You can't run...

We are each locked inside our own personal cage of fear. Fear that “I’m not worthy, or not enough. Fear that I’ll miss out, that I won’t be loved, that I’ll fail” These fears are self imposed and self destructive. They will hold you back more than any circumstance.

  • Fear is powerful. It can lock you up for years. Many souls that were once brimming with potential are now leading lives of quiet desperation sitting paralyzed in their cages of self doubt.
  • Fear is the opposite of love. (not hate: hate is a manifestation of fear) fear will rob you of your ability to love.
  • Fear is deadly. It will stifle your purpose and kill your dreams.

You can’t run from your fear, but you can fight it. Don’t remain a prisoner to fear any longer. An unfulfilled life is a cost too great.

Life is what happens when you're busy making plans

Not too long ago, I spent my life “planning my life”

A snapshot of a typical day:

Check off the to-do’s on my never ending list, schedule and attend meetings, where we talk and then plan to schedule more meetings. Plan my goals, my lunches, my budgets, my weekend plans, plan out time TO plan (how crazy is that?!) It was exhausting, and I wasn't accomplishing much.

A conversation with a friend set me straight when he bluntly told me: What are you doing? You're remarkably efficient, you sure have figured that out, now let's actually make you effective. That stung a little, but I got the point.

I started on a quest to do things that actually mattered. To be EFFECTIVE. I started a "don't care" list. (It's not a plan-ok! haha) I started doing the difficult work first, and not caring if my life was a little disheveled and unplanned. I found things straightened themselves out for the most part, and I didn't really forget as much as I thought I would.

I realized I needed to let go of controlling little things, in order to have the mental bandwidth to care and execute on the big things. Are you sabotaging your own effectiveness because of your concern for the minutia of life? Let's actually not do that anymore ;)

 Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all. — Peter Drucker

Integrity not optional

To be a successful leader you must have integrity. If there are cracks in your foundation you won’t last long. The higher and longer you build, the wider those cracks become until they are glaringly apparent to you and everyone else. A small inconsistency or underhanded behavior will become a massive issue as others are now scrutinizing your actions and mimicking your behavior.

Those you lead will only follow if they trust and respect you. If you lack integrity, you will quickly lose the trust of your followers and then you will lose them.  If there's no one left to lead, you're no longer a leader. 

Are you willing to do the work?

Social skills- you’ve either got them or you don’t. You can talk to anyone with that million dollar smile and charismatic charm, or you mumble your way through life with your head down.

Or at least thats what we thought… we thought it was something you were born with, something like body structure or eye color. But the truth is, those who work hard consistently win out over those who are just naturally talented.

Social skills are exactly that. Skills. They can be practiced and learned much like anything else. You can teach yourself how to think about people, how to  present yourself, how to speak well, ask good questions, be tactful and avoid awkwardness. With effort you can develop an irresistible personality, and it's really only a question of whether you're willing to work at it.

"You carry yourself well" What does that even mean?

"Carrying yourself well" Seems rather ambiguous but it's really just the physical manifestation of inner confidence; Head held high, looking people in the eyes, speaking clearly, and smiling brightly. Quite honestly, your body language impacts how people view you much more than what you say.

Perhaps in your next interaction, you should worry less about what you’re saying and take time to consider how you present yourself.

Given one day, what would you do?

You are given a day in your life. Just one. That's all you get. You can do anything, say anything, and be anything. Use your imagination.

Some people given that one day will go to exotic locations and have amazing experiences. They will pack into that one day as many happy and wonderful things they can think of. They will entertain themselves, and amaze themselves and do and see everything they've ever dreamed of.

While others would take that same day to...

To say the things that have never been said, to give whatever they could, to invent, to love, to impact. And to forever change the lives of those around them.

And how would you use that day?

Circling back

Has someone offered  you advice recently? If a colleague has spent time coaching you or giving you solutions to a problem, the best way to thank him is to circle back. Let him know how you took his advice, what happened from it, and what you accomplished. if you show him that you followed through and his words made a difference, he will be quite pleased to continue providing wisdom because he's able to see the value he provided.

A simple "thank you" is easy enough, but remember to also show proof that what he did actually helped you

Leading up

When you “lead up” you haven’t been given the title, the permission or the responsibility to lead. What you’ve done is you’ve taken initiative. You have voluntarily shouldered the responsibility, and you’ve given yourself the permission. You lead regardless of whether it’s your job.

Leading isn’t easy or fun. But you do it anyways. Not for recognition or rapport. But for those people that need you to step up. For the work that needs your expertise. And for yourself so at the end of the day, you know you gave the best you were capable of.

You lead because that’s who you are, whether your business card says it or not.

You are a leader

Just Be

Don’t wait for others to accept or acknowledge who you are. Don’t look to others to define your worth, to tell you that you have value and something to contribute.

Don't allow "them" to define how funny, clever or beautiful you are.

Just be.

Be funny, be beautiful.

Know you’re value, and give yourself permission to be more than others say you can be.

Don't fool yourself

Part 1. "Be brutally honest with your present circumstances and wildly unrealistic about your future."Thanks to Jon Acuff for this quote that I've been thinking about. I want to break it down into two parts. The second part will come later this week.

"Be brutally honest about your present circumstances:"

We can all agree that if we don’t know our present circumstances it would be difficult to change them. Unfortunately, we can easily practice self deception where we fool ourselves into believing we're better than we actually are, and lull ourselves into a false sense of security. This is harmful because not only do we not have a clear picture of where we actually are, we also aren't motivated to change because we've convinced ourselves that everything is pretty much okay.  This is dangerous. Change happens only once you recognize there's a problem, that's the first step. So don't lie to yourself, the only person it hurts is you.

Don't rationalize your dreams

Part 2. "Be brutally honest with your present circumstances and wildly unrealistic about your future."

Thanks to Jon Acuff for this quote that I've been thinking about.

"Be wildly unrealistic about your future. "

We've been taught not to dream too big, not to expect to ever be more than what we already are. We plan and "dream" about having a good corporate job but wouldn't dare to think we could be anything beyond that.

The truth is, we are capable of much more than we allow ourselves think. We can reach seemingly impossible goals, and fulfill our dreams. It will take a lot to get there, but it's possible. "Anything's possible"

But greatness doesn't happen by chance.  It is chased, and planned for and dreamed about.

If you never try to get there or even THINK of getting there, you certainly won’t. So be honest about where you are at presently, but dream big about where you can be.

We have to allow ourselves to dream

What we have to learn to do is separate ourselves from our present circumstances and where we want to be. We have to isolate our dreams and realize it will take a lot of work to get there, but it is possible for us to do amazing things.

If you never dream big, then you have most DEFINITELY cut yourself off from ever doing anything big.

Done in a day

You won't get everything done today. Is that frustrating? Here’s the thing, once you get everything done, there is no use for you to even be alive! Once we finish everything we set out to do, unless we start something else, we're useless.

My point is not to worry that we'll become useless; we naturally add things to our list and start new projects once we have completed others, so I'm not concerned that we'll run out of things to do. But to those of us who are frantically trying to finish everything before the end of the day. I ask:

To what purpose?

Why do you want to get EVERYTHING done? If you actually succeeded at that, then tomorrow what would you do?

When I ask myself that question, I don't have a satisfying answer.

So my suggestion is: we need to re-orient our end of day goal. It shouldn’t be to get everything we can possibly think of done. Instead it should be to move our work and relationships forward to a place where we've made progress and it's a good stopping point.

Never fear, we will complete things, but most will take more than a day, so we need to stop thinking we can get everything done in a day and then beating ourselves up because we didn’t get there!

Ignore the rest

Schedule your priorities, don’t prioritize your schedule.

There's just too much to do. There will always be lots of opportunities, fun events going on and menial tasks to do. There's always another room to vacuum, another email to send, another networking event to attend. But we need to be doing those things that are important and ignore the rest.

We need to consciously avoid spending time on things that aren’t furthering our goals.

We all complain about not enough time, not enough energy and too much to do. Well the solution is simple. Do less.

That doesn’t mean you stop being as effective, that just means you channel the limited amount of time and energy you have into the most important things. You can still be just as effective in a smaller range of activities and projects.

A scary place to sit

If you're competent with something you should move on. If you aren’t feeling discomfort and uncertainty with what you're doing, then most likely you should be doing something more difficult. Competence is nice, but a scary place to sit. You are capable of more than that. You should always be moving forward, and if you stop too long to enjoy competence, then you stop growing. On the other hand, discomfort and unfamiliarity is where you grow the most. You should (within reason) seek out that feeling of discomfort because it is stretching you.

And when you are stretched; when you do more than you’ve ever done, and better than you’ve ever done, thats where you will feel achievement and success