The calling to embark on a new path, dive into the unknown, or take the chance to let our talents shine can reveal itself in many different ways in our life.
The metaphorical ring of the phone or knock at the door is just a reminder that we are capable of so much more.
Below the surface, we know it, but at times our default setting is to ignore this calling, push it aside, bury it, or flat out refuse to accept or acknowledge it.
And most often, it is because of fear.
And ‘What ifs…..’
However, resisting this calling only leads to more knocks at the door and rings of the phone. Or worse, it can catapult us into a life of regret for never having had the courage to take a chance.
What if I had only taken the chance to ________? You fill in the blank…
I have a long lost friend, an amazing golfer, who took the chance this year to try to qualify for the US Senior Open Championship. A bold and courageous effort to follow a dream. An unexpected car accident cut short his attempt to qualify. But that’s not the point.
Fear was conquered.
I have another friend who is in the transition of changing careers. It’s scary for him, but he’s doubling down on what he needs to do to make it happen.
Fear is being conquered.
I have yet another friend who recently took the chance to apply for a senior leadership position in her organization. She let her gifts and talents shine in the interview process. She won the position and will no doubt deeply impact those who she serves in her upcoming role. She knows she will be challenged. She knows it will not be easy. There is an element of fear there, but she is willing to face it full on to overcome it.
Fear will be conquered.
Stories of overcoming fear are all around us.
What is your story with fear?
How often do you hear the internal knock at the door or ring of the phone reminding you that you are meant to do, try or be more in your life?
What do you do with that reminder?
To what extent do you challenge yourself to tackle this calling?
After all, it's just one leap away. Keep the light on folks. Don’t stop believing.
Thanks for reading.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said that, “Every single human has a violent civil war raging within”.
He also believed that through this internal conflict we learn to grapple with our good and bad impulses, our ambitions and principles, and ultimately our quest to become more in life.
Our quest to become more is deeply commendable. But, as Mr. King stated decades ago, the greatest war that resides within is whether or not we actually have the desire and energy to put in the internal work needed to become the best version of ourselves possible. That is the hardest work there is, thus his comment about a civil war raging within.
Doing this internal work requires taking a hard and honest look at ourselves, our life, our relationships, our routines, and the default settings that get in the way of becoming our best selves.
It is through this internal work that we strengthen our ability to win the civil war that rages within us. Maximizing the impact we have in the world and on the people around us depends on winning this civil war.
As each human life is extremely unique, the internal work needed is very contextual and deeply personal in nature. The battles we face vary greatly and come in many different forms. But, taking on this intense challenge is one of the most noble pursuits there is.
What civil war might be raging within you?
To what extent are you putting in the time and energy needed to address this metaphorical civil war?
Important questions to consider when trying to become the best version of ourselves possible.
Thanks for reading.
The old story...........
What is that story you tell yourself?
As you plough through every day life, what is the predominant narrative that dictates your journey?
Does that story honor who you are and the gifts you bring?
It's easy to get so caught up in our own narrative that we fail to recognize the strengths we bring to the world. Therefore......... way too much of a delay in bringing out the really good stuff.
What are you gifted with? How do you shine? How do you make your own difference in the world?
We all have talents. And, so many strengths that reside within.
Our world needs to see as much of that as possible.
So, let it illuminate.......
Thanks for reading.
In Ryan Holiday’s fantastic read Stillness is the Key, he takes aim at the importance of focus as a life skill that we all need to better develop within ourselves. By allowing more stillness in our life, we are able to improve our ability to filter out the inconsequential from the essential.
Our ability to identify and take hold of the essential provides us with a clearer lens through which to see our life. And in having this clear vision, we can live with much more intentionality and precision.
It is very easy to be bogged down by the inconsequential in our life.
The inconsequential tomorrow may turn into the essential a few days down the road, but being present, in this moment, allows us to determine what is absolutely essential in our life now and build our actions around this lever.
It’s about prioritizing our actions based on what is essential and forgetting everything else. Especially our inner doubt, judgement, criticism, and fear, for it is these things which command far too much of our attention when we let them take control.
Stillness allows us to access our inner capacity to thrive and to scan for the evidence of past success. This is an essential life skill to possess. Stillness allows us to make inconsequential our negative inner narrative and replace it with the essentials needed to thrive.
By not giving command to our self-doubt, we eventually lessen the impact it has, making it all but inconsequential in our life. However, this whole journey begins with stillness and building our ability to filter out the inconsequential from the essential.
Try more stillness in your life to help create the time and space needed to sit with these ideas.
Where do you fall on the spectrum of knowing or not knowing the difference between the inconsequential and the essential?
And how do you structure your daily actions around knowing the difference between the two?
Thanks for reading.
According to Simon Sinek, great leaders need to have empathy and perspective, but based on his experiences, he believes that many leaders are oftentimes so concerned with their own status or position in the organization that they actually forget what their real job is.
As Simon says, the real job of leadership is not about being ‘in charge’ but rather ‘taking care of those who are in our charge’.
Simon has found many of the leaders he works with, who are at the top of their organization, say that everything they do is about their clients.
Although this is important, Simon is quick to point out that many of these leaders have actually spent very little or no time at all with clients themselves.
It is the people in charge of clients who actually do the important work. So, leaders must prioritize taking care of these people, so that they can do the very best work possible when working with clients (or customers or students).
To this end, Sinek points out that many leaders need a reality check, from time to time, as a reminder about what their real role is. When leaders shift the focus away from themselves in order to prioritize taking care of those who are in their charge, they plant the seeds for deep impact in their organization.
As I reflect on my own leadership role and the leader that I aspire to be, Simon's work is critically important to my own development.
For any leader reading this, what about you and your role?
How do you ensure that you are taking care of those who are in your charge?
How do you hold yourself accountable to help them be their best?
Thanks for reading.
Everyone wants to experience happiness in their lives. As if a point on a map, we metaphorically pack our bags and set off on our own journey to reach that destination. Along the way, we can get sidetracked, distracted and oftentimes thrown way off course in our own pursuit of happiness.
With all of life’s complexities and uncertainties, it is impossible to swim in happiness every second of our waking lives. Yet, even in knowing this, we can let ourselves feel overwhelmed, inadequate, and in our constant pursuit of happiness as a destination, we lose sight of the fact that it is actually a state of mind. It's a process not a destination.
Here are three things to consider as you explore the theme of happiness in your own life:
1) Research shows that the people who experience more fulfillment in their lives are the ones who develop a strong understanding that they need to let go of the urgency to feel happy all the time.
These people accept the ups and downs that naturally come with life. They do not push negative feelings away or attempt to numb them, but instead, they learn to appreciate them as part who they are.
To what extent do you allow yourself to sit with negative emotions and understand that these feelings are a natural part of life?
2) Developing deeper curiosity about ourselves and others can open our mind to possibilities. Research has shown that by better understanding the narratives of others, we see different life perspectives.
By expanding our curiosity and learning about others, we have a different lens through which to view our own lives. And with this learning can come even more curiosity about our own lives and what may be possible.
To what extent do you choose to deliberately pay attention to the narratives of other people in your life?
How often do you ask questions to better understand others and their own perspectives and experiences?
3) Neuroscience research has also shown that the act of creating a daily clear goals list is a huge step forward in developing more motivation in our life.
With more motivation comes more fulfillment.
To take it even further, writing down our daily clear goals list (for the next day) before we go to bed not only helps us sleep better, it puts us in a position to not waste any time the following morning deciding what we need to tackle first in our day. As the list is already made, we can jump into action right away.
To what extent do you have very clear, intentional daily goals in your life?
How do you record these goals to create more of a sense of accountability in your life?
Some food for thought as you think about your own life and what happiness and fulfillment means to you based on your own unique context. We all have the ability to design certain conditions in our life that can support the development of our own happiness and fulfillment.
Thanks for reading.
World-renowned trust expert Charles Feltman states that the definition of trust is choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person's actions.
The evidence clearly shows that leaders who make themselves vulnerable build a stronger team culture at work. According to best-selling author Brene Brown:
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity. It is the path to finding more meaning and fulfillment in our lives.”
Leaders who make themselves vulnerable model that it is OK for their people to do the same. In letting other people see parts of us that may be fragile, we put great trust in others to not hurt us or take advantage of us. There is a natural risk that comes with vulnerability.
Vulnerability is not just pouring emotions out. And it is certainly not about blaming others, being disrespectful, or saying whatever we want.
Vulnerability is about owning our own emotions and having the courage to expose to others how we are really feeling.
When someone has the courage to make themselves vulnerable, we have a tremendous responsibility to acknowledge what they are saying. This is never more true than for leaders.
Vulnerability met with silence is a killer, especially in the workplace. It is a sure-fire way to destroy trust, hurt morale, and crush motivation.
People can often be uncomfortable when another person makes themselves vulnerable in their presence. It can lead to not knowing what to say in response. Even though it may be difficult, we must always respond. If it's too tough for you to respond then try these nine simple words:
“Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts with me.”
If we cannot bring ourselves to engage in deeper conversation with the person, then at minimum, using those nine words at least acknowledges the vulnerability shown by the other person.
If you are a leader reading this, how do you respond when the people you lead make themselves vulnerable?
To what extent do you acknowledge the person's vulnerability?
Do you meet their vulnerability with silence or do you invest more deeply in understanding their perspective?
How are you modeling vulnerability yourself?
Important questions to reflect on as you think about your impact.
Thanks for reading.
We all have a need to feel valued, seen, heard, and a part of something bigger than just us. Evidence clearly shows that building strong relationships is pivotal to the success of any organization. Most people understand this.
But, how often is action actually taken to achieve it?
As much as we all want to feel valued, be seen, be heard, and feel a sense of belonging, to what extent are we:
-Listening to others
-Helping others feel a deeper sense of belonging
It’s easy to get caught up in our own needs at time, but every great organization has an established culture of building strong relationships that are reciprocal in nature.
At the core of these types of organizations, all stakeholders feel that:
As important as it is to feel valued, we value others.
As important as it is to be seen, we see others.
As important as it is to be heard, we listen to others.
As important as it is to belong, we create a sense of belonging for others.
Leaders play a huge role in modeling this behavior. They must be exemplary in their actions so that others follow suit. In creating these conditions, their organizations will thrive on multiple different levels.
Thanks for reading.
Trying to navigate the space between average and great can be a hugely difficult undertaking when it comes to our own growth and learning. It can be so much easier to take the safer option which is to not change, not grow, not learn, and not develop ourselves. Especially when we are already doing pretty decent work to begin with.
As Seth Godin says though:
“On average, every population is dull. Individually and collectively, the slide toward average sands off all of the interesting edges, destroys energy, interest, and possibility.”
With each passing week, month and year comes the opportunity to seek deeper fulfillment in our lives. Some people tackle this challenge with ferocity while others do not.
If we are to do work that matters, staying still will never get us to where we want to be.
To some that may be deeply personal work that helps them to overcome certain demons in their lives that stand in the way of their well-being.
To others that may be up-skilling themselves to get the promotion they are seeking.
And to others, it might be taking the chance to seek the feedback needed to genuinely grow and learn within their own professional role at work.
Whatever it is, sliding toward average will never lead to growth which, in turn, will never lead to deeper fulfillment.
As you are reading this, reflect on your own life.
Are you sliding toward average or creeping toward great?
How do you know?
What evidence do you have?
And what are the next steps needed to turn the needle consistently toward great?
Thanks for reading.
There is no doubt that strong and effective leadership focuses their efforts on inspiring employees to be genuinely engaged and deeply motivated at work.
By continually improving workplace culture and planting the seeds for ongoing professional growth, great leaders are able to retain talented individuals. Doing so, without question, helps to promote the health and success of their organization. But this is so much easier said than done.
I was recently speaking to a person who leads a small organization. This leader is relatively new to the organization, but has doubled down on their efforts to better understand how to create a more vibrant workplace culture for their people.
This person has also acknowledged that because their organization is relatively small, it is oftentimes seen, by the employees, as a stepping stone to bigger, more established places of employment.
The fact that they often lose employees after only a year or two makes it very challenging to take their organization to the next level.
In knowing this, they have fully committed themselves to building the very best environment possible for professional learning and growth.
They want to be able to proudly say:
"Although we are a small organization, we are going to offer our employees an amazing professional learning environment that will allow them to thrive and flourish while employed here.
Our hope is that by providing this type of professional learning environment, our employees will not only deepen their own skillset, but if we get it right, they may choose to stay put rather than move on to other organizations."
This leader understands that it's their responsibility to do whatever it takes to create this type of culture and they are willing to invest the needed time and energy into making it happen.
Great leaders know what is within their own internal locus of control and what is not. And they are always willing to be courageously bold in their efforts to lead their organizations in authentic and sustainable ways.
These types of leaders create a lasting impact on their organizations which is evidenced by higher rates of staff retention. Although some employees may still move on, they will more than likely leave feeling as though they contributed something special to the organization and will have very positive things to say to others about their time there.
There is nothing more powerful for future recruiting than this.
If you are a leader reading this, how do you ensure that you are continually planting the seeds for professional fulfillment within your organization.
Thanks for reading.
KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.