Friday, November 27, 2015

How Long Does Your Gratitude Last?

By the time you read this, the smell of turkey, the recent conversations and laughter with friends and family, along with your reflections of gratitude are becoming your most recent of memories. Thanksgiving has a way of making us feel “full”.  Certainly it fills us with great food, but it has a way of filling us with joy and hope as we take time to count our untold blessings. It allows us the time to appreciate our loved ones, our communities, our workplace, and helps us re-prioritize what it is that matters the most in our lives.

Sadly, too many times Thanksgiving is much like that great conference we attend during the year. We reflect, become rejuvenated with new aspirations, only to slide back into our same routine in the weeks that follow. 

Recently, I came across a post in ContantLeadership that compiled 10 quotes revolving around the importance of gratitude throughout the year from various sources across the web.  The intent was for the reader to consider living a life of gratitude to aid in our quest to become better leaders, spouses, parents, colleagues and friends to the people who most matter in our lives. 

“For something to change in your life, one of two things has to happen: your life changes, or you do.” 

This post from Entrepreneur Magazine acts as a rallying call-to-action to adopt a “practice of gratitude” throughout the year. The author argues that changing our attitude to focus on the positive can transport us from a mindset of victimhood to a mindset of action, especially in the face of adversity. 

“I found myself losing the ‘me’ perspective and gaining a ‘we’ perspective.”

In this uplifting piece, Author Jamelle Sanders reflects on the power of gratitude in the wake of a friend’s tragic accident. His ruminations on how gratitude can quiet the ego and manifest success in your life are a much-needed reminder.

“It’s gratitude that draws people together, builds trust, and strengthens ties.”

This compelling post from Michael Hyatt uses research to teach us four tangible ways gratitude can improve our lives; some research presented here even suggests gratitude can not only strengthen, but lengthen, your life!

“If you stick to your practice – even if it’s not ‘heart-felt’ in the beginning – eventually it transforms into true gratitude.”

This post gets tactical with gratitude, providing the reader with seven immediately applicable ways to begin a practice of thanks giving. The author acknowledges it can be difficult to feel thankful in the face of problems and roadblocks — but she provides real-world strategies we can all use to begin authentically giving thanks even when the going gets tough.

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns. I am grateful that thorns have roses.” 

Leadership author Skip Prichard compiles 28 thought-provoking quotes culled from an assortment of great minds — from Cicero to Oprah. A quick read that adds more than a little food for thought to your Thanksgiving table.

“Cultivating gratitude doesn’t cost any money and it certainly doesn’t take much time, but the benefits are enormous.”

While some of the positive effects of gratitude are well documented, a few compiled here may surprise you.  One study cited in this post even suggests gratitude may help you sleep better.

“Gratitude, honor, and recognition are so much deeper and more powerful than just saying thanks.”

Dan Rockwell challenges us to go beyond the words “thank you” to find more robust and heartfelt ways to express our gratitude and honor people’s accomplishments. This is a timely reminder to find as many ways as possible to express appreciation.

“Few things are more heartwarming than bearing witness to one human being expressing deep gratitude for the profound, course-altering impact another has played in her or his life.” 

Herein lies as elegantly and articulately expressed a ‘thank you’ as you’ll ever read. Although sometimes composing the right message of gratitude can be difficult — Camus (a literary giant), not surprisingly, finds just the right words. It’s a nice homage to mentorship and friendship.

“The benefits of gratitude go far beyond doing something because it’s the ‘right thing’ to do.”

While this post echoes many of the benefits featured in the other posts, we like that it explicitly calls out the need for a nobler reason for expressing gratitude. Eikenberry warns us that if we embark on a practice of giving thanks only because we’re supposed to, or in hopes of a ”quid pro quo,” that our efforts may be dead on arrival.

“We have to constantly remind ourselves to look for ‘what’s right’ in our lives instead of ‘what’s wrong.'”

This quick read reminds us to be diligent in resisting the scarcity mindset that prefers looking for “either,” “or.” Eker emphasizes that being grateful for what you have does not mean you are being complacent — you can be both grateful for what you’ve accomplished today and want to push to be better tomorrow. This post helps to frame gratitude as an abundance mindset.

So my friends…enjoy the sense of “fullness” Thanksgiving brings…being full of gratitude can be a year long celebration for everyone to enjoy…

Be good to yourself…

Friday, November 20, 2015

How Old Are You...REALLY?

Not too long ago my wife and I were discussing when it is that people grow old. After briefly throwing out ages, we began to identify “old people” in their 30’s and 40’s and marveled at some friends who were well into their 70’s who were full of life contributing their talents to those around them.

I’m sure I’m not the first to draw this conclusion, but it seems to me that growing old has nothing to do with the year we were born, but rather what it is we’re capable of dreaming and pursuing.  It appears that when our dreams begin to fade and our vision is clouded and vague that we begin age exponentially.

When I think of great leaders, age never seems to be a factor. It’s their enthusiasm, their inspiration, their vision and dreams that keep them young and vibrant.

Consider this…

Henry Ford was 40 when he founded Ford
Thomas Edison was 45 when he founded GE
Harold Stanley was 50 when he founded Morgan Stanley
Ray Croc was 52 when he founded McDonalds
Charles Flint was 61 when he founded IBM
The Colonel was 62 when he founded KFC
Bifocals were invented by Benjamin Franklin at 73
Over 33% of new businesses are started by “seniors”

My point? As leaders your chronological age is irrelevant…it’s your leadership age, your ability to inspire and motivate that keeps you young, and keeps those around you guessing how old you really are…

Be good to yourself…

Friday, November 13, 2015

Leadership Primer by General Colin Powell

Having celebrated Veteran’s Day this past week, my thoughts revolved around great military leaders and their abilities to lead in the most stressful of situations. One such contemporary leader, General Colin Powell, authored a no-nonsense “Leadership Primer” with the following lessons for us all to consider.

Lesson 1 – “Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.”

Lesson 2 – “The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

Lesson 3 – “Don’t be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment. Elites can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.”

Lesson 4 – Don’t be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard.”

Lesson 5 – “Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.”

Lesson 6 – “You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.”

Lesson 7 – “Keep looking below surface appearances. Don’t shrink from doing so just because you might not like what you find.”

Lesson 8 – “Organization doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish anything either. Theories of management don’t much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the PEOPLE involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.”

Lesson 9 – “Organizational charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing.”

Lesson 10 – “Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it.”

Lesson 11 – “Fit no stereotypes. Don’t chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission.”

Lesson 12 – “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”

Lesson 13 – “When picking people look for intelligence, judgment, and most critically a capacity to anticipate, to see around the corners. Also look for loyalty, integrity, a high energy drive, a balanced ego, and the drive to get things done.”

Lesson 14 – “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through the argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.”

Lesson 15 – “Don’t take action if you only have enough information to give you less that a 40% chance of being right, but don’t wait until you have enough facts to be 100% sure, because by then it’s almost always too late.”

Lesson 15 – “The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise.”

Lesson 17 – “Have fun in your command. Don’t always run at breakneck pace. Take a leave when you’ve earned it. Spend time with your family. Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.”

Lesson 18 – “Command is lonely.”

“Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.”

I find it curious that great leadership is great leadership…no matter the industry.

Be good to yourself…

Friday, November 6, 2015

Aspire to Inspire?

Like most of you, I’m a lover of quotes.  One that stands out to me is credited to  John Quincy Adams who said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more; you are a leader.”

Inspire…but how? What traits are exhibited with inspirational leaders? What do they share in common? I’m guessing there are a number of traits that come to mind, but a recent article in Inc. 500 succinctly identified three such characteristics. 

Inspirational leaders EARN trust  - By being transparent,  keeping promises large and small, exhibiting dependability, preparedness and organization; taking responsibility when things go wrong, while praising others when things go well, aids in building trust.

Inspirational leaders show enthusiasm – The article points out that one of the keys to inspiration is pure joy and excitement. My dad would say, “Success BREEDS success.”  Leaders must be the nucleus of spreading positive energy to their followers, which leads us to to the third and final trait trait.

Inspirational leaders insist on an air of optimism – This comment is not intended to sway the reader to believe that inspirational leaders run away from problems.  To the contrary, inspirational leaders attack problems head on looking for positive solutions and opportunities that every challenge brings to the table.

So my friends, what characteristics do you use? What would you add to this list? What have you seen in other great inspirational leaders? Let me know…in the meantime…

Be good to yourself…