Prepare for what’s next

Don’t settle for just being great today, prepare to be awesome tomorrow. When the next opportunity arrives make sure your name is on it.

Describe the future. No one can get the future 100% right, and the truth is you don’t have to be perfect here. Those who give it their best effort will be closer than those that just let the future happen to them. Do the research, talk to the experts, look for commonality between the past and the possible outcomes and describe the future in simple ways. Do this and you’ll find that you will be close enough when the future comes to make any needed last minute adjustments.

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” – Wayne Gretzky

Design the plan. Now it’s time to understand what it will it take for you to be where the future is going. I use these three questions in developing my plans: What do I need to know? Who do I need to know? What am I going to do first? The answers to these questions guides the decisions you will make about how to invest your time. Of all the options, which ones prepare you best for the future you have described?

“You have to rely on your preparation and put yourself in a position to succeed.” Steve Nash

Deliver the win. Being prepared removes the doubt, worry and stress of the future. When you’re prepared, you are looking for the future so that you can implement all that you have prepared for. You will succeed because you prepared to succeed.

“I will prepare and someday my chance will come.” – Abraham Lincoln

Lasting leadership – Why, What if, Who.

You and your team are a success when you are there, that’s a start. For leadership to be lasting, it must enable a process that will continue after the leader isn’t there.

There are three areas that must be on auto pilot – self-correcting all the time, to maintain the positive outcomes that happened with your influence.

Why?  Don’t tell people how to do what they need to do, instead help them discover why they need to do and they’ll figure out how.

“Instead of telling the time, build a clock that could tell the time forever.” – Jim Collins

What if?  Recognize and expect that not everything will work. The way to success is not a straight, open road, it is a windy, bumpy road that must be navigated.

“If you persist after every temporary defeat, then you will achieve a lasting success.” – Napoleon Hill

Who?  Your greatest success will come by working with and through other people.

“Invest in great relationships, they will pay a lifetime of dividends.”– Bill Walsh

 

Not for show but for showing

not-for-show-but-for-showingWhat example are you showing by how you lead? Leadership is not to show others how good you are, it’s for showing others how good they can be.

Do you tell your team what to do, or sell them on where to go and let them figure out how to get there? Do you step out yourself or expect others to move first? Leading can be tricky business. How do you balance letting people make mistakes and grow, while you demonstrate the way to success? Both can be accomplished if your focus is on showing others how to succeed.

“Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and actions.”– Harold S. Geneen,

Here are three practical areas for showing others how good they can be:

No better way for showing the way than going the way.   Giving speeches, reading books, studying your industry. These are all very important steps in showing the way. Your team can learn what to do and what not to do from your tutelage. But there’s a difference between reading the owner’s manual of a car and getting behind the wheel and driving. Your actions demonstrate the proof that your words will lead to success. Get out there and do what you say others should do.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”– Walt Disney

Stop doing something and start doing the right thing. Mistakes happen. Wrong choices are made. These are part of a successful career – if you rebound. Once again, your example here is priceless. Be willing to open up and share your missteps and how you overcome them in real time, not just the history but as they happen.

“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road.” – C. S. Lewis

Don’t just look forward, look back to see if anyone is following. Ok, so you are out front demonstrating everything you are saying. You’re like the drum major in a marching band, leading the way forward. Have you ever noticed though, that everyone once and a while the drum major turns around the see that everyone is in step and marching in the right direction? In the same way, you need to check in with your team to make sure they understand your examples and are having success of their own.

“Thinking good thoughts is not enough, doing good deeds is not enough, seeing others follow your examples is enough.”– Douglas Horton

 

Listen to history, apply it to the future.

listen-to-historyKevin Love played one year of college basketball for the UCLA Bruins in the 2007-2008 season where he led the team to a final four appearance. He was a First Team All-American, Pac 10 player of the year, First Team All-Pac 10.

As a Freshman in UCLA in 2007-2008, Love often reached out to John Wooden for advice. John Wooden was the head coach at UCLA from 1948 – 1975. During his tenure, the Bruins won 620 games in 27 seasons and 10 NCAA titles during his last 12 seasons. During his freshman year Love said of Wooden, “I just turned 19 and I know my history. He’s not only the best coach of any coach of all time, but he’s also one of the best human beings you’ll ever meet.”

Drafted after his Freshman year in college, he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves where he was a three-time NBA All-Star and the Cleveland Cavaliers where he was part of the team that won the NBA Championship in 2016. And when he became an NBA player, Love remembered what he learned from Wooden, “Coach Wooden, when he speaks you listen. I’ve taken a lot of things from him… It’s not just about basketball, it’s about life as well.”

United States Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. summarized the importance of listening to history, and then applying it to the future when he said, “It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.”

Those who want to have a positive impact on the future, must first seek to become wise about the past. In the story of Kevin Love and John Wooden, the result was learning the steps that Wooden took so that they could be repeated. In studying history, it is also just as likely that one may learn of the past mistakes to know what not to repeat.

I’ve heard it said this way, “Make sure you understand why the fence was put up before you take it down.” You may have equal chance to leave the fence up as you do in taking it down, but your decision will be made based on knowledge of the history of the reason for its placement in the first place.

 

Who benefits from your clear personal mission?

personal-missionOne answer to this article’s title is of course you. But so does everyone you come in contact with. Your personal mission is why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s important to be clear about why you should try so hard to accomplish whatever you are working on. Steve Jobs said your personal mission statement lets you say, “I did what I was created to do. I contributed to this world in a significant manner.”

Your personal mission, therefore, can’t be short term thinking – it’s not about working hard to earn money. It’s not even about earning money to buy a car. There is nothing wrong with earning money and buying a car, that may be a great step but it’s bigger is than that. It’s the impact you want your life to have.

And when you figure out what you were created to do – as Jobs said, ask yourself, besides me, who benefits from my personal mission? You may still be doing great things, but to what end? Stop waiting for the impact to just happen and make it happen. Make your life a mission, not an intermission.

Why do we need a personal mission? Life is full of choices. How do you know which choice is the right one? One way that helps you decide is having a personal mission. What that as a focus, you can measure each choice to see which one gets, or keeps, you on track to reach it.

“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” – Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock

What should be in a personal mission? The best part of being successful is helping others be successful. A Chinese proverb says, By accident of fortune one may be a leader for a time, but by helping others succeed one will be a leader forever.” Fill your personal mission with the benefits you will bring to each person you can.

“Mission is about people, not projects.” – Todd Engstrom, Verge 2013

What does a personal mission look like? If it takes too long to explain, then you don’t understand it. If you don’t understand it, then you can’t use it. Abraham Lincoln said, “If you give me six hours to chop down a tree, I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Invest the time up front so that your personal mission statement is as sharp as an axe and can fell a tree in one blow. Brevity is the key.

“Your mission should be a single sentence that states what you are here to do.” – Steve Jobs

 

The future isn’t just more of today.

future-that-we-createYou’re challenged to accomplish something you’ve never done before. When this happens, we’re tempted to find a way to make what we need to do, fit into what we’ve already done. Here’s the issue – some if it might not fit. Sure, you can rely upon your strengths to help you, but you must see the future – the place where you will apply your strengths, won’t be the same as the past.

“The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.”– Peter Drucker

No matter how well you’ve performed in the past, and how far you’ve come, the future isn’t just more of today. It’s different and requires something different.

Create Success. Don’t let the future be the place where you arrive, make it the place you create. Determine where you want to be, and when you want to be there. Believe you will succeed.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln

Look Forward.  It’s fine to look back at the past – just don’t stare. Once you take in all that you have done in the past, turn your focus to the future and plan how you’re going to there.

“You can never plan the future by the past.” Edmund Burke

Start Today.  The accomplishment you seek in the future won’t just come someday – it comes with small steps every day. What are you going to do about it today?

“Even though the future seems far away, it is actually beginning right now.” Mattie Stepanek

How do champions give 100 percent?

champions-give-100-percentHow do you give 100 percent to all the important activities in your life? Do you give part of your time to each one – if there are five activities, should you give twenty percent to each? No you should give 100 percent to each, when you focus on each one. This isn’t 500 percent, its 100 percent five times. When you focus on one thing, the others are not on your agenda at the moment. Champions give 100 percent attention to each activity…one activity at a time.

Baseball great Yogi Berra is known for his great quotes that meant more than meets the eye. On the topic of dividing your 100 percent he said, “You have to give 100 percent in the first half of the game. If that isn’t enough, in the second half, you have to give what’s left.” Always give 100 percent of you.

A basketball season covers six months and 82 games. Every game counts if you want to be the best. Three times NBA champion, four times NBA Most Valuable Player, LeBron James says, “Every night on the court I give my all, and if I’m not giving 100 percent, I criticize myself.” Bring all you have to each opportunity.

Rebuilding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1996 involved getting the team to think and act like champions. Tony Dungy evaluated the team at that time and said, “They were unwilling to give 100 percent if they didn’t personally think it was important. What you don’t understand is that champions know it’s all important.” Everything you do deserves your best.

John Wooden coached the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team to ten NCAA national championships over twelve years. He said that practice was just as important as the games. “What you do in practice is going to determine your level success. I used to tell my players, you have to give 100 percent every day. Whatever you don’t give, you can’t make up for tomorrow. If you give only 75 percent today, you can’t give 125 percent tomorrow to make up for it.”

How do champions give 100 percent? The secret is they don’t divide up their 100 percent. Champions give 100 percent attention to each activity…one activity at a time.

 

 

What sets you apart?

what-sets-you-apart-is-the-difference-you-makeIn a world where achievement is expected and measured every day, how can someone stand out? What sets you apart is the difference you make in the world being you. Why do we work so hard to fit in? You are unique and meant to stand out.

“Strengths lie in differences, not in similarities.” – Stephen Covey

The college application process is very competitive. Good grades and high SAT scores are only the entrance fee. Colleges want to know what sets you apart. Did you play sports, or a musical instrument? So did a lot of other applicants. But what you have done to make a difference using your grades, sports or musical talent is unique to you.

Applying for a job? Education and experience are expected. But what you have done with your education and experience. How have you made a difference in the world?

If you want the best chance to get into the college of your choice, or get the job you desire, go ahead and tell your story, how does it all fit together into the unique you?

“If you want to make a difference you have to be different.” – Andy Andrews

If you aren’t in the right place to apply to college or for that job, then you have the opportunity to look for ways to set yourself apart and use what you have to make a difference.

“It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you use that makes a difference.”– Zig Ziglar

What are you doing with your strengths?

using-strengths-to-succeedStrengths are gifts meant to be used to accomplish greatness. You are strong in ways that others aren’t. In order for greatness to be achieved in the best possible way, we all need our individual strengths working together.

This doesn’t mean that goals can’t or won’t be achieved if you aren’t fully invested with your strengths – it just makes it more difficult for everyone involved. The work will get done, but think how great it would be if your strengths were part of the process.

If you want to be fully engaged in success using your strengths, here is how you do it:

Identifying them. There are lots of different tools you can use, and many are great, to help you understand your natural gifts. The real test, though, in understanding your strengths is do you love what you’re doing? When you can’t wait to begin a project, that is likely a strength.

“A strength is an activity that before you’re doing it you look forward to doing it; while you’re doing it, time goes by quickly and you can concentrate; after you’ve done it, it seems to fulfill a need of yours.” – Marcus Buckingham

Developing them. That which we are drawn to because we seem to be able to achieve success effortlessly. Knowing your strengths and being great at your strengths are two different things. It takes work to be the best, and that should be your goal.

“Focusing on our own strengths is what, in fact, makes us strong.” – Simon Sinek

Using them. Take part in activities that you can’t wait to begin. Volunteer for the tasks that excite you. Step forward and offer your opinion, time, and strengths before you are asked. Identifying and developing your strengths means nothing unless you put them to work for your success and for your team’s success.

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers

 

 

 

In the end it’s the execution that matters.

two-paths-to-the-endEveryone doesn’t have to agree with you. What matters is that everyone aligns on the outcome and then figures out the path to get there. In fact, if execution is the key then disagreement will get you to a better place. If everyone agrees there is no new thought or challenge. It has been said that, “We find comfort among those who agree with us – growth among those who don’t.”

So how do you work through disagreement to get to execution? Here are three distinct steps that will lead to the right answer:

Disagreement. Start with the belief that disagreement is nothing more than people feeling free to voice a different opinion, or question an assumption. You should not only let this happen but encourage it to happen in the right way. Zig Ziglar has said, “You can disagree without being disagreeable,” and the right atmosphere for disagreement should be maintained. Questions raised, ideas shared, and objections levied are all documented to be taken into consideration in the next step – discussion.

“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Discussion. Never discount an idea that is different than your own. Instead, each question asked in pursuit of the desired end state deserves an answer, and every objection should be heard and talked through. This is the only way to process the honest disagreement.

“An oil lamp becomes brighter after trimming; a truth becomes clearer after being discussed.”– Chinese Proverb

Decision. At this point you are ready to make the decision as you now have more knowledge than when you started this process. The disagreements have been raised and thoroughly discussed so that the next step is clearer. Decisions made in this way will be carry the most impact.

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”– Tony Robbins

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