Posts filed under ‘Happiness’

The Spirit of the Camino – the Spirit of Leadership

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I recently completed the “Camino” with my wife Correen and youngest son. “What’s the Camino?” The briefest explanation, from Wikipedia:

The Camino de Santiago…is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes, known as “pilgrim ways”, to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great, in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. It is also popular with hiking and cycling enthusiasts…”

For our Camino we chose to hike the Camino Primitivo route (the original way) across 200 miles of Spain’s most beautiful, lush, and mountainous territory. For two weeks we treked through remote wilderness, rugged countryside, verdant farmland, and medieval towns. We struck up friendships with fellow peregrinos (pilgrims) from literally every corner of the globe. We pushed to and through our physical “limits” of challenge and discomfort, but reveled in the hours of opportunity for quiet contemplation, reflection, and conversation.

In the end, our Camino was truly one of the greatest experiences of our lives. So much so, I’m sure I will share more in the coming months, but there’s just one aspect in particular I’ll share today…

In order to be considered a perergrino, to be able to stay in designated “albergues” (hostels) along the way, and to earn one’s “compostela” (certificate of completion) at the end of the journey, one carries an official Camino passport (pictured) that must be stamped at certain places along the journey. The back of the passport contains the following message, entitled “The Spirit of the Camino”:

LIVE IN THE MOMENT

WELCOME EACH DAY – ITS PLEASURES AND

ITS CHALLENGES 

MAKE OTHERS FEEL WELCOME

SHARE

FEEL THE SPIRIT OF THOSE WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE YOU

IMAGINE THOSE WHO WILL FOLLOW YOU

APPRECIATE THOSE WHO WALK WITH YOU TODAY

I cannot for the life of me think of a better message for managers and leaders…or for a Managers Minute than this! If each of us who are responsible for managing, leading, teaching, guiding and mentoring others could simply remember and do these seven things, imagine the impact; imagine the outcome!

Lead on!

Cliff

 

 

July 7, 2017 at 12:18 pm Leave a comment

Focus on the G.O.O.D.

Life can be hard, and when it is, it’s easy to get down, lose perspective, feel overwhelmed, even depressed. It may be the poor choices and bad behavior of others, or perhaps our own. Financial, medical, or emotional, strain can also send one for a loop. Life is full of challenges, presenting ample opportunity to shrivel and shrink, lash out, or simply give up, but the results of any of these are sure to bring nothing but more despair.

For BEST results (sounds like medicine?), consider a better choice with an outcome guaranteed to bring greater peace, satisfaction, and success: Focus on the G.O.O.D.! Just looking for the good that surrounds us is by itself good advice in good times and bad, but what I’m suggesting here is to simply focus on the G.O.O.D.: Gratitude, Others, Opportunities, and Doing.

Gratitude – The happiest people I know are the most grateful! Even in the darkest times, there is so much to be grateful for. When your head hurts, be grateful you have one! When the house is messy, be grateful for being surrounded by others. An empty fridge means you have a fridge! A challenging job means you have income. There is ALWAYS something or someone to be grateful for, and just the act of focusing outward (instead of inward on yourself) at all the good that surrounds you, puts things in perspective and changes your attitude from one of scarcity and woe to abundance and wonder.

Others – As Albert Schweitzer put it, ”The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” The very act of focusing [outward] on others and their needs shifts the focus from oneself (inward) and one’s problems. You cannot focus on two things at a time. By centering your efforts on those in need your life takes on greater meaning, purpose, and satisfaction.

Opportunities – No matter where you are, there are opportunities to improve your situation…especially when times are tough. Life is all about learning, growing, and improving, and there is no finish line for any of these. Some of the most inspiring examples of living a full life come from those who appear to have had “nothing” to work with, yet have accomplished amazing things! Opportunities are everywhere!

Doing – “Action is the antidote to despair.” These words wisely penned by Joan Baez are among the truest when it comes to turning things around. Sitting and staring at your problems only makes them bigger…if not worse. Attacking them, or anything for that matter, gets the mind working and the blood flowing, shifting your focus away from the problem to something, more worthy of your efforts.

It is best always to focus on the G.O.O.D., but especially when things aren’t going so well. The most effective people understand and practice this; and the most effective leaders guide their teams to do the same!

Lead on!

Cliff

June 3, 2016 at 9:01 am Leave a comment

I Have To!

When coordinating plans with others I’ve been known to say things like “I have to run 15 miles tomorrow”, “I have to get to bed early tonight”, or “I have to finish this project this weekend”. When I do, I’m often challenged by a friend who likes to say “You don’t HAVE to……you CHOOSE to!” and technically speaking, he’s right. But I keep saying it anyway… You see, I learned a long time ago that you can either decide how to respond to challenges or opportunities over and over again, depending on present circumstances, or you can make the decision just once, allowing that decision to become your personal standard – your “have to“!

If you take the flexible approach (“we’ll see how things are going” or “it depends”) there are too many variables and too many opportunities to derail you from doing the thing you once committed to doing. It takes discipline to make the hard but right choice, especially when the decision is to ALWAYS make the same choice. But when you do and the issue comes up again, there’s no hesitation or debate. You’re resolute – You “have to”!

Once you’ve decided, then your “have to‘s” take over, relieving you of the recurring decision cycle. And here’s the interesting thing – it’s not restrictive…it’s freeing! Once you’ve decided once and for all, when the alarm clock rings, you’re up – no debate. When someone offers you something you’ve sworn off, you decline – no debate. When being dishonest is tempting or seemingly profitable, you tell the truth – no debate! And when you do, you enjoy a feeling of freedom and empowerment.

Our choices determine our habits and our habits form our character. And as author and lecturer Hyrum Smith put it, “Character is the ability to carry out a worthy decision once the emotion of making that decision has passed.” It’s character-forming habits that help us overcome adversity, accomplish goals, and ultimately approach our individual potential.

When our choices reflect our deeply held values and they are made with sincere resolution, from that point on we simply “have to“. And as we do, we grow in character.
Lead on…

Cliff

July 6, 2015 at 11:52 am 6 comments

New Life Through New Eyes

Have you hit the wall? Do you feel like you’re “done”? Is the joy gone…in your work, a relationship, or your life in general? There comes a time in most lives where the joy and satisfaction that once filled and fueled them diminishes even to the point of crisis. When this happens the natural reaction is to run, to flee, to get away from whatever it is that’s moved from beautiful to drab or from exciting to boring. In extreme cases this can lead to divorce, unemployment, or worse. At a minimum it results in dissatisfaction, disharmony, and disengagement.

The interesting thing is that most people who resort to “flight” versus hanging in to “fight”, don’t ever really solve the problem. They may find temporary relief in “different”, but the tendencies that pushed them to the tipping point in the first place will take them there again and again. The reason is that as they see it, the problems…AND the solutions are “out there”…when in reality they lie squarely within themselves! It’s easier to blame a companion or a job or our environment for one’s misery…when the real problem and solution lies within themselves and they choose to see things.

It is a marvelous and amazing thing to witness when someone chooses to see the same [old] thing in a new or different light; to see through new eyes. The author Marcel Proust wrote: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. When we choose to see the same thing differently, to refocus on the positive, on its worth and potential, it (or they) changes right before our eyes. Seen from a different perspective or “attitude” what was drab or boring CAN become beautiful and exciting again.

Try this… Whatever it is (or who they are) that’s lost its luster in your [old] eyes, take out a blank sheet of paper and write at the top “Things I love about…” (whatever it is). Then below that make a list of all the good things, the good qualities, the value, the interesting things, the things about it that you’re grateful for, it’s irreplaceability…in short – the things you genuinely love about it or them. Then, before you go to bed at night stand in front of a mirror and read the list saying before each item on the list “I love….(that thing, aspect, feature, etc.)
Then the next morning repeat this reading, staring yourself in the eyes as you do. Do this every day for the next few days until you begin to see a transformation – until you see the thing (or person) as you once did…and you will!

A small investment in this process may well bring a huge improvement in your life and your relationships and may prevent unnecessary pain, loss, and disappointment down the road.
Too often people run from the very things that are the best things…when the right thing is just to see things with new eyes.

Lead on…

June 2, 2015 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

Carpe Diem

Life’s greatest lessons come not from text books or the halls of academia. They come to the unsuspecting, from the unexpected experiences of life. They come to us individually as we solo our personal climbs through life, and they come to families and teams as they together face the challenges and opportunities that are simply…part of life.

Many of my work friends and I suffered the sudden and very sad loss of a co-worker and friend this week.  We all experience similar losses.  So what can we learn from heart-breaking events such as these?  So many things… but three in particular rise quickly to the surface:

First, the incalculable value of time. Unlike other precious resources, time is finite. There is only so much – sixty minutes in an hour, twenty-four hours in a day, three hundred sixty-five days in a year. We can’t save time, make time, or even find time. It just ticks by, and so, due to its finite nature it is more precious than any other thing. What’s more, none of us know how much of it we will have, so every minute counts! As the French essayist Montaine wrote, “The value in life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them.”

We learn to “seize the day” and to treat every day as if it’s our last.

Second, the importance and value of heartfelt expressions. How many of us, after the loss of or separation from a dear one, yearn for one more chance to hug, smile, thank, encourage, lift, or love. How many have thought “if only I’d have known…”? What would we have said or done to let them know how we feel, how much we appreciate them, or how great we think they are? It’s often the things not said that leave the greatest pain. So, don’t hold back.

We learn to say what’s in our hearts whenever it might lift, encourage, or cheer another.

Third, some things ARE more important than others. And as it turns out, people are most important. In the busy-ness of life we often lose this perspective; too often we allow an event, a task, or some other undertaking to overshadow what really matters. When asked what are the most important things in life, everyone freely admits: family, friends, or loved ones. However, when viewed through the lens of the choices we make and the way we spend our time, our resources, and our energy, do we walk the talk? Too often we allow the urgencies of life to crowd out our real priorities, or the emotions of the moment to endanger a relationship. People really do matter.

We learn that people and relationships are what makes life worth living.

Thank you Kristie, for the lessons learned this week.

April 27, 2015 at 1:17 pm Leave a comment

Who’s in Charge Here?

Who’s in Charge Here?

What’s the first thing you do each morning?  If you’re like most people you check your emails!  Why?  Because you need to find out what you’ve got to do that day!

Pause…..  Think about that!  If your first act is to look to see what the rest of the world wants you to do, to respond to, to try, read, or listen to…who’s in charge?  You’re automatically turning the reins of your life over to…everyone else!  You become a completely reactive animal and not the proactive pursuer of excellence that each of us is capable of!

There are two major parts of our brain:  The Prefrontal Cortex, which is the proactive part where you plan, pay attention, exercise self control, make choices, and create.  Then there’s the Primitive/Emotional Brain which is the oldest part of your brain…and the first to develop.  This is your reactive brain, where your reflexes, instincts, emotions, reactions, and impulses operate.  As humans mature they learn to use their reactive brain less and their proactive brain more…at least that is the plan.  Generally, “mature” adults operate more from their proactive brain, while the “immature” are driven mostly by their reactive brain.

We all know that the most effective way to lead our lives and our days is to plan them out and to set goals…and then discipline ourselves to the extent that we can to accomplish our plans and goals.  This work (planning and goal setting) is done with our proactive brain.  So is execution!  When we fail to execute however, it’s because we’ve given in to our reactive brain with all its impulses and emotions.  And the more we react, the more we give in to checking emails, texts, and tweets for guidance, the less developed becomes our proactive brain!

So, how can you get back on track and back in control?  Here’s a tip…. When you turn on your computer, smart phone, or tablet each day, what’s the first thing that comes up?  Most people would say “my email”, but that’s only because you’ve trained yourself to open your email!  Try this… Try going first to your calendar” and if you use it, to your To Do list” first…to plan or to review your plan FIRST…before you do anything else!  This will provide the direction for an effective day, a day of accomplishing what, in previous moments of thought and reflection, you determined was most important to accomplish.  This puts YOU in charge of your day and not all of the people and distractions sitting in your email in-box waiting to derail you and hijack your day!

You CAN do it!

Lead on!

Cliff

December 14, 2012 at 10:47 am Leave a comment

“Stuff” Happens!

Life’s not easy!   Just when things seem to be going along just fine, “stuff” happens, throwing us off course.  Weather, traffic, illness, other people’s decisions or actions, the economy, accidents…  What’s a person to do?  There’s really only one good choice…

The real challenge in life isn’t the “stuff” of life, but how we deal with the “stuff”.   The key is to let principles, the things we believe in…down deep, not our conditions or circumstances dictate our responses.  The good news is that we do have a choice.  In fact, next to life itself, the greatest gift any of us enjoy in this life is the freedom to choose.  Unfortunately, many people give up this gift, placing it in the hands of their circumstances, surroundings, or other people to decide how they’ll respond.

Habits 2 and 3 of Stephen R. Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” are: (2) Begin With the End in Mind, and (3) Put First Things First.  Effective people live with a clear vision of who they are and what is most important.  They are principle-centered.  They carry their mission in their hearts, and make decisions based on the mission or vision of who they are and who they strive to be.  They respond to  “stuff” based on this vision…placing even conflicting decisions (and principles) in proper order (putting first things first).

Great leaders are great because of their ability to live habits 2 and 3.  Those who depend on great leaders do so out of trust and confidence in their leaders’ vision and dedication to keeping it all in proper order…unfailingly.  Unfortunately, for every principle-centered person there are many more whose decisions are short-sited – based on immediate return or satisfaction – without regard for the long-term consequences.

During the the 9/11 crisis, many companies’ computer systems were disrupted.  One bank in particular lost partial control over its ATM machines.  The problem was that the machines couldn’t monitor the account balances, leaving open the possibility that account holders could withdraw far more than they had in their accounts.  The bank had a choice – shut down the system completely, or take the risk and continue to provide service at at that difficult time.  They took the risk, and sadly, there were many – the short-sited and un-principled – who cashed in on the circumstance, withdrawing many thousands more than they owned.

After all was said and done, over 4,000 people were under investigation in the “theft” of over $15 million.  Contrast the above example of the un-principled, with that of the true-to-life, principle-centered hero…Ascension Franco Gonzales, an unassuming immigrant dishwasher in Los Angeles.  The L.A. Times reported:

 “On a lonely evening beneath the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles, Ascension Franco Gonzales had the kind of moment Mexican songwriters put to music and transform into myth.  The ballad, or corrido, would tell the now familiar tale: how on August 27th an armored truck lurched, its back doors flipped open, and out tumbled a bag containing $203,000.  And how Franco…picked it up.  And how he gave it back the next morning.  Franco, a boyish 23-year-old with a self-deprecating sense of humor, was waiting for a bus when the $203,000 fell to the street.  “There wasn’t another soul around”.”  The next morning, Franco stuffed all the money into a laundry bag and met police officers at a local park where he promptly turned the fortune over to them.  He asked only one thing: “can I have my laundry bag back?”

Now the cynics of the world wouldn’t be surprised to hear Franco comment, “Everybody says I’m an idiot…”  Everyone that is, but his proud mother who still lives in Mexico, and thinks he is wonderful.  You see, Franco is the “vision” of a “good son”…he knows who he is, remaining true to his principles, and keeping all things in proper order and perspective regardless of circumstances.  Good sons make good people…good citizens…good leaders. They are “highly effective” people.

You’ll be happy to know that Franco was rewarded, although no reward was expected, for his honesty.  However, I’d be willing to bet, based on what we know about Franco, that the gleam of the $25,000 reward will have faded long before the glow of self-respect and inner peace from living his principles.  Principle-centered people believe in the “always” principles of consistency and integrity.  They understand that principles are not subject to ircumstances, but rather that circumstances must be subject to principles.

Yes, “stuff” happens.  But the “stuff” that happens to us isn’t really all that important…it’s what happens within us that really matters.  As leaders (of both yourself and others) you are many many times more effective when those you serve observe your unwavering commitment to principles and priorities…always – never depending on the circumstances.  Such consistency breeds immeasurable trust and confidence, and ensures cooperation and team spirit.

So the next time “stuff” happens…

Lead on…

Cliff

November 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm Leave a comment

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