Are You Growing?

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. —Jack Welch

I believe both are necessary for success.  You can only bring others as far as you have gone yourself.

Are you growing yourself AND helping others grow?

Are You Living Your Dream Life?

We all want to get the most out of life.  Sadly, not many of us do.

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Bronnie Ware is a nurse who spent years as a nurse caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their life.  She noticed a common pattern that emerged among her patients and decided to put her observations into a book called, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”

Here are the top 5: 

1) I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

They regretted not following more of their passions and dreams.

2) I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. 

They regretted missing valuable time with their kids, family and friends.

3) I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

They regretted internalizing their feelings at missed out on resolving conflict.

4) I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

They regretted letting relationships lapse.

5) I wish that I had let myself be happier. 

They regretted missing out on some of the simple joys of life and experiencing life to the full.

The good news is that you and I have a choice today how we can change our lives for the better.  Change that will help us avoid some of these regrets and live life to the full.

Question of the day:  Which one of these five things do you need to get back on track with?  Go for it!  Your life is a gift from God.  How you live it is your gift to Him and the world.  

 

 

12 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 43 Years

I turned 43 today.

I feel a bit like Forrest Gump sitting on a bench, reflecting on what I’ve learned in my life.  (Cue music and feather floating in the air.)

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I wish I learned these things earlier, but I guess this is all part of the journey.

Here are 12 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 43 Years.

1) Giving is better than receiving. Serving others brings great joy.

2) You can’t change other people, but you can change yourself.

3) Life is better when you focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses.

4) Starting each day with gratitude leads to greater perspective and a happier life.

5) Words are powerful. They can be used to shape people’s futures, for better or for worse.

6) Money doesn’t buy happiness. (But it can be a blessing when you use it in the right ways.)

7) Everybody needs encouragement. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

8) Life can be hard at times. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

9) Everybody is in the people business. Most of our success in life is built around how well we interact with others.

10) Life is not meant to be boring.  Have fun and create adventures.

11) A marriage of your dreams is possible.  Dating your spouse and learning their “love language” are keys to creating it.

12) God is faithful.

Bonus:  Chipotle is better than Moe’s.  (Moe’s fans, please refer to #2)

What has been the best advice you’ve ever received?  Would you share it in the comments below?  

Yes You Can

English heart surgeon Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Most unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself rather than talking to yourself.”

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We all have tapes that play in our head.  Many times, those tapes are saying something negative.  “I can’t do that”.  “I’m not smart enough”.  “I would fail if I tried that”.

However those thoughts got there, I think many people have a tendency in general to gravitate first towards the “I can’t” mentality.

What if we could change that?  What if we started with “I can”?

I happen to be a Christian.  One of my life verses from the Bible is:  “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13

Attitude is everything.

Someone once said, “If you think you can, you can.  If you think you can’t, you can’t.”

In other words, if you start with an “I can’t” mentality, it will be 10x harder to accomplish something than if you start with an “I can” mentality.

A positive attitude will trump a negative attitude every time.

Here are 3 Ways to Have an “I Can” Attitude:

1)  Surround yourself with the right people.  Experts tells us we will be the average of the 5 people we associate with.  Your friends are a preview of your future.  Are you surrounding yourself with mostly negative people?  Seek to limit those relationships and surround yourself with positive people.  You will begin to notice a big difference in your attitude.

2)  Fill your mind with the right stuff.  Read books and listen to podcasts that are life giving. If your media diet consists of only watching the news, it’s probably time to change the channel.

3)  Remind yourself of the right things.  God has created you to be amazing and unique.  There is nobody else on the planet exactly like you.  You have gifts and talents and were created to do great things.  Remind yourself of past accomplishments.  Rediscover (or discover) what you can be the best in the world at and work on your strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses.

Change your attitude.  Change your life.

Yes You Can.

What is one area you can have a more positive attitude in today?

How Disney Achieves Excellence

You would be hard pressed to find a person that hasn’t experienced the Disney brand in some form or fashion.  Whether it’s a theme park, movie, product or resort, Disney does it right. They are known for their excellence.

Just how do they achieve it?

Cinderella's Castle, Walt Disney World
Walt was a stickler for detail.  He believed details mattered.   To give an example, if Disney was to paint something in one of their parks a certain color (let’s say white for example), they would test dozens of shades of white in various sunlight situations.  All to get just the right shade as it related to the surroundings.

In the early days when Disneyland had opened, Walt would make his “imagineers” (those that designed the park) crawl through the park on their hands and knees to get the same perspective as a child.  He wanted them to experience things as their guests and make changes accordingly.

He also required his staff to ride the rides and eat with the guests to see things from their angle.  Adjustments were easier to make to serve them better.

Walt believed in “Fresh Eyes”.

Fresh eyes as a leader is the ability to see things from a fresh perspective.  Specifically from the perspective of those you serve.

In business, what does your customer experience when they interact with your company?

Is your environment clean?  Were they greeted with a warm welcome?  Was the process efficient?  Did you exceed their expectations so much they would give you a word of mouth referral without you asking?

It’s easy to get so entrenched working “in your business” that you forget to work “on your business”.  

Sadly enough, my experience lately is customer service in many places of business has been in decline.  It’s easier than ever to exceed the competition with just a little extra effort.

Experts say that you can exceed the competition if you can do something just 5% better.

This “Fresh Eyes” principle isn’t just for business.  It can also be used in your personal life.

You can look at your home, your relationships and your life with fresh eyes.  What is the current experience  and how can I make adjustments to make it better?  How can I serve others better?

One tip I would give you is to ask for feedback.  In business, bring in someone to give you some unbiased feedback on their experience with your company.  Set up a survey to get feedback from your customers.  Ask questions regularly with the goal of improvement.

Seeing with “Fresh Eyes” and acting accordingly always leads to improvement.  And when you improve, everybody wins.

What is one area of your organization or life you can look at with “Fresh Eyes” this week?

One Thing I Learned From the Founder of Chick Fil A

Everybody wants to go further, faster.  Especially if you are in business.  We want to grow.

The big question is, how do we get bigger?

Retail Chick-fil-A

I heard a story about Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick Fil A.  He was sitting around a table with some of the executives of his company.  He sat there quietly listening as they debated strategies for seeking to grow Chik Fil A.

Mr. Cathy decided he had finally heard enough.  With passion, he pounded his fist on the board room table.  All eyes were on the founder and CEO.  Words of wisdom proceeded from his mouth.

“If we get better, our customers will demand we get bigger.” – Truett Cathy

Wow.

Chick Fil has continued to expand their brand and their profits.  The reason?  Because they pursue better before bigger.  The by-product of getting better will naturally be to get bigger.

Wise words from a wise man.

How can you or your organization get better this week?

3 Ways To Make a Good Marriage Great

When I was younger I worked as a life guard at a community pool.

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One day, a disgruntled older man decided he would give me some advice.  He said, “Don’t ever get married.  You’ll be miserable.”

I remember telling him, “Just because you have a bad marriage doesn’t mean I have to have a bad marriage.” It was a sad thing to see someone so negative against marriage.  It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

With the divorce rate in America hovering around 50%, there is a good chance you know someone that has been affected by the devastation of it.

No one sets out on their honeymoon with the goal of getting a divorce, but sadly many people end up there.

For the 50% of couples that don’t end up divorced, there is a percentage of those that feel their marriage is  just not what they thought it would be.

But I believe a large percentage of that 50% have a good marriage, but feel it could be better.

Whether you are married and looking for ways to make your marriage better or you are currently single and desire be married; 

Here are 3 Ways To Make a Good Marriage Great.

1) Consider Your Spouse’s Interests.

My hunch is that when you were first dating you did lots of things that typically “weren’t your thing”.  It doesn’t mean that men need to flock to the mall with their wives every weekend or that women need to go out and buy a set of the latest Duck Dynasty camo.  It does mean that marriage isn’t all about us.

How can you create a connection with your spouse with the things he/she is interested in?  It may be as simple as a conversation asking them about their interest that shows you care.

My wife, Jacque has a love for helping orphans in Mexico.  She oversees a mission trip there with a group of about 100 people.  I know she cares about that deeply and I know it means a lot to her when I ask how things are going with the planning.

2) Apologize When Necessary.

The two words, “I’m sorry” tend to be some of the hardest to say when you are married.  No one likes to admit they are wrong.  If you have offended your spouse, be quick to apologize.  Easier said than done, but sincere apologies create relational equity.  It goes a long way and shows your spouse your relationship is more important than being right.

On a similar note, when your spouse apologizes be quick to forgive.  Unforgiveness and holding grudges create a wedge in your marriage.  It’s impossible to create a great marriage if a spouse is holding onto a grudge.  Drop the rock of unforgiveness and your relationship will move forward.

3) Be a Good Listener.

Listening shows value.  Genuine listening.  Waiting for your turn to talk is not listening.  Your spouse knows you care when you listen.

A word to the men.  We have a tendency to try to “fix things”.  Sometimes our wives need to just be heard and understood.  Ask them if there is anything we can do to help, but many times they will just want to be heard.

Also, a word to the women.  Men have shorter attention spans when it comes to listening.  Men want to serve by listening, but it can be difficult to stay with a long story.  It’s just the way many of us are wired.

If husbands and wives can understand their differences, communication in the relationship can flourish.

These are not the only ways to make a good marriage great, but they certainly are things every couple can put into practice and see results.  

A great marriage is possible.  One great decision at a time.

Which of these do you feel is the most important?

 

The Key to Influencing People

We all want to influence others in a positive way. Whether it’s something you want from someone or for someone, the only way to legitimately reach that goal or desire is influence.business people

If you can influence someone, it probably means you are a leader.

Great leaders are men and women who want something for someone.  They make people, organizations and things better.

You can be a leader in your family, friendships or career.  

The challenge comes when you have a great vision in mind and it takes people to get there.  What if the people won’t go that direction?

You need to ask yourself two questions.

1)  Is it the vision?

OR

2)  Is it ME?

John Maxwell said, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”

 

If it’s the vision, then it may be time to tweak it or change course.  It may be the way your are communicating it.  Is it clear and simple enough for everyone to understand?  Is it being cast in an engaging way that paints a picture of how this will benefit them and/or the organization?

If the problem is not the vision, then maybe it’s the vision caster.

The key to influencing people is learning to make yourself someone others enjoy connecting with and want to follow.

In sales, if you are selling a product or service, people are 10x more likely to buy your service or product if they like you.

It’s your charisma.  In other words, the “like-ability” factor.

Are you a person of character?  Do you show you care about them and not just about yourself?   Do you have their best interest at heart?

You can instantly improve your like-ability by showing others you genuinely care about them.

And when people know you care about them, they will care about you.

Because again, as John Maxwell says, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”

Improve “you” and you will improve your influence.

Would you agree with John Maxwell’s quote?

 

5 Strategies To Instantly Improve Your People Skills

I’ve heard it said that 85% of our success in life comes from our people skills.

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The way we interact with others in our personal and professional life can make or break a situation.

John Maxwell said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

The good news is everyone can learn to improve their people skills.

Good people skills start with the right heart.  A heart that genuinely cares about others.  This works in business, personal relationships, job interviews and casual conversations.

Here are 5 Strategies To Instantly Improve Your People Skills:

1) Be a Good Listener.  We’ve all heard the adage, “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.”  People love to be heard.  One of the greatest gifts we can give to others is to listen to them.  It’s normal to mistake listening for waiting…waiting for your turn to talk.  Fight the urge and genuinely listen.  Listening shows others we value them and are ready to serve them.

2) Smile.  The was a popular song recently that was called, “What Does the Fox Say?”  A great question to ask is, “What does my face say?”  If we are not careful, we may be sending off a mixed message and not even know it.  Especially for more intense individuals, our face may be communicating a scowl when we are really just thinking about solving a problem.  Be aware that your body language can communicate even more than your words.  If you want to instantly connect with someone, smile more.  Even a slight smile tells others you are approachable and sends a positive message.  Positivity trumps negativity every time.

3) Give a Sincere Compliment.  Positive comments are a bridge to connecting with others.  Everybody loves to be noticed.  Look for ways to connect with others through a sincere compliment.

4) Talk About The Other Person’s Interests. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and what they like.  Talking about the other person’s interests is the fastest way to building a connection.  Look for common interests as that engages you in the conversation and builds an even stronger connection.

5) Follow Up.  Look for ways to continue to build a great relationship by following up.  Bring up the last conversation you had and ask them how they are doing.  I have a business friend that would actually write notes from our conversations.  He would refer to them the next time we talked about restocking his product.  Even though he was in sales, it made me know he cared about more than the sale and that made a big impact on me.

Relationships will always be at the core of who we are and what we do. 

Put these 5 strategies to work and I guarantee you will improve your people skills.

Which of these strategies do you feel is the most effective in connecting with others?

21 Tips to Get Organized and Increase Productivity Now- Part 3

I hope this 3 part series has been helpful and given you some tips to get organized and increase your productivity.

As we said in the previous post, time is the only non-renewable resource we have.  And because you are reading this, that puts you in the top percentage of people that succeed in life.  You want to make the most of the time you are given.
Better work flow: get organized

 

As we bring this 3 part series to a close, here are the final seven tips of 21 Tips to Get Organized and Increase Productivity Now.

15) Delegate. Delegate.  Delegate.

How many times have you heard people say, “It’s just easier to do it myself”?  Maybe you’ve even said those words.  While that statement may be true at times, experts tell us we can go further, faster over the long haul if we hand off things that are not in our strength zone.  In fact, I recently heard the leader of a large organization recommend delegating anything to someone else they can do at least 60% as well as you.  If we can delegate the things we aren’t great at, things that zap energy from us and in turn focus on the things we do best, our productivity will go out the roof.

16) Take regular breaks.

My wife often says, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”  It also makes Jack a tired boy.  Our bodies were not meant to run 24/7 without breaks.  Working this way is actually counterproductive and hurts us and the relationships with those around us in the long haul.  Try practicing the 5/30/1 system.   Take a 5 minute break during every hour you work throughout the day, at least a 30 minute lunch break (where you don’t do work) and at least one day off per week where your brain can disconnect from work and recharge with things that are life giving.  Those consistent breaks along with healthy sleep patterns will give you more energy and increase productivity.

17) Break larger projects into smaller tasks.

Many times larger projects can be overwhelming.  Just the thought of starting them is overwhelming because we don’t know where to begin.  One helpful tip is to “begin with the end in mind”.  In other words, picture the ideal outcome for the project.   Once you have that, you can reverse engineer the process by making a list of everything that has to be done to accomplish that desired outcome.  Make a list of even the smallest tasks and details.  From there, prioritize the tasks in the order of importance and sequence.  Delegate the tasks others can do and begin to schedule and accomplish the ones you can do.  By cutting everything into bite size pieces and pacing your progress, a large project suddenly becomes much more manageable and less stressful.  It brings clarity, focus and simplicity to the process and ultimately increases productivity. Bottom line:  how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  O.K., we can pass on the elephant.

18) Focus on tasks that achieve the biggest results.

One of the challenges that busy leaders have is confusing busyness with effectiveness.  How many times have you asked the question, “How have you been?” To which you receive the answer, “Busy”?  Busyness does not equal productivity.  As leaders, we have to get the right things done, not just many things done.  Before you begin your day, make a list of all the things that need to get done in order to move the ball down the field.  Out of those items, ask yourself, “What one to three tasks would bring the most results if I accomplished them?”  Prioritize those in order of importance and key results and get to work.  Delegate or delay the other tasks and watch your productivity skyrocket.

19) Reward yourself for results.

Leaders love accomplishment.  Too many times we don’t slow down long enough to celebrate and enjoy the win. Try giving yourself small incentives for finishing smaller tasks and larger incentives for finishing larger projects.  It’s the carrot principle.  In fact, if you are competitive, (which most of us are) play “Beat the Clock”.  In other words, tell yourself, “If I complete this task by a certain time, I will reward myself with _______. (Pick a reward relative to the task.)  Not only will you have the satisfaction of your accomplishment, but you will also enjoy a reward a much deserved break along the way.

20) Practice pre-vacation mode.

If you’re like most people, the day before a vacation you get a ton of stuff done.  Why?  Because you know you have to.  You want to be able to leave the office without the weight of things falling through the cracks while you are gone.  So you pick up the pace and get the most important things done before you leave.  What if you applied that strategy to your workday on a regular basis?  How would that increase your productivity?

21) Limit time in meetings.

Unnecessary and/or inefficient meetings can be huge time bandits.   Sometimes they are unavoidable.  However, if it’s up to you, look for ways to limit your time in meetings.  Meetings should not be used for conveying information that can be communicated in an email, text or phone call.  The exception to that rule is if a sensitive subject is being discussed.  Things that could potentially be misinterpreted in written form should always be done verbally so all parties can hear the tone involved.  Tone does not come over well in writing.  That being said, the most effective meetings have a set agenda, start time and end time.  Valuable information is sent before the meeting to all participants so the meeting can be used for the sole purpose of doing what the group can only do together; things such as brainstorming and decision making.  After the meeting, it is always productive to recap three things:  1) What was decided.  2) Who is going to do it. 3) When they are going to do it by.  Most meetings fail because they had no structure.  Add structure and guidelines to your meetings and you will experience a much more productive day.

I hope you enjoyed this blog series and that it added value to your life and organization.

When each of these 21 strategies are applied to your life, you will see your productivity unleashed.  You will have more time to do what matters most.

Work hard.  Work smart.  Be awesome. 

Which tip did you find the most helpful?