Leadership Advance

Leadership Thoughts for Life Long Learners

Archive for the tag “Personal Leadership”

Self Fulfillment vs. Self Development

I was reading John Maxwell book, “15  Invaluable Laws of Growth” and was deeply impacted by what he stated in the Law of Contribution.  Maxwell differentiates the difference in living a life focused on Self Fulfillment vs a life focused on Self Development.

Self Fulfillment – thinks of how something serves me.

Self Development – thinks of how something helps me to serve others.

Self Fulfillment – feeling good is the product.

Self Development- feeling good is the by-product.

I do not know any leader that would not list one of the goals of their lives as desiring a feeling of self fulfillment.  Yet, according to these definitions we realize that living with the focus of self development is a much deeper and generous claim.  I have no doubt fallen into the trap of desiring self fulfillment at different times in my life.  Yet, when self fulfillment becomes the goal it sabotages the culture you work in.  The insinuation is that there is a defining moment when we arrive.  The moment we think we have arrived we begin to lose our grip on the progress we have made.  When self development becomes the aim, we never buy in to the mindset that there is some elusive “arrival” and we focus on consistently getting better as we progress forward.

 

 

Inspire Me!!!!

Motivation can not be taught, it can only be inspired.  For this reason, I would rather have one individual that is internally motivated with little experience over ten professionals that lack drive.  The world in which we live is filled with people that promise 10 step plans to motivate those who refuse to be motivated. Additionally, companies spend large percentages of profit for the sole purpose of keeping a sales force motivated, and on and on the cycle goes.

I am convinced the problem is not a lack of motivation, but a lack of inspiring work.  People desire to be game changers.  They desire their life as well as their work to matter…. to somehow make a difference.  The desire to matter does not come from some external ideology or corporate tag line, but rather it is born in each of us from the day we take our first breath until the moment we take our last.  It is something internal, not external.  Motivation is temporary, Inspiration is eternal.

Many leaders have bought into the idea that you can somehow motivate inspiration!  They do this by rallying the troops and pushing people to limits far beyond any healthy boundaries all for the sake of desiring something inspiring to happen. This has created a culture of hype, with little substance or meaning. The product of trying to motivate inspiration is do more, be more, try harder.  This leaves people feeling inadequate and under an elusive goal that always seems to never be achievable.

A much better way to approach people is not by pushing or even pulling them, but rather by inspiring them to something greater.  Nothing pulls people out of mediocrity quicker than the inspiration found through the recognition of our meaningfulness in the grand scheme of the greater story!  Possibly a better approach to loyalty and motivation would be to inspire people rather than demand from them.  In what ways have you communicated their significance in the story of life change?  The world doesn’t need another manager trying to motivate.  The world needs a leader willing to take a risk and live life on an adventure that could possibly change the world forever!  When a leader does this, they will not have to demand allegiance or motivation, they will have to turn people away from desiring to be a part of the meaningful story that is being written.

You Are A Magnet

Your life is a culmination of things and people that you were or are 1) attracted to or 2) attracted to you. Look around, what do you see? Who do you see? It is difficult for us to admit the truth, we are who we are, not what we want to be. Leaders are magnets. We attract people to us personally before anyone ever buys into our vision. One of the largest mistakes a leader can make is to invest all of their energy into crafting a compelling vision, yet never discover or identify who they are and who they are not first. As a leader you must recognize what kind of person you need to attract to make the vision a reality. When you know who you need to attract, you can then begin to identify what kind of leader you need to be to attract those people. Leadership is more about WHO you are rather than WHAT you do. Your presence as a leader is attracting someone or something to your organization or team. If you are filled with drama, guess what? Your organization will have drama. If you are passionate you will attract passionate people. If you are creative you will attract creative people and so on……. So, Who are you? Look around. Evaluate your DNA as a leader. Recognize what areas you need to work on personally to move the vision closer to reality. The only way to change who you attract is to change who you are.

Are You An Oddball?

Why do we find it offensive when someone describes us as a little bit different? First of all I am very grateful that we are all unique in our own way. Your uniqueness is what makes you an original, something that is rare and of high value. Personally, I think we should embrace our oddity. The reason we should embrace our oddity is because too many individuals spend their lives trying to fit a specific mold they have convinced themselves they have to fit. When I consider the good leaders that I have been blessed to work with I recognize that they were anything but “normal”. As a matter of fact, those who spend their lives trying to be “normal” discover at the end of their lives that they have very little to show for themselves. The reason we have heard of leaders from a variety of fields such as Ronald Reagan, Steve Jobs, Kobe Bryant… etc is simply because their level of risk or discipline or ingenuity is just simply not normal. If any of these individuals would have embraced and pursued being “normal” as opposed to the oddity that made them who they were, we probably would have never heard of them. I have decided, maybe I am slightly odd. I’m ok with that. My oddity makes me unique. My uniqueness makes me valuable. At the end of the day, I can live with that and you should too.

Be Aware

If I were honest with myself I would conclude that I miss more than I get. One of the fundamental practices of ensuring we get the most out of everything is to be more fully aware in the moment. Rarely is piling more action items on the calendar the solution to seeing better results. If we could eliminate action items, or even keep the same items, yet be more aware and in tune with what is going on in the moment we could capitalize on the opportunity which is right in front of us. I have met far too many individuals that are so concerned about missing the “next big thing” that their lack of awareness concerning opportunity right in front of them never materializes. Being more aware does not happen accidentally; it must be intentional. Awareness requires you to listen more than you speak. It requires you to observe your surroundings rather than ignore them. It just might be that the key to a better future has been right in front of you all along, you just missed it.

Do Not Try Harder

Curiosity is a value that opens new worlds to us.  New experiences, challenges and opportunities await you when you develop the art of curiosity.  I enjoy the familiar and comfortable as much as anyone else, but I have worked to incorporate into my life intentional curiosity.  It was this curiosity which led me to decide to try to run a Marathon last year.  If I were to ask what my motivation for signing up for this Marathon was, I would have to say it was the simple answer of curiosity.  What if I tried and succeeded?  What if I was a natural talent?  What if I fell in love with running?  I would never know unless I tried.

While I have always been in pretty good shape and had even maintained a disciplined exercise routine the year or two prior to signing up for the Marathon, I really did not recognize what I was about to dive into.  It became glaringly obvious that you do not just decide to try to run a Marathon one day.  You can’t just wake up one morning and decide you are going to try to run 26.2 miles in hopes that you will discover you are a natural at it and will fall in love with it. In my experience, people that wake up and try such feats usually end up never accomplishing what they set out to do, or worse, they injure themselves, sometimes permanently.  This is why I say that trying is not good enough!  Even saying you will try harder next time is not going to advance you.  The answer comes in the form of Training, not Trying.

The transition from Trying to Training separates the novice from the elite.  While it is true, there are some things in life that we pick up one day and try, only to discover we have natural talent. Nobody ever became great at something just because they tried it one day and found they had natural talent.  Natural Talent must embrace the philosophy of Training for it to ever produce sustainable and unnatural results.

I wonder how your life would change if you embraced the mindset of training rather than trying?  What if every new experience was not viewed as just something you are trying, but a real life laboratory from which you could learn lessons to prepare you in life for the future?  I wonder how your business or organization would transform if you did not just approach each day by trying harder, but rather focused on lessons presented to you each day so you could progressively become better?

The beauty of viewing each day as a day to Train as opposed to a day to Try is that trying harder will eventually cause you to lose your energy and you will burnout. Training takes each day in stride and you recognize the value of bad days and good days, because each day is a day to learn something which can be applied to your tomorrow to create a better world.  I challenge you as a leader to not try harder, but Train Better!  Oh, and just in case you were wondering….. I completed my first full Marathon in 4 hours and 38 minutes and have already signed up for another one this fall with a goal of doing better based on my training, not trying.

 

4 Steps to Produce More

I desire to produce more!  This statement is one that I hear continually.  The very nature of leadership itself moves you to desire to operate at a higher level; to see more results; to produce at a greater rate.  Several observations must be considered if greater production is what we desire.

First, greater output will require greater input.  You can only give what you have.  While this may seem basic, this very concept is where many leaders hit a ceiling in their effectiveness.  When we desire to produce at a greater level, we must begin by looking at the input of our lives first.  What personal plan do you have in place to increase the level of input you receive?  What blogs/books do you read?  What people do you spend time with?  Whose voice do you listen to the most? When was the last time you intentionally listened to something new? The answer to these questions will help you to determine whether the current level of input is sufficient for the output you desire.

Secondly, greater output will require a greater capacity!  Your ability to increase your learning capacity will determine your ability to be more.  Two vehicles may get the same miles per gallon, but the vehicle with the larger gas tank will go further!  Your capacity is therefore directly linked to your ability.  The good news is that all of us have the ability to expand our capacity as leaders, which leads me to my third point.

Third, expanding our capacity as a leader will require us to grow.  The only way you can expand your capacity is if you are willing to stretch yourself and grow.  Play it safe leaders rarely operate at the capacity they are capable of because they are always concerned about the question, What if?  What if it falls apart?  What if I fail?  What if I don’t like the new reality?  Too many leaders have allowed their growth to be stunted out of the fear of what if?

Last, a new expanded capacity presents a new reality.  The leader that expands his capacity will have to learn to grow into his new reality, thereby producing more.  The longer the leader fails to internalize growth into his DNA after being stretched, the greater the risk the leader will never grow.

 

Progression of Accomplishment

Accomplishment is so tricky because it largely depends on what the definition of accomplishment is.  I think this is one reason why so many times leaders gravitate towards setting goals and sticking to them with- laser like focus.  When we set goals which are very clear there is little question as to whether or not we have actually accomplished what we have set out to do.  The very nature of leadership is one of movement and progress, whether it be personally, organizationally or in most instances all of the above.  While this is not supposed to be an exhaustive list, I wanted to share a few things to consider to aid you in accomplishing whatever it is you set out to do .  The simple words which come to my mind are WHAT, WHY, HOW and WHO.  If the leader can answer these questions they will progress towards their desired accomplishment.

  • What? – If the leader can not identify what needs to be accomplished, it will never happen.  The old saying goes like this, “The most accurate individual in the world is the one that never aims at anything.”  Clearly define what needs to happen either personally or organizationally and articulate it.  The simple act of articulating what needs to happen releases incredible momentum towards accomplishing the task.  If using the analogy of a road trip, asking what is like making the decision of where you would like to go.
  • Why?  When the leader knows what needs to happen, they must then answer the question of why it needs to happen.  Asking why will not only create buy-in towards the needed change, but it will also create urgency for the task.  Why is a question of purpose and purpose brings clarity to you and those you lead.  Clearly communicate the purpose for the task and it will instill motivation towards accomplishing the goal. Going back to the analogy of a road trip, asking why is the equivalent of determining the incredible things about the destination you have chosen to visit which you are not part of your current reality.
  • How? How is a question of strategy.  The leader may know what must be done and even have an incredible urgency surrounding why it must be done as it ties back to purpose yet, if the leader lacks a strategy or plan to achieve the task it will fail. Developing a strategic plan separates the dreamers from the doers.  How forces us to move from theory to implementation.  If what is the destination and why is the reason for the road trip, how is choosing the highway or road that you will take to get where you are going all while keeping your resources in mind.  If you choose the wrong road you could run out of resources before ever getting to your destination.
  • Who?  Who forces us determine what kind of leader we need to be to realize the task before us.  Strategy, Purpose and Goals mean nothing if the leader is not mentally, emotionally and physically equipped for the road ahead.  While many leaders can begin noble causes,  only those who have asked the tough question of who will come out the other side mentally, emotionally and physically intact.  Imagine for a moment that you spent hours determining where you wanted to go and why you wanted to go there.  Then, once you have invested yourself into where and why, you spend valuable time finding out how your going to get there.  It would only make sense that for this type of road trip to be successful would require a captain, or a driver that has experience on long road trips.  Answering the question of who you need to be before you take the trip could save you a lot of pain in the middle of your journey.

As a leader, WHAT needs to happen?  WHY does it need to happen?  HOW is it going to happen? Lastly, WHO do you need to become to see it happen?  Now, go and accomplish it.

 

Backwards Living

Have you ever starting viewing a football game in the third quarter?  While I love watching football, regardless of the quarter, I understand that at the end of the day all that matters is whether the final score shows that your team scored more or fewer points than the other team.  If you pick up a game in the third quarter the first question you ask is, what is the score.  The reason you want to know what the score is in the third quarter is because it gives you a glimpse as to what happened in the first two quarters and helps bring you up to speed on the game.

When a leader considers their life, or the life of their organization, it is critical for them to learn the skill of backwards living.  What I mean by this is simply the results you desire do not automatically transpire, but the results at the end are a culmination of the choices you made and the things you did in the ensuing years prior.  The final score of a football game is not determined in the last minute of the game, but it is a culmination of everything that happened throughout all four quarters. As a leader the trajectory of your life today will determine the destination you arrive at tomorrow.

Stephen Covey made this principle famous in his book entitled, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.  The habit Covey identified is called, Beginning With the End in Mind, or as I am calling it, backwards living.  If the leader desires to put this principle into practice they must begin by clearly identifying what they desire the results to be before they ever begin their journey.  When we have knowledge of where we are going, we must then be able to clearly identify our present reality.   Just as a GPS in your car needs an ending point (results) as well as a starting point (reality) to give clear directions, the leader must determine both if they desire to make forward progress.

In my experience, forward progress is stunted when either the present reality or the desired results are not clearly articulated.  It is only when we know who and where we are and who we want to become and where we want to go are clearly defined that we begin to make forward progress.  When we can identify where we need to be, it helps us measure any incremental progress we make towards meeting our goal and it gives us the opportunity to celebrate the progress along the way.

So, where are you?  Or maybe a better question would be, Who are you?  Once you determine this you can begin to ask yourself who you want to become as well as where you want to go?  I am a big proponent of living backwards simply because I have learned that living backwards is proactive, whereas trying to live forward is reactive in nature.  When I live backwards I live with intention, when I live forward I just take what comes to me.

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