Posts Tagged ‘hope’

How to Push through “Good Enough”

October 20, 2011 5 comments

Leadership BreakthroughYesterday we discussed the snare of Good Enough—how it entices you to give up, give in, and settle for less than you originally aimed for. Today we’ll talk about how to break free from the comfort of Good Enough.

After moving across the country this summer, my family and I had to quickly set up our new house. I was working full-time on Walmart’s Leadership Academy and my pregnant wife was working full-time keeping up with our two toddlers and getting everyone settled.

Needless to say, once our home reached an acceptable level of functionality (i.e. “Good Enough”), we pressed on to more immediate tasks. And it was fine. For a while. But with Sarah’s due date approaching next month, we both knew that if we didn’t unpack those last boxes, finish the rooms and get the house under control now, it might never happen.

So that’s what we did last weekend. We hunkered down, laid siege to our own home, and came out the other side victorious. Looking back, here are 5 things we did to bust out of Good Enough:

1. First, Focus on what’s at stake. Sarah and I started the weekend with a date. We went out to dinner (sans children) and aside from the usual catching up and enjoying each other’s company, we discussed the consequences of failing to get our house ready. It kept us from inviting people over and engaging with our neighbors. The general disorder was affecting our kids’ behavior. The state of things dragged down our moods and sapped our energy.

2. Fully commit the required resources. I took Friday and Monday off from work. We had planned on cleaning for two days and camping for two days. It soon became apparent, however, that we needed more time for the house so we cancelled our camping trip. It was a sacrifice, but we just weren’t willing to live with the consequences of keeping our house at Good Enough.

3. Bring others along with you. I actually considered sending my wife and kids somewhere else for a few days so I could knock out all the work myself. I’m so glad I didn’t act on that fantasy. I’m certain I wouldn’t have gotten as much done as we all did working together. The combination of accountability, collaboration, and camaraderie not only made the journey enjoyable, it made it successful.

4. Create a realistic plan. Did I mention that we have two small kids? And that my wife is 8 months pregnant? We had to be careful not to let Sarah over do it and we had to account for the daily needs of a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. So we also set reasonable goals for each day that kept us motivated and on track. We got our kids fired up and solicited their help where we could, but for much of the four days one parent was always playing with the kids.

5. Celebrate Successes (then keep going). At each room’s completion we threw a mini-party with our kids. We made sure they knew where everything was and the freedom they had within each space. We also shared some new rules, like clearing your own dishes from the table (which they absolutely love) and cleaning up the playroom before going to bed (which they aren’t as crazy about). The trick here is not to celebrate too long—keep moving forward!

With these 5 steps we successfully gained the upper hand on our house. We’ve been maintaining the ground we gained—while continuing to isolate and eliminate remaining areas of resistance. I hope you can use some these steps to help you push past Good Enough and get into something truly Great!

What other tips do you have for pushing through Good Enough?

What Darth Vader Taught me about People

August 15, 2011 23 comments

leadership peopleI was four years old when I first saw Darth Vader.

I didn’t even know what evil was at the time—but the Dark Lord of the Sith soon remedied that. Darth Vader would define and, ultimately, personify evil for me as a child. And as my understanding of evil deepened, my appreciation for good grew.

I was six years old when I heard Darth Vader tell Luke Skywalker that he was his father. “Liar,” I thought—along with every other young boy in the world. But—in true Star Wars fashion—I had a bad feeling about it. “Vader isn’t tricky,” I thought. “He’s in your face. He doesn’t play mind games, he just strangles you from across the room.”

I remember watching the last movie as a nine-year-old. In the opening scene, Darth Vader walks out of a ship with The Imperial March pounding away in the background—I was literally squirming in my seat.

I remember feeling sorry for Luke because he spent most of the movie believing that Darth Vader could be saved. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, Dude, he’s Darth Vader for crying out loud. Give it a rest. He’s evil. He can’t turn.

In the end, Vader did turn. He changed. He came back. Darth Vader found his good.

At nine years old I watched the most evil person I knew—the one who personified the word for me—discover a hidden good buried deep within him. And that good was enough to change everything.

Looking back, the redemption of Darth Vader was a watershed moment in my life. I began to regard people differently. After all, if there was good hiding in Darth Vader, there might be good hiding in anyone. And if Darth Vader could change, then maybe anyone could change.

Needless to say, I’ve found these principles validated time and again over the last few decades.

What events in your life helped form the way you see people?

3 Tips for Empowering Yourself and Others

April 28, 2010 4 comments

Leader Empowering othersDo you have something big inside you, but just can’t seem to get it out? Is there someone in your life, either at home or at work, who you know has great potential, but can’t seem to realize it? A big part of a leader’s job is to draw the best out of the people around them–including themselves. Here are a few tips for enabling yourself and others to translate potential into to results.

1. Discipline. Most people consider discipline in a negative light–all they see is what they can’t do. The real power of discipline is in its positive side–all that it allows you to do. Discipline exists to let good things run free and wild. True freedom come from discipline. Disciplining yourself and others–by setting boundaries, scheduling time, devoting resources–allows you to focus your attention, talents, and efforts. Then you are free to do what you truly want to do.

2. Education. Learning is one of the most important disciplines. In order to fully realize potential, you’ll have to add knowledge, skills, and experience. Don’t expect your people to do their best if you don’t equip them with the training they need to perform. And don’t expect your potential to spring forth in a final draft; it takes time to hone your skills and build your confidence. This could come from formal schooling, from the school of hard knocks, or from both. Either way, your education is the house your realized potential will live in.

3. Trust. Underneath all the discipline and behind all the education, you’ve got to believe. As leaders we need to approach the potential we sense in others–and in ourselves–with as much certainty as we can muster. What you really believe is always revealed in how you act. If you truly believe in someone, you’ll trust them with greater responsibility. If you truly believe in yourself, you’ll step out and go for it. Look for the opportunity to put your trust to the test.

What have I missed? How do you empower yourself or others?

Whatever It Takes

April 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Leading to victoryThere is no substitute for victory.

– Douglas MacArthur

When my brother, Ashley, decided to run for city council he made a goal to visit every home in his town to meet his neighbors and would-be constituents. Quite a grand endeavor when you live in a city of over 54,000 people. He began to walk neighborhoods months before campaigning began.

I was in town for business during this time and stopped by to see him. “I wish we could hang out more,” he said as I got ready to leave, “but I’ve got to walk some more this evening. If I give into every perfectly good excuse for not walking, I’ll never get done.”

My brother’s commitment to achieve his goal impressed me. I knew how much our relationship meant to him – now I knew how committed he was to accomplishing this goal. The proof was the sacrifices and drastic measures he was willing to make. He was ready to do whatever it took.

As leaders we make tough calls. It’s not easy moving yourself and others toward your vision. It may start off easy, but soon you’ll feel the gravitational pull of the status quo drawing you back to the way things have always been. Leaders exist to fight the pull of the status quo. If nothing needs to be changed, improved, shifted, or advanced, then you don’t need a leader.

Many of you know I’m in the middle of my own grand endeavor: I’m writing my first book. I started last fall and quickly discovered that with working full-time in a growing small business, being a good husband to Sarah, and being a good father to our two young children, writing a book wasn’t going to happen by accident. So Sarah and I developed a plan that we began in January. Even with a plan it continues to take consistent, intentional effort on my part – and incredible sacrifice, support and grace from her. Part of the plan was to take a week off this spring to write. That time is here.

In the spirit of “Whatever it Takes,” I’m taking this next week off to write. It wasn’t easy to take the time off from work (thankfully we’re quite busy). It wasn’t easy sacrificing vacation time to work some more. It wasn’t easy finding the right place away from home where I could write and Sarah could take care of our family.  It wasn’t easy arranging for Sarah to have help with the kids. It’s a drastic measure, but one that we have to make to supplement my weekly writing routine.

My brother achieved his goal of visiting each home in the city before the election – the only candidate to do so – and come election day, he won a seat on the city council. My grand endeavor isn’t over yet. I’m in the middle of Act Two somewhere – that exciting place when you aren’t sure the protagonist is going to make it, but you hope he does. That’s me. I’m here to testify I’m going to finish this story – whatever it takes. I’m off to the mountains to do battle.

And there is no substitute for victory.

What are you willing to do to achieve your dream? What are willing to sacrifice?

How do you Prevent Backsliding?

February 2, 2010 4 comments

Leaders staying on purposeOne month down and eleven to go in 2010. How are you doing on those New Year resolutions?

Odds are you’ve blown it already.

If you haven’t – great job! Keep it up. If you have started to slip (or have totally wiped out) – not to worry; now’s the perfect time to pick yourself up, apply some lessons learned and get back at it.

It’s not enough to pick your goal and expect your fierce willpower to drive you all the way to the finish line. It’s just not going to happen. And if that’s how you’re trying to lead yourself toward a goal, how are you leading others? Unrealistic expectations are always a recipe for frustration.

You (and your team) need three main supports to prevent backsliding when you’re going after something big. You need a Purpose, a Plan, and a few key People.

1. Purpose: Know the “why” behind your goal and make sure it’s captivating. Consider it positively (what will it be like when I achieve this?) and negatively (What’s at stake if I don’t achieve this?). Both are great motivators. Keep your purpose clear and present.

2. Plan: Draw a detailed and realistic roadmap for how you’re going to get from here to there. Then execute your plan with disciplined flexibility – meaning only change the plan to keep on purpose, not at the whim of your moods or feelings. Schedule specific times to review the effectiveness of your plan.

3. People: You were not meant to be alone – or achieve alone. First, broadcast your goal to the world; lay it all out there for everyone to see. Then, approach the people who love you the most (your biggest fans) and ask them to keep you regularly accountable. Watch out! This is a step you’ll be tempted to skip – but it’s crucial to achieving your goal.

What purpose, plan, and people are behind your next big goal?

Leading like Martin Luther King Jr

January 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Martin Luther King Jr. is unquestionably one of the most influential leaders our nation has ever known. His courage, his passion, and his dream inspired millions, but why take my word for it. Watch his famous “I have a dream” speech below or read the full transcript.

What lessons from Martin Luther King Jr. do you take away for your own leadership?

Take a Stand

December 23, 2009 5 comments

82d_posterBy December 23rd, 1944 entire US Divisions were still retreating as the German Army continued to advance through the Ardennes Forest in a last-ditch effort to win World War II. On that frigid morning 65 years ago, a sergeant in a retreating tank destroyer spotted a bedraggled paratrooper chipping a foxhole out of the frozen ground.

The unshaven soldier looked up as the vehicle approached and yelled, “Are you looking for a safe place?”

“Yeah,” answered the tanker.

“Well, buddy, just pull your tank behind me,” he replied, “I’m the 82nd Airborne and this is as far as the bastards are going.”