January 22, 2018

Lifelong Learning – And?

In my work and travels, I have the privilege of meeting many different types of people with different ambitions and goals. Over the years, there have been more than just a few who have told me that one of their goals is to continue being a “lifelong learner”.

When I’ve had the opportunity to hear more about what the person is doing, I often find that they’ve surrounded themselves with self-help courses, books, seminars, and other learning resources, often complaining that they don’t have time to get through them all.

I’ll ask what they’re going to do with all that newfound knowledge, and sometimes I’ll hear that it’s for a new business, a career change, or to follow a dream. Then I’ll ask how far along they are with their plan for that change or dream, and I’ll often hear that they haven’t made much progress, because they want to finish the learning part of it in order to be properly prepared.

Don’t get stuck in that trap — if you’re a lifelong learner, that’s great, but lifelong learning is supposed to be a means to an end, not the end itself.

It all comes down to taking action, pronto.

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January 9, 2018

The Risk of Resolutions

Happy New Year to all! I hope 2018 is off to a good start. Around this time swirls talk of resolutions for the new year. Lots of folks say that resolutions keep them on track, and represent their goals. Other folks say, why bother, the resolutions are going to be broken anyway. (I think there’s a new Allstate commercial with the Mayhem character, and a title at the end that reads “Resolutions are made to be broken.”)

Whether you’re one for resolutions or not, how you structure your resolution affects your ability to keep it, and as a result, whether you stay motivated by them or leave them by the wayside. Make your resolution too general, and perhaps you meet it too easily and you don’t feel like you’ve accomplished anything. Make it too specific, and run the risk that if you don’t meet the goal, you don’t give yourself enough credit for what you did accomplish.

Make your resolution/goal specific enough so you know you’re making progress toward it, yet simultaneously make it general enough so you can continue to grow in that direction.

I’m curious, how have resolutions worked for you?

April 18, 2017

Gifts of Leadership

I recently tweeted a link to an article on leadership by Jeff Haden at the Inc.com website. He makes points well worth remembering, so I thought I’d mention it again.

Good reading … in the meantime, I think I’ll finish my taxes. It’s Tax Day!

February 11, 2017

Playing to Win

No matter who you rooted for (unless you were rooting for Lady Gaga), what a thrilling Super Bowl it was last weekend, with New England coming from way behind to win in overtime. At one point, the young, upstart Atlanta team raced out to a 28-3 lead, but somehow did not score a single point after that.

There’s been plenty of analysis in the sports columns about how they lost, what the key plays were that turned the momentum, and which plays should or should not have been called. It’s easy to second-guess after the results are in. So I’ll add my own contribution to this debate, but from a completely different perspective.

As young as the Atlanta team is, I happen to think that there’s a possibility that two collective thoughts doomed the team in the third quarter when the score first reached 28-3: (1) “We’ve got this well in hand, everyone was saying we couldn’t do it,” and (2) “Don’t blow it now.”

Those thoughts together lead to a strategy of playing “not to lose”. If you have thoughts of playing not to lose, or playing not to make a mistake, then you generally stop doing whatever it was that got you to that point of success. And because you change your style of work, you often won’t get the same successful results.

I wonder if playing “not to lose” was indeed the beginning of the end of the game for the Falcons. What do you think?

January 28, 2017

Another “Happy New Year” – Why Not?

Today is Chinese New Year’s Day, the start of the Year of the Rooster, by the lunar calendar. Happy New Year! All the best for health, happiness, and prosperity in the coming year.

Why not celebrate another New Year’s holiday? It’ll give you another chance to reflect — again — about what you accomplished last year, and what you’d like to accomplish in the coming year.

In case you’re wondering, celebrate by adding chicken, fish, long noodles, and eggs to your menu sometime through the day. If you already ate, have some tomorrow. They’re all supposed to bring you good luck, and as you know, you can’t have too much good luck!

November 26, 2016

How to Create a Tradition

After eating my share of turkey on Thursday, in an after-dinner haze I idly wondered, when did turkey start to take hold as a staple of the Thanksgiving dinner? Some quick unvalidated research (i.e. Google) revealed that the first Thanksgiving dinner was held by the Pilgrims in 1621 soon after their arrival.

The feast supposedly lasted three days, by the way. Apparently most of us try to cram that kind of meal into one sitting in today’s times.

But it wasn’t until 1863, over 240 years later, when President Abraham Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving, that turkey started to become associated with the Thanksgiving holiday. And I’ll bet most people think turkey’s been a part of the tradition since way back in 1621.

Rumor has it that the turkey and cranberry industries lobbied this into being. What a way to create a tradition! Can you do something like that in your competitive space? Hope you had a good holiday!

November 23, 2016

Giving Thanks

For a second Thanksgiving in a row, I’m blessed to be thankful for being with my family. Those of you who read my posts here and on LinkedIn know what happened to me a year and a half ago, so being here to write this and feeling great gives me much to be thankful for.

There are irritations in life, but in the end they’re just irritations. Let those be, and focus on the greater things that you know you are thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!

August 15, 2016

Olympic Motivation

So I’ve been a bit tardy, not having posted for a little while, but don’t worry — this time around, I’ve just been busy. The Olympics in Rio have been front and center, and I’m struck yet again by some of the stories of champions who shed tears on the podium. Those who have talked about it have mentioned that the emotions come welling up when they think of the road that they took to get there, and all the adversity and pain they overcame.

Every four years — actually, now every two, with the Winter Olympics filling the gap — we hear some of the best stories about Olympic competitors who reached their peak after overcoming adversity. It’s an occasional reminder that when you think it’s bad, it might really be, but maybe there’s a way to fight back, conquer it, and still get to where you want to be.

Here are a few inspiring stories covered in a piece on the British website Metro:

Inspiring stories of Olympic competitors in Rio

I saw the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, win his race last night. Who should I watch tonight?

January 3, 2016

Top 2 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail …

There’s all sorts of data out there supporting the fact that most people do not succeed in keeping their New Year’s resolutions, if they even make them at all. Research from the University of Scranton suggests only 8% of folks succeed in meeting their resolutions.

There are 2 main reasons for this:

#1. Not understanding the reason for change

Don’t change to run away from something, change to run toward something. Since I spend most of my time working with businesses, I’ll use a business start-up analogy: Don’t start your own business because you hate your job, start one because you’re passionate about doing something better, or providing a better solution, or helping to improve the world in some way.

If you have a positive reason for making a resolution instead of a negative one, it can motivate and inspire you, which increases your chances of fulfilling the resolution.

#2. Setting goals that are not specific or realistic enough

If the resolution is too general (like “be healthier”), you won’t meet it because you won’t know if you met it. Too much wiggle room. Be specific (as in “lose 12 pounds over the next 6 months and then maintain it”). But if your goal is not realistic (as in lose 70 pounds in 6 months – not something you’d usually do without medical supervision), then you won’t stand a chance to meet the goal.

Be realistic about your resolutions. Do your research and know what is likely vs. unlikely to accomplish. It’s fine to be optimistic, but too much of it leads to being unrealistic.

Happy New Year to all!

December 24, 2015

A New Meaning of Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve, and I’m realizing that Christmas this year has a new meaning for me … Christmas has already arrived.

I know, I know, that sounds like it’s straight from some movie. But for me, it’s really true this year. You probably read about my medical emergency that I described in an October post. The fact that 10 months later I’m here, feeling great, and that I can look forward to the future, is my Christmas gift.

A gift that’s so big it can never be wrapped or put under a tree.

Oh sure, I’ll still enjoy watching my loved ones open their presents. And I’ll still enjoy opening some too (*wink*). But I could be just as happy sitting with my wife and daughter on Christmas morning, and feeling the love.

So for all of you, I hope you’re feeling the love too, this Christmas Eve and all year long … of family near and far, and of loved ones near and far.