2020 Vision

Happy New Year! I have a dear friend who lives in the Atlanta area. Each New Year’s Eve I text him at 9:00 PM my time (I live on the west coast). It’s always the same text message, “How does the future look?” This year his answer was a little different. It always says, “The future looks bright!” this year he said, “The future is so bright I’m seeing 2020!” We’re having a lot of fun with 2020 already, aren’t we? Did you catch the Barbara Walters 20/20 montage on New Year’s Eve? “This is 20/20” and “Welcome to 20/20” over an over again. It was pretty clever.

The New Year is a good time to talk about vision. When we talk about Mission, we’re usually talking about what we do. Vision is about why? Vision is about our personal or team or corporate purpose. It’s been said that when you know your “Why,” your “What” becomes more powerful. There is an ancient Proverb that says, “When there is no vision, the people cast off restraint.” It’s saying that absent clear purpose, direction and boundaries, people (individuals, teams, even companies) do whatever they want and that leads to chaos.

What’s Your Why?

I touched on this in a post a couple months ago. But, I want to unpack it a little here. How do you know your purpose, your why? I really like this exercise I learned from John Maxwell’s book Intentional Living. He suggests you can discover your “why” by asking the following questions:

What do you Cry about?

Almost everyone cries about things like the loss of a loved one (human or pet) or a broken relationship. So, the question is not what do you cry about? It’s, what do you cry about? What are the things that uniquely move you to tears? I’m a sap crier, not a sad crier. Don’t get me wrong, I cry about the normal things. But I tend to cry more about things that are moving. My family calls me a sap. So, I had to reverse engineer this to discover that I cry about Ignorance (when people don’t know that things could be better or how to make them better). I also cry about Estrangement (when relationships that should be wonderful are broken). Finally, I cry about Devaluation (I’m not talking about currency here. I’m talking about when people are written off as of having or bringing no value)

What do you Sing about?

Again, the emphasis is on you. What are the specific things that light you up to the point of wanting to sing? I get jazzed about discovery, when I see or help people learn the things that will transform their lives. I also want to sing when there is reconciliation, when those relationships that should be wonderful become wonderful again. Finally, I love it when those who’ve been written off are proven to be worthy. Call it redemption or transformation. I don’t care what we call it, I love it.

What do you Dream about?

This is not the big house, boat, or fancy car conversation. This is about what one thing, if you could change it, would make all the difference for you? I dream about spending the rest of my life launching leaders to live their legend (more about that in another post).

What’s your sweet spot?

What are you great at? It may be natural talent or developed skill, but you’re good at it. Your sweet spot is where your passion (what you cry and sing about), your dream(s) (what you dream about) and your talent and skills intersect. This is where you find your why, your purpose. this is your 2020 vision of who you want to become.

A Final Question

This is the point where you ask “what?” What are you going to do about all this? Dreams are free, everyone has them. The difference between dreamers who just dream and those whose dreams come true is action. Now that you know your why, your what will be more clear and it will certainly have more impact.

What are two things (small or large) you could do in the next week to move you in the direction of your vision? Do those. Happy New Year!

Do the Hard Work Up Front

We got a new puppy the day after Thanksgiving and our lives haven’t been the same since! It’s like having a brand new baby only without the diapers. And this newborn is able to run around. Sleepless nights, constant monitoring to be sure she isn’t into something that can hurt her, teaching her to go potty outside, cleaning up accidents are all things we weren’t doing Thanksgiving Day. Now it is part of our daily routine. Speaking of which, all our routines have changed. My morning routine is disrupted. My wife now has to adjust her day because of the puppy. We all make sure we spend time playing with her. We make sure when she eats, we are nearby to pet her occasionally so she gets used to that and doesn’t become protective of her food.

This isn’t our first rodeo. We’ve had new puppies before. We knew what we were in for, and did it anyway. At first they are such a novelty and so cute, it’s all ooohs and aaahs and fun. Soon it becomes work. There are times when you reminisce about when you had more freedom. This is when many people give up. Suzi was reading to me the other day about a place that rescues Golden Retrievers. I said, “Golden Retrievers! Why would they need rescuing?” They seem like such wonderful pets that I was amazed. She read on that often when people get puppies (of any breed or mix), they enjoy the newness and fun of the puppy, but don’t do the hard work of bonding and training and give up on them because it’s too much.

We’ve learned that when you do the hard work up front, you get a wonderful return on your investment. Your cute little puppy/nuisance becomes a lifelong loving companion/member of the family.

We’ve also learned the same is true of children. We adopted five children and each of them (one set of twins) were an unbelievable amount of work (don’t get me wrong, there’s always fun mixed in with the work) on the front end. We (mostly my amazing mother/wife, Suzi) devoted most of our time and energy in the early years bonding with and training our children. Now, the youngest two are 19, we don’t think about the time and energy that went into their development. We’ve been too busy enjoying them.

The same is true at work. New employees are similar to babies and puppies in a sense. Although they are much easier in many ways, doing the hard work of connecting them to the company/team and training them well on the front end will set them up for success and pay huge dividends down the road.

Have a Happy New Year!

I Blew It!

Have you ever gotten it wrong? Ever blown it? When was the last time you made a decision or acted in a way that turned out to be wrong? It didn’t bring about the desired outcome or it was actually counterproductive. Every one of us has, more than once. Now, when was the last time you acknowledged it? What did you do to acknowledge it? I had to acknowledge a failure last week which involved spelling out what the failure was and apologizing for a negative effect on a co-worker. That’s not fun.

Leaders Do Well to Admit When They Are Wrong

That heading is from a Dale Carnegie white paper called, “Recognizing Leadership Blind Spots.” Here’s an excerpt:

Everyone gets it wrong sometimes. That’s life, and making mistakes is part of it. How we handle situations in which we realize we’re wrong, though, says volumes about what kind of person we are. It takes high levels of honesty, integrity, and courage to admit when you’re wrong. Perhaps that’s why so few leaders do it. More than eight in ten respondents worldwide (81%) said that having a leader who will admit when he or she is wrong is important or very important to inspiring them to give their best efforts at work. Admitting when you are wrong demonstrates that the environment is safe for taking calculated risks, making mistakes and learning from them. And while good leaders will usually make the right calls, even the best will undoubtedly have opportunities to prove their reliability, trustworthiness and integrity by owning their mistakes.

I especially like the part about a safe environment for taking calculated risks, making mistakes and learning from them. John Maxwell says there are two kinds of people in regards to setbacks (mistakes):

  • Splatters; those who hit the bottom, fall apart and stay on the bottom;
  • Bouncers; those who hit rock bottom, pull themselves together, and bounce back up.

Mistakes are not usually fatal. In fact, mistakes are sometimes the best way to learn. Failing forward is how we learned to walk and communicate. We took a step, fell, got back up, took another step, fell, got back up, took two steps …

Different Kinds of Mistakes

Some kinds of mistakes bring a greater learning opportunity than other kinds. Some kinds of mistakes come from things we tried on purpose while others are more accidental. Mindworks.com calls these “Aha moment Mistakes”, “Sloppy Mistakes”, “Stretch Mistakes”, and “High Stakes Mistakes” according to the matrix below:

The lesson here is twofold. First, make sure your failures are not just the sloppy kind. Make sure you are failing because you are trying to find new and better ways to do things. Another quote from John Maxwell sums this up, “Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.”

Second, again, own your mistakes. Analyze what went wrong. Talk about what went wrong with all the stakeholders. If someone was hurt in the process, be sure to apologize for those consequences. Also, and this is very important for creating an environment where your people want to learn and grow, forgive when others make mistakes. Because, we’ve all been there.

LIVE2LEAD

I’ve written several times in this blog about cultivating an atmosphere for growth at work. I wrote directly about the Engager Dynamic called “Cultivate,” for example, in this post. Later the topic was “How to Make a Habit of Cultivating. There are also several posts that discuss personal and professional growth without “cultivate” or “growth” in the title. I’ve marked them with the tag “Growth.” This past weekend I put it into practice. A friend and fellow John Maxwell Team member hosted an event called “LIVE2LEAD: a half-day leader development experience” on Saturday. The event was a recorded rebroadcast of a John Maxwell Academy simulcast event from earlier in the year.

My friend, Arabella Whitlock (Arabellashope.com), was hosting the event and since I’m also a John Maxwell Team member I was not planning to bring any of my work team to prevent the appearance of a conflict of interest even though I receive nothing for attending or bringing anyone. However, a few weeks before the event, one of my co-workers called me to her computer screen and asked me if I had ever heard about what she was looking at. She had the LIVE2LEAD event on her screen and said she would like to attend. At that point I changed my mind and made the event available to everyone on our leadership team at work free of charge to them.

Three people from the team were free on the Saturday and signed up. We met for breakfast beforehand which was a great team building time as well. The event itself was wonderful. Each of us had multiple growth take-aways that will make us better in life and at work. One of our people even won the big door prize (it was the one who first said she wanted to go) which was way cool!

I know Arabella is able to present the event until February 28, 2020. Check out her website above for more information. If you can’t do something like that, let me encourage you to cultivate a growth environment and provide growth opportunities for yourself and your co-workers. Our organizations can only rise to the level of our leadership.

A Rudder and Sail

Many years ago I was in a job I wasn’t sure about and living in a place I didn’t like that much. I was unsure about the future and while apparently feeling a bit melodramatic I wrote this little poem:

 

A cork adrift
Tossed by every wave and gale
“God’s Will,” he smiles
But Oh, for a rudder and sail!

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like life was just happening to you and there wasn’t anything you could do about it? John Maxwell puts it like this, “Most people don’t lead their life, they accept their life.” Sir Ken Robinson says it this way, “Many people spend their entire lives doing things they don’t really care for. They endure their lives and wait for the weekend with no real sense of fulfillment, with a general sense of tolerance for it, or not.”

Live On Purpose

Earlier this week I finished reading a book by John Maxwell called Intentional Living: Choosing a Life that Matters. It’s all about choosing to take certain actions in your life that will lead to what he calls a life of significance. He defines significance as using what you have and what you’ve achieved to add value to other people. Maxwell believes once you’ve tasted significance, success will never again be enough.

I keep all my notes in a program called Evernote. I’ve been doing it for years so there is a lot stored in there. After finishing the book, I started looking through my notes and I ran across something I wrote a year and a half ago. I have reproduced those notes verbatim below. The graphic with this post is something I created in Powerpoint to represent what you will read here.

Quoted Notes

Yesterday (April 5, 2018) I listened to three podcasts that all had a similar theme – being intentional (having goals, living on purpose, etc.). I took this as being from the Lord.

  1. One was by “Z” who wrote “13 things you have to give up to be successful,” It was called “The Ultimate Productivity Cheat Sheet.”
  2. Two were Morris Invest podcasts. One was with David Hoyt who used to work with John Maxwell. It was called “Men and Limiting Beliefs: How to Make a Change.”
  3. The final was with Ken McElroy of Rich Dad renown. It was called “The ABCs of Real Estate Investing.”

David, in particular, sparked this idea. He talked about 10 buckets of life where he works to be intentional. I want to think about it in terms of several (may not be 10) points where my life connects to the world and how I can be intentional there.

Last night I had dinner with Suzi at Baja and asked her about 3 top places she would like to travel. She doesn’t know this was part of me thinking about being intentional as a husband. She said she would like to visit the Holy Land, Sweden, and Peru or Chile or Uruguay or Paraguay.

Follower: My connection to Jesus as a disciple (learner and imitator) – pray, memorize, transformational interaction with others

Husband: My connection to Suzi as a protector, lover (warrior poet) – initiate fun (travel), complete house projects, hear and remember what she says about everything (Focus attention), take a stand for her

Father: My connection to Joshua, Justin, Juliana, Jordan, and Janessa as a teacher and guide and reflector of God’s image – don’t flare up (patience), be fun during work, not preachy but share openly my motivations, advocate for them

Son: My connection to Mom and  Dad as an honorer – more frequent contact

Brother: My connection to Steve and Dan as a friend and supporter (as well as to their children). This extends to Tom and Becky and their families as well – initiate contact, stay up to date on their lives

Friend: My connection to (List) as a rememberer and channel of God’s love – initiate contact to show I’m thinking about them.

Steward: My connection to Wealth as a conduit to my family and the Kingdom – work on new job, engager dynamics, real estate investing

Colleague: My connection to Work as a Listener/Learner/Teacher – Leader – continuous learning about the job at hand (at this writing it is the 3 KP regional projects for Xanitos)

Neighbor: My connection to Community (larger or smaller) as a contributing member/Leader – Community involvement, get to know my neighbors

I have spent most of my life in a passive mode (“A Cork Adrift”). Leaders are prone to taking action. What actions do I need to take to be intentional about strengthening these connections? I need to set some goals for each connection and develop the skills necessary to reach those goals. Each day I must take action on developing these skills and reaching the goals.

The List above has 9 connections. They seem to break down into three levels of closeness (?), Intimate, Immediate, Infinite.

Update

Ten days after writing those notes I published my first Engager Dynamics post and have consistently posted every Monday since. My hope is that some of what I share will be helpful to you. I’ve changed jobs since then. We’ve purchased one rental property. I’ve become a certified John Maxwell speaker, trainer, and coach with a license to train on the DISC model to improve workplace relationships.

We haven’t yet visited any of Suzi’s places but we did make a road trip that was important to her earlier this year. I haven’t done as well on some of the others but I will get better. The point is I do have a rudder and sail and so do you. I hope this encourages you to take action and make a difference in your world.

Coloring Outside the Lines

Now I’m going to sound like I’m contradicting myself from my last post. In that post, I wrote about boundary lines and how important they are for raising children and for employer/employee interactions in the workplace (not to mention on the road during a snow storm). Now I’m writing about “coloring outside the lines.” That phrase is usually associated with creativity and ingenuity. People who color outside the lines are those who break the rules of conventionality, who challenge the norms, and who create new things.

Outside the Lines

We often admire those “outside-the-liners.” Maybe it’s because they display a certain childlike freedom that makes us nostalgic for when we had that. As Pablo Picasso said,

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Children are not afraid to try things because they are not paralyzed by the fear of failure. Children aren’t frozen by perfectionism. Children haven’t been shamed by comparison. These things happen to them (us) when they (we) get older and, sadly, when they (we) go to school. We admire, and, if we’ll admit it, long to be the kind of people described in this lyric from an older song called “Unwritten,”

“I break tradition
Sometimes my tries are outside the lines.
We’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes
But I can’t live that way.”

Natasha Bedingfield

We are also encouraged by authors like Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman who wrote, First Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently. And it’s interesting that the single most watched TED talk of all time is called “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” by Sir Ken Robinson. Then there was Steve Jobs who encouraged us in this video that “Everything in life was made up by people no smarter than you and you can change it,”

Creativity is fun and ingenuity changes our lives. These are wonderful things and I want to display more of them in my life. What concerns me is those of us who think we aren’t creative or can’t come up with new ideas because of barriers we see to what we want to accomplish. We falsely think creativity comes from the absence of restrictions.

The Lines Are Our Friends

My Dad is a retired pastor and an artist. He writes a devotional blog based on different pieces of his art. Check it out and you’ll see that he often describes his art by the size of canvas (restriction), or the medium he’s used to draw or paint (restriction). The colors he uses (restrictions) all come from only three primary colors (restriction) combined in different ways. So, there is a sense in which his creativity is stimulated by the restrictions that exist or that he chooses.

One of our sons is a musician. He writes songs, he sings them, he plays the guitar and the keyboard, and he records them. The interesting thing about his songs, in fact, the interesting thing about every song that has ever been written is that they all have only 12 notes. All musical expression is limited to the 12 notes of the chromatic scale. What a limitation! How can anyone create anything significant with only 12 bits? You get the idea.

The bottom line of one study that looked at 1.7 million corporate award winners was that people who create new value on the job are most often inspired by their constraints. Those constraints may take the form of policies they must follow, procedures they must practice, rules that must be obeyed, or customer demands. The difference between award winning value-adders and everyone else is that they see the constraints as pieces of a puzzle to be figured out, not as road blocks to progress.

Whatever challenge you’re facing right now, don’t look at the 12 notes, or the 3 colors, or the size of your canvas and say “I can’t!” Look at the puzzle and say, “How can I?”

Where Are The Boundary Lines?

Several years ago my wife and I loaded into our mini-van with some other members of her family and drove from where we lived at the time in Normal, IL (it’s a real place!) to Lincoln, Nebraska because our local college basketball team was playing in the first round of the NCAA tournament. We had a great time on the drive over and then watching a couple games.

When we started home later the same night a blizzard hit. We drove most of the way home in white-out conditions. That’s what you call white-knuckle driving. We had to be home for some reason by a certain time the next day so we kept going. In those conditions you can see better with just the parking lights on because they don’t reflect so much light back at you off the blowing snow. Your best friends are the lines on the road, if you can see them. That solid white line on the right tells you where the edge of the road is and the dashed line on the left let’s you know you’re in your lane. When you can’t find the boundary lines, your stress level really goes up.

A Little Off Topic

Last night my wife and I went to Costco for gas and then pulled into the parking lot. I was going to run in for a couple things and get the hot-dog-and-a-coke-for-$1.50 deal for our dinner on the way out. Right after we parked we heard someone screaming. It was a high pitched scream like a child so we quickly looked around worried that some child may be hurt. Then we saw what was happening. A toddler apparently didn’t want to get out of the shopping cart and into the car. He was screaming at and hitting his mom with nearby grandma looking on trying to calm him down.

My wife, who is something of an expert on raising children, was horrified. She’s the one who made the connection between driving when you can’t see the boundary lines and the stress children feel when the boundary lines of behavior aren’t clear. There is security in knowing where the lines are. Under normal conditions the lines aren’t restrictive, they’re safe. “Can you imagine,” she said, “what would happen if everyone just drove wherever they wanted?!” When conditions turn stressful, the lines are a blessing!

To take the analogy a little further, you can’t paint the lines during the snowstorm. They have to be put in place when the weather is good. Teaching children where the boundaries are when everyone is calm and happy is the way to prevent outbursts like what we saw last night. Early, consistent, loving reinforcement is the key. When one of our five children was tired or cranky and tested the boundaries (and they did!), one quick look from Mom was usually all it took to remind them where the lines were. They felt secure in knowing that.

Expand the Truth

The same is true in work relationships between employers and employees. Whether the boundaries are about attendance, workplace behavior, or safety, for example, establish them early and reinforce them consistently. We’re happier and more productive when we feel secure in knowing what’s expected of us.

When we were white-knuckling it back home from Nebraska in that blizzard, you could feel the tension ease when we could see the lines on the road. Then we only had to worry about tail lights suddenly appearing in front of us. But, at least we knew we were safely on the road.

Trust But/And/Or Verify?

During the time leading up to the signing of the INF Treaty in December of 1987, President Ronald Reagan learned a Russian proverb, Doveryai, no proveryai meaning, “Trust but Verify.” He learned it because he knew the Russians liked referring to proverbs and he said it at every nuclear disarmament meeting with the Soviet leader. When he said it again on December 8, 1987 at the signing ceremony, Gorbachev said, “You repeat that at every meeting.” Reagan answered, “I like it.” Mr. Gorbachev had a quote of his own. He quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, who had been popular in the USSR when Gorbachev was in college, saying “The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.”

Which is it? Trust or Verify?

You can’t do both. Think about the definitions of each word and you’ll see they are mutually exclusive. “Trust” means “to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” On the other hand, “Verify” means “to prove or ascertain the truth or correctness of, as by examination, research, or comparison.” When you trust someone you act on your faith in their reliability, truthfulness, ability or strength. When you verify, your action is to check on the reliability, truthfulness, ability or strength of that person. Trust builds relationships, verification assures outcomes. That’s the heart of the matter. Verifying can be interpreted as “Micro-managing” and can destroy trust.

There are some times and some industries where the outcomes are too critical not to verify. Some of those industries include Healthcare, Aviation, Utilities, etc. You can see how verification in these industries would be essential. In settings where verification is just part of the work, it doesn’t have a negative effect on relationships. On the other hand, most of us don’t work in those types of industries.

What Difference Does Trust Make?

“If every business learned to create a profound sense of trust through everything they do, not only would their bottom line improve but it would create a culture that attracts great talent and opportunities. Consciously creating trust is good for business, good for people and good for the world.” Masami Sato, Founder, B1G1

That quote comes from an online endorsement for a book titled Trust is the New Currency, by Sheila Holt and Fredrick Sandvall. According to the title of Stepen M.R. Covey’s book trust matters, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything. Then there’s Nan Russell’s book, Trust, Inc. How to Create a Business Culture that will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation.

One of John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is “The Law of Solid Ground.” It says that leadership is built on the foundation of trust. In fact, he says, trust is necessary in all good relationships.

Trust is very important. We trust airlines and surgeons because they verify. We trust our bosses because they trust us. One of the ways trust is built is by giving it. When you are the boss and the outcomes are not life threatening, try giving trust to your people.  You will find they usually become even more trustworthy.

Live Your Legend

The other day I was coming out of a client facility. One of the Department Directors was coming in at the same time. I said, “Good Morning.” He said, “It’s Monday.” I said, “Best day of the week (I really like Mondays because you have the whole week ahead of you to get things done). His reply was, “One day closer to the weekend.” The weekend had just ended the day before! He may have been having a particularly bad day, but, more likely, he’s one of those people who doesn’t love what he does.

Sir Ken Robinson, in a video on Passion, says, “Many people spend their entire lives doing things they don’t really care for. They endure their lives and wait for the weekend with no real sense of fulfillment, with a general sense of tolerance for it, or not. If you want evidence of that just look at the annual receipts of the pharmaceutical companies and the brewing companies.” John Maxwell made the same point this way, “Most people don’t lead their life, they accept their life.”

You Come With a Kit

Another thing that caught my attention in Robinson’s video was the idea that life comes with a kit. “Most people,” he said, “have no idea what they’re capable of, no real sense of their talents or abilities. Therefore, they conclude that they have none.” Robinson’s conclusion has always been the opposite. “We are all born with deep talents and abilities. If you’re a human being,” says Robinson, “it comes with a kit.” The most distinctive part of being human is imagination. You have abilities and creativity that is uniquely yours.

There is another climate crisis, not of natural resources, but of human resources. “To be born at all is a miracle. So what are you going to do with this life now that you have it?” asks The Dalai Lama. Are you going to waste it? Are you going to do something interesting, something that matters to you, or not?

Know Your Why

Whether your watching a video by Simon Sinek, Robinson’s video, comedian Michael Jr.’s video, or reading John Maxwell’s book, Intentional Living, the conclusion is the same. We need to know our “Why.” What is our purpose in life?In his book, John Maxwell suggests asking the following three questions to help answer your question, “Why?”

  1. What do you cry about? – what are the things that disturb you or touch you so deeply that they bring you to tears?
  2. What do you sing about? – what are the things that bring you the greatest joy?
  3. What do you dream about? – what do you imagine? What are your “if onlys?”

He says that answering those questions and finding your sweet spot–that place where your passion and what you’re really good at come together–are key to a life of significance.

Unwritten

The first year we were at the International School in China, the senior class asked me to give their commencement address. I spoke about the power of stories, how they connect us, instruct us, move us, and shape us. Then I talked about their story and how it was mostly still unwritten. I even played the song, “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield during the ceremony. The challenge was to actively write their story, to lead their lives, not just accept them.

Those where high school seniors. Admittedly, they were much younger than us and had more of their lives ahead of them. But, until the words “The End” appear on the page, no one’s story is finished. The best stories, in fact, have unexpected plot turns. What do the readers of your life story have in store for them? Make it legendary!

When Winning Can Be Losing

It’s been said that public speaking is the number one fear among Americans. It outranks death (#5) and loneliness (#7) by quite a bit. I saw evidence of that recently when I was at a conference in Orlando where everyone at the conference was required to give a 5 minute speech. There were over 3,000 people at that conference. We only had to give the speech to the eight people at our table but you would have thought it was to the whole conference when you heard people talk about how nervous they were before the speech session.

One of the conference instructors got up in front of the whole group and, knowing how nervous people were, gave some good advice about the speech. “Get over yourself,” he said. He pointed out that we were nervous about what people were going to think of us, whether we would do a good job, whether we might make a mistake or run short or too long. He went on to say that we should focus on what value our words would bring to the others at the table. If that were the focus of our speech (or the purpose of our life), it re-frames everything. My speech ran 20 seconds short, by the way.

Get Over Yourself

That advice brings to mind a couple of quotes. John Holmes said, “It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.” Wow! Think on that for a minute. That quote puts this one by Eleanor Roosevelt into a new perspective. “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”

It’s fair to say that with 7.7 billion people on the planet, it’s no all about me. Let me narrow it down. With 7 people in my family, it’s not all about me. If that’s true (which it is), then we could also say that with X number of people in my organization or Y number of people in my department or on my team, it’s not all about me. Yet, so often with think and behave as though we believe it is all about us. Think about this. What’s the first thing we do when we look at a group picture we’re in? We look for ourselves and say, “That’s a great shot”, if we look good no matter if Uncle Harry has his eyes closed. Right?

I ran across the John Holmes quote in a book by John Maxwell called Intentional Living. The book is about living a life of significance on purpose. Significance, as Maxwell defines it, comes in adding value to others. In a recent post about “selfies” I wrote about how being selfish or self-centered can ruin your team. Success alone can be hollow. Significance never is.

A Pyrrhic Victory

A Pyrrhic victory is one where the cost of winning the battle could lose you the war and it’s the main reason I wanted to write this post. Over the years I’ve run across the wreckage of many who have won battles only to lose in the end. Most often what’s lost is relationships. What was won? Usually an argument, someone had to be right and prove it at literally any cost.

The common theme I hear when I talk to people who have lost because they won is regret. Usually what they lost turns out to have been more valuable to them than what they won.  By the time they’ve realized it, it’s too late. I’m writing to encourage all of us to “get over ourselves” and focus on what we can do to build others up. That’s the real win.