Posts filed under ‘Happiness’

Getting There from Here

2011 – It’s half over…half gone!  By the calendar we should all be half way to meeting our goals and objectives for the year…right?  Lost 20 of those 40 lbs?  Half way to your sales goals for the year?  Called on the prospects you wanted to see by now?  Read five of the ten books you promised yourself you’d read?

Not quite?  Why not?  What went wrong?

At the beginning of the year we all had great expectations for the New Year – desires for growth, for improvement…for our organizations…for our people…for ourselves.

Six months have now passed…and where are we?  What’s changed?  Anything?  Or are you still waiting to get started?  If you’re like most people, the midpoint in the year may not equate to “half done” with your annual goals.  Why is that?  We know where we want to go…so why are we often still stuck in the same old rut?  Usually, the answer lies in the simple “law of progress”.  The law of progress states that in order to make progress, you must leave a place and move on.   However, it’s human nature to stay right where you are…to dwell lazily in your comfort zone.  The  law of progress says you can’t drift to success.  To reach the shores of success you must: 1) Select a destination, 2) Plot your course, 3) Steer toward your destination, and 4) Start (and keep) paddling.

1) Select a destination – Most of us know what we want in life or in business.  By selecting a destination, you simply set a goal – decide what it is you want to accomplish – and define it well enough that when you arrive there you will recognize the place.

2) Plot your course – Identify the route to be followed, determining the resources required to get there, and defining the mile markers (events and dates) that must met in order to achieve the desired outcome.  This requires being realistic in every way.  Have you identified every step?  Do you have all the resources?  Do you have the desire?  If the answer to any of these is “no”, you may be fooling yourself!

3) Steer toward your destination – With a “compass” in hand you keep your ship oriented toward your destination – the goal!  “Winds”WILL blow and may slow you.  Currents will arise, but with your “compass” (values and guiding principles) in hand you can keep the ship on course and pointed to success.

4) Keep paddling – Simply put, this means get to “work”.  It means getting up every day, and tending to business, following your plan.  It means doing the big stuff and the little stuff…the creative AND the basics.  It means scanning the horizon AND swabbing the deck.  It means everyday doing something we really don’t want to do.  Work is the price we pay for the rewards at the end of the journey, and all along the way.

In setting and accomplishing goals, there’s really no magic…just work!  But miracles do happen.  They happen not because of the supernatural, but because of the un-natural.  It is human nature to stay right where you are – to be rut-bound.  But real winners, the exceptional, the enlightened among us learn to lay nature aside, embrace the law of progress, pay the price, and achieve their goals…and with it, success.

Yes, half the year is gone, but the good news is that half still lies before us.  What will you do with the second half of 2011?

Lead on…

Cliff

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June 22, 2011 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

Social In-security

In his book “Pacific Coast Trail Hiker’s Handbook” author and adventurer Ray Jardine writes:

“Typically, the Pacific Coast Trail will approach a daunting creek, only to disappear into it and emerge from its far side.  And you might stand there looking at a potential drowning: yours.  Or perhaps you will stand there fuming at the government’s failure in providing hikers with a suitable bridge.  Consider though, that every time the wilds are “improved”, civilization thereby thrusts its maws a little deeper into the erstwhile pristine wilderness.  Should we construct stalwart bridges across every creek?  How about benches every few miles?  How about a five foot wide trail, well groomed and leading to huts at 10 mile intervals?  And how about power lines and roads to the huts, so hut-keepers could provide nutritious meals?

Instead, we might benefit the most by leaving the wilderness to its own devices, and laboring to improve ourselves.  When confronted with a swollen creek, rather than seeing an absent bridge, we need to see the challenge of finding a safe way across, somewhere upstream perhaps.  A bridge might allow us to cross safely, and it might save us considerable time hiking upstream to circumvent the torrent, but it does not strengthen us.  It does not better prepare us for the next bridgeless ford ahead.  I suggest that complaining about a lack of bridges only weakens us.  Why?  Because it reinforces our insecurities.

Security is confidence, not in the condition of the paths we travel, but in ourselves.  And no bridge can carry us over the river of our impatience and insecurities.”

Oh the lessons we learn in the wild!  Lessons for health, lessons for economics and governance, lessons for parenting and leading…lessons for life!  The greatest security, confidence, and peace comes from taking personal responsibility – by doing all we can for ourselves – and then trusting in our maker.  Self reliance is freedom; it is security; it is peace.  The more we depend on society to “build our bridges”, the more insecure we become.   Less really is more when it comes to the role of government in our lives. 

So the next time your trail disappears into “the creek”, smile and embrace the opportunity to take control, get stronger, and secure your own way.

Lead on,

Cliff

May 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm Leave a comment

“A Great Year for You to Get Better at YOU!”

During our recent annual planning meetings the president of our company said something that stuck in my mind.  In his wrap up comments he said, “next year is a great year for you to get better at you!” 

Our president has earned the credibility to be able to issue such a challenge.  He has continuously pushed and challenged himself and our company to get better each year…and then, instead of pausing to soak up the success, he has used it to invigorate and encourage himself and those around him to reach even higher.

What I really appreciate about the invitation to “get better at being you” is the implication that the opportunity is not to become someone or something you are not, but to become the very best version of “you” that you can become.  We are all different creations…each with individual gifts, talents, and vision.  The real challenge (and opportunity) is to discover your strengths and talents and then to magnify them – as much as possible – to the benefit of your circle of responsibilities and relationships.

And so, as we begin a new year and contemplate the possibilities, consider making 2011 THE year to “get better at you!”  If you will, and commit to doing what it takes to get there, you are guaranteed improvement at least, and possibly significant improvement!

So, what’s it take?  The formula is simple…it’s the “doing” that brings improvement!  But without the formula you’ll just spin your wheels! So here’s the formula for making an even better version of YOU!

1)       IDENTIFY the specific thing(s) you want to improve, develop, or get better control of.

2)       Set a GOAL (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, & timely).

3)       Make a PLAN to accomplish your goal(s)…including every intermediate step you can identify!

4)       ACT on your plan…one step at a time…one day at a time.

5)       FOLLOW UP…frequently and honestly…and adjust, reset, and elevate as necessary!

2011 WILL be a GREAT year for each of us to get better at being who we already are.  Take a few minutes and decide what you’d like to improve, set a goal and make a plan…then get to work and just watch the miracle of improvement take place.  It just will!

Lead on…

Cliff

December 17, 2010 at 9:47 am 1 comment

An Attitude of Gratitude

Have you ever noticed that the happiest people you meet are also the first to say “thank you”, and that the most frustrated, selfish, and cynical rarely acknowledge or express gratitude?  Why is that?  Is it because happy people have more to be thankful for?  I don’t think so.   I believe theirs is an attitude of gratitude that is born out of a unique perspective of wonder and contentment.

According to a recent national survey, more than half of all Americans don’t expect to receive a thank-you card or note after giving a gift.  Unfortunately the age-old custom of sending thank-you notes and cards has nearly been forgotten.  The survey, commissioned by the Society of American Florists found that most people don’t even expect an in-person [verbal] “thank you”, a phone call or even an email “thanks”.  How sad! 

Now, don’t misunderstand…I’m not suggesting that we as doers and givers should be seeking recognition and gratitude from others; that’s not the point.  The point is that we as a people are gradually drifting into a state of thanklessnessIt is a problem, especially in a country where prosperity and plenty have given Americans more material blessings than any people, at any time, in history.  People who don’t show gratitude are less likely to treat others with respect.  They are more likely to be rude and insensitive and show a lack of regard for everyone but themselves.  They are more likely to lie, cheat, and steal…and to complain that they are “entitled” to what others have.

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving Day – the one day of the year when many pause to consider all that they have been given.  Some even call this time of year “the season for giving thanks”.  But gratitudereal thanksgiving – knows no season.  It is not an event that we “do” and then set aside for the rest of the year.  Real gratitude is a character trait of people with real characterGratitude indicates an attitude of humility (the opposite of Pride–the first “deadly sin”) and acknowledges one’s dependence upon others.  I cringe when I hear people say “he’s a self-made-man”, and worse when I hear of people who they themselves think that of themselves.  None of us are self-made.  None of us are successful by our own merits…no matter how challenging our lives may be.  There is always a friend, a parent, an advisor, an author, an employee, a customer, a teacher, an inspiration, or an artist that leads us to achievement.  I work for a guy who understands this.  He’s the CEO of one of the best wholesale distribution companies in the country.  Yet every day as people leave work and he hears the “goodbyes”, he calls from his corner office “thanks for the help”.

The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to commit to developing an attitude of gratitude at all times and under all conditions.  To look for and recognize the blessings and gifts that just come to us.  To always thank others for help, for things, for ideas, for anything we can find an excuse to express gratitude for.

At a time when people are “thanking” less, what an opportunity to set ourselves apart.  Commit to sending one thank-you card a day to a customer, or looking for one thing to thank an employee for each day. As we do, wonderful things will happen to us as individuals, to those we thank…just watch…

Lead on………..    Cliff

November 19, 2010 at 3:55 pm Leave a comment

“What Did You Do for Someone Today?”

Jack grew up in very humble circumstances in the hills of southwest Virginia.  He was one of seven children of a Methodist minister and a stay-at-home mom.  Every day as the family sat at dinner, Jack’s father would ask each child in turn, “And what did you do for someone today?”  This caused each child in the family to consciously go about each day looking for some way to help others…so they could give a good report each night.  From this experience, as the children grew and matured an interesting thing took place.  Their motivation changed from needing to report well, to each of them developing a sincere desire to help and serve others.  We all know from personal experience the reward and good feelings we enjoy as the result of personal sacrifice and service; imagine the effect on Jack and his siblings after years of this practice!

So, what ever came of Jack?  Well, he became a doctor.  Makes sense doesn’t it?  But that’s not all!  Inspired by his father’s vision for his children, Dr. Jack McConnell went on to accomplish much more!  He directed the development of the tuberculosis tine test, participated in the early development of the polio vaccine, supervised the development of Tylenol, and was instrumental in developing the magnetic resonance imaging procedure, or MRI!  He also created the organization “Volunteers in Medicine”, which allows retired doctors to provide free medical services to the uninsured.

Dr. McConnell has left a significant and lasting mark on humanity all because of a sincere desire to help others, instilled by the inspired vision of a father.  I am sure that Jack’s father wanted his children to be good citizens and to serve their communities, but I am even more certain that his ultimate objective was to help his children come to understand the joy and peace and warmth that come to those who learn to selflessly serve others.

As we each look for ways to grow and improve, we might well give thought to adding a degree of “service” to our personal goals and objectives.  There are opportunities all around, formal and informal, and in every community.  Find an organization, a church, a cause, or just someone in need, and get to work helping.  At a minimum, go about each day looking for some way to help someone!  If we would all do this one simple thing, and teach it to our children to do the same, imagine the collective good, and the lasting difference it would make…in the world and in our lives!

Have a GREAT day…..serving!!!

Lead on…

Cliff

September 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm Leave a comment

“The Bright Side of Failure”

There’s an oft told story of a happy little boy who went into a field wearing his baseball cap, carrying a bat in one hand and a ball in the other.  He stopped, squared up, and confidently exclaimed “I’m the greatest batter in the world!” then tossed the ball in the air and swung as hard as he could…missing the ball completely. “Strike one” he said.  He picked up the ball, and again tossed it in the air exclaiming “I’m the greatest batter in the world.” A second time he missed… “Strike two,” he said.  He picked up the ball again and carefully studied it…as well as the bat.  He adjusted his cap, then tossed the ball into the air for the third time, repeating again, “I’m the greatest batter in the world!” He swung with all his might…completely missing the ball for the third straight time.  “Strike three” he mumbled sadly.  Then, suddenly, a grin spread across his dusty face and he yelled, “Wow! I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!”

Often, even when we do our very best, things just don’t turn out as planned.  That’s life!  What happens next though is completely up to us.  We can beat ourselves up and become discouraged…or we can look at each failure as valuable experience.  In the process of striving toward a worthy goal we often discover our limitations.  But just as often, lying nearby in the ashes of failure are the embers of success.  There, barely visible to all but those who know to look for them, lie clues to opportunities, gifts, and talents that can lead to great success.  The key to their discovery is how we respond to failure.   If discouragement had been allowed to rule the day there’d be no penicillin, Teflon, microwave ovens, post-it notes, potato chips…or chocolate chip cookies…that’s right…no chocolate chip cookies!!!  Instead of wallowing in failure these products’ inventors were able to spot seeds of new opportunity…truly turning lemons into lemonade!

It takes practice to develop the skill of finding the brighter side of failure, but it’s a skill that can be developed by anyone.  A still greater opportunity lies in helping others discover the good amidst the bad, the wins among the losses, and the opportunities among the failures.  Whether one comes by this ability naturally or not, great leaders recognize the value in developing it, and then helping others to do the same.  Lead out by setting the example of finding the bright side of failure, and then become a great [pitching] coach by encouraging others to do the same. 

Lead on…

Cliff

 

June 15, 2010 at 10:04 am Leave a comment

“As ye sow, so shall ye reap…”

Sound familiar? You might remember this verse from Sunday school or from more recent study.  It is a profound principle with powerful implications. It is an enduring principle with a promise that underlies everything we accomplish, or fail to accomplish during our lives. It is the key to joy and abundance or to failure and frustration. It is a sure promise – as sure as the sunrise or sunset.  If we do something, something happens. Everything in nature and in life is based on this principle. We control what we sow, and in that way only we exercise SOME control over what we reap.

Yes, sometimes there are outside (uncontrollable) factors at work. My Mom and Dad for instance led great lives. They worked hard, planned carefully, spent frugally, exercised consistently, ate impeccably, and served tirelessly. Theirs were happy, healthy, full lives…..in life they truly reaped what they sowed. You’d have thought they’d live forever! However, Dad, at a very young 69 years of age was consumed by a rare cancer in less than six weeks…..and Mom passed away just a few months laterfrom the same foe (cancer).

“So, why bother?” some would ask. “Why even try to plan, to work, and to improve?” It is true that any one of us could be removed from this life at any moment by causes beyond our control. BUT, while we live, while we are able to choose what it is we will sow in our lives, we can rest assured that while we live we will reap and receive in life what we put into it. Effort produces results, honesty builds trust, respect leads to cooperation, and healthy living improves the quality of life. As Montaigne so aptly wrote, “the value in life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them”.

Lead on……….. Cliff

April 26, 2010 at 4:13 pm 4 comments

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