my life.

I need to just write those things down and be mindful of them.  I don’t have to do everything at once, just commit to one and bring it back into my life.

How about you?  What has worked so well in the past…that YOU stopped doing it?

 Beep, Beep!

 

 

Friends for life…

I love Amazon.com.   If the company was an actual human being, they would probably be one of my best friends.  First of all, they have all the stuff I love.  Books, music, movies, electronics, sporting goods and even tools!  It’s important to share similar interests with your friends and Amazon seems to continue to add items to their inventory that keep me coming back to them for more and more stuff.

Secondly, they pay attention to me.  They notice and keep track of what I look at each time I visit.  Then, they offer suggestions to new and similar items that they believe might be of interest to me.   That is important in a relationship.  Everyone wants to feel like they are being noticed and heard.  They want to feel like if they are in need of something, then help is only a phone call or in this case, just a click away.   I wish more people would try to anticipate what the other might need or want before you actually had to ask for it.

Next thing that is important to me is communication.  Amazon lets me know when they have received my order.  They send me a brief email to let me know that the order has been processed as well as another email when they believe the order will be ready for shipment.  Then I get another email when the package is shipped and a tracking number so I can follow it all the way to my door.  Then inside the box I get a “no hassles” return policy in the event I am not completely happy.  I’ve never sent anything back to them because I’ve always been satisfied…maybe it’s the smile on the box that makes me believe that everything is going to be all right.

I’m certain if I communicated like this, I would probably be much more successful, have more friends and most likely be happier!  It’s not that they “over-communicate”, but I never have to wonder about what they are doing or where I stand with my order.  It’s one less thing to worry about and that in itself will keep me coming back to Amazon.

The final thing I love about Amazon is that they want my feedback.  They want to know if I liked the book I purchased.  I get to read all the other reviewer’s comments on products that they have bought as well.  This makes me feel like I’m part of a community of friends that are trying to help each other get what we need and want in life…or at least through Amazon.

I’m sure that Amazon is not the only company like this.  I have many favorites.  American Express, USAA, Nordstrom’s and even Barnes and Noble are friends of mine they all know how to treat me and I love and appreciate it.

I wonder if any of my friends could say the same thing about me….

 

In God We Trust…really?

I just returned from a week in Guatemala working with a Medical Mission team.  I was cleaning out my pockets and separating the American money from the Guatemalan money I had left over when I noticed something interesting.  All of the American currency has imprinted on it in some location, “In God We Trust”.  No big surprise because it is the National Motto of the United States.

But I wondered if we as Americans really believed it.  Also, I found it ironic that “In God We Trust” would be placed on the very thing that we allow to compete with God; our love of money.

So is, “In God We Trust” a true statement?

Trusting means I’ve got to give up control. It also means that what ultimately happens in my future may not be something I’m going to enjoy, prefer or want.   Neither of these two realities makes me feel too comfortable.  I’m much more comfortable at least “having a say-so” into areas that concern me.  So I try to “trust” God in some things and do what I want to in the other things…and then say I’m trusting.

Ouch!  That’s tough to admit!  It’s also not trust!

Trust, Money & God.  Where do most of us fall?

Do we stay in a job we don’t like because it pays well?  Do we stay in a toxic relationship because we don’t feel we can afford to be on our own?  Do we buy things when we are depressed that we think will make us happy?    Are we generous with our money?  When we are faced with a big financial decision, which do we do first, analyze our options, ask other people for advice or pray?  When we hear that soft voice in our hearts telling us to do or not do something…do we follow the prompting or rationalize that we are just talking to ourselves?  Do we lay awake at night thinking about God or worrying about money?

So going back to our National Motto…is it true?  Can it become true?  What might that look like?

To live in this way means that I must live by faith.  I must live based on the promises that God has made.  Then, I have to make choices with the confidence in those promises.  My beliefs and my actions must be in sync or to put it another way…

My life should look like I trust God and His promises, because I do.

Wow…my pocket change has taken on a whole new meaning…!

Less is more

I’m already tired of everyone telling me what to do!

We’ve just started the new year and already I’m being bombarded with emails, blogs, mail and TV segments all telling me how to eat, exercise and achieve my goals.  I’m exhausted!

Last year I made it a point to try and capture every creative thought that I had.  I would wake up in the middle of the night on many occasions and jot down thoughts that were bouncing around in my head as I tried to go to sleep. I kept a pad and paper with me at all times.  I did capture some cool stuff, but what I learned is that with all my effort in trying to “get more”, I neglected the time that it would take to begin to develop any of the thoughts.  I successfully spent a year accumulating a storehouse of potential…that isn’t worth anything at the moment.

So here is what I’m thinking…I’m going to do less this year!  I’m going to try to accomplish fewer goals and do fewer projects, but the ones that I do invest in…I’m going to do really well.  I’ve committed to only 3 goals this year.  I’ll share my first goal here…

Stay Present.  Easy enough you might say…but try it…

  • How many times have you been in a meeting or speaking with someone and all the while they are checking their phone, texting or doing something else?  They are not present with you.
  • How many times have you been driving your car and worrying about anything!  Traffic, being late, what you’re going to do or say when you get to your destination, thinking about past events or conversations… You are not present…
  • How many times do you worry about the future?  Have you ever experienced stress?  Stress is nothing more than your pre-occupation with an imagined future event!

So, by staying present…you must take what life brings you…

You don’t judge it as good or bad…you just “go with the flow” as they say.

Think about it…the present moment is the only place where we can do anything anyway…so why allow your mind to take you anyplace else!

Like I told some coaching clients last year, “It’s not so much as what you do…it’s more important who you are…when you’re doing what you do.”

Bring all of you to all that you do.  Even if you are doing less…you’ll find you’ll be accomplishing more.

Let me know how this works for you!

 

 

 

Taking it to your Giants!

We all know the story of David and Goliath.  Well, I read it again this morning and as usual…I got something new out of it that I would like to share…

Setting:  The Philistine army is encamped on one hill and the army of the Israelites is encamped on an adjacent hill.  Each day for 40 days the 9′ tall Philistine, Goliath screams insults, taunts and challenges anyone from the opposing army to fight him.  Whoever loses would become the slave to the winner.     Each day, the Israelites…listen and do nothing.

Fast forward:  David arrives on the scene.  He had brought some food for his older brothers, who are in the Israelite army.   While he is there, he hears the insults being shouted by Goliath for the first time.  David was ticked off that anyone would be saying these things about the one thing he loved more than anything…his God.

Fast forward, again:  David convinces King Saul to let him go out and confront Goliath.  David knew that God had proven himself faithful in the past when he had successfully protected his flock from lions and bears.  So in David’s mind…what’s the big deal about a 9′ tall giant!

King Saul  tries to protect David by allowing him to wear the King’s armor.  David tries it on, but he can’t move in it and declines wearing it.  David grabs 5 smooth stones and puts them in his pouch and goes to confront the giant.

Goliath and David exchange some “smack talk” and then something really cool happens…

The Bible says, “David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.”

David took the fight to the giant.  David relied on a strong offense.  He ran towards Goliath as he reached into his pouch, grabbing a stone and launching it from his sling.  He didn’t wait.  He didn’t plan.  He acted.  He trusted.  He took the fight to Goliath.

Fast forward to today:  Many of us are facing our own giants.  Many of us are afraid.  We are fearful of the unknown.  We are fearful of losing our jobs, our retirement, or our future.  We may be facing giants of sickness, loss or disease.  We may be being subjected to insults being hurled in our relationships, at our jobs or even within our own families.  We all have giants that are looming over us to some degree.  We all know what it is we need to do and want to do…we just don’t…or can’t bring ourselves to do something about it.  Like the Israelites, we stand on the hill and listen to the giants in our lives hurl insults at our very character.

Here is what I have learned:  Having read the Bible several times, it seems that God blesses a “strong offense” as opposed to a “strong defense”.  In case after case, battle after battle, God instructed his chosen one’s to “attack the giant” rather than to defend.

Think about yourself, don’t you naturally feel empowered when you take on a challenge, be proactive, make the call, have the conversation and attack rather than to defend?   Isn’t it more powerful to run towards our giants rather than to hope they don’t choose to come after you!

How would your life be different if you chose to run towards that which you are most afraid of?  Run towards that call or conversation you don’t want to have.  Run towards all those situations where giants have been on the hill shouting their insults for far too long.

Like David, we are to use the tools we already have and are comfortable with.  We don’t need anything new.  We need to trust that we are uniquely gifted to take on the giants in our path.  We can do this!  It must start with me!  We don’t need someone else’s armor.

Also, when we are choosing our weapons…we also need to fill our pouch with smooth stonesWe can kill many a giant with a smooth stone.

I hope this little insight makes you feel empowered.  We all face Goliaths from time to time…it’s what we choose to do next that makes all the difference in the world.

Just remember…trust…. run towards…and take your shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRIP Hazards

Well, it was bound to happen!  Late Sunday night, after a busy weekend I was headed to bed exhausted.  On my way down the hall I began undressing, letting the day’s clothing fall to the floor and collapsing into the welcoming embrace of freshly cleaned sheets.

In the middle of the night I awoke and began to navigate my way in the darkness to the bathroom…not remembering that I had littered the floor with my clothing the evening before.  Halfway to the bathroom with lights out of course and trying to remain in that wonderful state of half sleep…. my feet became entangled with the clothing and …down I went.  Luckily, I didn’t kill myself but I easily could have.  So much for enjoying the remaining nights sleep.

That night I thought, “I just about killed myself and there is no one to blame…but me!”  I was the one that left the clothes on the floor to trip over!  I began to wonder if there were other areas of my life where I might be setting myself up for a fall.  I wondered what clues I might look for in order to alert myself where I was laying the groundwork for a future TRIP HAZARD…and I found four of them:

T = “Too”. 

Anything in my life that I add the word “too” is a trip hazard.  Think about any of the following:

“I work too much, I eat too much, I drink too much, I am too nice, I have too much to do, I’m too busy,” feel free to add the ones that are coming to your mind right now…

These simply mean you are out of balance.  Like an engine warning light…you are heading for a painful experience.  Use this as an opportunity to address your “too” and take immediate steps to get back in balance!

R = “Replay”. 

Have you ever caught yourself saying, “Why do we keep having this same conversation or argument over and over again?”  Or “Why do I always…?” or “I did it again.” or ” _____ keeps pushing my buttons!”

What you are experiencing is the effect of your “replay” button being pushed.  You are connecting with the “emotional baggage” of your past.  You need to “re-program” what the situation means to you in a way that will serve you as opposed to working against you.  It’s not the other persons fault…it’s your programming that needs to change!

I = “Insensitivity”. 

What this means is that we break the connection between our mind and our heart.  It means that we stop allowing things to affect us emotionally.   We stop REALLY listening.

How many times have YOU been in conversation and have KNOWN what the other person was going to say?  How many times have YOU actually completed the other person’s sentence?  How many times have YOU been in conversation with someone when you were actually looking elsewhere?

We need to become a culture that ASKS NEW QUESTIONS and actually listens to the answers…both with our minds and our hearts.

P = “Procrastination”. 

Why don’t we do what we want to do?  We typically “put off” doing things like:  exercise, eating well, having difficult conversations or doing anything where pain, discomfort, inconvenience or uncertainty is involved.

As human beings, are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain.  Therefore everything we put off doing is because we believe there is more pain involved in doing the task than in not doing the task.  So we avoid it.  So what if we actually made NOT doing the task more painful than doing it?  I know what you’re thinking…but try it!  Take one item you’ve been putting off…and write down all the ways that NOT doing it will be more painful than actually doing it…

Well, I hope these TRIP Hazards brought to mind one or more areas in your life that need to be addressed.  If not, great!  But if so…then you need to take action on them immediately.

The last thing you want it to have one of them snag you when you least expect it…because they will!

Excuse me…but now I need to go tidy up…