Wednesday, May 25, 2011
only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.
And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle.
As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.“
~ Steve Jobs
Over the years I have had the chance to coach a number of leaders, most of whom would be considered successful by today's standards-money, image, power, influence, and toys. But not all of these guys and gals were happy. Regardless of their level of income and stature, the ones who led fulfilled and productive lives had one thing in common:They were clear about what their purpose in life was. Interestingly enough, the ones who didn't seem to be happy or content with their lives all had one thing in common as well: They didn't have a clear, focused purpose in life, they just had a 'job.'
In working with those who were happy in life-the one's who operated out of a single life purpose-I realized that there were five things that characterized their lives and how they operated in life. Here they are:
Each leader was very clear about his or her strengths, non-strengths, values, and life mission. It was clear. If a direction in life or work would move them closer to their mission in life, then they took it. If it didn't...they passed on it. These leaders were able to clearly communicate who they were and where they were going in life and business. They were living life on purpose.
Because of this clarity of purpose in life, these leaders had a conviction and passion that was attractive and intense. They weren't going through life as if it was a trial run. These folks meant business. Their direction was set and there was no second-guessing going on between their ears.
It's been said that all we have in life is time, energy, and money to invest in that which we are committed to. Time is precious, energy is limited, and money is hard to make and keep. These leaders, because of their conviction about their mission and purpose in life, were committed to doing whatever it took to get it done. Their investment of time, energy and money toward their calling in life was apparent. You were either with them, or needed to get out of their way.
Courage is an interesting thing. I've talked to so many leaders who confessed that they didn't pursue a course or passion in life because they were afraid. And because they felt this 'fear,' they felt that they have what it took to make it happen. Courage is not acting in the absence of fear. It's not moving forward because you don't feel afraid. It's doing it in spite of the fear. These folks felt the fear, but their conviction and commitment to their mission in life gave them the courage to pursue it anyway.
After studying the lives of those who live their life "on mission,' I'm convinced that confidence is the inevitable result of living life with a single, focused purpose. Clarity paves the way to conviction. Conviction leads to commitment. Commitment produces courage. Courage, then, breeds confidence.
I was once told that there are three different types of people out there: Those that make things happen, those that watch things happen, and those that wonder what happened. I'm convinced that what separates leaders in these three groups is being clear about what their purpose in life is (clarity), finding out what has to happen to pull-it-off (conviction), and not stopping until you get there (commitment, courage, and confidence).
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Pete had contacted me earlier that week and asked if I would consider taking a select group of men through our process, an 8 week journey in self discovery and revisioning. I had agreed, but after seeing the cars, I was feeling a little insecure. I was afraid that what I had to offer might not meet their expectations, and that kind of embarassment was not something I felt I wanted to deal with. Boy was I wrong.
What I discovered was a group of Jesus-followers who, in spite of their apparent financial and business success, were floundering in life. They had been able to buy pretty-much everything in life they thought would make them happy, and it wasn't enough. Their faith was strong, they gave out of their abundance, attended church faithfully, held positions of leadership in the church, and helped others. Still not enough. These guys had come to the realization that the time, energy and money they had invested throughout their lives in order to achieve a 'successful' life, had turned out to be an empty bag. They felt that there was something inside of them that, for a long time, had been trying to 'bust out,' but they didn't know what it was or how to find it. They felt like they were flying an airplane upside down in a fog bank, but didn't know that they were upside down. Their fear was that, when they came out of the fog, they were going to crash. That's where I came in.
Over that eight week process I was the one who came out with the better end of the deal. I saw men transformed. I saw men drop their facades and find freedom from the entrapment of the cage of success that they had built into their lives. I saw what happens when men start living from a single life purpose. These guys where, up until that time, defined by their business cards, business image, and financial success. By the time we finished, each one was defined by his God-given purpose and mission in life. It was beautiful. These guys helped each other find and focus on each man's God-given purpose, and supported each other in the development of a new life plan.
During the weeks and months after our time together ended, I would have the opportunity to run into these guys at Starbucks or the grocery store and was able to talk to them about the changes that they had made in their lives as a result of what they discovered about themselves. Their relationships were better because they were more at peace with themselves. Most changed the way in which they approached their work. They focused most of their time and energy in the areas of their giftedness, and handed-off the rest to someone else. To a man, each felt more focused, passionate, and clear about what and who they were going to be in the future. They became better parents, helping their kids find and focus on their own mission, and not that of their parents. Money and stuff was still important, but it didn't define them anymore. They actually looked younger and less stressed.
I developed great friendships with these guys. They taught me that success doesn't necessarily mean that a man has his act together. It may just mean that what he thought was going to give him freedom was, in fact, the very thing that entrapped him.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Lessons from Geese
The reason why geese fly in 'V' formation is because as each bird flaps its wings it creates an uplift for the one that follows it. This way the whole flock achieves an extra 71% flying range. Yes…you read that right-71%! When the lead goose tires it drifts back into the formation and another moves to the lead position so that they all benefit from the extra lift. It seems that nature has the perfect model. These birds are working better together than most human groups I have run into…. and they have brains the size of olives.
We innately seem to feel that the best way to succeed at things is simply to work hard at them. However, if we had as much sense as geese, we might understand that there are ways of using our energy to give us greater results which require very little effort. In their "V" formation, for example they put in 29% effort, and get 100% output. If they fly alone they put in 100% effort to get 100% out. But that 100% is dismal compared to the 100% they get flying as a team. I think you get the picture. They are able to expend less energy to get more distance. Because each goose shares the ‘loft’ load, they all get where they want to go using expending less energy.
The relationship between effort and effectiveness
Let’s apply this to people. If each team member was clear about his or her passion, mission, and vision in life and in their career, they would have an ‘innate’ sense of when their best efforts end and the best efforts of others begin. They would naturally pass the baton. Each team member feels the natural energy generated by his or her areas of giftedness, and the proverbial 29% energy expended generates 100% of productivity for the team. If, however, when people work outside of their natural areas of giftedness, the ratio of effort to effectiveness diminishes. This is where the relationship of effort to effectiveness breaks down. Working harder and expending more effort doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be more effective. Effectiveness comes from a team of people (or geese) focused on doing what they are best ‘wired’ to do, and letting others do what they are best ‘wired’ to do.
The role of attitude and willingness
Let’s say that you are the coach of a football team and your star quarterback is injured. One of the nose guards, a player who has a great attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes to win, comes up and offers to fill-in for the quarterback. He has a great team spirit and the willingness to do anything you want him to do, but he doesn’t have the talent or moves of a quarterback. As coach, if you put him in the quarterback position just because of his attitude and willingness…well you know where I’m going. It wouldn’t be a good move for either the team or for him. You’d thank him for his offer, but put in the back-up quarterback. A good attitude and willingness are great character traits. But they are most useful when applied to the deployment of one’s natural giftedness and position within the team.
Here’s the key
The strength of a team is only as strong as its weakest link. If you want ‘effortless efficiency’ within a team, then make sure you have the right people (chemistry) with the right gifts (competency) and the right attitude and willingness (character) on your team.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
A story is told about a dad who took his eight year old son, David, to Disneyland. As they stood on a bridge outside of the Fantasyland Castle, David said, “Dad, I want to talk to the wisest man in the world!” His father said, “Well, that isn’t me, but why do you want to do this?” He discovered that his son had been learning about Solomon in Sunday School that morning, and wanted to learn how to become as powerful, rich, and famous as Solomon.
Seeking a way out, the father noticed a man who seemed to be pleasant and alone in his musing, standing by Snow White’s Wishing Well, not more than twenty feet away. He told his son that this man might be the wisest man in the world, and he should go talk to him. David walked over to him and asked him the question. The man replied, saying that he certainly wasn’t the wisest man in the world, but that he may be able to help.
He said, “I will give you four words.”
First, the man said is Think. “Think about the principles you are going to live by. Principles are rules that will guide you through life. Your principles are the rudder of the ship of your life.”
The second word is Dream. “Dream a big dream in which you play the starring role. What is it that you’ll love doing, that God gave you the talent to do very, very well? That gift becomes the music you were meant to make. It adds a magnificent purpose to your life.”
The third word is Believe. “Believe in yourself. Believe that you are as special as your mom and dad and God all know you to be. Believe in your principles and your dreams. What you believe will be like the wind in your sails, driving you to the distant shore of wisdom.”
The final word is Dare. “Dare, David, to develop your dream, your special vision for a good, useful, and great life, a life that will make a difference. Dare to make it happen. Dare to live your dream. It will be a glorious, happy journey. And when you are wise, you’ll know that there are many kinds of riches that are far more valuable than money, gold, or jewels.”
David listened intently, and he understood all that the man said. He said, “Thank you, Sir. I will remember your four words. May I ask your name so I can tell my dad who you are?”
The man smiled and said, “My name is Walter Elias Disney.”
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
As I was growing up, one of the only remaining chiefs of the Ojibwa (Chippewa) Indian tribe, Paul Buffalo, used to counsel me about life. He was ancient. No one-not even Paul-knew exactly how old he was. We figured that he must have been close to a hundred years old. He used to just hang-out and trade stories for burgers at our family restaurant where I worked as a teenager. I remember how he would point toward the river and deliver bits of Indian wisdom that went way over my young head. It was as if he was planting seeds that would sprout just when I needed them in order to get through certain stages of life. The one I remember most vividly was when Paul compared the Mississippi river to the journey of life.
“When you are young,” he said, “you are like a river that moves fast and reckless, but has little depth. You don’t realize that the reason you feel so strong, focused, and full of energy is because the river banks are high and narrow, keeping the water rushing in one direction. But, later on in life, you will eventually empty into the lake. When that happens, you will slow down as the water moves around the edge of the lake and eventually swirls somewhere into the middle, almost motionless, and without direction. You will seem to be stuck in a deep body of water, sitting almost motionless, for what seems like forever. But, in your own time, you will slowly start to pick up speed, moving with a sense of force and direction as you exit the other side of the lake, once again becoming a rushing river.”
The Lake of Transition
Paul wanted me to understand (between bites of food) that the very same river water that emptied into the lake earlier will once again begin moving. It didn’t disappear. It just slowed down and “went deep” for a period of time. It must have been the look on my 16 year old face, because Paul said, “You’re not getting this, are you? Look. Life will, when you least expect or want it to, empty you into the lake. It will feel like you are lost, swirling, and without direction. But don’t worry because, just like the river, you will start moving again. Not a drop of water will be lost. Even though it will feel like a crisis or something weird, its not."
He said it was a natural time of transition in life and everyone goes through it, but not everyone understands it (evidently, Indians understood it pretty well). "Here’s the deal," he said, "If you get spooked and make knee-jerk decisions during the “lake” times in your life, you will miss one of life’s great opportunities." Even more confused, I said, “Let’s see if I understand this (since I had just learned about “metaphors” in English, I was pretty sure I was on to something here), I’m like the river and for a period of time in my life (probably while I’m young) I will feel pretty focused and productive. Then one day, when I’m not expecting it (probably when I’m my father’s age) I will lose motivation, energy, and feel lost? How can that be one of life’s 'great opportunities'?!?”
Paul was a pretty patient guy. Most Chippewa’s were. Besides that, he was retired and had nothing else to do but fish and eat burgers at our restaurant. He lowered his cup of coffee, looked at me and said, “You won’t get this for another 40 years, but when you get dumped into one of life’s lakes, you will have an opportunity to reinvent yourself. The lake experience is a time of reevaluating your past, present and future, and deciding what you want to be different. If you didn’t get dumped into the lake once in awhile, you wouldn’t take the time to evaluate where your life is going and if you wanted to change directions. You would just keep flowing like a river until you get to the end of your life and then wonder if things could have been different. By that time its too late. That’s why the “lake” experience is a good thing, because it makes you stronger and wiser.”
It was good advice.
Monday, February 14, 2011
- The feeling of Worthiness - This is leaving someone with the feeling that they have value and worth, just by being 'who they are,' and not having to perform for it.
- The feeling of Belongingness - This is leaving someone with the feeling that you enjoy them being in your life, space, or company.
- The feeling of Compentency - This is leaving someone with the feeling that they are good at what they do.
Here's the Key: People who feel worthiness, belongingness or competency feel pleasure and their emotional response is to Approach the source of this pleasure. Think about it. When we talk to someone and leave them with these feelings, they feel emotionally 'well,' and want to approach us! But let's see what happens when we create pain in others...
Pain, or the sense of emotional fear comes from three psychological states:
- The feeling of Weakness - This is the feeling that we can't do what others want us to do.
- The feeling of Deficiency - This is the feeling that we can't be who others want us to be.
- The feeling of Dirtiness - This is a feeling that our motives or actions are shameful.
Here's the Key: People who feel weakness, deficiency or dirtiness feel pain and their emotional response is fear, and the need to avoid the source of that fear. It has been suggested by psychologists that it is emotionally impossible to approach someone who is creating pain in our lives. Sad, isn't it? We can create emotions of fear and pain in someone and don't understand why he or she doesn't want to be around us, even if we're being 'nice' to them later! They don't trust us.
So...how do we become irresistible to virtually everyone we meet? Here are some tips that can help you:
- Realize that you have within your communication the power to create both pleasure and pain in others. You have more influence on people than you might think.
- Realize that people, everywhere, are all looking for the same thing: emotional well-being, regardless of nationality, age, gender, education, wealth or stature.
- Realize that you will get more out of people at work and at home by creating feelings of pleasure. No one has been criticized into success.
- If you are a leader and have to review the performance of others, separate your review sessions into pain sessions and pleasure sessions. Don't combine them by telling them what they are doing well and destroying the mood by adding, 'BUT...' It may take a little more time, but you will gain more in the end. Be kind and sincere in your criticism.
- Don't be fooled into thinking that just because people are 'adults,' that they can 'deal with it.' Pain is not only emotionally harmful to children, but to adults as well; especially if it is accompanied by sarcasm or demeaning comments. Many have left marriages and jobs for this reason alone.
- Look for ways to make people in your life feel the feelings of worthiness, belongingness and competency, and watch how they seem to want to be around you.
- Deal with 'one crime at a time.' When you need to deal with bad or inappropriate behavior, do it quickly, professionally, and leave the person with the feeling that you are there to help them develop as a person or employee. Don't wait until you are frustrated and 'dump' a load of criticism on them. It will feel unfair and they will seek to avoid you.
Some people think they 'shouldn't have to do this,' as if they are pandering to their spouses, children, co-workers or employees. This couldn't be farther from the truth. All in all, learning and practicing the art of being irresistible is a tactic that successful communicators have realized actually helps them in the long-run.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I suggested that her answer was partially right. I also suggested that part of the reason for so many job changes was due to students gearing their college degree to the jobs or industries they think are currently hiring, and after a couple of years on the job, realize its not for them. So they start the search for the career they really should have had to begin with. To add to her confusion, I asked her what she thought her passion was. She didn't know. I asked if she had a sense of mission or vision in her life. Again, she wasn't sure. By this time her father, who had been listening on the sidelines, slowly turned around and walked away. I don't think he could have answered the questions, either.
My recommendation to her was to, as Robert Bly has said, "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive...and go do that, because what the world needs are more people who have come alive." She wasn't sure how one would even discover that information, and if one did...how does that fit into a career?
Good question for a 19 year old. Actually, its a good question for someone of any age. Here's my take on it...
1. Don't choose a career based on the appearance of job availability. About the time you do, it will change and you will have to start from square one.
2. Discover your natural giftedness. It's who you really are. Like John Travolta says, "I'm really a pilot. I do the acting stuff to make money so I can fly."
3. Realize that we dance on two legs. One is making an outlet for your natural gifts to flourish, and the other is to figure out how to make a living, regardless of the economy. If you can make a living through your passion, then by all means do it. Society, however, will not lay out the red carpet and make it easy for you.
4. Life, careers, the marketplace, and the economy will go through dramatic revisions in the next 10 years. Contrary to popular wishes, this country is not going to just bounce-back and have things 'the way they were.'
5. This is a great time to discover who you are and where your value and worth are truly located. Find your passion. Develop your mission. Cast a vision. Fulfill your destiny. All this stuff is within you, and not in the marketplace. Getting another degree may not be the answer.
Dance on both legs. Give the career leg a break and develop some balance. In biblical times, a guy named Paul (the apostle) sewed-up tents in order to make money to do what he was really called to do: Preach the good news, as he called it. Picture a conversation that may have taken place back then:
Observer: "So...You're a tent maker?"
Paul: "No...actually I'm a messenger for the good news of the kingdom of God."
Observer (somewhat confused): "But you're making and mending tents. I don't get it."
Paul: "Well...being an apostle doesn't pay that well..."
I think both John Travolta and Paul the apostle had the right idea. It's worth thinking about....